Book Review: Ghostbusters – The Ultimate Visual History

Ghostbusters – The Ultimate Visual History

Daniel Wallace


Insight Editions


Hardcover – US$50


While you can read any number of stories online about how print media is dying, Ghostbusters – The Ultimate Visual History actually represents the future of print publishing, a beautiful object d’art that reminds us of everything that’s great about printed books when so much content these days is disposable.


It’s all about artefacts – not just stills from the movie or behind-the-scenes shots of the making, but very cool props from the canon scattered throughout the pages (in some cases, stuck to them); a copy of a storyboard, concept art, Peter Venkman’s business card, a plastic sheet overlaying a picture of the slime gun from Ghostbusters II with the blueprints and notations.


Even if it only contained such tactile flair, Ghostbusters – The Ultimate Visual History would be cool enough, but the information in the text and photos is incredibly detailed and illuminating even if you’re a hardcore fan.


Interviews with almost all the major players (except for the eternally grouchy Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, whose 2014 death came too soon for him be involved) and plenty of below the line craftspeople lift the lid on how the entire brand name and everything associated with it came together, with gorgeous sketches and photography on every page.


Seeing the miniature of Dana Barrett’s apartment building with the guy in the Stay Puft suit preparing for the proton pack attack, detailed schematics of the gadgets or the various puppetry, animatronics or effects that went into your favourite scenes will give your love for the movie(s) new life.


Author Daniel Wallace also isn’t shy about those times when the Ghostbusters name quite frankly sucked. By the time the 1989 sequel came out the national mood in America had changed and audiences weren’t so enamoured with the entrepreneurial optimism that had driven the themes of the first movie to success, and it was also seen as overblown and too effects driven. Bill Murray bitching about it in the press at the time also didn’t help.


The first few iterations of the Ghostbusters videogames were buggy and kind of dull, the animated series got increasingly silly and petered out, and the book acknowledges it all like a fan addressing something beloved rather than a studio marketing department trying to whitewash history.


It’s a shrewd and authentic approach – just like we can admit that a lot of entities from the Star Wars universe were terrible yet still love the franchise, only a fan’s point of view understands the same applies to any movie series, including Ghostbusters.


Most of the book is about the groundbreaking 1984 original but there’s plenty that covers the sequel, the video games, action figures and toy lines, the animated series and a whole world of spin-off comic books you might not even know exist.


It’s a great read even if you’re not a fan, and pretty essential if you are.

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