For the first featured movie piece, I did something a little strange, I am not the world’s biggest comedy fan in fact comedies rarely make it into my list of favorite movies. I often prefer movies of another genre that have comedy elements in them, such as Scream. Ghostbusters 1 and 2, however, are two films that do make the cut. With that being said if I had to pick a decade that best-represented comedy it would be the 80’s with Ghostbusters and Back to the Future being the two pillars that comedy stood upon.
Ghostbusters released in 1984 and spawned a massive media franchise which has included movies, cartoons, action figures, Funkos, an iconic theme tune. food and drink, video games and most recently board games. It is easy to see why; the characters were identifiable and full of color and the movies created a fun world of ghostly adventure. This world that is created is actually one of my favorite things about the movies, but more on that later.
The movie follows the team of Ray Stanz (Dan Akroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zedemore (Ernie Hudson) as a group of Ghostbusters who are presented as a sort of pest control for the other world complete with a van and cheap tv adds.
The movie, however, was originally going to be vastly different. Conceived by Dan Akroyd the film was to feature the Ghostmasters who would travel through time and fight ghosts in the future using magic wands! Then there is another supposed idea were the Ghostsmashers, who populate the future and are as common as police officers. I for one am glad that with Harold Ramis the two were able to create the fun time that Ghostbusters certainly is.
The ghosts are the main draw of the movie for me along with all the gadgets that the busters use to get the job done.The ghosts aren’t just you plain white spooks, They come in all shapes and colors; vivid greens, blues, and purples come through to create a standout visual experience (if you read my Chinese New Year Special on wuxia films then you know that I like visually striking movies) But the ghost aren’t just pallet swapped copies of each other, there are lumpy ghosts like slimmer or the slightly terrifying librarian and then you have the gods and demons that come into the movie a little later and of course there is the stay puft marshmallow man towering above New York.
While the comedy is certainly a draw for most audiences, (Bill Murray apparently ad-libbed most of his lines throughout the movie) the comedy is not the main draw for me (what a surprise!). I love the sense of adventure a kookiness of the film and the world it creates, the crazy ghosts, the legends and mythology of Gozer and Zuul, the gadgets that the Ghostbusters create. They all come together to make this fun and exciting place to be.
So Ghostbusters 1 is great, but I have a confession and it’s not a popular opinion, I prefer Ghostbusters 2! 2 just feels so much more coherent to me the plot of 1 was a little patchy and all over the place and the narrative felt kinda jerky and jarring. 2 has a more fluid story. The plot may not be as good but it just flows better for me. Not to mention the increase is ghosts. There are a bunch more ghosts in this movie possessed mink stoles, executed convicts, a zombie cab driver and an entire boat load of ghosts and that’s kinda what you want from a movie called Ghostbusters.
The plot of Ghostbusters 2 revolves around slime that is somehow connected to the spirit of Vigo The Carpathian of Moldovia (who has one of my favorite lines from a movie
“On a mountain of skulls, in the castle of pain, I sat on a throne of blood! What was will be! What is will be no more! Now is the season of evil!”
The slime is feeding off the negativity of New Yorkers and building up to some malevolent purpose.
You may notice some differences in tone between the first movie and this one, I think this is what bothered a lot of fans about 2. In the time between the movies, Columbia Pictures made a spin-off cartoon called The Real Ghostbusters the cartoon changed the look Janine the secretary, made Slimer a mascot of sorts to the series and most importantly got rid of the references to drinking and smoking cigarettes. This was reflected in Ghostbusters 2 which was targeted somewhat towards the cartoon audience with those changes in the cartoons put in place in the movie. While this did not upset me at all it is clear to see why it may have disappointed long time fans of the first movie.
Other than the improved fluidity of the plot I like the fact that Winston gets a lot more screen time in this movie. Originally in Ghostbusters 1, his role was written for Eddie Murphy but after Murphy passed on the film his character’s role in the movie was significantly decreased. This is a shame as I think he is one of the funnier characters in the movie.
Well, that was Ghostbusters 1 and 2. The movies had a spiritual sequel in the form of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, released 2009, which is an excellent game and really makes you feel like one of the Ghostbusters. In keeping with the current craze of rebooting, remaking and sequels, Ghostbusters received a reboot last year. It wasn’t great; it failed to capture the charm of the previous films and the forced-in cameos of the old Ghostbusters felt shallow. I may be biased as I hate the fact that things are being constantly remade or rebooted. The original films were great and I can still watch those; why do I need something that is made again but more often than not is worse?
Let me know which is your favorite Ghostbuster or what you think the defining comedy of the 1980’s was, either in the comments or hit me up on twitter @MCMoovies. Keep watching movies and I will see you in the next article.