Thursday, February 23, 2012


(July 1990, U.S.)

I've talked about this before (but I'll mention it again for the sake of clarity)...the Summer of 1990 was, perhaps, the worst summer of my entire life. Bad job, bad car, bad school and, oh yeah, my heart was being emotionally pitchforked by the wrong girl. So, naturally, the last thing I needed to see on the big screen was a deep, emotional love story to the tune of the The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" where one of the actors (Tony Goldwyn) actually looked a lot like the older brother of the girl in question. Yes, it's pretty safe to say I wasn't going to see GHOST anytime soon.

But then let's jump ahead about four months to when the film was released on VHS (a WHITE videotape, for crying out loud!); I'm feeling a little better primarily because I was dating an Italian girl who was, shall we say, very instrumental in helping me to forget the past summer. So what the hell! I gave GHOST it's fair viewing and I enjoyed it. But let me break this down into detail a bit. As a tender love story (and I AM sensitive enough to enjoy those!), it did very little for me. I'm sooner drawn to the connection between Ryan O'Neil and Ali McGraw in LOVE STORY (1970) than I am to Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore (was that really HER ass he was grabbing or was it a body double??) having sex on a table covered in wet clay. What draws me into GHOST is the ghost story told from the ghost's perspective and his seeking revenge against those responsible for his murder. The fact that Whoopi Goldberg's character of Oda Mae Brown, a con-artist and spiritual medium, brings to the film a degree of comedic wit to a story that can already be labeled as fantasy is simply a welcomed bonus.

GHOST is fantasy and it's comedy, too, but the film also doesn't fail to touch upon the rather creepy mysteries of life after death and what (possibly) happens at the moment the body is terminated and the spirit tries to make sense of what just happened. Watch carefully Sam Wheat's (Swayze) horror and confusion as he appears to be stuck between life, death, dreamstate and reality at the moment he's shot to death on the streets of New York City. Watch with awe the moment when Sam's killer, Willy Lopez (played by Rick Aviles) is killed himself and dragged away into Hell by a group of black howling demons. Freaky, indeed. Freaky, also, is the fact that all of this mystery and emotion is brought to you by Jerry Zucker, the director of AIRPLANE!

GHOST has its legacy for all the reasons that have often been linked to the lovely romance between its two stars. Not for me. A true ghost story, as any other that follows the traditional cliches, wants to give us an idea of life after death and what it means to the deceased and those who have been left behind. I'd also like to point out that GHOST is the only Patrick Swayze movie I own in my collection (the DIRTY DANCING dvd belongs to my wife!). I'm sorry, but any guy who can actually say, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" and keep a straight face is not an actor I'm determined to take seriously.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Oda Mae Brown: "Look, you're holdin' onto a life that doesn't want you anymore! It doesn't want you! Give up the ghost!"

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