Ghostbusters Review

Its past noon on a Wednesday and I’ve just slapped an eight year old girl for not answering the phone. Predictably, she’s now crying.

“That fucking phone is still ringing Sarah” I scream, “Answer it!”

This is when Mrs Andrea Neil walks in, my imaginary phone stops ringing and an altogether different alarm goes off in a deservedly concerned teacher’s head looking down upon me.

It’s 1986, and that charming six year old version of me in shorts was playing Ghostbusters at school. Not re-enacting, but playing you see. This is much better because then you can add your own additional acts of violence to the main body of the story.

Ghostbusters tells the story of New York’s first paranormal investigators and eliminators, Dr’s Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman, who embark upon capturing spirits that are mysteriously rising from the grave in America’s favourite copy of a UK city.

Think Rentokil, only for ghosts.

Housed in an abandoned fire station, the Ghostbusters answer calls from terrified New Yorkers, sliding down their fireman’s pole before racing to the scene in their converted 1959 Cadillac Ambulance and catching the ethereal ghouls with their unlicensed nuclear accelerator strapped to their backs.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Ghostbusters before, which ironically might mean you’re dead, it’s just brilliant stuff.

With a cast of Dan Ackroyd, Signourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis and the effortlessly hilarious Bill Murray, Ghostbusters was one of the most successful films of the eighties, spawning a generation to ask just one thing.

“Who ya gonna call?”

Which, in my case, turned out to be social services.

I’ve seen this film so many times I could recite huge swathes of it while being smashed about the head with my own sense of smug self-righteousness, but had never seen it on the big screen and was more than curious to learn what this would add to the experience.

The answer is a lot more than I expected.

Ghostbusters cost an estimated $32 million to make, and that’s when money was real. Watching it again, you can see why. The sets are intricate pieces of art, the special effects still petrify small children and the thousands of extras employed to cheer on our ghost busting hero’s make for some of the best crowd scenes I’ve seen in film.

Although, there is one annoying flame haired extra amongst the crowd who clearly thinks he might receive an Emmy for the delivery of his line “Ghostbusters, all right!”.

He didn’t, and that’s my only criticism for the entire film.

Having finally watched Ghostbusters on the big screen, it’s clear that it should only ever be watched this way. The film simply wasn’t designed for even the most sophisticated home entertainment system, and so much of this is lost on you when played on a screen that doesn’t swamp your entire field of vision.

And this is very important for the performance of the sublime Bill Murray.

As Dr Peter Venkman, Murray produces a hypnotic comedy incarnation whose expressions and razor sharp semi improvised dialogue almost distract you from watching the story. The cinema allows you to absorb all the one liners Murray has to offer, but not at the expense of missing the rest of the flick.

Ghostbusters has aged well and comfortably stands up to comparisons with modern cinematic releases, mostly because of the imagination used to create the still credible visuals; but also because of the incredibly well crafted script Aykroyd and Ramis created, which puts most today’s special effects driven blockbusters to shame.

Its re-release gives generations both old and new the chance to see Ghostbusters where it was intended, with the inevitable consequences for Sarah Haimes and her slacker kind being slapped about in playgrounds across the nation.

All in the name of ghost busting.

Tim Green

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2011