Ghostbusters [retro review]

“He slimed me.”

The Scoop: 1984 PG, directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

Tagline: Who you gonna call?

Summary Capsule: Three paranormal scientists go into business catching the undead spirits and forcing them to listen to Yanni.

Justin’s Rating: Bustin’ makes me feel goooood!

Justin’s Review: With a simple, TV commercial-type slogan, a media phenomenon was born.

“Who ya gonna call?”

As I rewatched this movie last night, I was amazed to find myself still thrilled and amused by this film, over twenty years old (has it been THAT long?). The opening music (oh-so-familiar to our 80’s ears) rocked through my veins, quotes tripped off my lips, and I rewound three times to rewatch certain scenes. Who am I gonna call? “Ghostbusters!” I shouted to a very empty apartment (but I think my mannequin understood).

It’s nearly timeless, and the true shame about this film is that it’s still misunderstood as to its true genre. I know that my parents and many other people thought that this was a dark movie about satanic spiritual whatevers, and we kids were denied seeing it back in the day. Ah, but what a misunderstanding! Probably the most unique and unusual premises for a comedy, three scientists encounter ghosts in NYC and decide to open a business to offer their “ghost busting” skills to the public. They are aided with their now-infamous proton packs, ghost traps, PKE readers, and Ecto-1 (the ambulance-slash-ghostbustmobile).

Not only is the situation and plot great, but the supporting cast is nothing short of ideal. Harold Ramis (Egon, the übernerd) and Dan Aykroyd (Ray, the grown child) are the two Believers of the spirit world, creating the devices and figuring out what to do. Bill Murray excels as Dr. Venkman, the sarcastic, womanizing skeptic who bridges the gap between the fantastic spiritual plane and down-to-earth reality with his quotable comments. Ernie Hudson is — I’m afraid — the Token Black Guy, with only one gem of a line. You’ve got Sigourney Weaver as the love interest/evil being, Rick Moranis as a tax accountant/evil being, and William Atherton as Walter Peck (imply what you must from his last name).

What gets it for me in this movie? Everything… simply, everything. But I’d particularly have to point to Murray’s cynicism and a rather famous twelve-story-high marshmallow man stomping up New York. Ah… as Venkman said, “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.”

My only serious complaint was that in this movie (and its sequel), there’s only one real ghostbusting sequence… it’s just a shame they didn’t have more time to show more busts. I’d consider this one of five must-see, must-memorize films that are necessary to pop culture survival in our day and age. Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god…

PoolMan’s Rating: There is no Dana, only Poole!

PoolMan’s Review: There were three forces tantamount to the shaping of my personality in my youth. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers, and the Ghostbusters. Between them, you have (I think) 6 movies, countless hours of cartoons over roughly 7 different series, and innumerable action figures and accessories. You couldn’t turn around when I was a kid without seeing either Michelangelo, Optimus Prime, or Slimer. Personally, I wanted more than once to have a crossover cartoon that combined the best of all three franchises, so you could see Egon trap the ghost of Shredder while Optimus gave some mundane speech about the morals of not attacking when a foe wasn’t expecting it. Come on, you wanted it too.

But while the Transformers and TMNT made the jump to the movies after their cartoons had been established (actually, the Turtles started life as a rather dark comic book), the Ghostbusters went the other way. Theirs was a trip from the silver screen to the television. So instead of trying to make a childish thing seem more adult, the creators of the Ghostbusters took something decidely adult and made it more do-able for the kiddies. So what was the original movie like?

Ghostbusters stands as the jewel in the crown of the last decade before Political Correctness turned us all into a bunch of namby-pambies who were afraid to use the word “chairman” for fear of offending women. If the Me Decade had anything going for it, it was frank, in-your-face humour that did its best to make you laugh, and not apologize for trying. So it makes sense that we have a movie that has scenes of demon worship, sexual innuendo, mild violence, and consorting with the dead throughout become the shining example of what made the flicks of fifteen-plus years ago so damn GREAT!

Don’t get me wrong. As long as Bruce Campbell still breathes, we’re always going to get the very best in cheesy, over-the-top acting, filled with sex and gore. But in my mind, Ghostbusters stands steadily in my own Top 10 list of favourite movies ever, and there’s not a lot of current competition to knock it out. I can’t get enough of this flick, even though countless viewings since the age of 7 have made me 99% fluent in the dialog.

This is a redone review, and I wanted to do it because a) my previous review was weak in my own eyes, and b) I just had to, having just watched the Boys in Grey for the first time in a year last weekend. From the poor student getting electrocuted for not being psychic to the marshmallow-covered Ghostbusters at the end, there’s not a better movie around for everyone to enjoy. If you haven’t seen it, you’re doomed to a life of inane chatter about pork futures and jail time. The Ghostbusters is a MRFH Must Have. Consider yourself warned.

Kyle’s Rating: Four old Ghostbusters shirts from childhood I can’t fit in anymore.

