Written by / 6/04/2016 / 2 Comments / , , , , , , , , , ,

THE TIMELESS IMPRESSION OF GHOSTBUSTERS

THE TIMELESS ORIGINAL CIRCA 1984
John Winger, Bill Murray’s lovable loser in the boot camp comedy STRIPES, the second of three collaborations with director Ivan Reitman beginning with MEATBALLS, had his very own theme song: a lazy piano-bar riff, whose likeness can be heard in GHOSTBUSTERS throughout Elmer Bernstein’s immense score, but only when Murray’s sarcastic Peter Venkman flirts with Signourney Weaver or clashes jovially with Dan Aykroyd's rambling Dr. Raymond Stanz, who Venkman describes as “the heart of the Ghostbusters.”And that would make Harold Ramis's Egon the lungs (or as Ramis and Reitman described him, the brains). Murray’s reluctant sidekick in STRIPES and the director of CADDYSHACK and GROUNDHOG DAY, Ramis is an essential ingredient to make the gadgets and demonic backstory completely believable and, as a team-up, one of the great things about GHOSTBUSTERS is seeing Murray play off of two science-minded serious guys. Aykroyd and Ramis wrote the film and obviously knew Murray had the stuff to steal scenes. Although the lead role was originally intended for Aykroyd’s cinema partner, the late John Belushi: who inspired the iconic green ghost, Slimer.

Heather Runyan
For years, Murray and Aykroyd were in the groundbreaking original Saturday Night Live cast after Murray replaced Chevy Chase in the second season...

Bill Murray cards Runyon
And GHOSTBUSTERS was the peak of the theatrical SNL surge that included the fore-mentioned STRIPES, CADDYSHACK and MEATBALLS as well as Steven Spielberg's 1941 and John Landis's THE BLUE BROTHERS, TRADING PLACES and NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE: The original three-hundred-page GHOSTBUSTERS script by Aykroyd began with a callused trio already fighting specters in New York City. It was producer/director Ivan Reitman’s wise decision to show the boys in their University origin, and some of the best scenes occur during the first fifteen minutes: One in particular involves Murray seducing a beautiful blonde (Jennifer Runyon, inset) in a fake telekinesis flash card test followed by a hilarious attempt to snare a ghost within an immense library.
The gargoyle dogs guarding their queen
A big budget comedy mixing horror, thriller, science fiction and disaster film elements, GHOSTBUSTERS also makes terrific use of montage. After capturing a troublesome green wraith in a fancy hotel ballroom, we get a neat five-minute glimpse of the once almost-broke team becoming successful and famous. This is a surprise to Sigourney Weaver’s lovely Dana Barrett, a classy violinist who, having witnessed something otherworldly in her fridge, becomes the core of an evil god's domination using an antique high-rise as the epicenter, turning the Big Apple into a Gothic medieval liar, seen during the second (and more visually dynamic) montage as an array of eclectic ghosts take over with heated venom.

Smoking & Scared
With an exception of the stop-motion gargoyle mutts, that still look pretty cool despite Gumby-esque claymation movements, the special effects are hardly dated and show up fantastically on the big screen. But the true villain is a human being... You probably won't find any heavies actually trying to save the environment nowadays...

William Atherton's EPA weenie Walter Peck makes a terrifically uptight foe (playing a similar character in the following year's REAL GENIUS). And the fact two out of three Ghostbusters recommend practically chain-smoking cigarettes wouldn't exactly thrill today's ratings board.

Other side-characters include Rick Moranis as Lewis, Dana’s dorky accountant neighbor, who is much funnier (and more important) than Annie Potts as The GB's annoying secretary. But it’s African American character actor Ernie Hudson, as newly hired Winston Zeddmore, who really shines. The forth Ghostbuster becomes, during the final battle verses a giant Marshmallow Man, just as important as the other fellas. And his mellow conversation with Ray about the Book of Revelations is a reposeful departure from the jokey action.

RIP Harold Ramis
GHOSTBUSTERS is a perfect combination of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd’s talents. Aykroyd does most of the work, spouting rambling expository about the origin of the demonic presence while Murray remains the constantly wry non-believer, grounding a story that could have easily came off as too far-fetched but winded up one of the best character-driven comedies of the 1980’s. And Harold Ramis is the perfect third banana, without whom there'd be no essential glue to stick everything, and everyone, together.

With the chart-topping Ray Parker Jr. title song and a cute NO GHOST logo, the subtle traits of GHOSTBUSTERS are often lost in the shuffle, making CADDYSHACK and other smaller films more significant in cult cinema status...

And yet, Egon's line “I collect spores, molds and fungus” invokes a bigger laugh than the famous Murray quip “He slimed me,” but only to us, the true believers who watched GB over twenty times and have a lifelong subscription to Tobin's Spirit Guide... Who says print is dead?
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2 comments:

  1. LOL ive had a few people send me to purgatory. none to hell though.

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