GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) – A Timeless Classic

I remember going on one of those “farmstay” holidays as a kid . You know the ones. You stay in cabins and ride horses and join hay rides and have chicken pie for lunch. It would have been amazing fun – but it rained nonstop for the whole week. After our coins ran out for the pinball machines and pool tables in the games room, we started exploring. It wasn’t long before the ragtag bunch of city kids on holiday discovered a milk crate full of VHS tapes behind the old CRT TV. Amongst the recordings of football games and news reels, we struck gold. An honest to goodness, taped from TV – including all the 90’s TV ads – copy of GHOSTBUSTERS!

By the end of the week we could quote all the lines and remember which ad to stop fast-forwarding on before the film started again after an ad-break. I don’t think I’m alone in this sort of experience with the classic 80’s flick. It’s just the right blend of spooky and fun – similar to GREMLINS – which makes young kidlets feel a little brave and daring watching it, but it’s light and fun enough that they won’t get nightmares. I revelled in showing my niece and nephew this film when they were old enough (about six) and was so pleased to see the magic was still there for the next generation of ‘Busters.

GHOSTBUSTERS is released by the spoooooky syndicate at Sony Pictures Entertainment. It runs for 105mins and is rated PG. Select cinemas and drive-in’s are releasing this gem as part of a retro-throwback initiative for cinemas reopening. Enjoy Kernel Ehab’s review.
– Kernel Claire

Git em’ boys!

BY EHAB RASHED

INITIAL THOUGHTS:

Back in the early 2000’s, a younger and WAY less cynical Ehab was working at the local Video Ezy. I was chatting with the staff about great films and naturally Ghostbusters came up. Out of left field a customer pops up and spouts “It’s just a movie”. After he regained consciousness following my knee jerk reaction punch to the face, I bought him a coke, apologised for the bruise and explained why Ghostbusters wasn’t and isn’t “Just a movie” … it’s a force of nature!   

SYNOPSIS – THREE GUYS WALK INTO AN ABANDONED FIREHOUSE 

In one of the better examples of “Title Describing The Movie” GHOSTBUSTERS is exactly that. Three odd-ball scientists get kicked out of their cushy positions at a university in New York City where they studied the paranormal. They decide to set up shop in an old firehouse and become GHOSTBUSTERS, trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists for money. They wise-crack their way through the city, and stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, one which will release untold evil upon the city. 

Don’t Cross The Streams!

1984…….A GHOSTBUSTERS RETROSPECTIVE :

1984 isn’t just the name of the next WONDER WOMAN movie, No sir! In 1984 I was in year six on this blue rock and while not the obsessive movie fan I am today I was WELL aware that something called GHOSTBUSTERS was taking over Pop Culture. 
Before we delve let’s take a quick look at just a few things that were going on in 1984. 

  • Australians were beginning to enjoy subsidised healthcare as Medicare came into effect for Aus this year.
  • Skippy was finally represented on our national currency when the Aussie one dollar coin was introduced 
  • The Apple Macintosh first hit stores and “wowed” consumers with its fun and friendly interface.
  • Motorbikes and velour suits never looked cooler with PURPLE RAIN gifted to us by Prince. 
  • The world was confused by the concept of mutated teenage turtle ninjas when the first TMNT comic book was published.
  • And finally – TETRIS!!!!

And of course, a little film called GHOSTBUSTERS took over the world 

Hot off the success of THE BLUES BROTHERS, Dan Aykroyd (CONEHEADS, SNL) in 1981 wrote his first eighty page outline for what eventually became GHOSTBUSTERS. It was originally titled GHOST SMASHERS and was inspired by the comedies of Abbott and Costello as well as Aykroyd’s fascination with the paranormal. His close friend and BLUES co-star John Belushi (SNL, NATIONAL LAMPOON FRANCHISE) was touted to play Peter Venkman in the movie (with the role going to Bill Murray after Belushi sadly passed away in 1982 from a drug overdose). The late great Harold Ramis (GROUNDHOG DAY, STRIPES) who played Egon was never meant to be in the movie with producers initially considering Jeff Goldblum (JURASSIC PARK FRANCHISE), John Lithgow (INTERSTELLAR) and Christopher Walken (HAIRSPRAY) for the role (My brain is exploding just picturing these possibilities) but I love you Egon, wouldn’t change a thing! 

