Ghostbusters (1984)

GHOSTBUSTERS —-you’d have to be a real stick-in-the-slime to not enjoy this 1984 megahit: after all, we’re talking “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”  Ray Parker Jr.’s infectious theme tune (a #1 hit), helped propel an advertising blitz that meshed built-in fondness for stars Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd with some polterzeitgeist that demanded silly but cool special effects cross-pollinate with deadpan wiseass comedy. To bring us together. As one nation. Under ‘Gozer’.

When havoc-causing apparitions begin plaguing New York City, it was most fortunate that Colombia University had dumped science researchers ‘Peter Venkman’ (Murray), ‘Ray Stantz’ (Aykroyd) and ‘Egon Spengler’ (Harold Ramis), forcing the determined mavericks onto the private sector. Joined by ‘Winston Zeddemore’ (Ernie Hudson), their spirit-chasing business booms. The Busters greatest test comes when the bodies and minds of a comely cellist (Sigourney Weaver) and her nerdy accountant neighbor (Rick Moranis) are inhabited by ancient entities ‘Zuul’ and ‘Clortho’, serving all-powerful master ‘Gozer the Gozerian’. All holy Mesopotamian hell—and plenty of marshmallows—breaks loose.

Ivan Reitman directed, Ackroyd and Ramis wrote the script. The special effects are amusing (those Terror Dogs are slick), Moranis’ doof is a lark and Weaver, foofed up in her Zuul duds and attitude, makes a sexy vamp (all-consuming variety). Too many of the jokes with Ackroyd and Ramis are flat-footed, and Hudson’s tacked-on character is ill-served by the writing. Not to worry, as Murray really makes it work: he all but steals the movie.

Produced for $31,000,000, with associated marketing and distribution costs, the picture needed to make $80,000,000 to show a profit. “Who ya gonna call?” The #2 score of ’84, with re-releases the estimates of the total revenue reached at least $295,200,000: amplify that for inflation and it’s one of the biggest hits of all time. Oscar nominations arrived for Visual Effects and that irresistible title song. The avalanche of tie-in’s—toys, games, series and so on— garnered billions. Alas, things do run their course: Ghostbusters II, the limp sequel in 1989, just doesn’t click, and the 2016 reboot, despite game efforts from formidable comediennes, bombed out.

107 minutes, with Annie Potts (lotsa fun as the guys dish-it-back receptionist), William Atherton (aka ‘dickless‘), Jennifer Runyon (making the correct guesses in Murray’s opener testing scene) and Michael Ensign. In closing, “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.

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