This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original Ghostbusters movie. Released on June 8th 1984 in America, the movie went on to become one of the highest grossing comedies of the decade, and is still managing to entertain fans 30 years later. Ghostbusters also made Bill Murray a household name, and his performance as Dr. Peter Venkman still ranks as one of his all-time best.
Ghostbusters is special to me for so many reasons. I grew up watching it as a child, and I still make time to watch it at least once a year as an adult, usually around my birthday. So, I got thinking, what is my favourite moment from the film? I knew it would be impossible to name just one, so I named five then I named ten, then fifteen and eventually I thought why not name thirty? It is, after all, an appropriate number. So I set about doing just that, I challenged myself to name thirty reasons why this is my favourite movie of all time.
I probably could have included more. Even as I sit here, Ray Stantz and his “duly designated representative of the City, County and State New York” speech springs to mind. Heck, I could write a bloody thesis on the film, but I had to draw myself in and stop myself from rambling on.
So, here it is then, thirty reasons why I love Ghostbusters. Bear in mind, even though the list is numbered it is in no particular order, as I couldn’t possibly rank one moment above another.
See you on the other side, damn that’s another great moment.
1. Dr. Peter Venkman
Ah Dr. Venkman, with his quick wit and sly charm, he worms his way into Dana Barrett’s life before she has the chance to shut the door on him. This is one of Bill Murray’s finest performances, and turned him into a bona fide star, and is my personal favourite performance from Murray. Ghostbusters would not be the same without him.
2. Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist
Ghostbusters is full of brilliant one-liners. Most of them come from the mouth of Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, and none are more perfectly timed than his scene in the library. After seeing a ghost, Alice the librarian is being asked a few questions by Dr. Venkman, but when her colleague steps in to ask if all the questions are really necessary, Murray delivers the now classic line “back off man, I’m a scientist.” It’s a line delivered with such aplomb and cockiness, that while incredibly funny, you completely get why Venkman gets under the skin of so many people.
3. The Theme song
Who doesn’t love the theme song to Ghostbusters? it’s so memorable, and so very 80’s. The video is brilliant, and features several cameos from various stars of the decade. It also made a star of Ray Parker Jr. and ensured the man never had to work another day in his life.
4. Louis Tully
The role of Louis Tully is nothing more than a bit part character. He’s the guy across the hall who fancies Dana, but never has a chance with her. It’s a role that could have been completely insignificant, but thanks to Rick Moranis, it became an indelible part of the film. The scene where he has guests round for a party is one complete take, and is also entirely improvised by Moranis.
5. This Man Has No Dick
Quite possibly one of the funniest lines in the entire film comes when the Ghostbusters come head to head with Walter Peck in the Mayor’s office. After facing a barrage of abuse from our heroes Peck finally snaps, letting his emotions get the better of him & almost starts a fist fight, which results in him being kicked out, not to be seen again until near the film’s end when he gets covered in the remains of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
6. Venkman’s Opening Trick
We are first introduced to Dr. Venkman when he is performing a test on two young volunteers. The test is a simple ESP test and all they have to do is guess what symbols are on the reverse of the cards Venkman is holding, if they guess incorrectly though, they get zapped via the hooked up electrodes. One of the volunteers is a pretty young girl, who’s a little dumb, while the other is a geeky male who might actually be getting a few cards right. We get all of Venkman’s characteristics in this first scene, his sly charm, sarcasm, cheeky boy nature and glimmer of the depths he will go to just to get a girl to go out with him.
7. The Ecto 1
Quite possibly one of the finest movie cars ever created, the Ecto 1 stands up their with the likes of the DeLorean, KITT and The A Teams van. After turning up as an old wreck that Ray paid way over the odds for, the car really makes its mark when it bursts out of the firehouse doors once the Ghostbusters receive their first paying job. With the sirens blaring and The Bus Boys “Cleanin up the town” playing over the scene, it’s one of the best money shots throughout the whole film.
