Before anyone asks – how could a film with a ton of technobabble and people running about in personal nuclear reactors firing lasers, not be science fiction?
The tale of how Ghostbusters was made is an interesting one: fights to get the name from an old TV series because it was just too good a name and people dying they had planned to cast. There’s a documentary series on Netflix about things like that so I won’t delve into it here.
This is a film from the golden age of practical special effects, before people got wowed by CG to the point they forsook going back even long after CG lost its wonder. This means all those things you see on screen were made using camera tricks, practical effects and outright genius.
But this is not just a film about the ghosts, but those that bust them. Bill Murray playing Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz, Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler and the very cool Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore. Each character has their own feel that makes the ensemble work. Venkman being almost a conman who didn’t really believe and just did all this to have a job. Ray and Egon being the two techy guys who will talk about ghosts in a far more scientific way with lots of techno babble, and Winston being a guy they hired giving a more regular person account.
You probably know the plot, what starts as an odd business soon finds itself wrapped up in an apocalyptic plot to bring about the end of days, as Peter Venkman meets Dana Barrett played by Sigourney Weaver who has them investigate strange goings on in her apartment.
The film is full of memorable moments, constantly quoted to this day or homaged. If you watch this film for the first time you will be going “OOOOOH so that’s where it’s from” A LOT.
In many ways Ghostbusters seems to have been capturing lightning in a bottle as they haven’t really been able to repeat its success, at least in the films though corporate did mess up the cartoon once they got it for syndication, you can usually tell which were the good and which were the bad – if Janine is hitting on Egon its the good if she’s hitting on Louise and Slimer is in the same billing as the main characters it’s the bad.
And on Slimer this is his first appearance and it’s here why people like him. He’s not shoved in our faces like later entries and only has one scene of importance which is their first busting. They did recognize he was going to be popular though as he does get some cameos, but nothing compared to what they would do with him later.
The film has a very unique feel, given it has comedic brilliance while some people act completely straight faced while speaking scientific gobbledygook while talking about ghosts that takes some skill and adds the feel it really was lightning in a bottle, heck the sequel suffered immensely by just trying to be the first film over again (resulting in a lot of us dumbfounded how after the ending of the first film all the stuff happened off-screen for the second) and became one of the first examples of why you shouldn’t just do that with a sequel (something they have yet to learn).