Kyle’s Review: Ghostbusters rules. It was probably my favorite movie when I was a kid; I was even enrolled in the official Ghostbusters Fan Club. Back then, I loved this film because ghosts were cool and I wanted to catch some with a proton pack. As an adult, I can now admire what’s really great about Ghostbusters: Bill Murray’s essential guy manual on how to use charm and sarcastic wit to get chicks and bend others to your will.

Don’t get me wrong, this has great dialogue, funny moments, cool ghosts, great use of science, and a cool team of paranormal psychologists. It’s great. But nowadays I realize what a great guy Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray) is. He knows how to score with the chicks, he knows how to use his degrees in psychiatry and parapsychology to his best advantage, and he doesn’t let anyone, even the mayor of New York City, get the best of him. Ghostbusters is great, rent it, see it, love it. I know I do.

One last little anecdote. Near the beginning, when the dean is admonishing Venkman and his team for misusing facilities and funds, he accuses Venkman of using science as a dodge for his own nefarious ends. Most of the audience frowns at the impudence. I take notes. How’s that for role models?

Andie’s Rating: That’s a big twinkie.

Andie’s Review: Ghostbusters is one of those awesome 80’s movies that I have seen way too many times. It is the type of movie that will still make me laugh out loud, especially Bill Murray as Peter Venkman.

Now, I didn’t see this movie when it first came out cause I was only three years old. I actually saw the sequel first and then went back and watched this one. For awhile, I liked the sequel better because that was the one I saw first, but now that I’m older I can appreciate the humor more and I admit that the first one is a far superior film. After my brother and I saw this movie, we bought a “proton pack” that shot little foam cubes at cardboard cutouts of ghosts. We’d set the ghosts up around the house and then pretend we were ghostbusters.

I also got the biggest crush on Bill Murray, which is pretty gross considering he’s old enough to be my grandpa. This movie has some of the best writing ever and the delivery by the actors is superb. The idea of turning people into dogs is great, I was actually scared when Sigourney Weaver got attacked by her chair and dragged into the kitchen. Plus, you gotta love Mr. Stay Puft the marshmallow man. Definitely a must-see on the list of contemporary comedies.

Nancy’s Rating: Eight out of eight punches in the face.

Nancy’s Review: Punches in the face. I don’t love them. I don’t think most people of any race, creed or gender do. It’s just not a great thing; one of those universal pastimes that just kinda sucks. But I will tell you all out there in mutant reading land — I give you full permission to punch me in the face.

I had never seen Ghostbusters until one month ago.

I know! How did I go through childhood? How is it possible that I grew up? Perhaps my love of colors, candy and singing Disney songs all day is a direct consequence of me being deprived in my childhood of an adolescent prerequisite. Perhaps some important part of my brain is underdeveloped due to the lack of a twirling Bill Murray (when he loves Sigourney and he spins around and it’s precious and I love it?!?!), adorable Dan Aykroyd and way-cooler-in-Stripes-but-still-cool-here Harold Ramis. Maybe I’m just wicked dumb. I’m probably just wicked dumb.

Anyway. I’m kinda glad I was deprived for so long in my life, because my lovely local movie theater showed a midnight showing. And what better way to see it then on the big screen, with a hundred screaming fans? (Slight tangent — one of the great things about this world is when a little fate happens and my lanky friend gets called down via raffle to shove marshmallows down his throat in order to win a Ghostbusters DVD. Also he was really bad at it and failed us all. Come to think of it I’m still bitter. I hate you, Jon.) The film itself was a magically delicious experience. I don’t think I completely comprehended the awesomeness of this movie, just because it’s so…there! It’s an absolute staple in pop culture!

Everyone in the world = WHO YA GONNA CALL?!?!

Man living under rock on Mars = GHOSTBUSTERS!

I think just because it was so famed and so everywhere I just assumed I saw it until I started the Bill Murray crusade. The Bill Murray Crusade, mind you, started one day when I decided “HOLY CRAP BILL MURRAY IS SO COOL AND I NEED TO SEE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS MOVIES!” so I got a checklist going and now there’s a bi-weekly quota I have to meet…it’s crazy. It’s crazy, I tell ya. So I was going over my checklist and I said “….weird how I’ve never seen Ghostbusters. I would think that I would have. Eh. Better cross it off the list”. And then when it was playing at my blessed local theater I figured more “eh”.

BUT IT WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN EH!

I expected a silly little tromp with Dan Aykroyd falling down and stuff. Tons of poop jokes. Slimer would be everywhere. I don’t know how I got this idea when I knew Bill Murray was in the film but I did! And I was sadly mistaken. Well, technically happily mistaken because I am really happy about how this movie made me feel. NOT ONLY did it have that Bill Murray sarcastic funny charmer character who I am in love with, and NOT ONLY did it have Rick Moranis making me say “….aw! I love him!” at twenty different points throughout the film, and NOT ONLY did it have kooky nutso ghosts and hilarity everywhere until I almost couldn’t even handle it anymore…

…it had a love story!