8. The Brooklyn Bridge Scene
Ray and Winston are on their way back from a case and are shooting the breeze when, all of a sudden, the conversation takes on a more serious tone: Judgement Day. The two actors perform a great monologue, and set about informing the audience on what may come in the final third of the film. As the camera pulls away, we see the Ecto 1 riding along the Brooklyn Bridge with her lights flashing, then Elmer Bernstein’s score kicks in and with the Twin Towers in the background it is one the finest shots in the entire film.
9. I Have Seen Shit That’ll Turn You White
Of all the great lines and gags in the film, one of my personal favourites is when Winston approaches the Mayor and tries to reason with him that ghosts are indeed real and not just a phony light show. The look in his eye and the conviction in his voice say it all when he tells the Mayor “I have shit that’ll turn you white!”
10. The Elevator Scene
On their first case, the Ghostbusters are packed into a small elevator and suddenly realise their brand new equipment is completely untested. With Ray standing in front of Spengler & Venkman, they turn on the unlicensed nuclear accelerator and have the sudden realisation that this could all end very badly.
11. Venkman Plays The Tough Guy
In the final act of Ghostbusters, Bill Murray was trying to send up the Hollywood tough guy role by poking a little fun at them and their overly heroic nature. The thing is, by the final act, Venkman is a tough guy. His rousing speech to his troops when they attempt to take down Gozer is full of testosterone and alpha male authority. Who knew Venkman had it in him?
12. Louis Gets Attacked
I didn’t pick this scene because I like to watch Louis get viciously attacked by a terror dog. No, I picked this scene because it is one of those great New York moments. The type of moment you see in so many other films, but done perfectly here. New Yorker’s are known to be a self-centred bunch, who pay no attention to something unless it directly affects them, and here we have a guy panicked & clearly in distress, but what do the restaurant clientele do? Nothing, not a thing, even when Louis screams they simple carry on eating their meals.
13. Savin The Day
This is one of the most heroics parts in the film. Accompanied by the police and the army, the Ghostbusters ride through New York while Alessi’s cheesy “savin the day” plays over the scene. It’s stirring stuff and sets up the final showdown perfectly.
14. Louis & Dana Do It
Yep, Louis Tully beats Peter Venkman to the punch here. There’s no doubt about it, when the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster get together sparks will definitely fly. I like this scene mostly for the look of sheer astonishment on Louis’ face before he and Dana walk up the stairs because, even when he’s possessed, he has the look of guy who can’t quite believe what just happened.
15. Jews And Berries
Ok, so this is something you only learn from being really dedicated (sad) and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the film, but it’s a cool bit of trivia that makes me even more fond of Bill Murray. When filming the scene where Gozer asks the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the destructor, the line is “choose and perish.” Murray, being mischievous started to tease Slavitza Jovan (Gozer) about her pronunciation of the line and would say to her “there are no Jews and berries here.” It’s small things like this that make me think they must have had great fun during filming.
16. The Difference Between Watching As Kid And As An Adult
There’s something brilliant about watching a film as a child, and watching it years later as an adult. In my mind it’s the closest you can get to seeing a film for the first time again. You see things different, understand some of the jokes better, and finally understand what is happening to Ray when a ghost hovers over him and unzips his trousers.
17. Walter Peck
William Atherton received quite a name for himself in the 80’s. Not only did he play the slime ball reporter Richard Thornburg in Die Hard, but he also played the slime ball EPA man Walter Peck. Peck is a ruthless man, who was desperate to put an end to the Ghostbusters as he believed they were tricking the people of New York into believing they were seeing ghosts. Outside of Gozer and Stay Puft, Peck is the villain of the film, and Atherton plays him perfectly.
18. They Don’t Know What They’re Doing
It’s safe to say that these paranormal investigators really have no idea what they have gotten themselves in for. After being kicked out of university and then selling Ray’s childhood home to fund their new business, they find themselves completely overwhelmed by everything, and with them being the only people who can actually catch ghosts, also incredibly busy, leading them to employ Winston Zeddmore without even as much as a proper interview.
