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Ghostbusters (1984)

summer2016originstn_ghostbustersGHOSTBUSTERS (1984) is the story of three male scientists – Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray – who live and work in New York City and specialize in studying the supernatural. They lose their grant at the college just because the uptight higher ups notice that they are bringing great shame and humiliation upon the institution by wasting everyone’s time and money on an area of study that is not real. And that’s without even knowing that Murray (WILD THINGS) doesn’t totally believe in it and spends his days doing fake telepathy tests just to hit on women.

So they decide to lease a beat up old fire station and start a scrappy new business that treats exorcism like pest control and advertises on TV and what not. Lucky for them they are correct, it turns out ghosts are real and there are a couple actual hauntings going on in the city. A female client (Sigourney Weaver, ABDUCTION) comes to their male offices with a huge case: her refrigerator is a portal to a ghost dimension or some shit and she and her neighbor (Rick Moranis, STREETS OF FIRE) get possessed and an ancient Sumerian god named Gozer (Slavitz Jovan, KNIGHT OF CUPS) appears on top of the building and they have to shoot lasers at it, etc.

It’s a fun premise devised by Aykroyd (GET ON UP), who wrote it with Ramis (GROUNDHOG DAY) for male director Ivan Reitman (producer of Cronenberg’s SHIVERS and RABID), with particular cleverness in the equipment they use for ghostbustification, such as the backpack laser guns and the portable containment unit trap things. A favorite moment is when Aykroyd is matter-of-factly showing new-hire Ernie Hudson (LEADBELLY, THE HUMAN TORNADO, THE OCTAGON, THE SUBSTITUTE) how to use the machine that stores all the ghosts they catch. “Light is green, trap is clean.” It reminds me a little bit of the job training sequence I love so much in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

mp_ghostbustersMurray is the main reason to watch the movie. It’s that old ’80s comedy joke that he’s just a total prick but passes it off as charm and is never punished for it. Some movies like that date poorly (see Jay Leno pulling women over to get their phone numbers in COLLISION COURSE), but Murray’s overpowering lovableness seems to be timeless. He gets most of the funniest lines, many of which seem like he probly made them up on set. In real life some people got mad at him for being above all this shit – his total disinterest in ghostbusting stymied Aykroyd’s years of attempts at a part 3 – which is ironic because the whole joke of his character is that he’s above it all, doesn’t give a shit about anything, and has no respect for anyone. That comes across best when he’s being a smartass to people possessed by supernatural beings.

“Are you The Keymaster?”

“Yes. Actually I’m a friend of his, he asked me to meet him here.”

The rest of them mostly work as straight men, though Aykroyd gets some laughs with his mildly Aspergery insistence on telling everybody too much information about supernatural research.

In the classic ’80s comedy tradition the heroes are allowed to be dicks because the authority figures seem like such doofuses, even when their arguments are unequivocally correct. This guy from the EPA is after the Ghostbusters simply for having a potentially catastrophic and clearly hugely illegal nuclear device that they’re not even sure about and that in fact does lead to a disaster in which all the ghosts they’ve captured are released to attack the city. I never recognized him, because he has a Kenneth Branagh beard in this one, but the EPA guy is played by William Atherton. So they stacked the deck, they made us hate the Environmental Protection Agency by portraying their agent as Thornburg from DIE HARD instead of a cool guy like Seagal from FIRE DOWN BELOW.

Atherton is not the only future DIE HARD legend to be involved in this. One “Reggie Vel Johnson” shows up to let the male Ghostbusters out of jail. He’s credited as “Jail Guard” and in my opinion after Sgt. Al Powell shot the kid by accident he temporarily worked in New York and this is for sure the same character. And more notably there’s Richard Edlund, the DIE HARD visual effects supervisor (also of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and STAR WARS fame).

That’s one thing that makes this movie special: it’s one of the few comedies that’s also a huge effects showcase. The ghostly images are weird rubber puppets, there’s an animatronic zombie character in one part, some monster dogs and of course the giant (SPOILER) male marshmallow individual attacking downtown Godzilla style. The matting of the stop motion monsters and the soundstage roof top set look very fake by modern standards (and in high def), so this is another one of those situations where at the time everybody was blown away and wanted to know how they did it, because it was the best work of the best craftsmen using the absolute state of the art technology, and now we like it for being charmingly hand made and retro. Still looks cool, is the point.

Watching it this time I noticed that one scene had two effects – a wall stretching and a monster hand reaching up and grabbing a woman’s face – that were very reminiscent of effects in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. But they came out the same year, so it’s a coincidence. You know, NIGHTMARE was a big hit but if it had been as big as GHOSTBUSTERS I wonder if FREDDY’S REVENGE would’ve had a Bobby Brown song on the soundtrack? They had to wait a couple more sequels to get any rappin at all.

crap_ghostbustersOf course there’s been alot of talk about Men’s Ghostbusters this summer because of the new remake that just came out and the small but internetically vocal group of people that are mad about its existence. Now, let me be clear. I know that they’re not upset about the remake just because it stars women and they are a bunch of weird weiner people who don’t want talented women to be given a small sliver of the opportunities that men get. Obviously that’s how it comes across, but it has been explained to me that for sure it has nothing to do with hating and fearing and not relating to women as humans, it is actually because GHOSTBUSTERS raised them from youths and is unquestionably one of the most flawless works of art ever created, that has not once been sullied in any way by a poor sequel or crass junk food or merchandise tie-in of any kind, and therefore it is an insult to all of the men and boys who gave their lives for GHOSTBUSTERS for there to be a new version with a great cast by the guy who made really funny, crowdpleasing movies like BRIDESMAIDS and THE HEAT and SPY.