Practical Effects and Unbelievable Sets!

BEHIND THE SCENES:

If you do a deep dive online there is a geyser of info about what went on behind the scenes during the production of GHOSTBUSTERS, but here I will highlight some fun facts before reviewing the 4K restored flick through my 2020 eyes. 

  • The original idea was to have the already established “Ghost Smashers” fight ghosts and sprites through space, time and other dimensions 
  • The famed “Ecto 1” vehicle was meant to be a black Cadillac ambulance and have a cloaking device to evade police.
  • Slimer was meant to be scarier and called “Onion Head” but Aykroyd has mentioned on many occasions that both Slimer’s look and behaviour were  changed to to resemble his friend John Belushi. He credits that decision as to why Slimer has become such a beloved character and refers to him as “The Ghost of John Belushi’
  • While Akroyd was filming TRADING PLACES in 1982 he loved working with co-star Eddie Murphy (THE NUTTY PROFESSOR) so much that he decided to write him a part in GHOSTBUSTERS. Eddie had to decline the part to make BEVERLY HILLS COP (I know the Axel Foley theme is popping in your heads right now). The everyman role ended up going to Ernie Hudson (TWIN PEAKS) in the final film. 
  • It was Director Ivan Reitman (UP IN THE AIR, HEAVY METAL) who convinced Aykroyd to team up with Ramis and to trim down the original story so all the action takes place on earth (to avoid budget concerns) and pen the film as an origins story. You can’t argue with the final film. Great idea!  
  • Michael Keaton (BIRDMAN, THE FOUNDER) turned down both the roles of Venkman and Egon 
  • Aykroyd’s single line pitch to studio bosses was “Ghost Janitors in New York”
Onion Head…..errr, I mean…..Slimer!

THAT’S A BIG TWINKIE:

HALLELUJAH! My local cinema reopened their warm and inviting arms and oh how I missed her complex carbohydrates (never leave me again). I settle into my seat with popcorn mixed with Smith’s Chicken Chips (trust me on this one). I nod in approval at the couple who have come dressed as a ‘Buster and a possessed Sigourney Weaver and lament again my chronic singleness. After the end credits start, the answer as to whether or not the flick still holds up is a resounding “YES!!!” 

I remember wearing out my VHS copy with multiple re-watches back in the day, but honesty wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I haven’t watched it in probably twenty years and was thinking I’d be bored or distracted. NOT. THE. CASE! 

The biggest thing to strike me was that this movie isn’t as much a comedy as I remember. It’s a supernatural thriller that just so happens to have the best and most talented comedic actors of their time in it. The eerie and so on point musical score from fourteen-time Academy Award nominee (and 1 time winner) Elmer Bernstein (WILD WILD WEST, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) is the underrated MVP here. I found myself really affected by it and it set the mood perfectly for what the filmmakers were trying to achieve. It’s used to amazing effectiveness for the films opening in a haunted public library. Certain musical notes sent chills down my spine and transported my brain right back to my youth. Nostalgia really is an effective thing! Remember this the next time you ask “why are they remaking that??”

Who Ya Gonna….AAARGH!

DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER, MASS HYSTERIA!!

That iconic line has entered the cultural zeitgeist and is a testament to the talented trio fronting the movie. It’s widely known that the majority of their performances were ad-libbed especially Murray. We’re dealing with a pretty unique premise, particularly in the ’80’s. 
The entire movie rests on the likability of the cast and their ability to “sell the story”. Along with superb directing from Reitman, GHOSTBUSTERS carries itself with way more gravitas than it should have been entitled to. And that’s what’s made it such a beloved favourite across generations of movie watchers. 

