Ghostbusters I & II (1984 & 1989)

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in My Childhood | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: Violence against specters, sexual innuendo, some foul language, and glorification of unhealthy eating habits.

If you were a boy born in the 80s, like my brother and I, you lived and breathed either Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Ghostbusters. We tried to impersonate both but when it came down to it, Ghostbusters far exceeded those fighting reptiles. We had every toy and piece of merchandising, right down to our own personalized jump suits, and when Saturday rolled around, we’d be sure to catch the cartoon.

It’s funny to think that a film originally meant for John Belushi, John Candy, Michael Keaton, and Eddie Murphy, whose roles went instead to Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, turned out to be an instant classic.

Both films follow a group of four ghostbusters2failed scientists who are fired from Columbia University and use a former fire station as the headquarters for the commercial capture of ghouls – as the title clearly suggests. The characters are firmly established by comedic stereotypes that each actor embodies perfectly. There’s out-of-touch nerd Egon Spengler (Ramis), enthusiastic idiot Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), bumbling ladies man Peter Venkman (Murray), token outsider Winston Zeddemore (Hudson), and comic sidekick Louis Tully (Moranis).

In the first film, their business catches on after an unusual peak in psychokinetic energy due to the second coming of Gozer the Destructor. (You know, just an everyday kind of freak occurrence.) Gozer first reveals itself in the refrigerator of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a Central Park West resident and love interest of Murray’s character. As it turns out, the building has a history of Gozer worship and soon two of its residents will become the Keymaster and Gatekeeper (hilarious sexual innuendo), figures who will help bring Gozer back. And many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor on that day, I can tell you. (Sorry, inside joke for those who have seen the movie.)

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In the second film, it’s a similar story as Vigo the Carpathian, a historically evil dude, decides to revisit Earth. As you may have guessed, Vigo first makes an appearance via Dana once again, only this time as a painting she must restore at the art museum. Once you leave the sequel’s kitschiness aside (or embrace it), these films are classic forums for comedy as written by costars Ramis and Aykroyd. Before the release of Home Alone, the first installment was the highest-grossing comedy of all time. And, much like Caddyshack or Animal House, is easily one of the most quotable comedies of all time. (Don’t get a group of twenty-somethings started …)

But it’s not merely a springboard for comedy. But it’s not merely a springboard for comedy. There’s some really great writing and a myriad of memorable characters like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Slimer, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), and Walter Peck (William Atherton, the classic 80s asshole). Let us not forget the classic theme song from Ray Parker Jr. in the original and the unfortunate decision to pick Bobby Brown for the sequel.

Though Ramis and Murray’s relationship went sour shortly after filming Groundhog Day, the original cast is in on-again, off-again agreement to jump back into the suits for a sequel more than 20 years later. Reported on psychofan blogs, it’s due for a 2015 release. It’s unlikely it’ll happen, but if it does we can only hope that it will refresh the smart-mouthed stars rather than ruin the beloved series a la Indiana Jones.

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