So I’ll try to be understanding of these ghostbuster poindexters. They don’t mean any harm, they’re just nostalgic for a more innocent time, the good old days, when the GHOSTBUSTERS product brand franchise trademarks were as pure as a morning’s snow made of virgin tears.

I get it. But hypothetically, if there WERE such a thing as weird sexist video game nerds who are obsessed with one of the most pretty good movies of the 1980s and weirdly upset that a few women might be allowed to participate in a new version, it would be interesting to note that Bill Murray plays a sexist asshole in the original movie. He’s introduced cheating on the results of his psychic testing as a method of hitting on a young woman – the ESP couch, basically. Then, when investigating the haunting at the library, he thinks it’s funny to make the librarian talk about her menstruation cycle for no reason.

It’s like some weird GOP health care legislation. Then his main storyline in the movie is sexually harassing the client, spending more time trying to get into her apartment and ask her on dates than do any work. When she’s possessed and starts getting sexually aggressive with him he considers taking advantage of it. When he finally sees Gozer and her body turns out to be female, he comments that “it’s a girl” and later calls her a bitch.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s supposed to be a dick – do I look like a motherfuckin role model? – but to a kid lookin up to him, life ain’t nothin but bitches and bustin. And these kids may have noticed that there are three arcade video games inside the male Ghostbusters headquarters. So it makes sense that they would aspire to be male Ghostbusters themselves when they grow up, and spend their days shooting lasers, playing those video games. And they wouldn’t want no girls allowed in the clubhouse making them feel bad about getting a blowjob from a ghost (as Aykroyd’s character dreams he does in one scene).

Anyway, I’m glad that’s not a thing. That would kinda taint the hallowed legacy of GHOSTBUSTERS.

One non-gender related thing I’ve noticed coming up in this summer’s wave of discussion is that some people who love GHOSTBUSTERS claim to consider it more a serious horror movie than a comedy. Indeed, the opening is a straight haunting scene with no jokes and creepy music by Elmer Bernstein (BILLY JACK GOES TO WASHINGTON), but then of course it abruptly goes into the cartoon logo and the goofy Ray Parker Jr. (adapted from Huey Lewis) theme song and a bunch of comedy scenes and jokes, and the next ghost scene ends with the heroes running away comically screaming while wacky music plays. Moranis shows up as a clueless, nasally nerd straight out of an SCTV skit, and the ghosts are designed like cartoon characters, and no, I absolutely cannot get behind the gerrymandering of the definition of horror to include this comedy where a bunch of comedians make jokes and then blow up a killer marshmallow. Your mileage may vary.

It’s a comedy. It’s a good comedy. That’s enough.

I probly already offended a couple of you here, and I am about to step into more dangerous territory with this next paragraph. So let me start it by 1) apologizing and 2) repeating that I truly do like GHOSTBUSTERS. It’s a clever movie and it has many laughs and cool effects and it’s unique. But it is my curse to be open and honest with you and so I must say that this most recent re-watch has not changed my feeling, my personal opinion, my subjective-point-of-view-and-you-are-allowed-to-disagree, that its reputation has been puffed up a little by our nostalgia. That on the meter that measures from “we all really loved this at the time” to “stone cold classic” the needle doesn’t quite reach all the way right.

It was a phenomenon in 1984. I waited in the line, I wore the t-shirt, you guys watched the cartoon and slurped the Hi-C and the cereal and probly had toys and the ceiling fan and the cassingle for the Bobby Brown song from part 2. So if we can’t remember exactly why “he slimed me” seemed so hilarious at the time it doesn’t matter because we just have to remember that it was hilarious at the time and then we love it. And if the theme song is totally disruptive at the beginning and ending of the movie it doesn’t matter because it’s the theme song and we love the theme song remember the theme song? “Bustin makes me feel goooood!” Classic!

In the last scene the song plays while the Ghostbusters are cheered on and celebrated in a hero’s parade. There are no jokes (and no horror), it’s just several minutes of these are the Ghostbusters, aren’t they awesome? We love them so much, look at these guys! Fantastic! And Murray kisses Weaver, and she smiles, and that is not earned at all! Their entire relationship is that he was a sleaze to her, but somehow got her to agree to a date, but then she was possessed and now she wakes up and she’s in love with the guy? That’s proof that it’s a comedy right there because they always pull that shit where at the end they act like you should actually be happy for a joke relationship.

Maybe it’s just the music that makes me want to pump the brakes on GHOSTBUSTERS’s All Time Masterwork status. Obviously it’s a great pop song, but to me it doesn’t feel of a whole with the movie itself. It seems like a tie-in music video tacked onto the movie. Like if the last scene of BATMAN was everybody grooving to “Batdance.” And the rest of the songs – The Busboys, Thompson Twins, Alessi, Laura Branigan – these are more like ha ha ironic ’80s movie music than timeless classic music. It makes it easier for me to think of it as being related to more dated ’80s comedies and harder for me to be excited about them becoming heroes just by standing in one place shooting their things at the thing and it blows up and that’s it.

In my opinion the greatest Aykroyd creation, the more masterful, timeless filmmaking, and the much funnier movie, is THE BLUES BROTHERS. 2000. No, just kidding, the original BLUES BROTHERS. That, to me, is the masterpiece. But GHOSTBUSTERS is a respectable second best. Good job Aykroyd and the other males that made this sausagefest.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 18th, 2016 at 12:49 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

74 Responses to “Ghostbusters (1984)”

  1. I genuinely think a lot of the nostalgia for this movie is actually misplaced nostalgia for the cartoon. That’s certainly the thing I have the fondest memories of anyhow.

    That said, it was my favourite movie until i saw The Monster Squad and does hold a special significance as both the first movie I ever saw on VHS and the first time I ever enjoyed being scared. The library ghost used to scare the piss out of me but no matter how scared I got knowing what was coming I couldn’t not look! Thus was born a horror fan.

