Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ghostbusters (1984) * * *

(first lines)
Dr. Venkman: All right, I'm gonna turn over the next card. Concentrate... I want you to tell me what you think it is.

Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are a trio of misfit parapsychologists in New York City. When their government grants run out, they lose their research jobs at Columbia University, despite having obtained concrete evidence of paranormal activity and even seeing a ghost at the New York Public Library. They decide to establish their own paranormal ghost exterminator service, "Ghostbusters". The business gets off to a slow start, but just when they run out of funds, the Ghostbusters are contacted by a hotel to investigate a haunting where they successfully capture their first ghost. Business booms for the Ghostbusters with goblins, poltergeists, and other demons invading apartments and taking possession of people, so they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).

Dr Ray Stantz: Hey, Dean Yeager! Are you moving us to a better office on campus?
Dean Yeager: No, you're being moved off campus. The Board of Regents has decided to terminate your grant. You are to vacate these premises immediately.
Dr Ray Stantz: What?
Dr. Peter Venkman: This is preposterous. I demand an explanation.
Dean Yeager: This university will no longer continue any funding for any of your group's activities.
Dr. Peter Venkman: But the kids love us!
Dean Yeager: Doctor... Venkman. The purpose of science is to serve mankind. You seem to regard science as some kind of dodge... or hustle. Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman!
Dr. Peter Venkman: I see.
Dean Yeager: And you have no place in this department, or this university.

(TV commercial)
Dr Ray Stantz: Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?
Dr Ray Stantz: If the answer is "yes", then don't wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals...
Dr Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Peter Venkman: Ghostbusters.
Dr Ray Stantz: Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination needs.

Tight-lipped bureaucrat Walter Peck (William Atherton) regards the Ghostbusters as a bunch of charlatans, but is forced to eat his words when NYC is besieged by an army of unfriendly spirits, conjured up by a long-dead Babylonian demon and "channelled" through beautiful cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her nerdy geek neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). The Ghostbusters investigate Dana Barrett's case, whose apartment is haunted by a demonic spirit called Zuul, a demigod worshiped in 6000 BC as a servant to Gozer (Slavitza Jovan), a Sumerian shapeshifting destruction god. Peter Venkman really takes the case in an attempt to woo her rather than out of concern for the paranormal. As they look into the matter, Dana is possessed by Zuul, followed by Louis Tully, who is possessed by a similar demon called Vinz Clortho. The Ghostbusters learn that should the "Gatekeeper" Zuul/Barret and the "Keymaster" Vinz/Louis embrace, they will summon Gozer and bring about the end of the world. While they attempt to keep the two apart, their ghost containment grid, where they store all their captured ghosts, is shut down by the EPA, unleashing a flurry of ghosts in NYC, and allowing the possessed Dana and Louis to meet during the chaos.

Winston Zeddemore: Hey, wait a minute. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Hold it! Now, are we actually gonna go before a federal judge, and tell him that some moldy Babylonian god is going to drop in on Central Park West, and start tearing up the city?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Sumerian, not Babylonian.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yeah. Big difference.
Winston Zeddemore: No offense, guys, but I've gotta get my own lawyer.
Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!

Dr Ray Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
Mayor: Is this true?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes it's true. (pause) This man has no dick.
Walter Peck: Jeez! (Charges at Venkman)
Mayor: Break it up! Hey, break this up! Break it up!
Walter Peck: All right, all right, all right!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Well, that's what I heard!

Dr. Egon Spengler: I have a radical idea. The door swings both ways, we could reverse the polarity flow through the gate.
Dr. Peter Venkman: How?
Dr. Egon Spengler: We'll cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: 'Scuse me Egon? You said crossing the streams was bad!
Dr Ray Stantz: Cross the streams...
Dr. Peter Venkman: You're gonna endanger us, you're gonna endanger our client--the nice lady, who paid us in advance, before she became a dog...
Dr. Egon Spengler: Not necessarily. There's definitely a very slim chance we'll survive.
Dr. Peter Venkman: (slaps Ray) I love this plan! I'm excited it could work! Let's do it!

