Monday, June 23, 2014

Horror Comedy Classics: Ghostbusters


As a true child of the '80s, of course I have seen 1984's Ghostbusters numerous times. I used to watch the cartoon TV show and had a serious pre-K crush on the nerdy, skinny, bespectacled one (shock, shock). I haven't seen the movies all the way through since probably the early '90s, however, so now that I'm reviewing ghosty classics, it's time to revisit. Properly. With booze. I vaguely remember it being awesome. I hope not to be disappointed in this endeavor.

Here is a stone lion outside the New York Public Library. Old Lady Librarian is going to reshelve the fuck out some shit in the creepy basement stacks. Books are floating around, rearranging themselves. GHOST, DO YOU PROPERLY KNOW THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS SYSTEM, BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T, THAT IS FUCKED UP AND NOBODY WILL FIND THOSE BOOKS. Cards start flying out of the physical card catalogs and the librarian finally notices something's going on, screams, and starts to run. God, I love libraries and ghosts. That's probably why the one time I wrote (most of) a screenplay, there was a quasi-ghost-in-a-library plot point. Bright light, screaming. Now the Ray Parker, Jr. song. I hope Ray Parker, Sr. was proud of his son's claim to fame: one mediocre-but-catchy-and-iconic song on a movie soundtrack.

Inside the Psychology Department building on a campus somewhere,we see a door labeled Paranormal Studies Lab. Three names: Dr. Egon Spengler (my cartoon crush), Dr. Ray Stantz, and Dr. Peter Venkman in addition to some graffiti that says "VENKMAN BURN IN HELL." We hear Bill Murray. He's doing some kind of ESP testing with a guy with big hair. He shocks the guy for guessing the symbol on the card wrong. He tells the other participant, a hot chick, that she's right about what's on the card when she's not right. He does it again. What a sleaze. Bill Murray shocked him even when he got it right! The dude gets mad about the shocks and argues with Bill about the worth of the $5 he was earning by volunteering for this study. I worked in a psych lab one summer, and we paid participants $10 to do some experiment listening to words and shit. There was probably more to it than that, but the part of the job I liked was transcribing women talking to their babies and getting to use phonetic transcription AKA my bachelor's degree.

Full disclosure: a good friend of mine is in a book club with this name and has a CROSS-STITCHED BOOKMARK that says this on it. I am so jealous.
Bill Murray (Venkman), is sleazing it up with the lady. Dan Aykroyd comes in, excited about something. Oh, the '80s. This is Ray. Ray is concerned about the library ghost incident. There's something real happening here. Venkman sets up an 8:00 date to "keep working with" the hot chick who's not psychic at all. Venkman comes along with Ray to the library. Egon is there, big-nosed and glasses-ing and using a stethoscope on something. Peter Venkman is asking the librarian if her family is schizophrenic. He asks if she's menstruating. SEXIST. He's clearly the group skeptic. They find a huge tower of carefully-stacked books downstairs. They're all so young. They find some gross goo dripping off the card catalog drawers. ECTOPLASM! Peter tries to flick it off his fingers like Mulder trying to be cool. A bookshelf almost falls on the dudes. They react very little. Egon's got some kind of sensor that continues to perk up as they move through the stacks. They see a lady ghost floating. Peter is unimpressed. She's reading a book. Ray wants to make contact. They nominate Peter while the other two shoot film. The lady ghost shushes him. They slowly approach her and she gets all mad and flame-y and they scream and run away.

Peter is skeptical about the worthiness of their ghost-catching/research attempts. Back in the lab, the dean is moving all their shit off-campus. The Board of Regents is OVER IT. No more funding, not real science, blahblahblah. Ray is sad, but Peter's like, let's just open a business. They go and get some money, apparently they've taken out a third mortgage on Ray's house. Professional paranormal investigations! They find a crappy old firehouse building for their office and living conditions. Egon calls it a DMZ, but Ray is pumped about the fireman's pole.

Sigourney Weaver, having had a few years to recover from her horrible space abandonment, carries some groceries and an instrument case into her apartment. Rick Moranis is her neighbor and is wearing an awesome velour sweatsuit. He's an accountant and wants Sigourney to come to his party. Apparently her "TV" was too loud while she was gone. Sigournz sees the dudes' Ghostbusters' "supernatural elimination" commercial, seems amused, but turns off the TV. She's bought some Stay-Puft Marshmallows FORESHADOWING. The ghost starts cracking her carton of eggs/kind of cooking them on the counter. RUDE. There's a growling coming from her fridge. A bright light, a demon and some kind of paranormal gateway is open in there. She screams and shuts the door. Gotta clean that shit out every once in a while, bro.

Ghostbusters headquarters is getting set up. Ray's found them an old ambulance. JANINE!!! Annie Potts is cranky and awesome at the front desk. Look at those old computers! Egon claims "print is dead." Janine is interested in Egon. He collects mold for a hobby, obvs. Sigourney Weaver shows up to sample their ghostbusting wares (AKA BILL MURRAY'S DICK). Peter jumps over some shit to greet her. The team interviews her and their instruments tell them she's not lying. Ghostbusters drink Budweiser and eat Cheez-Its during meetings.

Peter volunteers to "check out" her apartment, which she hasn't been back to since the fridgecident. He's carrying in some kind of antennae hooked up to a cassette player or something, it looks like. THE 1980S. She tells him he's more like a game show host than a scientist because of all the sleazing he's doing up in here. Peter opens the fridge, and there's just regular food and shit in there, which he criticizes. There was a voice that said "Zul" before. He's not getting any readings from his "equipment." He tells her he's madly in love with her. She rejects him because of his sleazy mcsleazyness. Moranis sees him in the building's hallway and looks awkward.

The GB boys eat dinner in the firehouse. Janine gets a real call and gets excited. She sounds the alarm and they suit up and head out in the newly painted Ghostbusters ambulance. The job is at the Sedgewick Hotel. They come in with their jumpsuits and equipment. The concierge is very nervous. The twelfth floor has had some increased paranormal activity recently. A guest asks if they're cosmonauts (COLD WAR!), but Peter says they're exterminators. Isn't there a black guy? Where is the black guy team member? Their machines are untested, but they're on it anyway. Gonna try to catch those ghosts. They shoot their lasers at a poor housekeeping lady. Because this is a ghost movie, they decide to split up. Ray is just smoking in the hallway because the '80s. He comes upon a green floating ghost (SLIMER!) gorging himself on a room service cart. That's some shitty animation. Ray tries to shoot and capture him, but misses. Next, Peter sees Slimer. Slimer slimes Peter, Ray's excited about the samples, and Egon calls them to investigate a ballroom in the hotel. They encounter Slimer hovering around a chandelier, which they quickly destroy with their lasers. Egon says they're not supposed to cross their gun stream thingies.

The Buster boys attempt to shoot and catch Slimer a bunch, destroying shit around the ballroom. The concierge is nervous about the clear destruction he hears happening inside. Bill Murray pulls out a tablecloth from under a table setting. Two of them shoot and contain Slimer in the trap thingy on the floor. They've caused a pretty big mess, but they get $5000 for this case anyway. On the news, we hear about all sorts of ghost reports for the GBs. Montage of them responding to emergencies. Larry King cameo! Look at his hair color! Media frenzies, lots of ghost-catching. Casey Kasem is reporting on them. TOO SOON, GHOSTBUSTERS.* Sigourney pays attention to all the media reports. Ray has a sexy ghost dream at some point. Oh, is this a succubus situation?

Oh, look! It's the black guy. He tells Janine he'll believe anything if there's a steady paycheck. His name is Winston. They hire him with no ceremony and immediately ask him to take care of their trapped ghosts. Peter shows up outside the orchestra building or whatever to hit on whatshername. Some fellow musician with nasal spray looks on their conversation disapprovingly. Peter says Zul was a god worshiped by Hittites. She calls her fridge an icebox. He goads her into a date/meeting Thursday night. She tells the music dude that Peter's "just a friend." Back at the firehouse, Ray shows Winston how to load ghosts into the storage system. Peter's a dick to Janine. A guy from the EPA comes in and gets all slimy. The EPA guy is worried about noxious waste or some shit. Peter is a dick to him, too. There are concerns about the electrical grid supporting the ghost storage unit or something. Something about a Twinkie.

Very concerned about the building's pet policy right now.
Lightning. Gargoyles. A real demon bursts out of a stone one. Sigourney (Dana), tries to sneak past Louis' party. He says it's okay if she brings her date. He promises Twister. God, landlines are so loud. She tells her mom about her date with Peter. The door to the kitchen starts glowing. Demon arms come up out of her chair and propel her into the bright abyss/her kitchen. Louis' party is heating up with various clients wearing giant glasses. There's a demon in Louis' closet. It busts out (terrible '80s animation) and chases Louis to the elevator. The poorly animated demon chases him into a fancy party in the park. "There's not supposed to be any pets in the building!" He can't get into the fancy glass gazebo. The people in the party can't see the demon, but it seems to have gotten our friend Louis.

