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Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbusters!

October 24, 2011

By John C.

Every year around this time, one classic film seems to emerge into the public spotlight as the perfect title to watch for October 31st. Even though it isn’t celebrating any sort of anniversary, this year that film is Ivan Reitman’s seminal 1984 classic, Ghostbusters.  Next Monday, it will be back in selected Canadian theatres for one night in honour of Halloween.

After being fired from the parapsychology unit of a New York university, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) become entrepreneurs.  They call themselves the Ghostbusters, paranormal investigators who will safely contain and remove any unwanted supernatural presence.  Later joined by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), their first client is Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a woman who opens her refrigerator only to find a portal to another world.

The excellent performances and comic timing are what make Ghostbusters work.  Even though the special effects look dated by comparison to what is possible in this mostly digital day and age, they still hold up and in large part add to the undeniable charm and lasting legacy of the film.  In one of the most memorable sequences, the Ghostbusters have to save the city from a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Three suits were made at $20,000 apiece to bring this scene to life, and they were all destroyed in the process.  Huge amounts of shaving cream was used for the melted marshmallow that subsequently falls into the streets.

Having earned close to $300 million worldwide at the box office, the film became a pop culture staple of the 1980’s.  The signature theme song by Ray Parker Jr. was a number one hit for three weeks, and was even nominated for an Oscar.  The easy to quote lyrics just dare you not to sing along, and the song still gets played every year around Halloween.  The film and characters spawned numerous merchandising opportunities like collectible lunch boxes and action figures, even a special edition model of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  There was also an animated TV show titled The Real Ghostbusters.

Like many people, I proudly have the Ghostbusters gift set in my DVD collection.  Not only does it include the 1984 original film and a cool little scrapbook, but also Ghostbusters 2.  The 1989 sequel saw the entire cast return, this time to battle a river of evil slime that feeds off of human emotion and is set to take over the city.  Although it remains an entertaining film that features some memorably strong interplay between the characters, it lacked a lot of the magic that made the original so special in the first place.  As Bill Murray has said of the sequel, “The first 45 minutes of the original Ghostbusters is some of the funniest stuff ever made.  The second one was disappointing because the special-effects guys took over.”

A deal was made that a third film would only be put into production if all four of the original Ghostbusters agreed to return.  All four actors have signed a deal, and a script has already been written with rumours swirling around about what role each of the characters will play in the story.  The long rumoured third film will be directed by Ivan Reitman and is set to go into production early next year.  The special effects will be CGI and the film will no doubt be in 3D, but if this reunion can retain even some of the magic that the first one brought to theatres on 1984, then we could be in for a modern treat.

We should not lose sight of the lasting legacy left by Ghostbusters.  All the film ever wanted to do was entertain, and after 27 years it still wildly does so.  Whether you see it in theatres next week or simply watch your DVD, now is the perfect time to revisit it.  Not only is Ghostbusters a great movie to watch in honour of Halloween, it also remains a shining example of a big comedy that entertains with a fun play on an otherwise scary premise and incredibly sharp dialogue that still holds up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2011 6:22 pm

    Love this!
    Keep up the good work and ill keep visiting your blog 🙂

    -Chris Styles


    • October 24, 2011 11:05 pm

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed my article on Ghostbusters!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      -John C.


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