Saturday, 27 October 2012

Ghostbusters (1984)

The 1980s is a strange time. It's easy to look back and point and laugh at a decade that had so much excess. The big shoulder pads, the clouds of hairspray, lots of clothing in nigh-on luminous colours. But when it comes to movies it was almost a golden age. Before you stop me and tell me off for letting nostalgia overrule my critical faculties let me just make one thing clear. EVERY year has a fair share of great movies and stinkers. Every year. I am well aware that we can look back with fondness at certain times simply because the rubbish has been forgotten and, boy, did the eighties have a lot of rubbish. But it was also, in a way, the perfect mix of cinema made with the latest technology that still relied mainly on practical effects. Of course, there WAS CGI but it was still a bit of a novelty. The best films, the ones that we remember with such fondness, from that decade are, in my view, so fondly remembered because they took us all on an incredible journey and they did it in a way that felt more realistic, despite the outlandishness of the plots. I'm thinking of the likes of The Goonies, Gremlins, Back To The Future, Labyrinth, The Thing, An American Werewolf In London, Die Hard, The Terminator, The Lost Boys and quite a few others. Of course, nostalgia does contribute something (especially in the case of The Lost Boys) but I don't think that any of these movies would be remembered as fondly today if they were full of dated CGI. Just look at An American Werewolf In Paris compared to its predecessor. Actually, don't do that. You don't want to lose your eyesight.

Ghostbusters is one of those movies and that's why I stopped listening a long time ago when the talk of a third movie kept going round and round and round for years (who knows, if you're reading this some time in the future then maybe the damn thing finally got made). A third movie just won't have the heart that this movie has. It won't have the same texture. The second movie isn't all that beloved (though I like it) so why not let sleeping dogs lie. Or sleeping ghosts rest in ecto-containment units, or something.

Directed by Ivan Reitman, and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (with some uncredited work from Rick Moranis too), Ghostbusters is all about three men (Aykroyd, Ramis and Bill Murray) who become . . . . . . . . ghostbusters. They end up doing great business, so great that they have to hire an extra member of staff (Ernie Hudson) but the increase in paranormal activity also leads them to believe that something big is happening. Maybe that something is linked to whatever is happening in the apartment of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). Whatever it is, the guys try to stay ready for action even while weaselly Walter Peck (William Atherton) tries to make big trouble for them.

I don't even know why I wrote that last paragraph. You already KNOW Ghostbusters. Or know OF it. If you don't, stop reading now and go and watch it. Now. Seriously.

It's a great supernatural comedy, it's one of the best outright comedies of the decade, if not THE best, it features brilliant performances from everyone involved (and I'd better mention the superb turns from Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz and Rick Moranis as Louis Tully, two absolutely classic supporting roles) and if you don't think that every line is worth quoting then you'd be hard pushed to deny that every other line is worth quoting.

It's one of my favourite movies of all time and I can't really think of anything worthwhile to convince you to see it if you haven't already done so. There's that great theme song, the pace and editing are both pretty perfect, every single main character is memorable for a different reason and it features the best use of marshmallow I've ever seen outside the world of adult entertainment (don't ask!).

On a more personal note, I have since been relieved to discover that I wasn't the only one to think that the big villain named Gozer (Slavitza Jovan) was a bit sexy while also being really, really evil. On a less embarrassing personal note, I will always have an added fondness for this film because of the cinema that I saw it in - I can't recall if it was The Dominion here in Edinburgh or The Odeon that has long since closed down but whoever put little "ghosts" over all of the side lights deserves good karma forever. You, sir or madam, helped this movie to leave a smile on my soul that has not waned in over a quarter of a century.


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