    Also I met Ernie Hudson at Dublin Comic Con a couple of years ago and he was very lovely and gracious, had a great handshake, signed my Ghostbusters Blu-Ray and gently flirted with my girlfriend.

  2. Totally agree on so much of what you say here, particularly about Blues Brothers being Akroyd’s masterpiece. I mean, that movie is sort of perfect for what it is. Ghostbusters (OG version, haven’t seen the remake-boot-sequel), was a solid comedy which somehow got elevated to some sort of “classic” status. I remember a few years ago while working on a GB game, I kept thinking that maybe I missed something somewhere along the line. I mean, I liked the original movie and the sequel had a line or two which was funny, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what my co-workers were so excited about. That was around 2008 or so. Here we are nearly 10 years later and this sort of misplaced reverence for the IP has exploded into the seriously depressing backlash we’ve seen about the new one. I just don’t get what it is, exactly, about ain’t-being-afraid-of-no-ghosts which makes people so batshit crazy about the series. (And that’s without even getting started on the ridiculous misogyny of a large contingent of the complainers).

  3. I think the thing with the comedy vs. horror confusion surrounding the first GHOSTBUSTERS (which, I agree, is pretty good but not great) is that the horror/fantasy element of it isn’t just at service of the comedy. The Ghostbusters are responding to the horror around them through comedy. This is the same style Eddie Murphy adventure-comedies had in the ’80s (THE GOLDEN CHILD, 48 HRS, the BEVERLY HILLS COPs) where the situations are presented tonally as reality and the stakes are real. Compare that to more recent action-comedies like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and THE HEAT, where the action itself is played as humour. When I rewatched GB a couple years ago, I felt the horror aspects had actually aged better than most of the comedy, which is often retrograde and chauvinistic. That first awesome glimpse of the Marshmallow Man from between two buildings is for real, though.

  4. Thank God you reminded me there were males in this movie.

    The Feminazi remake had been forcibly rewriting my neural pathways to eliminate all memories of my rightful male inheritance.

    Truth be told I didn’t care much about the new film until the hatestorn started. Now I’m a little sad they couldn’t make a smashier hit because I dreamed of hateful trolls dying of outrage strokes.

    Ghostbusters was pretty great to me as a kid and I still enjoy it as a vintage comedy but I believe that Vern’s Ole Timey Hammer to Nail matchmaking service ahem…strikes again

  5. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 18th, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I cannot believe I never picked up that Walter Peck is played by the same guy who played Thornburg in Die Hard. Mind blown.

  6. I really love Ghostbusters (the movie) but on last re-watch (last Halloween) I noticed how it is a miracle that the film is as good as it is. It’s mostly an excuse to string together comedy sketches than a coherent story (nothing wrong with that by-the-way). As for how anyone can claim it is a straight horror movie with comedy bits I have no idea. It is a comedy through and through.

    Blues Brothers 2000 is enough to not want an Aykroyd Ghostbusters III. I have no clue how fans who scream about how George Lucas needs to be removed from all things Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Captain EO (probably) and Chris Carter removed from X-Files, etc. but still want a Ghostbusters III from the guy who gave us Ghostbusters II and Blues Brothers 2000 and Evolution.

    I totally agree with you Kev W, I’ve long been holding on to the belief that it is the cartoon and toys that our generation is holding onto more than the movie(s).

  7. Also, seeing that Bobby Brown video for the first time in many years, I found myself saying, “Huh. I guess he was always kind of ugly and it isn’t just the result of some hard living.” I wonder if he would have had the career he did if Ricky Bell’s ugly mug weren’t next to him in New Edition to make him look better. (OK. that comment was probably a little bit mean spirited, but I stand by it).

  8. I don’t know, man. This is truely one of the few movies that I can’t not watch when I catch them on TV. Doesn’t matter how late to the show I am, I just have to watch it till the end. And it has nothing to do with nostalgia. Okay, I saw it the first time when it premiered in German TV in either 1989 or 1990 and I was therefore 6 or 7 years old and the cartoon show was the greatest thing ever for me, but I saw many effect driven comedies from that era when I was a kid (including BEETLEJUICE [which also had a cartoon that I dearly loved], THE GOLDEN CHILD and GREMLINS) and none of them has such a special place in my heart.

    This movie is lightning in a bottle. The perfect script, for the perfect cast, directed by the perfect director. I don’t think any other high concept comedy managed to do this until GALAXY QUEST.

  9. Also, when I was a kid I didn’t care for him but now that I am a (mature) adult, Rick Moranis’ character is now my favorite. Just about everything he does cracks me up. He has the best material in the sequel with the courtroom scene as their amateur lawyer.

  10. BTW, I think you kinda misunderstood the whole “The fans say GHOSTBUSTERS is real horror” thing. When Paul Feig announced before shooting that his movie will be “scarier than the original” most people were like (In a sarcastic voice) “Oh yeah, a truly scary version of Ghostbusters is what we need *fart noise*”.

    That said, the scene with Sigourney Weaver in the armchair IS one of the scariest scenes in movie history, mostly because it’s a masterful bait (Oh no, there is something coming through the door!) and HOLY SHIT switch (AAAAAH! IT’S ACTUALLY COMING FROM UNDERNEATH HER!!!) and on top of that, everything that came before was such light hearted fun, that you simply don’t expect shit like this to happen!

  11. The original was a touchstone moment for a generation and a fun movie that no one had ever seen before – a clever, big-budget special effects comedy. Maybe I am totally naive but I don’t think there really is some huge male anger club out there upset because there’s a sequel starring all women. I think a lot of people are just not into another unwanted remake/remakequel and had wanted to see a true sequel with those guys that they enjoyed doing it again. This movie’s production seemed to be the last nail in the coffin indicating that such a sequel was in fact never ever coming. It also didn’t help that the trailers were terribly unfunny.

