Influential Films in Pop Culture History: ‘Ghostbusters’ – Ghosts and Giggles Galore
“See you on the other side Ray.”- Peter Venkman
“Nice working with you Dr. Venkman” – Ray Stanz
It’s time to take a journey back to 1984. President Ronald Reagan calls for an international ban on the use of chemical weapons, Michael Jackson wins a total of 8 Grammy Awards, the space shuttle Discovery launches on its maiden voyage. And on June 8, 1984, Ghostbusters was released in theaters to major acclaim.
Ivan Reitman, the directorial genius who has given the world such films as Animal House, Beethoven, Space Jam and Dave, came together with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to bring this supernatural comedy to life. The end result is a movie that spawned a sequel, two cartoon series, toys, comic books, video games and a reboot film. Ghostbusters is known by all and loved by all, and it’s always going to be that way.
This cast is one of legend. Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Rick Moranis. Each and every single one of these actors and actresses made their mark on the movie, and each one made that mark in a big way. From Aykroyd’s excitable nature as Ray Stanz, to Bill Murray’s sarcastic wit as Peter Venkman, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as the straight men of the team. Folded into those four performances are Potts, Weaver and Moranis as the key secondary characters of the story, the combination of all of this being one of the reasons Ghostbusters has endured for so long as a popular movie.
Another reason, well two of them, is that of the special effects and the story/dialogue. For special effects, the range is vast. The proton packs in action, the various ghosts (biggest of all being the Slimer), and of course, the big showdown against Gozer which leads to the short reign of terror caused by Mr. Stay Puft. While the field of movie special effects has grown into a market where digital work leads the pack, the effects that are a part of Ghostbusters remain a benchmark for the movie.
An additional benchmark is the story/dialogue. The plot sounds simple, four guys who go into the business of trapping ghosts, leading into a major throw-down with an otherworldly being. Aykroyd and Ramis’s writing makes that concept bigger and better, with the dialogue being a delightful by-product. In a breakdown as to which member of the team has the best one-liners, it’s hard to come to such a decision because quite frankly, all of the one-liners are brilliant. It’s the kind of stuff that comes from Dan and Bill’s years on Saturday Night Live, even when some of it is dressed up with pseudo-science, there’s still comedy gold underneath it all.
1980’s movies are vast and well-known by everyone who appreciates and loves 20th century cinema. This was a decade of every kind of genre getting its due, action, romance, drama, horror, sports, history, science-fiction, super-heroes, and of course comedy. Comedy movies were huge back then, and Ghostbusters is one of the iconic big hits of that decade. It’s no wonder why (despite its flopping) a sequel was released in 1989, on top of all the other marketing avenues that came about. It’s a smorgasbord of fun and funny, with a little bit of silly scary for extra flavor.
To put a neat bow on why Ghostbusters is so great is not so simple. Each aspect mentioned has merit and could be argued as to why a horror comedy sci-fi film about hunting ghosts has remained so timeless. The fact is, it’s timeless for all the aforementioned reasons and mountains more, another of them being the classic theme song by Ray Parker Jr. It’s a movie that just makes people laugh, and therein lies something truly special, the laughter. So next time there’s an urge to watch an 80’s movie that brings back sweet memories of childhood and will give a bad case of the giggles, make it be Ghostbusters.
“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!” – Ray Parker Jr.