Sunday, 21 February 2016

Classic Film: Ghostbusters


Grab your stick, heat ‘em up, make ‘em hard and don’t cross the streams in this 80’s classic! Say it with me now - who ya gonna call?

You know the infamous tagline; you can hum the catchy earworm at the drop of a hat; and you can easily recite the classic zingers verbatim. Over 30 years after it hit cinemas, every element in Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters is classic comedy gold that still holds up to this day.

In case the film has somehow eluded you after all this time, the premise is simple but brilliant; three disgraced college professors – Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Akyroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) – decide to further their research into the ethereal and the supernatural by founding a ghost removal service. Working from a dilapidated firehouse, the threesome soon discover that the ghost problem in New York is bigger than they imagined. Transformed into overnight celebrities, the Ghostbusters face the task of defending against the monstrous spectral entity that is Gozer the Gozerian, a shape-shifting deity of destruction that looms large over the city.

From the outset, the film was perceived as a huge gamble; with an estimated budget of $30 million (a minuscule figure today, but exorbitant in 1983), industry figures were outraged by the cost of a film that was fronted by an ensemble of Saturday Night Live cast members. Initially conceived by producer and screenwriter Aykroyd as a high-concept adventure that would see the quartet of ‘ghostmashers’ journey through time and space, the film would find a steadier footing in its eventual real world setting. After initial cast member candidates such as John Belushi and John Candy passed away and expressed disinterest respectively, Murray was brought on-board to inject his trademark improvisational humour – even though his star status was far from assured after his limited film background.

With all the pieces of the puzzle finally slotting into place, the entire project was re-written, shot, edited and released in just over a year – again, a timeframe that seems inconceivable for a major summer blockbuster in the 21st Century. By contrast, DC Comics have been working on this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice since production began back in October 2013.

The final Ghostbusters product can be likened to a house on fire; it’s an iconic mixture of dry wit, inventive action and revolutionary, Oscar-nominated special effects. The film went on to gross nearly $300 million worldwide and it sat atop the US box office for five consecutive weeks. For an original property starring little-known actors (at the time), Ghostbusters showed surprising longevity at the cinema; it continued to rake in the cash, topping the box office again later that year as it skyrocketed towards the accolade of the highest-grossing film of 1984, beating likeminded 80’s classics like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Beverley Hills Cop, The Karate Kid and Gremlins

But the film’s astronomical success can’t be measured purely in numbers, accolades and statistics; instead, we have to examine the lasting cultural legacy Ghostbusters has had on our contemporary zeitgeist. Even after an inauspicious sequel muddied the water, the Ghostbusters brand continues to resonate today – theatres the world over continue to sell out special screenings of the film, and real world locations, such as the Hook and Ladder Firehouse, have become major New York tourist attractions.

And said legacy is set to continue; Columbia Pictures have given director Paul Feig (The Heat, Spy) the chance to reboot the series in a film set to arrive this July. The film continues the tradition of Saturday Night Live cast members making the jump to cinema with Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones joining Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig in an all-star, all-female Ghostbusters line-up.

Ghostbusters screens at Event Cinemas Innaloo this Friday (February 26) as part of their cult film series, In The House.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

2 comments:

  1. Nice review! Ghostbusters is one of my family's favorite movies. We watch it and quote it all the time.

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    Replies
    1. Excited or dreading the reboot haha? Looks a little shaky if you ask me. But the classic will always be exactly that - a classic.

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