Friday, 18 February 2011

80s Movies: Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters was a real 80s franchise, originating in the mind of Dan Aykroyd around 1982 it spawned two live action films, an animated series, a number one single, numerous video games and all manner of other merchandise which bestrode the decade. I'm sure I had a Slimer lunchbox, which doesn't sound very sanitary or appetizing when you think about it. The franchise declined somewhat in the 90s but looks to be coming back soon with a third movie currently in pre-production.

We're looking at the 1984 original today though, the one that kicked it all off. Allied to the great concept (basically a supernatural 4th emergency service), the movie benefits from a brilliantly funny script from Akroyd and co-star Harold Ramis, and a stand-out performance by the always hilarious Bill Murray.

The Plot

Peter Venkman (Murray), Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) and the wonderfully named Egon Spengler (Ramis) begin the movie by losing their jobs as parapsychologists at New York's Columbia University due to their unconventional research. But the trio think they're on to something big with their experimental method of trapping and keeping ghosts contained, and set up in business as the Ghostbusters.

So they've got the tech, they set up base in a disused fire station, and they get themselves a ride in the form of the retro Ecto-1 (right), but to begin with they don't have any customers. That all changes after an assignement comes in to combat an unruly spirit haunting the posh Sedgewick Hotel.

Despite some misadventures they succeed in containing a mischievous little green ghost called Slimer (voiced by director Ivan Reitman), and word of their service spreads. A nice montage shows business booming, and the Ghostbusters hire a fourth hand, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) to cope with demand.

The real plot gets going when Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) hires the group to investigate her haunted apartment, Dana becomes possessed by the demonic Zuul "The Gatekeeper", while a neighbour Louis Tully (Rick Moranis, hey it's another double bill with yesterday's Honey, I Shrunk The Kids) is possessed by "The Keymaster". Together they will unleash the ancient god Gozer to wreak havoc and destruction on the city of New York and the world...unless our heroes can prevent it, of course.

Theme Tune

The Ray Parker, Jr.. theme tune will be many people's overriding memory of Ghostbusters. Audiences flocked out of packed screenings with the catchy little ditty buzzing in their ears, it went to #1 in the US and #2 in the UK (held off top spot by Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You), it was even nominated for an Oscar (but lost out again to the same song).

Its success caused the phrases "Who ya gonna call?" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost" to become permanently imprinted on the brains of anyone who lived through the 80s, and led to repeated parodies and appropriations of the tune, and more recently endless remixes and mash-ups posted on YouTube. If you have the time, check out Michael Jackson's Bad vs Ghostbusters, one of the best of the bunch.

The Other Stuff

Right, I've bumbled on for too long already, but can't finish without mentioning the cool ghost-catching kit, proton guns and proton packs. Oh, how I wanted one! And the terrifying, mortifying, petrifying, stupifying Stay Puft Marshmallow man. Tremble, ye mortals!

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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