Original release: June 8th, and 1984
Running time: 105 minutes
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer: Dan Aykroyd, help Harold Ramis
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Winston Zeddemore, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis
I was probably one of the last kids at my school to see Ghostbusters. It wasn’t an uncommon thing; many of these films from the 80s passed me by as my older brothers weren’t always that keen on me tagging along with them. Looking back on it now, I’m not even sure the kids in my class had seen half the films they talked about. Maybe they’d seen The Jungle Book and E.T., but Robocop, Rambo and The Running Man…seriously doubtful.
When I did finally see Ghostbusters, it was a couple of years later and on VHS; my folks rented it at the video store for $2.50. Later that day I realised why all the kids wanted a proton pack and what ‘ectoplasm’ was. If there was ever a recruitment program for becoming a Ghostbuster, then I wanted to be front of the line. It didn’t seem like a hard job and by the looks of it – it was a lot of fun too!
Ghostbusters begins with a haunting at the New York Public Library. A legless and transparant entity has been thumbing through books and a team of parapsychologists are called in to assess the situation and handle it ‘quietly’. They’re not as experienced or equipped as they’d like their clients to think, and as Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) get to work, they quickly learn this is the real deal.
Thinking Columbia University will continue to support their research, especially after their encounter at the library, they end up with their academic positions being terminated and they’re thrown off campus. They decide to go into business and set up Ghostbusters for professional paranormal investigations and eliminations and use an old New York City firehouse as their headquarters.
After succeeding in catching and containing their first ghost, the trio become instant celebrities, but with New York experiencing a surge in paranormal activity, their services are soon in high demand and they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson). Meanwhile, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver)’s apartment on 55 Central Park West is being haunted by a demonic spirit called Zuul. Who’s she gonna call?
The Ghostbusters visit her home and run some tests. As Peter takes a liking to her they also figure out what’s brewing in New York is very, very bad. Zuul is a servant of Gozer, a Sumerian god of destruction and he plans on using Dana to bring his master into our world. Dana’s not the only one roped into it though, there’s also her next door neighbour, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), who becomes possessed by another of Gozer’s servants.
Unfortunately, there’s not much the Ghostbusters can do about it because the Environmental Protection Agency insist on them shutting off the unlicensed nuclear device in their basement which contains all the ghosts they’ve captured so far. The EPA then have them arrested, but as New York City descends into chaos, they’re forced to release them. With the climax of the film taking place on the roof of Dana’s high rise apartment block, Ghostbusters’ big finish became one of those moments that defined the 80s. As Gozer tells them to choose the form the destroyer should take, Ray tries to think of the least harmful thing and comes up with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
He manifests as a 112 feet tall entity. With his white sailor hat and red neckerchief, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man makes his way through the city streets to the apartment to destroy the Ghostbusters. Although he’s only seen briefly, it’s easily one of the film’s most memorable scenes and I’ve associated marshmallows with Ghostbusters since. As for wanting to be a Ghostbuster, though my experience with the paranormal was limited as an eight-year-old, I thought my enthusiasm would secure me a position with the New York based company. I even tried to build my own (non-functioning) proton pack out of tubes and cardboard and spray painted black and silver by my dad.
Fun, action and Bill Murray’s deadpan style of delivery, together with a giant walking marshmallow, are all the things that made Ghostbusters a memorable movie experience and something to look back on fondly when we think of how great the 80s were – no matter how late some of us saw it.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .