On June 8th, 1984, a film was released that would forever change the face of modern day cinema and change the way comedies were made. This is a look at how even after 36 years, Ghostbusters still remains a cultural phenomenon. Ghostbusters was the brainchild of SNL alumni Dan Aykroyd and comedy film legend Harold Ramis. The film Ghostbusters was a deeply personal idea for Dan, having a background in paranormal investigation as well as family who were deeply rooted in occult mythology, this was a film that Dan has always considered his magnum opus. The film that was released in 1984 was actually much different than what was originally revealed on paper. On paper, the film was to take on a far darker tone with even our beloved Ecto-1 being originally a hearse rather than an ambulance and having a dark black paint scheme and purple emergency lights.
Aykroyd credits the idea for Ghostbusters on him reading a journal about parapsychology and the occult, upon which he had this idea of “what if there was a paranormal service to catch ghosts”. Even though Aykroyd wanted his film to have a dark tone, he still wanted it to have a funny aspect. Being an avid fan of the old Abbot and Costello films of the 30’s, all of which “had a ghost story” according to Aykroyd, he wanted his film to be funny. To scare and excite but also to leave audiences feeling good about themselves. To help with this, Aykroyd called on comedy legends Harold Ramis to pen the script and Ivan Reitman fresh off of Stripes to direct. Originally the film was not supposed to have the cast we see now. It was originally set to have John Belushi (who still posthumously appears as Slimer) and Eddie Murphy. Sadly, the film was plagued with issues stemming from Belushi’s untimely demise and Eddie Murphy’s time constraints which caused him to pass on the film.
Dan and Harold sought after a new cast which included Ramis’ co-star on Stripes and Second City Alumni Bill Murray (lovingly referred to as the Murricane by Dan) to play Dr. Venkman as well as then unknown actor, Ernie Hudson, to play Winston Zeddemore. Despite the hurdles, Ghostbusters opened on time for the summer of 1984 and became a cultural phenomenon. A film that has stood the test of time and by many standards invented a new subgenre of CGI being used in film. So how did Ghostbusters manage to captivate an audience for 35 plus years? The answer is in “giving audiences everything they want and more”. The film is a film that spans multiple genres in a singular picture. From Horror to Romance to Action to Sci-Fi, Ghostbusters is a film that for all intents and purposes has it all.
Ghostbusters was the perfect recipe; it had all the ingredients of what a summer blockbuster needs and more. From its all-star comedy cast to the action and terror we felt on screen. Ghostbusters is a film that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the special effects world and how films were made. Ghostbusters forever changed the formula to cinema and had us all quoting Venkman by saying: “Well, there’s something you don’t see every day”.
Mal Reynolds, guest blogger for the fandombar.com Community bLog
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