    Personally I thought the gender switch was a clever idea at first but then was put off by the execution and marketing.

  12. P.S. Vigo, the bad guy from part 2, was played by Norbert Grupe (Credited under his stage name “Wilhelm von Homburg”), who also was one of the guys on Gruber’s gang in DIE HARD.

  13. Dammit another also,

    Another thing, fans (who all seem to be gamers as well) already got their dream Ghostbusters III, it was the Video Game. It was fun and worked because it used the interactive medium to make it to where we got to hang out with these characters. As a story though it was shit, just like II it tried to recreate part I. Oh look Aykroyd wrote both. I guess after Force Awakens I shouldn’t be surprised that all the fans wanted was an actual remake but with the same cast.

  14. You can’t make me choose between Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers!

    I just showed my daughter Ghostbusters before taking her to see the (not bad) she-boot and I think it still holds up beautifully. It’s note-perfect in every way.

    I love your deconstruction of Venkman’s asshole behavior in his pursuit of Dana but you neglect to mention that it is Louis the dweeb who actually manages to seduce her. Of course he stalked her just as hard as Venkman did and was even creepier about it but at least Venkman didn’t get her between the sheets (of course Dana and Louis were both possessed at the time but it still counts).

  15. Also, Dan Aykroyd really does have Asperger’s:

    Dan Aykroyd Talks About his Asperger's Diagnosis

    Actor discusses his diagnosis with English paper Daily Mail...

  16. It’s interesting because this is exactly the review I would’ve written about Ghostbusters… until I went and saw the new movie. I was excited to see it, took my 6 year-old son to see it on opening day and it’s certainly not terrible, but it’s a total mediocrity. Seeing the new one really made appreciate the lightning in a bottle qualities of the original (like the performances from Murray, Weaver & Moranis or the way it blends big budget effects with dumb 80’s comedy) – like you, I’ve never thought of the original as a Stone Cold Classic, but it’s definitely got something about it that’s really unique and original and hasn’t been reproduced almost at all since its creation (even by its own sequel.) There’s just something uniquely appealing about it that’s even more thrown into relief when you see a more bland reproduction – the new Ghostbusters actually reminded me of a lot of Evolution, where they hired Reitman to try and do the same thing again…

  17. @feet: It’s undeniable that there ARE some sexist assholes who don’t want any women in their movies, especially when it’s a remake of a full male fan favourite masterpiece.

    Still, it must also be said, that the size of that group often gets seriously overestimated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there are only a handful of them and most of all even 10 would already be too much, but the media (plus the people involved in the movie) make it seem, like there is a nationwide protest of millions against those “icky females”.

    People often forget that the internet is a huge echo chamber, where comparibly small groups seem bigger and louder than they really are. But millions of people decided last weekend to watch the movie and most likely over 95% of them did that because they were truly excited to see it and not to make sure that all their sexist prejudice will be confirmed. (Not to mention that neither SERENITY, nor SCOTT PILGRIM or SNAKES ON A PLANE became the huge smash hit that “The internet” predicted.)

  18. I pretty much tried to base my whole personality on Peter Venkman, so I’m hoping Vern and I can still be friends after this craven and unwarranted attack on everything I hold dear.

  19. I always knew that was Atherton, so…

    A few months ago, I actually defended the female version on an aintitcool talkback, where except perhaps on YouTube the comments are the most chauvinistic. I thought the trailers were a bit underwhelming and that the comedy seemed pretty low-brow (especially compared to the original) but l didn’t think it justified the amount of hate it got. That it was, like, the worst reviewed trailer on youtube ever was an actual item on my Facebook Trending list.

    At some point, though (or even at several points these past several years) the dam must occasionally break when it comes to these remakes. Feig has made good movies that are fresh, original stories; is it so unthinkable that this remake may be bad?

  20. Here’s the thing with GB reboot.

    Last year we got Star Wars Episode 7. For many years fans of Star Wars had been waiting for a proper sequel to Return of the Jedi. And they got just that. Can you imagine if instead, Disney had made a straight remake of Episode 4? Sure there was some serious Deja Vu in Ep 7, but I am talking about a proper remake, with a new Luke, Han and Leia. It’s a bit hard to imagine that taking place when Disney could have just done what they did, which is continue where they left off. Why erase a fictional universe that has been built through 3 (maybe 6) movies? Continuing Star Wars was just common sense, and it’s obvious to a lot of people due to the popularity of the franchise.

    But how come Star Wars, Indy, Rambo, Rocky etc get to have proper sequels while Ghostbusters, RoboCop, Ninja Turtles, all get garbage reboots and remakes?

    Imagine for a second what if during the late 90s Rambo and/or Rocky had remakes. Rambo 4, Rocky Balboa and Creed would have never been made. Imagine that. That’s the destructive power of remakes. Sure, your childhood won’t be raped etc but it does destroy any hope you could have to revisit your favorite characters.

  21. “But how come Star Wars, Indy, Rambo, Rocky etc get to have proper sequels while Ghostbusters […] get[s] a garbage reboot[…]?”

    Because Bill Murray didn’t want to do it. Since I am a firm proponent of letting Bill Murray do whatever the hell he wants, that was enough to kill any interest I might have had in GHOSTBUSTERS R3GENERATED. That and Harold Ramis dying really should have really been the end of the discussion, but some ingrates out there seem to think they have a say in the matter just because they once wore some footie pajamas with a picture of someone else’s hard work on them.

