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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ghostbusters (1984)

#2 - 1984 Box Office: Gross $229,242,989
They ain't afraid of no ghost
Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters opens with some poor librarian at the New York Public Library getting her socks scared off her by a free-floating, full-torso, vaporous apparition.  After the main titles and a song that sounds a little reminiscent of “I Want A New Drug,” we meet Drs. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (co-writer, Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (co-writer, Harold Ramis) as they investigate the paranormal activity.  The encounter doesn't quite go as planned (the three run from the library screaming) and all of these extracurricular experiments get them kicked out of their university jobs.  With little else to do, they decide to create a team of "ghost busters" who vow to investigate any strange activity ("We're ready to believe you," their commercial boasts). After quite some time, they finally get their first customer (and Peter gets a love interest) when Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) sees a burning building and hears a ghost chanting “Zuul” within her refrigerator.  It isn't until the three actually capture a ghost (Slimer) at a fancy hotel that their business takes off.  They hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and the following montage shows how they become city celebrities.  However, the fun and games soon end—the head of the EPA (William Atherton) tries to shut down the Ghostbusters' presumably unsafe ghost containment unit, Dana gets possessed by Zuul, her nerdy neighbor (Rick Moranis) gets possessed by the Keymaster and after the two meet, the release of the Sumerian god of destruction, Gozer the Gozerian, makes for an exciting Act III.

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • Until the release of Home Alone (1990), this was the highest-grossing comedy of all time
  • Eddie Murphy was originally offered the role of Winston but did Beverly Hills Cop instead. That film ended up beating this one as the year's highest grossing film
  • Had Murphy been cast, Zeddemore would have been hired much earlier in the film, and would have accompanied the trio on their hunt for Slimer at the hotel and been slimed in place of Venkman
  • Dan Aykroyd's original draft of the movie was going to take place in the future where teams of Ghostbusters were as prevalent as paramedics and firefighters. According to Reitman, such a film would cost "at least $300 million in 1984 dollars," so Harold Ramis was brought in to rewrite the script and bring it into modern times
  • Dana's apartment building (at 55 Central Park West) is actually only 20 stories high. For the film, matte paintings and models were used to make the building look taller
  • Exterior scenes of the Ghostbusters' headquarters were shot at the Hook and Ladder #8 Firehouse located at 14 N Moore St in TriBeCa NY 
  • Scenes in the montage sequence of the Ghostbusters running around New York and driving the Ecto-mobile were done on the first day of filming, mostly without film permits
  • Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. (who later settled out of court) claiming Parker's song "Ghostbusters" infringed on the copyright of Huey Lewis & the News' hit "I Want a New Drug"
  • The first film to officially be released on a USB flash drive
  • The scene in which Peter tests two students' ESP abilities with Zener cards mirrors real-life experiments—the ESP testing itself from the Rhine Experiments and the electroshock loosely mirrors the Milgram Experiment
Are you a god?
Ghostbusters is a film I can watch whenever it comes on—it has so many classic, quotable lines (mostly from Bill Murray) and is a pretty fun action movie to boot.  On the DVD copy I own, some of the special effects look quite dated (the matte paintings used to extend Dana's building are painfully obvious), but this doesn't detract too much from the greatness that is Ghostbusters.  I've only seen this film, maybe half a dozen times, but it deserves to be watched many, many more.  There are a bunch of throwaway lines that either aren't very memorable or simply go unheard in the first few viewings but are still hilarious (e.g. the supposedly ad-libbed response to "Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head. Remember that?", "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me").  In fact, part of me would rather watch this AGAIN instead of the next MLiF DVD I brought with me to California... But I suppose I should push forward and get ready for next week since I'm so far behind.  What are some of your favorite Ghostbusters lines or scenes?

Ponch's Rating:


  1. You've only seen this a few times? Man, at one point when I was younger I watched it so much I gave it up for Lent. To this day, Easter means to me the Return of the Ghostbusters. Screw the chocolate, I'm all about the marshmallow eggs this time of year. Yeah, I never was good at being Christian.

    Hard to narrow down, but off the top of my head one of my top moments is the elevator scene at the Sedgewick Hotel. The nonverbal reactions once the proton pack is activated are genius. And the unveiling of the Ecto 1 when they get their first call. God, I love that car.

    And for me, Akroyd's lines are the show stoppers. "Of course you forget, Peter, that I was present at an undersea, unexplained mass sponge migration!" Oh Ray. Poor, sweet Ray.

  2. "What did you do, Ray?" "When someone asks if you are a God, you say YES" "SHH...You smell that?"

  3. vanitas... what can I say? I'm a failure at life... I'm sure I watched this and Ghostbusters II once each when I was younger, but it wasn't a staple of my childhood.

    Some great choices so far (I do not recall the "sponge migration" line... sigh) and silentM, it's "Listen... Do you smell something?" but I only know that quote so well thanks to filmwise:

  4. At least the context got through...I'm dumb ;(