Ghostbusters is the pinnacle of the horror-comedy movies that defined the 1980s. Whereas Monster Squad and Gremlins were for the kids and An American Werewolf in London and Evil Dead appealed to big kids, Ghostbusters was an all-ages hit that checked off all four quadrant boxes.
The 1984 blockbuster celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. While the low-fi special effects are antiquated, the Tom Foolery is still LOL-worthy. That should come as no surprise considering the comedy giants involved in the film: Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Howard Ramis, Rick Moranis, and Ivan Reitman.
We would not “know who to call” if it wasn’t for Aykroyd, the co-writer of the screenplay along with his old Saturday Night Live pal Ramis. Aykroyd came from a long line of spiritualists (his great-grandfather, Samuel A. Aykroyd, was a noted nineteenth-century psychic investigator) which gave him a belief in ghosts and insight into the world of the supernatural. Akroyd originally wrote the idea to star him and his Blues Brother John Belushi, whom he envisioned as Peter Venkman. While Murray would go onto immortalize the role as the sarcastic, ghost-busting lothario, the filmmakers honored their late, great SNL-brother by paying homage to him by rendering the “Slimer” ghost in his image (nice friends!).
Looking back, you would think Ghostbusters was a sure thing. In reality, director Reitman was famously under-budgeted and only given a year to make the special effects-driven comedy. At the time, it was a huge gamble.
Of course, Ghostbusters played like gangbusters, spawning a lucrative franchise that has never come close to re-capturing the magic that it did with the original. Sorry, but Ghostbusters II is barely watchable and yes, the 2016 reboot is best forgotten not because it’s a misguided attempt at gender equality but it’s just a bad movie. Still, 35 years later, a good idea in Hollywood is never dead. Ghostbusters III is in development with Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son) at the helm.
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