MOVIE REVIEW: Ghostbusters, directed by Ivan Reitman

The semester is almost over, but we get to end it on a high note with the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters. Written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis it is the tale of three sleazy academic parapsychologists turned sleazy professional ghost hunters in New York City.

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) get fired from their parapsychology research jobs at Columbia University after a ghost-hunting disaster at the New York Public Library. Since they have already developed their proton-pack weapons to fight the ghosts, along with a special containment unit to trap them, they decide to go into business for themselves as a paranormal investigations and extermination service. One thing they must never, ever do, says Egon is “cross the streams” coming from their proton packs. It would be cataclysmic.

They set up shop in a dilapidated old firehouse and go to their ever-more-frequent ghostbusting service calls in a restored hearse. They are soon hired by cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) who thinks her apartment is haunted by a demonic spirit called Zuul. Despite Venkman’s romantic interest in Dana, she still ends up possessed by Zuul, a.k.a The Gatekeeper. Dana’s nerdy accountant neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), who is also interested in Dana, becomes possessed by Vinz Clortho, who goes by the moniker, The Keymaster. Needless to say, these two are destined to meet in a big way.

Since the Ghostbusters become extremely popular as a result of their ghostbusting activities, they end up on TV talk shows, on the covers of magazines, and on the EPA’s radar. They are housing an unlicensed hazardous waste containment facility in the basement of their firehouse, and the EPA brings the cops in to shut them down. The ghostbusters are hauled off to jail and all the previously contained ghosts escape and take over the city.

In the ensuing havoc, Vinz Clortho makes his way towards Zuul and the two do the nasty. They are consequently turned into hellhounds and open the gate to a supernatural realm allowing Gozer, Zuul’s boss, to arrive.

With the citizens of New York in a panic, the mayor has the ghostbusters released. They head over to Dana  Barrett’s apartment where Gozer tells the ghostbusters that “the destructor” will soon arrive, but in a form of their choosing. That’s when Venkman inadvertently thinks of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Finally, in order to destroy “the destructor” Egon tells them they must now “cross the streams.” They defeat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Gozer and Vinz Clortho, releasing Dana and Louis from their gargoyle-like hound bodies. New York City is saved and the Ghostbusters are heroes. Yay!

This is one of the best ghost story movies ever. The characters are wonderful and the humor is great. It also stands up very well to the passage of time. If some of the special effects look a little creaky after all this time, it doesn’t matter as much because it’s a comedy. Bill Murray is a blast as the smarmy Venkman. Harold Ramis was terrific as the intensely nerdy Spengler and Rick Moranis was amazing as Louis Tully. Hard to believe the role was originally written for John Candy who declined because he just didn’t “get” the character. Sigourney Weaver is always good, even when she isn’t fighting aliens, and Annie Potts as the Ghostbusters’ secretary, Janine Melnitz, was a delight. All in all, a great movie to end on.