And it’s not just the top three mains. The memorable supporting cast are all throwing strikes. No one misses a beat! From the spooked random guy at the elevator. Sigourney Weaver (ALIEN FRANCHISE, AVATAR) going from “vanilla” to “possessed mega-demon-god”, to the all time great performance by Rick Moranis (SPACEBALLS, PARENTHOOD). The former accountant ad-libbed all his dialogue about tax tips from stuff he already knew and it’s awesome! To think we were almost cheated out of it with John Candy (SPACEBALLS, UNCLE BUCK) as the original choice for the part. Candy didn’t really get the story and he cost too much to hire. So it was actually Candy who suggested Moranis for the part. A masterstroke! 

Is THIS Your Card?

HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET A 112 FOOT TALL MARSHMALLOW MAN TO TERRORISE NEW YORK?

You can’t gush over GHOSTBUSTERS without giving particular kudos to the production and special effects. Art director John Bruno (THE ABYSS, TRUE LIES) and Industrial Light and Magic allum / special effects GOD Richard Edlund (STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) were given a tight ten month schedule to produce over two-hundred special effects shots required for the film. They hit the finish line in time but were $700,000 over budget. But who cares!!! It worked!! To this day, the effects are realistic and so effective. They’re a crazy mix of makeup, claymation, puppetry, miniatures, matte paintings, set design and a hell of a lot of shaving cream. 

We’re talking 1984 people!! CGI wasn’t invented yet. That’s right! There are no computer generated effects in this movie. (Editors note: Once more for those in the back. No computers! Got it?) Even the ghosts were all either puppeteered or hand drawn and added to the film frame by frame. Which meant that every second of ghostly footage took up to three weeks to produce! GHOSTBUSTERS is a testament to ingenuity and commitment when you consider how complicated and difficult the special effects process was. You’ll have a real appreciation for the art of it when you watch the “making of” clips on YouTube.

Murray, Ramis and Akroyd – The Holy Trinity

IT CAME, IT SAW, IT KICKED @SS!

Thirty-six years. WOW! Thirty. Six. YEARS since the $30 Million budgeted GHOSTBUSTERS opened and pulled in a staggering amount of over $280 Million worldwide. Not bad for a silly ghost movie. 
Oh but it doesn’t stop at the box office, my friend! Ghostbusters was more than a movie! 
Just a taste of the legacy list! 

  • A multi million dollar toy range that’s still cashing in.
  • A Saturday morning cartoon for the kids (and the big kids) 
  • A theme song that is still catchy as hell
  • Books, comics and graphic novels and over 20 different video games released 
  • Theme park rides and more merch than you can wave a George Lucas at 
  • Generational fans across the globe sharing in their love of all things “Busters” 
  • And of course…..sequels, sequels, sequels! 

And I don’t just mean the 2016 punch to the gut that must not be named. Part Two was released in 1989 with the original main cast returning. While not the same calibre as Part One, it still made over $200 million dollars worldwide from a budget of $37 million and had a brilliant Bobby Brown fueled soundtrack. 

Zzzzzap!

BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE!

The real big news though is that there is another sequel announced that seemingly came out of nowhere. GHOSTBUSTERS : AFTERLIFE starring Paul Rudd along with surviving members of the original cast have been confirmed. The new head of Sony green-lit the sequel and handed the reigns to Reitman……Jason Reitman that is. Yes, the four time Oscar nominee and son of original director Ivan is taking on the job and I couldn’t be more excited! From the looks of the early footage released, It’s a “Pass the torch” film and has a real STRANGER THINGS vibe. With this new creative team in place and all ships pointing the same way, I’m eagerly anticipating what Reitman has in store for us…COVID willing of course. 

KERNEL EHAB’S POP SCORE:

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YOUR CRITIC:

Ehab Rashed is a part time freelancer and full time movie tragic and dog dad. If he’s not making his Netflix account overheat you can find him at the movies, a dog park, contemplating the life meaning in “The Big Lebowski”, photographing landscapes or working Tarantino quotes into everyday conversations. You can find this dog and him bumming around on insta @chubbz4lyf 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.