19. Elmer Bernstein
Elmer Bernstein was one of the great Hollywood composers. He leant his musical talents to a great list of films. From The Magnificent Seven to The Great Escape to Stripes and The Blue Brothers, his career was nothing if not varied. His work on Ghostbusters however, is a masterpiece. Each piece compliments its accompanying scene perfectly and blends the scarier moments with the more playful moments of the film seamlessly.
20. First Call
The moment when Janine picks up the phone to take the last call of the night, slowly realising that they actually have a case to answer, and then slamming the phone down and shouting “we got one” remains a favourite of mine. From the look on the guys faces when the bell goes signaling they have no idea what to do, to the moment when they arrive at the Sedgewick Hotel claiming they handle this kind of thing all the time.
21. The Montage Scene
One of the things I really miss about films from the 80’s are montage scenes. They used to appear roughly half way through a film and had a catchy/cheesy song accompanying them. Every film had one, and the one featured in Ghostbusters is particularly good, featuring scenes that were shot on the first day of filming. At one point, when we see the Ghostbusters running, they are actually being chased by security as they had no license to film and were doing things in true guerilla style.
22. Mayor’s Office
Surely ranking as one of the all time classic movie scenes has to be when the Ghostbusters go off on an ad-libbed tandem. Desperately trying to reason with the Mayor and prove Walter Peck wrong, we get treated to one of the most gloriously funny moments in the entire film. Mass hysteria.
23. Are You A God?
Winston Zeddmore is almost the forgotten Ghostbuster here, but he actually gets some of the best lines in the film. Atop Dana’s apartment, making their final stand against Gozer, Ray is asked “are you a god?” and stupidly replies “no.” This results in our heroes nearly being zapped off the roof of the building to their doom and Winston losing it with Ray.
24. Nobody Steps On A Church In My Town
When the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man arrives in town he has one thing on his mind, destruction. He’s the cutest harbinger of death you will ever see, but when he starts destroying churches, you know shit just got real.
25. Dan Aykroyd’s Enthusiasm
While the film is no doubt led by Bill Murray’s wonderful performance, you have to give a lot of credit to Dan Aykroyd too. His enthusiasm is clear, and the supernatural is a subject he is very passionate about. It is no surprise to hear Venkman claim Ray is the heart of the Ghostbusters towards the end of the film, whether the line was written or ad-libbed I don’t know, but it’s true no matter what.
Slimer, or Onion Head to the cast & crew, is an homage to the sadly passed John Belushi who was originally set to play Peter Venkman in the film before his untimely passing. This disgusting blob however, went on to become one of the more memorable monsters from the film and even got a side role in the animated cartoon The Real Ghostbusters.
27. Bill Murray & Sigourney Weaver’s Chemistry
In most films you can see that the two leads share no real chemistry and that they are both merely acting as if they like each other. That isn’t the case here at all, as Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver clearly have a spark that helps to ignite the film. From Venkman’s first meeting with Dana Barrett, when you would think he had no chance in hell, to the final kiss outside her apartment, it’s a relationship that keeps the film grounded and gives us something real to hold onto among the laughs and special effects.
28. He Slimed Me
When I was a kid, this scene would scare the crap out of me. After the library ghost we go a while without seeing any spook related action, and it’s not until the Ghostbusters arrive at the Sedgewick Hotel that we get to see another one. Slimer, in all his green glory, picks out Venkman at the end of the hall and charges at him, covering him in slime. Once Ray has checked that Peter is alright, he can’t help but hide his joy exclaiming: “this is great, actual physical contact.”
29. Egon’s Naivety Towards Janine
The relationship between Egon and Janine gets explored more in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, but it’s clear for everyone, apart from Egon that is, that there is something between the two. It was a wise choice not to explore the relationship further and bog the film down, but it’s a nice little side note that adds some nice moments to the film.
30. What About The Twinkie?
Yeah, I named my blog after a scene from my favourite film, so what?