Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Supernatural Phenomenon

Here's a question for you:  Which thirty-year old film ends with its entire cast covered in molten marshmallow?

Ghostbusters turned 30 last year, but it's enduring mark on popular culture was made almost instantly.  Actually, I seem to recall in distant 1984 that the pre-release campaign was already embedding itself in our collective consciousness - I remember a classmate quipping long before the film's NZ opening: "Who you gonna call?" when another complained that she thought her flat might be haunted.  I hadn't yet become the fan of Huey Lewis and the News that I was soon to be, so the ubiquitous theme song sounded fresh and original.  Shame on you Mr Parker Jnr - less of the "I want a new drug", and more of the "I need a new tune"!

Up until then, the resulting combination of horror and comedy had always been a modest affair, from Abbot and Costello, to the Addams Family, Carry on Screaming and Love at First Bite.  And so when I saw an early Ghostbusters trailer in the middle of that year, I assumed it would be more of the low-to-mid budget same.  Perhaps the effects were unfinished, but somehow it looked a little ropey. (Of course, on finally seeing the finished product I was surprised to find that it was anything but an inexpensive production).

The hype continued to build.  By the time I returned to the family home for the Christmas holidays, everyone was talking about Ghostbusters.  Reuniting with friends who were also home from their first year at other Universities, we fed each other's enthusiasm for this upcoming film.  We'd always loved horror, and something about a comical, clearly incompetent team, way out of their depth, resonated strongly with us.  As I've mentioned in an earlier post, http://fasmatodea.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/frost-and-space.html
we had been inseparable all through School, had our own 'brand name' and also careened about in a distinctive vehicle which had seen better days.

The Star League, with our own 'ecto-1'.  Don't call us whatever you do!

  All that might have led to the following photographs.  Don't be too hasty to judge: teenagers living in Blenheim at this time had to make their own fun, and that's what we did.  Whatever our motivation, the imminent arrival of Ghostbusters clearly played a part here.

If left unchecked, this might have led to Ghostbusters 'sweded'

But when I did finally see the film for the first time, it wasn't with my childhood companions.  It was actually a first date, which in itself was surprising enough for me.  Fortunately, what seemed to be the most unlikely of date movies turned out to be quite the opposite (sundry '80s then-accepted script sleaziness aside).  So much so that the young lady had actually already seen the film but kept this fact from me so we could go together.

My friends and I might all have seen it for the first of many, many times separately, but somehow our love of Ghostbusters still managed to bond us.  Quotations, or adaptations of, still pepper our conversations to this day.  In fact, it is surely one of the most quotable films in history. And I think I can even still do Bill Murray's 'hop-walk', which I diligently taught myself.

I doubt I could say anything meaningful or insightful about this film that hasn't been said many times before in the last three decades.   Perhaps these gentlemen who've kindly synced their own Ghostbusters blogposts with this one will:
Spengler: http://jetsimian.blogspot.co.nz/2015/01/bust-never-sleeps.html
Stantz: http://jamasenright.blogspot.co.nz/2015/01/ghostbusting.html
Venkman: http://guanolad.blogspot.co.nz/2015/01/theres-nothing-strange-in-my.html

I watched Ghostbusters again the other night before writing this, for the first time in many years.  I was apprehensive: several films of that era have dated very badly, and many things we laughed at back then seem decidedly 'off' now.  Perhaps it would be one of those cherished memories better left un-revisited.  I put it on with very low expectations.

But by the end of the excellently creepy opening scene; when the terrorised Librarian is finally rooted to the spot, screaming into the off-screen arc light and wind machine, and that drum intro kicks in as the familiar logo coalesces from the edges of the screen  - I wanted to punch the air.  The love is still there, no matter how many streams have been crossed in the last thirty years.

And twenty five years later, Ghostbusters was channelled yet again
as I took part in this campaign to promote weathering-out the
economic recession - Gloombusters!

And here's some things I noticed for the first time on this most recent viewing:

  • The 'Oh-so '80s' soundtrack includes songs by Air Supply and Thompson Twins
  • The tall blonde woman who Louis dances with at his party is Jean Kasem, wife of the late, great Casey Kasem who's very famous voice also features in the film, (counting down the American Top 40, naturally) .
  • Sigourney Weaver in an off-the-shoulder orange curtain may very well be the best reason to watch this again


  1. That's a cracking graphic at the top there, Mister Phantasmagoria!

    I'd forgotten about Murray's 'duck walk'! yeah, I too mastered that with my friends. We weren't as cool as your crew in those photos though, believe me.

    The soundtrack needs more love! One of the GB community actually tracked down the reclusive Mickey Smiley, whose 'magic' plays when the various spirits escape the grid (one of my favourite scenes) - the interview's online, but doesn't reveal much, apart from the fact that he also wrote Lita Ford's 'Kiss Me Deadly'. Cool!

  2. Oh, and so I'm Egon? Okay.

    Well, at least I get Janine! :)

  3. And a twinkie ! (go on, you've earned it)
    And I'm afraid i can't claim any credit for that amazing graphic. I've re-purposed it slightly, but loved it's 'enigmatic quality'.

  4. As Ray, I get my own bookstore for the next movie. ;)

    I like how we talk about our memories of the time more than the actual movie itself.

  5. Indeed! But what a time it was....

  6. I feel as though I've been doing that for the past month!