And I’m a girl!

Venkman loves Dana and I love it! He’s so smoooooth and adorable and charming. And when he twirls out of happiness in loooving her…you see it’s not just a horn-dog thing, he really really likes her! He’s a sincere court-er (word?). AND I LOVE IT!

So, Ghostbusters rocks so hard and so bad. I’m slightly sorry about not seeing it earlier, but who knows if I ever would have appreciated it as much as I do now.

This is simultaneously what every guy wants and does not want on the third date.

Intermission!

  • At the end of the movie, somehow Venkman is the only Ghostbuster who doesn’t end up completely drenched in marshmallow.
  • The eggs which fry themselves are sitting next to a package of “Stay-Puft” marshmallows. There is also a large advertisement for “Stay-Puft” marshmallows (complete with the marshmallow man) visible on the side of a building.
  • When Alice the librarian is queried as to whether anyone in her family had ever had any history of mental illness, she replies she had an uncle who thought he was St. Jerome. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians.
  • Dan Aykroyd’s original version of the script began with the Ecto-mobile flying out of Ghostbusters HQ, but director Ivan Reitman suggested that it would be better to show how the team got started.
  • Dana’s apartment building actually exists at 55 Central Park West in New York City. The building is actually only 19 stories high. For the film, matte paintings and models were used to make the building look bigger and with more floors.
  • Though never referred to as such in the script, the green ghost the guys bust in the hotel was dubbed “Onionhead” by the crew, because of its horrid smell. A scene where the ghost haunts two newlyweds showed this characteristic, but it was cut. Since it was never referred to in the movie, the writers of the animated show came up for a different name for the green ghost: Slimer. Dan Aykroyd has stated that he considers it to be the ghost of John Belushi.
  • The premise of the movie bears a striking similarity to a Disney short cartoon, “Lonesome Ghosts,” of Donald, Mickey and Goofy chasing ghosts and arriving in an ambulance.
  • The firehouse set the Ghostbusters use as HQ was remodeled and used once again as the mechanic shop in The Mask.
  • When Venkman mentions the time Spengler tried to drill a hole in his head, Spengler’s response (“That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me”) was actually ad-libbed by Harold Ramis.

Groovy Quotes:

Ray: You know, it just occured to me that we really haven’t had a completely successful test of this equipment.
Egon: I blame myself.
Peter: So do I.
Ray: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.
Peter: Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

Ray: I think we better split up.
Egon: Good idea.
Peter: Yeah… we can do more damage that way.

Peter: Ray has gone bye-bye, Egon… what’ve you got left?
Egon: Sorry, Venkman, I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

Egon: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Peter: What?
Egon: Don’t cross the streams.
Peter: Why?
Egon: It would be bad.
Peter: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean “bad”?
Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray: Total protonic reversal.
Peter: That’s bad. Okay. Alright, important safety tip, thanks Egon.

Peter: We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!

Peter: Egon, this reminds me of that time you tried to drill a hole in your head.
Egon: That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me.

Egon: Vinz, you said before you were waiting for a sign. What sign are you waiting for?
Vinz Clortho: Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zools knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

Ray: Listen… do you smell something?

Ray: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulance of 1947.
Peter: You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.

Dana: That’s the bedroom, but nothing ever happened in there.
Peter: What a crime.

[Dana explains how there was a dog-demon in her refrigerator]
Peter: Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.

Ray: Where do these stairs go?
Peter: They go up!

Winston: Ray, when someone asks if you’re a god, you say “Yes”!

Peter: Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown! THROW IT!

Peter: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Ray: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Peter: Exactly.
Ray: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Egon: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston: The dead rising from the grave!
Peter: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria!

Peter: We’ve been going about this all wrong, this Mr. Stay Puft’s okay, he’s a sailor, he’s in New York, we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble!

Peter: Mother pus bucket!

Peter: Hee hee. “Get her.” That was your whole plan. I like it; it was scientific.

Peter: I’ve been slimed.

Dana: What’s Gozer?
Peter: Gozer was very big in Sumeria.
Dana: Well, what’s he doing in my ice box?
Peter: I’m working on that.

Peter: Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

Janine: You’re very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too.
Egon: Print is dead.
Janine: Oh, that’s very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I’m too intellectual but I think it’s a fabulous way to spend your spare time. I also play raquetball. Do you have any hobbies?
Egon: I collect spores, molds, and fungus.

Peter: NOBODY steps on a church in my town!

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30 Comments

  1. I love Ghostbusters. much to the chagrin of my not-as-nerdy husband, I watch it everytime it’s on TV. the movie is over 20 years old, and little kids still dress up like the Ghostbusters for halloween! how awesome is that?

    and Ghostbusters started me on the path of mad love for Bill Murray. also awesome.

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