  22. The initial and enduring popularity of this one always mystified me. I always thought that GHOSTBUSTERS sucked utterly; even seeing it on its original release at age 9 – right around the time when you’d think I’d be most susceptible to its brand of nonsense – I could tell that it was just bullshit. ’80s wiseguy humor just didn’t work for me, and I think I had even less tolerance for it at the time since it actually WAS the ’80s and I was seemingly surrounded by would-be wiseguys. Oddly enough, I really did (and do) like the song, even though bustin’ in general did not make me feel good.

    But people like what they like, and no one needs to care about my opinion to find joy in whatever it is they’re into. This is also roughly my take on LADY GHOSTBUSTERS, which I haven’t yet seen. I suspect that the whole Ghostbros thing is probably blown out of proportion – like, how hard is it to find some misogynist troglodyte out there willing to make a spectacle of himself on Twitter? – but anyway the basic substance of the critique (such as it is) makes no sense. OG GHOSTBUSTERS will always be there, so who cares about the new one’s alleged offenses against propriety? And anyway, although I’m not myself a big fan of the Feig-McCarthy-Wiig Cinematic Universe, it’s not like they could possibly make a *shittier* version of GHOSTBUSTERS…

  23. The scene where Luis Tully is savaged by a demonic dog in front of a restaurant full of dead-eyed and indifferent New York socialites really bothered me as a kid and still chills me to this day.

  24. As somebody who grew up with 80 wise guy comedy instead of positive male role models, I feel compelled to defend it. I have always been somewhat smaller than average-sized American male. In an era of larger-than-life action heroes (whom I also loved) and outsized sex symbols, guys like Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, and even John Candy showed me a different way to be assertive and formidible. They didn’t enforce their will through brute strength or good looks, but through humor, intelligence, and confidence. I knew I could never be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tom Cruise, but I was pretty sure I could be Harold Ramis. Even Rick Moranis, one of the two or three dorkiest leading men of all time, wouldn’t be so bad. These guys were the first time I saw a potential blueprint for the kind of person I might end up becoming. I can totally see young girls feeling the same way about these new Ghostbusters.

  25. If it wasn’t for this movie I wouldn’t have the sense of humor I have today. Which has both saved me and opened me up to fantastic opportunities in life. So thank you Ghostbusters for truly striving for excellence when everything else was ok with being POLICE ACADEMY.

  26. This (and it’s sequel) was my brother’s childhood favorite along with Burton’s *REDACTED*. Mine were the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies. Amidst his ire at the news of this remake, I was and remain tempted to tease him that not only does my franchise keep it’s dignity because Gale and Zemeckis have done what they could to make sure no further reboots or sequels are made, but mine got the real Huey Lewis while his only pretended to. I will give GHOSTBUSTERS one thing over BACK TO THE FUTURE, in that it has better one-liners. “This man has no dick” has the whole BTTF script beat on comedy alone.

    I’ve only seen one or two of the remakes for the trailer, but it bothered me off the bat that they made the black character chalk full of cliches, where in the original Ernie Hudson’s character was just an average blue-collar guy (and technically the straight man) who picked up on the science of it all as it went along.

  27. This is one of those movies I watch every year. It’s crazy how rewatchable it is. I love that it’s a tight 100 minutes, no fat, no a wasted moment of screen time. I miss the days when movies were this efficient.

    That said, I actually didn’t mind the remake. I found it breezy (slightly forgettable) matinee fluff that’s unfortunately burdened with being a reboot of Ghostbusters (and thus the ire of some sad, angry dudes), a near-perfect popcorn flick.

    onthewall2983 – I was worried about her too but Leslie Jones was easily the most relatable and likable character for me. The awful marketing highlighted the worst parts involving her, as it did the rest of the movie. Again, not great, not anything special, but I found it a dopey but fun matinee.

  28. I’m glad to hear it. Haven’t seen her on SNL, but I did hear her on Maron’s podcast and liked her energy.

  29. George Sanderson

    July 18th, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I want to couch this by saying that I really enjoy Ghostbusters, so much so that for my birthday my wife bought me the Ghostbusters Firehouse Lego set, but apart from a few outstanding lines (“It’s true, this man has no dick”), I don’t think Ghostbusters is that funny. It’s a really engaging and well told story and Ackroyd is really selfless in the way that the script gives all the other characters much better things to say and do, but I think the whole thing comes from him exploring his profound belief in ghosts and the afterlife.
    Whatever the case, it’s a great movie with a bunch of great moments like the aforementioned arm chair scene, the library scene, and the slimmer hunt, all of which would be scary if not for the fact that I’d been told it was a comedy, so it must be funny.
    Aspects have not aged well. Our heroes smoke cigarettes and Venkman is essentially a sex pest, but the whole thing holds up due to the great balance of tone and the amazing premise.

  30. Egon randomly blurting out “Art deco, nice!” after exhastingly climbing up a crapload of stairs is one of the funniest things I ever saw. So is Louis constantly locking himself out of his apartment. You either get this movie’s humor or you don’t but it’s so much more than just Murray’s Venkman.

  31. Murray’s success has been either credited or blamed for the tone of a lot of 80’s comedies (and has made at least one star out of all that, Tom Hanks being the prime example) but it would be fair to say that it went beyond just that genre. And since DIE HARD has come up a few times already, I’ll go as far to say that the reason the wise-ass nature of Bill Murray in this works is almost identical to what Bruce did later.

  32. George Sanderson

    July 18th, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    I should add that my wife and I are seeing the remake tomorrow night and we are both looking forward to it based on the calibre of the people involved.

