Oct 23, 2015

[Movies] Ghostbusters (1984)

I wanted to try and do something related to Halloween, but the fact that I'm not a big fan of scary movies has been a bit of a hiccup. So I decided to do the next best thing and focus on some horror comedy movies - and I think I found the perfect ones to feature over the next two weeks.

Enter Ghostbusters, which really could have been more of a Saturday Night Live creation but instead became something of its own. I doubt anyone could have fully predicted how big this movie would get and the brilliant franchise the show was going to inspire. And while it's not exactly a super super big franchise it's still one that has survived the test of time and continues to endear.

Whenever I go back to this first movie, I realize that they had some seriously scary moments brought to life by some pretty talent actors. As with many movies of the period, it featured a number of stars that had their own unique career paths and yet having them all together in this movie just totally makes sense.

Synopsis: Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy movie directed by Ivan Reitman. The screenplay had been written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis.

The movie centers around three parapsychologists - Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ramond Stanz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). They had been booted out of Columbia University due to their unique theories about ghosts and getting caught in possibly rigged ESP tests. They instead decided to put up a paranormal investigation agency of sorts and call themselves "Ghostbusters." In the same way an exterminator to deal with a pest infestation, you call a Ghostbuster to deal with a haunted house. But instead of magic or things of that nature, they use their scientific knowledge to develop ghost-fighting and ghost-capturing equipment. They are eventually joined by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).

The group is eventually hired by the cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who is being tormented by some sort of a spirit. In truth, she is being haunted by the demon Zuul (voiced by director Ivan Reitman), a servant of the Sumerian god Gozer the Gozerian. Zuul heralds the coming of Gozer and is trying to use Dana as a vessel of sorts to helped enable Gozer's coming. At the same time, the Ghostbusters are harassed by the EPA who think their ghost containment system is somehow an illegal waste receptacle.

Now its always hard for me to talk about the Ghostbusters based on the actors who portrayed them. Instead of looking at things on an individual basis, it always makes more sense to me to take them as a group, since that's the sort of character dynamic that they were tasked to portray. And you have to agree, they really, really worked well as a team whether you're referring their characters or themselves as actors. As much as they were all brought together almost by chance, the end result was something special that just worked in terms of all aspects of the movie. The movie may primarily be a comedy, but it also know how to leverage action and horror elements as well and these men were crucial to those moments working.

It goes without saying that Sigourney Weaver is a brilliant actress, but she really acts as one of the key pillars of this movie. She's a love interest, a victim, a heroine, and an antagonist all at once. The woman has such amazing presence when she's on-screen and it was quite the delight to have her here in this movie. And she had a lot of interesting moments opposite Rick Moranis, who really played pretty much just one character throughout the 80's.

I don't think we get to talk enough about the quality of the special effects in this movie considering the time period. Whereas the modern solution would be to fire up a computer and create your spectral nuisances, this movie had to use mostly practical effects and clever camera techniques to put everything together. The movie managed to use the ghost for whimsy, tension a fair amount of horror here and there. Brilliant, brilliant work all around.

Ghostbusters is a very clever movie more than anything else and we're all the better for it. The writing is pretty tight and the science actually sounded rather legitimate (for the time) and I do enjoy getting to watch this movie again. Thus it gets a good 4 instances of the team being covered in ectoplasm out of a possible 5.


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