Monday, June 08, 2009

Ghost Busters' 25th Anniversary

25 years ago today, the boys in grey hit the silver screen to slug
it out with some pretty pesky poltergeists - not to mention
demonic dogs, possessed love interests, a sexy demi-god who transforms into a 100-foot marshmallow man, and worst of all, a weasely bureaucrat with the EPA who's looking to make a name for himself - and Ghost Busters still has people laughing.

I remember Ghost Busters taking the movies like an unearthly storm back in '84. There were lineups to get into the theatre, sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes were falling over themselves to imitate it and cash-in on the popularity, and later in the year, people were dressing up like the paranormal investigators/eliminators for Hallowe'en parties (yours truly included - that autumn, I was in Grade 5 and I cobbled a proton pack together out of stuff in the basement and got approval from my classmates, meanwhile, at the school Hallowe'en party, the principal was sporting a rented and very cool authentic outfit from a costume shop, complete with flashing lights). The story was a riot, with cracking dialogue and perfect casting. Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson all brought something different to the team, and Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts had some good moments as well. While Murray's sarcastic Peter Venkman had a lot of the great lines of the film, the rest of the cast had memorable jokes in their own right. Throw in some great special effects for its day and a fun Elmer Bernstein score, and you've got the magic combination.

One of the things I remember most about going to the theatre to see Ghost Busters was the famous "He slimed me." scene. It had been promoed on TV and in trailers at the cinema for weeks: Slimer, the gluttonous, disgusting blog ghost, takes a run at Venkman, leaving him prostrate on the hotel floor covered in goo. Ackroyd's Ray Stantz arrives and asks what happened. "He slimed me." comes the response. It didn't matter that everyone had seen the essential elements of that scene already, when it finally happened on the big screen, the whole theatre erupted in cheers and applause. In all the movies I'd been to before - including the Star Wars films - the audience had never exploded like that. In fact, I didn't see an audience cheer like that for another 13 years until the Star Wars movies were retooled and re-released in cinemas in the late 90's and the fanboys turned out in droves and howled with glee at their favourite moments. A cheer like that is a pretty significant achievement when you're talking about politely subdued Canadian theatregoers in the 80's.

The film went on to spawn a sequel - not quite so funny or inventive as the first, but charming in its own right - along with a cartoon, video games, the afore-mentioned sitcom allusions, toys, fan films, and a breakfast cereal ("Ghost Busters tastes great, with milk and juice and toast - a delicious breakfast with a ghost!" - no, I never ate the stuff, I just have a terribly effective memory for pop culture drivel). And now, as another video game is being released, Dan Ackroyd and Ivan Reitman have brought the old gang back together again for a third movie. I'm generally pretty cautious about this sort of thing - there are too many things that can derail a production before a movie gets a chance to start filming these days - but with all of the original cast back and what seems to be a heck of a lot of optimism, I have to say I've got a good feeling about this sequel.

I don't know how may times I've seen Ghost Busters over the last 25 years, but having watched it again this evening, I can say I still love it. When a movie can still make you laugh after that amount of time, you know there's something supernatural about it.

Who you gonna call?
(sorry, couldn't resist)
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