  33. Mr Majestyk – or Vince, if you prefer it? – you’re really on to something with that last sentence. Because it’s female comedians like Melissa McCarthy, and directors like Paul Feig, who does the best I-might-be-a-nerd-but-I’m-funnier-smarter-and-and-more-confident-than-you’ll-ever-be humor these days.

    onthewall2983, the difference being that Murray in the fucking 90’s managed to evolve into something almost lovable with GROUNDHOG DAY, while Willis turned into something more asshole-ish with DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE.

  34. I can´t shake the feeling that Vern is a little bit of Walter Peck here.

  35. GHOSTBUSTERS has become such a toxic subject that it is almost impossible to talk about it without some kind of backlash. It is no fun anymore.

  36. Love a Collision Course reference!

  37. One Guy From Andromeda

    July 19th, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Now Ghostbusters isn’t a good movie anymore? The way Sony has used the stupid Internet backlash to promote interest in their obviously turdy remake (has there been a single joke in any of the trailers that worked?) has now come to the stage where we are being told “of course Ghostbusters 2016 is kind of shitty, but hey! Ghostbusters 1984 was kind of shitty too!” This new ‘ideology trumps aesthetics’ view of Hollywood cinema (where a movie being “empowering” and along the party line is more important than the movie being good) triumphs again and again. So now it’s better to be non-sexist, non-edgy, non-confrontational instead of being funny or entertaining or not full of shit. Bad times for mainstream entertainment.

  38. Shoot, it’s true, this man has no dick…

  39. pegsman- As soon as I posted that comment the line came up in my head and I regretted posting it in the first place.

  40. I agree with the general thrust of Vern’s review. I would note that, within the logic of the film, Walter Peck isn’t proved right because it’s his interference which causes the ghosts to be released. It’s part of the weirdly reactionary/Reaganite perspective of the film (made by a number of pronounced liberals) which has given the film enduring popularity among American Conservatives (I’m not even going to touch on whether or not that fed into the backlash for the new film).

    I did find myself enjoying the Alessi jam unironically when I watched this recently, and the Mick Smiley track is also pretty cool (and quite surprising when you listen to it in full). As a bit of trivia The Thompson Twins track was a holdover from when they were a seven piece(!) who only troubled the UK indie charts and were better known for their experimental concerts and enthusiastic CND support than their records. They did eventually become a double act, and their name finally made sense to those unfamiliar with the works of Herge.

    GHOSTBUSTERS II really is pretty poor, which is a shame as it’s probably the first live action film I ever really liked (I saw it before the first). Vigo is a pretty inspired villain and some of his scenes are well executed but don’t really fit the film. The idea of “mood slime” and negative energy coming back to haunt people is cute too, it’s really the comedy which lets the films down, it’s almost all just so blatantly uninspired and makes the film feel cheesy and a real slog to get through. Revisiting BACK TO THE FUTURE II last year there were moments where I could kind of see why it rubbed adults the wrong way back in 1989, but compared to GBII, geez!

    As for the new film, I really enjoyed it while I was watching it, but I’ve since thought of a lot of missed opportunities. Unlike most critics I thought the villain was quite interesting but [SPOILERS] I was initially quite intrigued by the idea of him being inspired by Wigg and McCarthy’s book, but they don’t really go anywhere with it. And while it would have been a bit clichéd, I think it might have worked to have had him somehow involved in Wigg’s childhood, with the whole “Ghost Girl” incident[END OF SPOILERS]. It has the weirdly rushed, “needed another draft” feel of many of Sony’s Blockbusters this decade (MIBIII, the SPIDER-MANses, SPECTRE). Still, it was breezy fun, more entertaining to me personally than SPY and certainly most FAUXBUSTERS like EVOLUTION.

    What do people think of THE FRIGHTENERS around here? Watching it last week I couldn’t help but think of how much more I enjoy it than any GHOSTBUSTERS permutation these days (it’s also easily my favourite Peter Jackson joint as an asider). I guess its light R-Rating means it’s not in the same family-friendly category, but I think most kids above a certain age could handle it (say 10?).

  41. Oh, and as I’m sure many of you know GREMLINS was released the same day as GHOSTBUSTERS and IMO has held up much better, on pretty much every level, and that one I didn’t see until I was well into my teens. But why not have both? At any rate it was a great day for a remarkable year (perhaps the best) for mainstream American cinema. (GREMLINS 2 vs GHOSTBUSTERS 2 is no fight at all though).

  42. Pacman: I love THE FRIGHTENERS and was nearly obsessed with it during the late 90s. (Also I recently sampled its score for a Hip Hop instrumental, that will most likely stay unreleased, because I don’t know any rappers and clearence might be a bitch of a motherfucker to pay for.) It’s no masterpiece, thanks to its rushed post production, but I don’t know many other movies, that handle a tonal shift from light hearted comedy to supernatural serial killer thriller that perfectly.

  43. “I’ve got some Laura Antonelli tapes you can watch.”

    “I think they’re more interested in my epididymis.”

    “I used to have a roomate but my mom moved to florida.”

    “Then why are you came?”

    “Yeah, I know bassmasters.”

    “do! Re! EGON!”

    “Suck in the guts guys we’re the Ghostbusters.”

    “You’re not gonna get a green card with that attitude pal.”

    “I have a hamper?”

    Are some of the reasons why GHOSTBUSTERS II works for me. The comedy is it’s only real saving grace.

  44. THE FRIGHTNERS was awesome as fuck. Thanks to Jeffrey Combs I haven’t laughed that hard at a supernatural comedy since. Not even SHAUN OF THE DEAD and I liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD

  45. The fact that every single word Bill Murray says in GB2 is quotable makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

    “I have seen some DUMB blondes in my day, but you take the taco, pal.”

  46. ghostbusters might be slightly overrated, but i still consider it one of the best of the 80s. the tone is just so spot on – it works perfectly for me because it treats its characters and situations with total respect, even when they are utterly ridiculous.