Dispatched by the mayor to end the catastrophe, the Ghostbusters track Zuul/Dana and Vinz/Louis at Gozer's shrine atop their high-rise apartment, but are unable to stop them from summoning Gozer. Briefly subdued by the team, Gozer assumes the form of the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, created by Ray Stantz's unintentional thoughts, and begins laying waste to the city. To defeat Gozer, the team decides to merge the energy streams of their proton packs and aim it at the dimensional portal Gozer came through, at the risk of their own lives. They ultimately follow through with their plan and destroy Gozer, who is turned into torrents of melted marshmallow. The climax is a sendup of every Godzilla movie ever made. The Ghostbusters survive, and Dana and Louis return to normal. As they exit the building, the Ghostbusters are met with applause from a cheering crowd, and Peter and Dana kiss while they drive off.

(last lines)
Winston Zeddemore: I love this town!

GHOSTBUSTERS, titled on-screen as GHOST BUSTERS, is an Academy Award-nominated science-fiction comedy film written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists-turned-ghost exterminators. The film was released in the United States on June 8, 1984 and like several films of the era, teamed Aykroyd and/or Ramis with headliner Bill Murray, who steals every scene he is in. That means most of the movie--with a performance full of dead-pan, ironic, world-weary, been-there-done-that hilariousness. He has a sarcastic remark for every occasion, and the audience is the only one in on the joke every time. But he's a gentleman of sorts and doesn't take advantage of the situation when the demon tries to seduce him.

Dana Barrett: Do you want this body?
Dr. Venkman: (pauses) Is this a trick question?

When the script for GHOSTBUSTERS was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, John Belushi was slated to play the Bill Murray role. The concept was inspired by Aykroyd's own fascination with the paranormal and it was conceived as a vehicle for himself and friend John Belushi. His death in 1982 not only necessitated the hiring of Murray, but also an extensive rewrite. Eddie Murphy and John Candy were also intended to star, but they could not commit. The original story was very different than what was eventually filmed. In the early version, a group of Ghostbusters travelled through time, space and other dimensions taking on huge ghosts, of which the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was just one of many. Also, the Ghostbusters wore S.W.A.T.-like outfits and used wands instead of Proton Packs to fight the ghosts. GHOSTBUSTERS storyboards show them wearing riotsquad-type helmets with movable transparent visors.

The cast also includes: Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), David Margulies (Mayor), Steven Tash (Male Student), Jennifer Runyon (Female Student), Michael Ensign (Hotel Manager), Alice Drummond (Librarian), Jordan Charney (Dean Yager), Timothy Carhart (Violinist), John Rothman (Library Administrator), Tom McDermott (Archbishop), Roger Grimsby (Himself), Larry King (Himself), Joe Franklin (Himself), Casey Kasem (Himself), John Ring (Fire Commissioner), Norman Matlock (Police Commissioner), Joe Cirillo (Police Captain), Joe Schmieg (Police Seargeant), Reginald Vel Johnson (Jail Guard), Rhoda Gemignani (Real Estate Woman), Murray Rubin (Man at Elevator), Larry Dilg (Con Edison Man), Danny Stone (Coachman), Patty Dworkin (Woman at Party), Jean Kasem (Tall Woman at Party), Lenny Del Genio (Doorman), Frances E. Nealy (Chambermaid), Sam Moses (Hot Dog Vendor), Christopher Wynkoop (TV Reporter), Winston May (Businessman in Cab), Tommy Hollis (Mayor's Aide), Eda Reiss Merin (Louis's Neighbor), Ric Mancini, Kathryn Janssen, Stanley Grover, Carol Ann Henry, James Hardie, Frantz Turner, Nancy Kelly, Paul Trafas, Cheryl Birchenfield, Ruth Oliver, Kymberly Herrin, Murray Bandel, Larry Bilzarian, Matteo Cafiso, John De Bello, Paddi Edwards, Eldo Ray Estes, Deborah Gibson, Wendy Goldman, Willow Hale, Ron Jeremy, Charles Levin, Joseph Marzano, Joe Medjuck, Frank Patton, Harrison Ray, Ivan Reitman, Frank Rivers, Mario Todisco, and Bill Walton. Elmer Bernstein composed the original music. Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis wrote the screenplay. Ivan Reitman directed.

