on Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters is the kind of movie that I never would have gotten to enjoy had I been a kid today. In that regard, I’m fortunate to have been a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s when it was perfectly ordinary to park a ten year old in front of a TV to watch Network-edited version of something like Robocop (violence like you wouldn’t believe), Back to the Future (language like you’d never be allowed to say), or Ghostbusters, with all its very grownup jokes mixed in amongst the silly.
It was a different era.
The movie is as old as I am and I’ve been watching and re-watching it for as long as I can remember. I recently wrote an article about the film; you can read the whole thing here…
but here’s a snippet just to get across one aspect that makes the film so special:
5. The “escalation of insanity” makes the movie accessible to a variety of fans.
The movie begins with a ghost in a library turning into a spooky old wretch. It’s effective but small in scale. The movie ends with a skyscraper-sized marshmallow man having been summoned by an inter-dimensional demon that entered our world through a refrigerator. You simply can’t go from point-A to point-Z like that without a lot of incremental steps in between.
The true magic of Ghostbusters is how it ratchets up the insanity a little at a time throughout the movie. It desensitizes you, little by little, so that by the climax, you’re not only not impressed by an ordinary ghost (by that point hundreds of ghosts are running amok throughout New York), you’re actively wanting and needing bigger and crazier. A casual or first-time viewer might find the idea of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man absurd, but if they start from the beginning and go along for the ride, they’ll completely buy-in when the big guy lumbers onto the screen for the first time.
That’s the true secret sauce of the movie.
In my opinion, it’s a perfect movie.
The sequel was okay and the recent remake was…not, but the original still stands the test of time. It’s hilarious, clever, smart, and still re-watchable thirty-five years later.