  47. “The fact that every single word Bill Murray says in GB2 is quotable makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

    “I have seen some DUMB blondes in my day, but you take the taco, pal.”

    I love when he calls the female district attorney “kitten” while he’s on the stand.

    I like that and the Run DMC song and montage but that’s all.

  48. Oh and when Venkman says “Guys, you’re scaring the straights!” when Egon, Ray, and Winston come in all slimed up in the fancy restaurant, interrupting his dinner date with Dana.

  49. “Valentine’s Day. Bummer.”

  50. “Wasn’t he also Vigo the Butch?”

  51. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Ray’s reaction at the first meeting with Janos:

    Who’s this little wiggler?!

    Yeah, Ghostbusters 2 is a mess, but god damn if it isn’t hilarious and quotable as hell!

    Oh and…

    Why am I drippings wis goo???

  52. “Soon the city vill be mine and Vigo’s……mainly Vigo’s.”

  53. “Viggy, Viggy, Viggy. You have been a bad monkey!”

  54. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Venkman prompting Louis through the court hearing. Hahahaha!

    Then:
    Give me a break, we’re both lawyers!

    And

    I turned into a dog once and they helped me…

  55. “You want to put him down for the night?”

    “You’re short, your belly button sticks out too far, and you’re a terrible burden on your poor mother!”

  56. Random, not Ghostbusters related notes: Today is actually the 20th anniversary of THE FRIGHTENERS and I wonder if with the upcoming release of the new STAR TREK movie, Vern will finally review one of the classic ones as part of his Origins series.

  57. Yeah, I’ve always been baffled that a large subset of people apparently consider GHOSTBUSTERS 2 to be embarrassingly inferior to the first one. Aren’t they, like, pretty much the same movie? I feel certain you could splice half of Ghostbusters 2 into the first one and no one would ever notice.

    Ray: You mean you never even had a Slinky?
    Egon: We had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

  58. GHOSTBUSTERS II’s greatest sin is being a structural rehash of the original.

    Our guys are down in the dumps career wise

    They make believers out of themselves and everybody else with a centralized setpiece in the middle of the movie

    The villain posseses a supporting character to use as a minion

    At the end some giant muthafucka walks down the streets of downtown NYC

    However the amount of hilarious quotables in that thing is arguably as great as the original.q

    “He is Vigo! You are like ze buzzing of flies to him!”

    “HOSE HIM!”

  59. Actually now that I recall it was “would you hose him please?!” which coupled with Venkman’s delivery is just pure fucking comedy.

  60. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Yeah, what two lacks in pacing and original storytelling, it makes up for in great comedy.

    I don’t like how they changed Annie Potts’ character so much and that painting at the end is a bad joke that makes no sense… And a lot of the effects are even more dated than the original. But on laughs alone, it’s definitely up there.

  61. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Venkman explaining the levels of “dirty/clean” laundry is classic.

  62. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    And Ray’s “beautiful!!!” Which chomping on that cigar and spraying the inside of the Statue Of Liberty with mood slime is a top 3 ever Akroyd moment.

  63. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    WHILE chomping… Not WHICH chomping…

  64. “Oh Johnny did you back the wrong horse!”

  65. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    It may have been a room in the spaceship made to look like the Holiday Inn… I can’t be sure…

  66. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Sorry for hijacking your Ghostbusters talkback with Ghostbusters 2 quotes, Vern.

  67. “The blue thing I got from her!”

  68. Grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    All this Ghostbusters talk today and I just looked down and realized that all day I’ve been wearing a t-shirt of Godzilla and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man holding hands, walking through a burning city…

  69. I guess the original GHOSTBUSTERS was acclaimed for its special effects at the time, but I’m not sure how big a role that played in its popularity. And it’s not like it was perfect even then – even as a kid it was always pretty obvious to me when the hellhounds were full-size puppets and when they were unconvincingly-matted-into-the-scene stop-motion armatures. (When one of them leaps onto and collapses a real table, the integration of animation and live-action is not exactly WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT-level seamless.) Plus, the “Slimer” ghost is clearly designed to look like a goofy puppet.

    More interesting is the issue of whether GHOSTBUSTERS counts as horror.

    In response to the controversy over whether THE VVITCH is a horror movie, Vern said “It’s about a witch killing a baby. Of course it is. How is this even a discussion?” But theoretically one could make a similar argument about GHOSTBUSTERS (“It’s about ghosts and demons attacking New York. Of course it is.”) Which raises a possibly subjective question: what makes something horror?

    I’m only a casual horror fan, which makes me either less qualified or more objective. In any case here’s my take on what seems to make something horror:

    First, death and mortality are obviously big themes in the genre. Ghosts, vampires, zombies, Frankenstein monsters, the Grim Reaper, anything from Hell – these all represent death in some way (by crossing the line between life and death), so stories that include any of these creatures (or serial killers, obviously) tend to get classified as horror.

    Second, there is some kind of social or moral transgression – e.g. the nuclear family breaks down (domestic violence, abuse, incest), or society reverts to barbarism, or a major character has done something terrible for which there is no atonement. This transgression can be committed by either the hero or the villain (or the movie itself – the inclusion of gore and sex/nudity is what makes horror stories controversial).

    Third, there tends to be an element of nihilism or hopelessness. The protagonist is in a bad situation that they can’t easily control or recover from – either because they’re too weak, or because the sin they committed to create this problem is too great – leaving them with little hope of support from others. This often leads to the protagonist meeting a futile and unheroic demise, or an epilogue suggesting that victory is only temporary and that the threat is bound to return.

    If a story has all those elements strongly in place, it tends to be classified as horror whether or not it’s actually scary. It’s when a story only has some of these things that the arguments start.