GHOSTBUSTERS was well-received and film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "This movie is an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy ... Rarely has a movie this expensive provided so many quotable lines." In the New York Times Janet Maslin wrote, "Its jokes, characters and story line are as wispy as the ghosts themselves, and a good deal less substantial." David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "Everyone seems to be working toward the same goal of relaxed insanity. Ghostbusters is wonderful summer nonsense." In Time magazine Richard Schickel praised the three lead actors: "Of the ghost wranglers, the pair played by Writers Aykroyd and Ramis are sweetly earnest about their calling, and gracious about giving the picture to their co-star Bill Murray. He obviously (and wisely) regards Dr. Peter Venkman as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop fully his patented comic character." Pauline Kael had problems with the chemistry between the three lead actors: "Murray is the film's comic mechanism ... But nobody else has much in the way of material, and since there's almost no give-and-take among the three men, Murray's lines fall on dead air."

It was most expensive comedy movie made up to 1984, and made money hand over fist, spawning not only a 1989 sequel but also two animated TV series, one of them partially based on an earlier live-action TV weekly, titled "The Ghost Busters". With inflation adjustments, the film's original release grossed over $500 million US dollars counting sales in just the U.S., making it domestically one of the highest-grossing films of 1984 and also domestically the 31st highest-grossing film.

The film spawned a theme park special effects show at Universal Studios Florida that lasted until 1997. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Ghostbusters the 44th greatest comedy film of all time. The American Film Institute ranked it 28th in its list of the top 100 comedies of all time in their "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs" list. In 2005, IGN voted Ghostbusters the greatest comedy ever. In 2006, Bravo ranked Ghostbusters 76 on their "100 Funniest Movies" list. Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the Funniest Movie of the Past 25 Years. In 2009, National Review magazine ranked "Ghostbusters" number 10 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.

Elmer Bernstein composed the film score, notable for its use of ondes martenot. Orchestrators contributing to the film were Peter Bernstein, David Spear and Patrick Russ. The hit theme song, "Ghostbusters", written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr. sparked the catchphrases "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost". The song was a huge hit, staying #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and #1 for two weeks on the Black Singles chart. The song earned Parker an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Song".

There were two novelizations of the film published. The first, which came out around the same time the movie did, was written by Larry Milne and was 191 pages long. A second novelization, written by Richard Mueller, was released in 1985. It was 65 pages longer at 256 pages, and had the subtitle "The Supernatural Spectacular". Both differ from the finished version of the film in many respects, containing scenes that ultimately did not make the cut, most notably the sequence set at Fort Detmerring. Mueller's book in particular also contained a subplot involving the two homeless men played by Murray and Aykroyd in the deleted scene, who are identified as Harlan Bojay and Robert Learned Coombs. A larger A4 sized book was also released by Hippo Books, containing a large number of stills--some from the movie, some publicity shots--tying in with the story on the relevant page. This publication is more child friendly than the previous two, and the story, while still quite extensive, is somewhat scaled down in detail.

The DVD is more than just a movie, it's virtually a library. Packed, stacked, and fully featured, GHOSTBUSTERS has countless extras. Beside a clean transfer, excellent sound and a timeless movie, you get a commentary, and concept to screen both in art work and special effects. You also can use your angle button to watch the finished scene, then flip to the rough cut and special effect cut of the same scene. There are excellent interactive menus, and a facts and trivia track which scrolls inside information in subtitles under the film. Three extra trailers for GROUNDHOG DAY(1993), STRIPES (1981) and GHOSTBUSTERS 2 (1989) are also included.

The GHOSTBUSTERS Blu-ray Disc Special Features includes:

* Digitally Mastered Audio and Video
* Slimer Mode: Picture-in-Picture Graphical Viewing Experience with an examination of the spook-hunters’ firehouse headquarters, an in-depth exploration of the creatures in the Ghostbusters mythology, behind-the-scenes discussions of making the movie, new cast, crew and special effects artists interviews and much more!
* Featurette: Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car
* Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery
* Collectible 32 Page Scrapbook
* Filmmakers’ Commentary with Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuck
* Featurette: 1984 – The Making of Ghostbusters – Interviews with the cast and crew
* Featurette: Interviews with Cast and Crew
* Featurette: SFX Team - Includes Before and After Multi-Angle Explorations
* Scene Cemetery – 10 Deleted Scenes
* Audio: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
* Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic
* Storyboard Comparisons
* Closed Captioned

GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989) is a sci-fi comedy film and sequel to Ghostbusters. It follows the further adventures of a group of parapsychologists and their organization which combats paranormal activities. Five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters are undeservedly out of business after being sued by the city for property damage incurred during the battle against Gozer, and have a restraining order preventing them from investigating the supernatural. Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) have become entertainers at children's parties, Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) works in a laboratory conducting various experiments, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hosts a pseudo-psychic television show, and Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is working at a New York art museum restoring paintings and raising her infant son Oscar (William T. Deutschendorf) at a new apartment, having broken up with Peter under acrimonious circumstances, but strongly hinted to be from Peter's fear of commitment. After a supernatural incident in which Oscar’s baby carriage is controlled by an unseen supernatural force, Dana turns to the Ghostbusters for help, prompting an awkward reunion between herself and Peter. Meanwhile, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol)--Dana’s boss at the art gallery--is possessed by the spirit of Vigo the Carpathian (Wilhelm von Homburg), a seventeenth century tyrant trapped within a painting in the gallery. Vigo orders Janosz to locate a child that Vigo can transfer his consciousness into, thus gaining physical form upon the approaching New Year.

The Ghostbusters' investigation leads them to conclude that the supernatural presence originates from under the city streets, prompting them to illegally excavate the street. Lowered down on a wire, Ray discovers a river of pink slime filling an abandoned subway line. Attacked by the slime after obtaining a sample, Ray accidentally knocks out the city’s electrical grid, and the Ghostbusters are arrested. At their trial, they are found guilty but the judge’s extremely volatile emotional outbursts prompt a reaction from the slime sample presented as evidence. After a final tirade, the slime explodes, releasing the ghosts of two murderers the judge had previously sentenced to death. The Ghostbusters agree to trap the ghosts in exchange for the dismissal of all charges and the rescinding of the restraining order. After doing so, they re-open their business and commence investigating the supernatural once more.

After the slime invades Dana's apartment, seemingly attempting to abduct Oscar, she seeks refuge with Peter and the two renew their relationship. Investigating the slime and the history of the painting of Vigo, the Ghostbusters discover that the slime reacts both to positive and negative emotions, but suspect that it has been generated by the immense amount of negativity reflected in the attitudes of New Yorkers. Exploring the river of slime, Egon, Ray and Winston discover that the river leads back directly to the museum. The Ghostbusters go to the mayor with their suspicions, but are dismissed by the skeptical politician. His scheming assistant attempts to defuse them as a potential problem by having them committed to a psychiatric institution. As they do so, a spirit resembling Janosz kidnaps Oscar, prompting Dana to break into the museum by herself. After she does, the museum is caked in a wall of impenetrable slime.

New Year's Eve sees a sudden outburst of increased supernatural activity as the slime rises through the ground and onto the surface of the city, including a demon invading Washington Square Park and the arrival of a spectral version of the Titanic and its long-deceased passengers and crew into the harbor. The NYPD's emergency lines are flooded with calls from panic-stricken New Yorkers, and an ominous mass of psychokinetic energy blocks out the sun and shrouds the city in darkness. Realizing the truth of the situation, the mayor fires his assistant and has the Ghostbusters released, whereupon they make their way to the museum. Their initial attempt to break through the museum's slime barrier are unsuccessful, the wave of negativity that has generated it proving too powerful to break through. Determining that they need a symbol of equally-powerful positivity to break through the slime, the Ghostbusters use positively-charged mood slime and Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" to animate the Statue of Liberty and pilot it through the streets of New York, using her torch to break through the museum's ceiling to do battle with Vigo and Janosz.

While Janosz is easily dispensed with, Vigo proves to be a difficult adversary. Immensely powerful with both the negative vibes of the city and with midnight and the New Year rapidly approaching, he manages to paralyze the Ghostbusters and attempt a transfer into Oscar’s body, but a chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" from outside the building manages to weaken him sufficiently to allow the Ghostbusters to break free and return him to the painting. Although Vigo momentarily possesses Ray, the other three Ghostbusters manage to trap Vigo within the painting, destroying him and transforming the painting to a likeness of the four Ghostbusters surrounding baby Oscar protectively. The movie ends with the Ghostbusters receiving a standing ovation from the crowd and, at a later ceremony to restore the Statue, receiving the key to the city from the mayor.

