Cert: PG Runtime: 105 mins Director: Ivan Reitman Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver
We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!
During my childhood either you wanted to be a football player or a Ghostbuster, obviously being the cool kid I choose Ghostbuster. As it’s coming up to Christmas the old movie favourites are coming out again, this weeks blast from the past is Ghostbusters. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are three scientists at Columbia University in New York City. When their grant expires, the guys are fired and they go into business as a ghost extermination company called “Ghostbusters”. Their first customer is orchestra cello player Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who was scared out of her apartment on the 22nd floor of a high rise apartment building on Central Park West. It seems that Dana’s neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), is also being affected by the strange happenings in the apartment building. Armed with proton guns, the Ghostbusters become wildly popular, and they are joined by Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), who is looking for a job with good pay. Overzealous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agent Walter Peck (William Atherton) thinks the Ghostbusters are frauds, and he has the Ghostbusters put in jail. Peck is forced to believe the Ghostbusters when New York City is put under siege by an ancient Sumerian God named Gozer the Gozerian, who is channeled through the apartment building that Dana and Louis live in, and the mayor has no choice but to let the Ghostbusters out of jail to face Gozer.
Let me begin my review with a frank statement. I am sick of people calling Ghostbusters ‘the funniest comedy of all time’. Why? Because I never once saw Ghostbusters as a comedy. As a young kid, as a teenager, and as an adult I always saw this film as ‘a supernatural thriller with humor’.It’s not shot, edited, performed, scored, or designed as a comedy. No way! Aykroyd’s genuine interest in the paranormal is where the idea for the movie began. When he teamed with Harold Ramis to write the script there’s no doubt in my mind that his intended tone was serious, but with touches of light relief (mainly from Venkman and Louis). Listen carefully to the dialogue, it’s peppered with loads of credible scientific jargon and multiple cryptic references of almost Lovecraftian lore. This serious subtext weighs the film down in the thriller category more than comedy.
Almost every aspect of Ghostbusters is honed to perfection. Ivan Reitman has never directed a better film. Elmer Bernstein’s sumptuous score (often overshadowed by Ray Parker Junior’s pop song) is utterly bewitching. The effects, while old-school, don’t date the film one bit. The chemistry between the cast is wonderful, you actually believe that these guys have known each other for years. The fact that Harold Ramis plays the deadpan, deadly serious Egon despite having directed Caddyshack and Vacation (two of the most anarchic films ever) gives the chemistry a nice edge, since beneath the serious exterior you know he’s actually the maddest one of the lot.However, I WILL complain about one thing (though it is relatively minor). I understand that movies need to be tightly edited to stop the audience from nodding off (but no one possibly could with Ghostbusters), but Reitman’s last-minute tinkering renders a large chunk of the film senseless. It begins as soon as Winston arrives. He claims to the Mayor that he’s worked with the company for a couple of weeks, but within the timeline of the movie he’s only worked for them for a single day. Venkman’s impromptu meeting with Dana at Lincoln Center is badly pasted on over Winston’s ‘interview’. Venkman arrives at the firehouse covered in slime, warps to Dana without slime, arranges a date for Thursday (which actually appears to be later that same night), before warping back to the firehouse, slime intact for his confrontation with Walter Peck (William Atherton, who has been typecast ever since).
The original flow of the film included a scene at Fort Detmerring in which Ray and Winston investigate alone. Part of this scene is in the final product (Ray’s encounter with a female ghost while dressed as a General) and the scene where Ray and Winston discuss the end of the world was actually their trip back from this scene. With this complete sequence intact, and the surrounding scenes rearranged, the timeline of the film would have made much more sense. Ivan Reitman has shown this complete version as private screenings, but I doubt the public will ever get to see it. The closest you will get is Richard Mueller’s novelization ‘Ghostbuster’s: The Supernatural Spectacular’. You can hunt it down, but it’s very expensive.With much of Winston’s screen time cut back, the character almost becomes largely redundant. Thankfully, he was developed more in the animated series and the sequel. And, redundant or not, it just wouldn’t be the same without him.I’m not one for nostalgia, but 80s kitsch aside, Ghostbusters truly will stand the test of time forever. It’s an absolute classic that’ll never get old and truly deserves to be up there with the best of them. 7.9/10