    For example, I don’t know if any version of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is considered scary, but I think people still think of it as horror because it ticks most of the boxes above. And badass action movies with horror-style villains tend to get a pass if the protagonist is enough of an antihero (as in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) or sufficiently in over his/her head (as in ALIENS or PREDATOR).

    By contrast, the SCREAM movies and the TWILIGHT series would at first seem to qualify, yet contain elements that some purists regard as deal-breakers. The kids in SCREAM are self-aware and armed with pop culture knowledge of how the genre works, which perhaps takes away an element of naivete and helplessness that seems crucial to slasher movies. TWILIGHT’s much-mocked revisionist approach to why vampires must hide themselves away from sunlight and public view – not because it destroys them, because it makes them sparkle prettily – perhaps takes away some of the tragedy that being a vampire had in prior stories.

    GHOSTBUSTERS is similarly borderline. Obviously it has ghosts and demons, and bodily possession. It has individual scenes that some viewers here found scary or spooky. It has a final shot (Slimer attacking the camera) which suggests that the threat will return. But its overall tone is of cockiness and can-do optimism. The ghostbusters are funny, competent characters, more-or-less innocent and confident, with the tools and know-how to save the day, and the public is cheering them on as they go into battle.

    If the ghostbusters were unable to get anyone to believe that the threat was real, or if they carried some kind of shame or guilt as to why this was happening, or if the only way out for them was to destroy themselves – one or more of these things might tipped the scales slightly more into horror. But obviously such a version wouldn’t have been as much fun as this one.

  70. As usual, I’m too late to the party. I agree that “Ghostbusters” isn’t a masterpiece, but what is has in spades is CHARM. For me, that helps a lot with all the – valid – criticism.

    I’m afraid to say I’m one of the guys who decided to not watch the remake in the cinemas. However, before you put me in the “sexist nerd”-box, let me explain. It has nothing to do with the fact that they made a remake/reboot (even though I would have preferred a real sequel), let alone that the Ghostbusters this time are of the female persuasion (as Terry Pratchett would have put it). It ultimately boils down to: I didn’t like the trailer. I didn’t laugh or giggle once, and the humor as well as the entire tone of the movie seemed to me to be very different from the original, and ultimately not my taste. Take the sliming-scene for example. In the original, we see Slimer flying towards Venkman, we hear him scream, and when we cut back, we only see the aftermath of the attack. The first scene of the trailer of Ghostbusters – 2016 edition however shows how Kirsten Wiig gets slimed in all – glorious – detail. Also, why is the black woman the only one without an academic degree? Yes, true, same can be said about the 1984 Ghostbusters, but shouldn’t we as a society have moved passed that?

    I’m not angry about the new movie, and I actually wish them well. Despite the fact that his recent cinematic output mostly wasn’t to my liking (Bridesmaids had some great characters and a couple of funny bits, but since I hate toilet humor, I cringed at the diarrhea-scene), Paul Feig will forever have a small place in my heart for co-creating the best coming-of-age-tv-show ever in the sadly cut short “Freaks & Geeks”. But nothing about the trailer excited me, not the visual style, not the characters, not the “sex change”, and especially not the humor. Which is why I’ll skip it, at least in the cinema. Glad to read that you liked it, though!

  71. Talk about how the scares mix with humor. For kids normally scared of things like ghosts, how did the humor help? How did seeing a creature like the 50-foot Stay Puft marshmallow man make you laugh, even though the Ghostbusters were in danger?

  72. From my own memory of seeing the movie for the first time on TV with 8 or 9 years: The humor really helped. I was one of these kids, who were scared of everything. So when the ghost in the library transformed from a woman into that ugly fucker, I was scared out of my mind, but seeing the Ghostbusters run out of the library like scared rabbits softened the blow a lot. In that regard, I still think that the armchair scene and most appereances of the hell hounds were damn scary, because they aren’t embedded into anything funny and played as a serious threat.

    A friend of mine told me, how Venkman’s encounter with Slimer scared him shitless, because in the cartoon, he is that funny sidekick, who goes in a high pitched voice “Wheeeeeeeeeee, Slimeyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!”, while here he storms at Bill Murray with a animalistic growl.

    That the Marshmallow Man was supposed to be a joke, went totally over my head back then, btw. I recognised that he wasn’t really scary, but I simply accepted the fact, that Gozer has come to destroy the world and our heroes have to stop him. Even if he looks cute and fluffy and stepped on a church.

  73. Wow, I had no idea there were child viewers who WERE scared by it!

    Which I guess reminds me that GHOSTBUSTERS (like BACK TO THE FUTURE) is a touchstone for millennials even though it’s old enough that Generation X-ers such as myself also saw it as kids. I first saw it on video (I’m gonna guess I was about 12?) and just saw it as a comedy.

    For me the only scene that inched toward serious horror was the scene where Sigourney is in her chair at home, she sees something push against the door, and monster hands rip through the chair and grab her. And even that scene just seemed odd to me, in that it seemed to be trying to be serious when nothing else in the movie was.

    But I guess I can see how someone who saw this at a younger and more impressionable age might have had a different reaction. I guess it’s like how the Adam West BATMAN series seems like straightforward superhero derring-do to child viewers, but to adult viewers is a string of goofy jokes.

  74. Curt, I haven’t heard of any kid who would have viewed GHOSTBUSTERS as anything else than a comedy, but I guess in a certain age, some parts are simply scarier. I’m too lazy to google it (also I have HitFix blocked in my browser), but I remember one of those Film Nerd 2.0 articles by Drew McWeeny, where he introduces certain classic movies to his kids and writes down what happens. In one he showed them ABOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and had to turn it off halfway, because one kid was scared shitless.

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