THROWBACK THURSDAY: GHOSTBUSTERS
Ghostbusters 3 / Reboot is in the works. Possibly SEVERAL movies if they go the ‘shared universe’ route (one for girls; one for boys; one team-up). Channing Tatum, Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy all on call. Prepare here, by remembering why Ghostbusters rocks!
It’s an ensemble. EVERYONE counts. Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is the cynical dissenter yet also a leader. He has the best one liners: ‘This man has no Penis’ / ‘We came! We saw! We kicked its ass!’
Dan Akroyd’s Ray the true believer, serves as exposition voice. Harold Ramis’ Egon brings sound science and technological expertise. Ernie Hudson’s Winston is the audience, thrown into a world they don’t gravitate to naturally but nonetheless embrace.
Sigourney Weaver’s Dana is the damsel in distress /human macguffin. Her budding romance with Murray’s Venkman is convincing, warm, funny and injects further reality to the fantasy world.
The interplay is natural and unforced, yet character lines are well drawn and defined, making for comedic contrast and dramatic conflict. Simplicity is virtue here, though texture is added through organic interaction and what feel like highly skilled hints of inspired improvisation.
The result? You CARE for these people. Your feelings are earned, neither presumed nor neglected. Whilst you laugh along at the comedy, you genuinely fear for the heroes’ fates when the ghosts turn REALLY nasty.
Ghostbusters IS a horror movie. ‘Light’, but horror, nonetheless. What REALLY scares you, deep down? Is it the existence of hell and demons/ghosts? Or the idea of such other-worldly features invading your everyday domestic space? ‘An invisible man, sleeping in your bed’. This film answers that question, dramatically.
Sigourney Weaver’s Dana opens her fridge and unveils a portal to the imagery of ancient evil. It’s unexpected. A frightening juxtaposition. You feel her vulnerable shock.
The same is true in the scenes of demonic possession. The direction cleverly contrasts supernatural events with everyday life. You feel a sense of isolation and genuine darkness. Yes, you keep laughing. Admit it: part of you laughs nervously, in denial of genuine FEAR!
Much is made of the endless attempts at the Ghostbusters 3 and relative disappointment with Part 2 (I love it and think Murray especially hilarious there: ‘I’m a man. I’m sensitive!’ and the psychic talk show). There is an assumption that sequels were somehow dragged along as studio cash-in that compromised integrity. Not so.
Murray’s much publicised mocking of part 3 prospects is less about sequels being awful and more about his being as hilarious and sceptical off-screen as on. Ghostbusters was DESIGNED as a kind of franchise. Whether intentional or otherwise, EVERY aspect of that first film builds a world, a universe, a series. Sequels, computer games, cartoons and merchandise HAD to happen and so they did. Supply and demand.
The buildings have a kind of Gothic meets pulp look that would also feature in Tim Burton’s Batman film aesthetic. Dana’s apartment is very Rosemary’s Baby.
The final confrontation with portals in the sky and storm clouds and lightning bolts = of its time (see also: Jones, Indiana), though recently even Marvel’s Avengers gave an implicit nod to that kind of visual climax. Shots of New York also celebrate the city (a visual verse repeated throughout the 1970s and 80s; everyone from Woody Allen to Crocodile Dundee).
The production design is at once familiar and original, expanding familiar imagery and opening new possibilities for similar franchise and genre products. The various ghosts are brands in themselves. The green glob of Slimer. The Marshmallow Man (BIG HERO 6 evokes its look, arguably?). Colour, shape, sound, size, texture. Ghostbusters reminds us film is a sensual, visual medium.
BUSTIN’ MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
You WANT a Proton pack! You’d LOVE to live and work in the Firehouse Station Ghostbuster HQ. The suits are cool; the gear and gadgets even cooler. And the siren of Ecto-1 as it speeds to a new spectral adversary is once again, an embedded image and sound in your cinematic subconscious.
Better yet, THAT song. Yes, THAT one. Put it on and I bet you can’t resist the urge to dance and feel happy. It’s especially good when backed by images of celebration as the heroes save New York and start to party, all covered in Marshmallow and good vibes. Demons defeated. Bureaucrats bested. Party Time!
But remember: all of this could be based on FACT. Or at least, pseudo-science. For ‘ghosts’ read ‘inter-dimensional beings’; for Proton packs, read nuclear physics harnessed to prevent worlds colliding. Magic = science by another name. Just ask Arthur C Clarke. Or Dan Akroyd.
Good luck to all involved in the next Ghostbusters film. Honour the predecessors and harness their formula but stay fresh and FUN!