Thursday, March 1, 2012
(June 1984, U.S.)
Thought not as strong and as influential as, say, E.T., it's impossible to imagine 1980's pop culture without GHOSTBUSTERS, the popular question "Who you gonna call?" and that silly song by Ray Parker Jr. This supernatural comedy, though, seemed like a comedic dream come true when you combine talents like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the men responsible for giving us STRIPES (1981) and National Lampoon's VACATION (1983). But really, it's Bill Murray's deadpan performance and constant, ongoing wiseass cracks throughout GHOSTBUSTERS that keeps me glued each and every time I watch it. The ghosts, too, can be just as funny as the busters themselves.
Bear in mind, though, the concept of a bunch of goofy guys trying to catch ghosts was not exactly a new and original concept, even back in 1984. Popular comedic teams like Abbot and Costello and a group called the Bowery Boys had already done it in cheap "B" movies and the like. This time, however, we've got some pretty awesome special effects (for the era, anyway) to accompany our goofy ghostbusting misfits that also don't manage to ruin what is labeled more as a great comedy. And as dated as his appearance might seem now, I still think "Slimer" looks pretty cool, and disgusting, too, when he's eating. At the heart of the ghostbuster's antics, though, appear to be three rather bright (dare I say brilliant!) scientists who almost seem to know what they're doing. Just imagine what might have happened early in the film had Dr. Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis) warned them not to "cross the streams" (that's BAD. Important safety tip).
Now let's talk about Sigourney Weaver for a moment, whose character Dana Barrett lives in an apartment at 55 Central Park West that's haunted by a demonic spirit called Zuul, a demigod worshiped as a servant to Gozer the Gozerian, a Sumerian shape-changer god of destruction (did you get all that??). Between ALIEN (1979) and this film, I can barely recall what she did on screen. And despite the fact she revealed her ass through some see-through underwear in ALIEN, it's her face and body in this film that definitely gets my "turned on" vote here! Let's be fair, guys...hot is hot, even when it's Sigourney Weaver possessed by a demon in 1984.
In terms of GHOSTBUSTERS' place in our popular culture beyond the original film, let me just say that I hated the 1989 sequel and I never watched any of those dopey TV cartoon spin-offs. And while I am the last person on Earth that would ever endorse the idea of any future sequels for anything, I have to admit that I'm quite surprised that Hollywood hasn't brought us GHOSTBUSTERS III during the last twenty years with computer-generated special effects being what they are. Oh, there's been talk for years that something is in the works, but our ghostbuster heroes are very likely too old and bloated to bring any real fun to the franchise any longer. Regardless, it's nothing I'd go to see now, anyway.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Dr Ray Stantz: "Gozer the Gozerian...good evening. As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State of New York, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension."
Dr. Peter Venkman: "That oughta do it. Thanks very much, Ray."
Gozer: "Are you a God?"
(Lightning flies from her fingers, driving the Ghostbusters to the edge of the roof)
Winston Zeddemore: "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!"
Dr. Peter Venkman: "All right! This chick is TOAST!"