After the success of the first film and the animated series, "The Real Ghostbusters", Columbia Pictures pressured the producers to make a sequel. However, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman were uncomfortable with this as the original film was intended to be conclusive and they wished to work on other projects. Eventually, they agreed and created a script. Some of the cast and crew were ultimately dissatisfied with the film as well as its box office reception. The sequel had what was, at the time, the biggest three-day opening weekend gross in history ($29,472,894--which is equal to $52,709,710 today), a record that was broken one week later by BATMAN (1989) ($40,505,884). Despite the record-breaking opening, the film received mixed reviews from both critics and viewers. A video game, "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" released in 2009 is actually a sequel to GHOSTBUSTERS II, taking place two years after. Aykroyd considers it as the "third movie".

GHOSTBUSTERS II is a disappointing sequel. There is not enough comedy, not enough ghost busting, not enough special effects, and far too much boring and pointless drama. An episode in the TV series ALF explains it perfectly. Willie Tanner (Max Wright) tells Alf that some people have no morals or scruples, and will do anything for money. Alf responds, "Well, that explains GHOSTBUSTERS II." It's a funny line because it's very true. And it's probably the real reason there is no second sequel.

The original Laserdisc and VHS versions of the film were made incorrectly: instead of being produced either in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or panned and scanned at the aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the movie was panned and scanned in a 1.66:1 frame. Compared to the "proper" pan and scan version at 1.33:1, width is definitely gained on the edges, though very slightly. However, the DVD version was transferred and encoded at the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. At the end of the version shown in theaters, Slimer comes out from behind the Statue of Liberty and goes right into the camera as he did at the end of GHOSTBUSTERS. The video version ends with a pan up to the statue's head, then a fade to black. Also, in an unusual move, Slimer has his own cast billing in the credits: "and Slimer". Slimer was puppeted and controlled by Robyn Shelby but much of her performance ended up on the cutting room floor. The Blu-ray version of the film is available through Sony Picture's campaign site Ghostbustersishiring.com

A great deal of merchandise, such as coloring books, came out with the release of this film. As was the case with "The Real Ghostbusters" cartoon, the makers of this material may have wanted to avoid likeness fees and as a result, the main characters in these bear little resemblance to any other version of the characters. "The Real Ghostbusters" comic book produced by NOW Comics ran a three-part adaptation of the film, using the cartoon character designs instead of the likenesses of the actors. The overall story received minor alterations to run as a three-part series, and includes several scenes that were in the shooting script but were not included in the released movie. In a novelization of the movie by Ed Naha, Hardemeyer rushes at the museum's slime shell, which engulfs him, and the book does not mention him again. In the ending credits of the film, he is shown in the crowd outside the museum, singing with them.

The third installment to the franchise is in production and is set for a 2012 release, with the script being written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. At first it was to be completely computer animated. Dan Aykroyd confirmed that the animated Ghostbusters 3 is in development while doing an interview for CISN fm: "Ghostbusters 3 lives today. A year ago it didn’t." However, in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dan Aykroyd revealed that the third Ghostbusters movie could start filming soon. He said that all the original cast have now signed on, including Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and of course Aykroyd himself. Having Bill Murray onboard was crucial, said Aykroyd. Apparently Murray holds a one-fifth controlling interest in the Ghostbusters franchise. He played down Murray’s reluctance to commit to a third movie.

"I've been very busy. Harold's been busy, Ivan's been busy. And a third script really didn't coalesce properly," said Aykroyd. "And Billy, you can't blame an artist for not wanting to do the same thing again. He did two of them, for God's sake. Although I'm the biggest cheerleader as the originator of the concept but I've never begrudged Billy not doing a third movie. I never said he held it up or that he refused. Hey, listen, he's an artist. You can't force somebody into it. I'm sorry he never read my third draft because I thought it was pretty good but, look, now we're at a point that there's a story that he can accept and that's going to work, and I think we're going to be in production fairly soon. We could be in production by winter."

Dan Aykroyd would like to see Ivan Reitman or Harold Ramis direct and is hoping to introduce a new generation Ghostbusters team with female members. "I'd like it to be a passing-of-the-torch movie. Let's revisit the old characters briefly and happily and have them there as family but let's pass it on to a new generation," he said.

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