Saturday, June 8, marked the 35th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite movies, “Ghostbusters.”
The original film predates me by a little over a year, but I was lucky enough to catch the re-release a few years ago with friends. It never gets old and I'm not outgrowing it anytime soon.
In fact, my nieces Madelyn and Addison Otto recently gifted me with the visual history book of Ghostbusters which I can't put down. Add that to the Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters comic they picked out and I'd say I'm their favorite uncle.
One of my earliest memories of going to the movies was for “Ghostbusters 2.” It may be my earliest memory, period, specifically the scene where Winston Zeddemore falls into the slime river. I began to wail as Winston, followed by Ray and Egon, was swept down the river to certain doom. I might have been 4 years old so cut me a break here.
After gathering myself, I lost it again when a possessed Janosz biked his way through the sky like the Wicked Witch to Dana Barret’s apartment window and kidnapped baby Oscar. My family never let me forget the episode. Good memories.
As I’ve gotten older the things I like the most about the Ghostbusters have changed. I remember as a child always being anxious for Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to put on their jumpsuits peel off in Ecto-1 for the first time. The special effects, practical effects and heroic imagery had me in a trance.
Now I’m entranced by the chemistry between the cast members. The banter between the main and supporting characters slices through all of the action sequences and other-worldly elements of the movie. It looks like a big budget sci-fi blockbuster, but at its core, it is a comedy about a startup business surviving in the big city and birthing heroes that the city didn't know it needed.
The everyday struggle of trying to keep the lights on provides the underlying tone that anyone with a mountain of bills can relate to. After Chinese takeout eats up the last of the crew's petty cash, the first in a long line of calls comes in. "We got one!" Who knew the montage showing the Ghostbusters' rise to pop culture stardom would foreshadow the real-life success of that movie.
Just hearing the name "Ghostbusters" probably brings the image of the "no ghosts" symbol to your mind, or maybe Ray Parker Jr.'s theme song creeps into your head. Has anyone asked "Who you gonna call" and gotten a serious response?
With all of the iconic imagery aside, the cast of characters makes the movie work. The ghostbusting is kind of ancillary.
An official sequel to “Ghostbusters 2” has been teased and details have slowly come to light in the last few months. The film will be a continuation of the second movie and is slated for a 2020 release.
Last weekend at Ghostbusters Fan Fest, it was officially announced that Murray, Aykroyd, Weaver and Hudson had read the script and are onboard for the feature – which will be directed by Jason Reitman, son of the first film’s director Ivan Reitman.
Child actor Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler in Netflix's "Stranger Things," will play an unannounced role in the sequel. I'm guessing his role will be pretty big. I doubt he does much ghostbusting but he did wear the suit in season two of the Netflix show. Another child star, Mckenna Grace, has also been cast. She played a young Carol Danvers in "Captain Marvel."
I’m more cautiously optimistic about "Ghostbusters 3" than I’ve ever been. There have been rumors about a canonical sequel since the last film in 1989. For a long time, I didn’t want a sequel. What I'm afraid of — obviously not ghosts — is that "Ghostbusters" will be treated like Batman or other evergreen franchises with the suits being slapped on a new cast every few years.
A 2009 video game with voices and likenesses lent from the original cast was as good as a sequel. It further explored the work of Ivo Shandor, the deranged architect and cult leader that constructed the haunted apartment building in the first movie. Even William Atherton, the actor who played Environmental Protection Agency bureaucrat Walter Peck, returned for a small part.
As the original team has grown older, suggestions that a younger cast of new characters would take their place began circulating, similar to what happened in the 2015 remake or reboot starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. Some names that I heard floated around as the new "Ghostbusters" around 2008 were Ben Stiller, Michael Cera, Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill. I couldn’t have been more adamant at that time that I did not want to see this happen. As I said before, it was the cast that made "Ghostbusters" what it was, not the uniforms, proton packs or ghost traps.
It is still likely that the next film will introduce a younger group of "Ghostbusters," but at least the old gang can appear onscreen together again. It is unfortunate that it couldn’t have happened sooner so Ramis could be included. Along with playing Egon, he is often cited as the writer that really molded the first movie into what it was.
The idea Aykroyd had in mind with Ghostbusters was that it would become a service seen in any major city, similar to a fire department. Fans have adopted this idea with groups sprouting up all over the country, including the South Dakota Ghostbusters and Iowa Ghostbusters.
In the movie continuity, maybe this idea has taken off with paranormal investigators and eliminators becoming a common thing.
Like Gozer the Destructor and Vigo the Carpathian, the villain shouldn't be played for gags. Those villains were meant to scare and intimidate — that is until Ray chose the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as the form of The Destructor.
With the surviving original Ghostbusters set to go, along with Weaver, I'm holding out hope that Annie Potts and Rick Moranis make appearances. Moranis has been a bit of a ghost since taking a hiatus from acting in 1997.
Maybe I’m stuck in the past. Actually, I’m quite sure I am, but I would be setting myself up for disappointment if I thought "Ghostbusters 3" would recapture the magic of the first or even second movie. Still, if it is going to be done I hope it is done with care. Whether it works or not, it will be fun to hear the sirens of Ecto-1 scream in the theater again.