A few weeks back, on a rainy Monday night, we were invited along to be the first audience to preview the re-issued, sound-heavy, visually delicious “Ghostbusters” at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre. It had been 25-plus years since I’d seen it in a cinema and quite frankly, it looked and played just as well as ever did; if not for the aches and pains, silver strains of hair and 4-year-old, I’d swear I hadn’t aged. And neither had it. Sure, those demonic dogs could’ve done with a last-minute ILM touch-up and a teaser for “Ghostbusters 3” could’ve been tacked onto the end of the print, but by-and-large, the film didn’t play like a crusty-old offering from the Columbia library (Maybe there’s still hope for a re-issue of “Nadine” with Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger!?). It was awesome to see the film on the big screen again – and even better that I didn’t jump this time when the library spite pops up at the start of the film. And yeah, it does make you miss the fine work of both William Atherton and Rick Moranis – two fine actors you just don’t see enough of anymore.
Ashleigh and Mike also had the chance to check out “Ghostbusters” again on the big screen and being that he was the one who could be bothered putting pen to paper (I enjoyed not having to review a film, quite honestly; sometimes you just want to watch something that isn’t considered ‘work’; Ashleigh, on the other hand, only has one thing to say “It doesn’t hold up as well as Back to the Future does’), we let him do the review.
Here’s Mike’s post-show notes from the “Ghostbusters” screening.
Bill Murray wanted to be serious.
Coming off such hit comedies as “Caddyshack,” “Stripes” and “Tootsie,” Murray, like many funny people, hoped to challenge himself creatively. He convinced Columbia to put up $13 million for him to star in a remake of the film “The Razor’s Edge,” with Murray himself starring in the role played by Tyrone Power. Unwilling to finance the film at first, Columbia then became aware of a screenplay that Dan Aykroyd had written for he and his pal John Belushi to star in entitled “Ghost Smashers.” In short, Murray replaced Belushi, Columbia ponied up the thirteen mill and a comedy classic was born.
New York City. When we first meet Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray) he is giving an ESP test to two volunteer students, to no avail. He is interrupted by his two colleagues, Ray Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis) who inform him of a possible ghost sighting at the local library. Once there the trio meet up with the ghostly image of a long dead librarian. This contact encourages them to start their own business, which will allow the public with spirit problems to call for help. They call themselves Ghostbusters.
Co-written by Aykroyd and Ramis, “Ghostbusters” is a fun romp with a couple of comedy’s greatest stars at the top of their game. Murray brings his familiar dead pan expression to the forefront here, milking it for all it’s worth. He has some of the better lines and his timing is impeccable. Same with Aykroyd and Ramis. This is Ramis’ second feature film (following “Stripes”) but he more than holds his own alongside his co-stars. Supporting players Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts also do well, with the normally straight laced Weaver taking a turn as a seductive she-demon.
If there is anything poorly done in the film it is the special effects. (NOTE: Even by 1984 standards, the effects were pretty crappy. Surprisingly, “Ghostbusters” was nominated for the Special Visual Effects Oscar, along with “2010” and the film that would win the award, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”) Most of the stop motion is quite jumpy while the nuclear “blasts” from the Ghostbusters’ weapons is not rendered cleanly. I will say that the spiritually conjured up Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is pretty impressive. (NOTE: like a lot of movies filmed in New York City prior to September 11, 2001, there are many shots of the World Trade Center, which gave me, and the audience, pause when they first appear on screen.)
History will show that “Ghostbusters” went on to become, until “Home Alone,” the highest grossing comedy of all time, earning $13 million in its opening weekend, which I’m sure Columbia put towards the box office bomb that was “The Razor’s Edge.” Murray continued to get serious and in 2003 he earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his work in “Lost in Translation.”
Man, I’d love to see some of the other films of the Hawke-era back on the creamy curtain-adorned theatre screen. I see “Poltergeist” is going to be playing locally in a couple of weeks, so I’m considering revisiting it, but a nice, wide re-issue of some of the other classics from our time – like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “Aliens”, “Die Hard”, “Gremlins”, “The Lost Boys”, “Terminator”, “Romancing the Stone”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Eddie and the Cruisers”… heck, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”… would be heaven. Particuarly if a diet coke and large popcorn comes with.