The police outside the building don't stop Peter from getting in. He sees Louis' apartment has been destroyed. Peter knocks on Dana's door. She answers it, clearly possessed (in a sexy way). She asks if he's the "key master." The second time she asks, he says yes. Inside her apartment, she says she's Zuul and there's slime everywhere. They have to prepare for the coming of "Gozer, the Destructor." She writhes on the bed and says, "Take me now, sub-creature." He doesn't want to fuck a possessed lady. He tells Zuul he wants to talk to Dana. I love how deadpan and unperturbed he is by everything. Classic B.Murrz. Zuul levitates her body after he demands to speak to Dana. Louis runs through the park, muttering about key masters and destroyers. He says he's "Vince" the key master, apparently. All the prisoners are going to be released (I'm guessing these are the ghosts in storage).

The cops come by GB HQ with Louis, whom they apparently picked up in the park.. Egon's sensors go crazy. Janine likes Egon so much. Louis has on a straight jacket and is clearly possessed. Some computer program shows he's a gargoyle dude. Coffee? YES, HAVE SOME.** He's waiting for a sign. Janine claims she "usually very psychic" and is worried something bad is going to happen and hugs him.
Fucking environmental "protection"
Peter calls HQ to tell them Dana's the gatekeeper. Egon doesn't think they should get her and Louis together. Peter's sedated Dana, but we all know that won't last. Ray and Winston drive around in the ambulance, both smoking. Winston says he likes "Jesus' style." WORD. They start talking about Revelation. It's morning now, and amazing '80s music plays. They EPA guy shows up with some cops. He is wearing a nice three-piece suit. Janine is like, "WTF?" Egon tells the EPA not to shut things off, but they're going to, and create DISASTER. "My friend, don't be a jerk," Peter says to some utilities lackey. Louis/Vince menaces nearby. Dana pants in her bed. An alarm sounds as the containment unit gets shut off. Lights burst after them all as they run out of the building. Also, smoke. It busts out of the roof, too. Explosions, a column of fire. All the ghosties flying out. Louis says this is the sign he's been waiting for. They've lost Louis in the chaos. EPA wants them arrested. Ghosts spread all over the city. Dana/Zuul is awakened. I like this zombie cab driver!

Slimer eats all the hot dogs from a street vendor's stand. Sigourney Weaver's eye makeup keeps getting more dramatic as the wind machine and off-the-shoulder-ness of he dress amps up, too. In jail, Egon and Ray talk about Dana's building, which is some kind of spiritual superconductor. Dana lives in "the corner penthouse of spook central." The building's architect was apparently some creepy fake surgeon who worshiped Gozer. This guy used to hold rituals to bring about the end of the world. Peter starts to sing. Winston is the only one being practical about their legal situation, probs because he is black.*** Carl Winslow lets them out of jail. Dana's sprawled out on the rubble of her apartment. She's the gatekeeper. Louis, the key master. They meet and start to make out. It's real windy up there. Now they are heading up some stairway that's just appeared. The mayor has apparently bailed out the GBs. He's concerned about the city's meltdown. EPA claims they're a menace. Even the cops are freaked out.

The local cardinal shows up and the mayor kisses his ring. Gross. The Church won't "take a position." The dudes warn the mayor that some Old Testament shit is about to happen. The mayor is convinced, kicks out the EPA, and gives the Ghostbusters his full support. Dark clouds spread out from Dana's building. People pray in the streets. An awesome '80s song about "saving the day." Peter loves the crowds cheering for the team as they head into Dana's building with all their gear. It's all dark cloudy and lightning-y up there. The ground opens up in the street in front of the building and pieces of the building break off. The smoke clears, and the Ghostbusters are okay and head into the building to applause. I'm guessing the elevator is out as they hike up many, many flights of stairs. Zuul and Vince have apparently done it on the stone altar on the roof. You know, like you do. The GBs finally make it to the 22nd floor. Obviously, Dana's not in her apartment and it's all burnt up and destroyed. They find the mystical stairs and go up them.

The key/gate people get struck by purple lightning on the roof as the GBs arrive. There's a column of light of some kind. Dana/Zuul is getting repeatedly struck by lightning and turns into a gargoyle thing like from before. So does Louis. The gargoyles scamper up a newly opened passageway to a pyramid thing with smoke and it's peach and there's a light and dry ice and shit. Gozer, now representing as a sexy lady, pets the gargoyles. Peter encourages Ray to "go get her." Gozer asks if Ray is a god and zaps the dudes. They nearly fall off the roof, much to the horror of the spectators below. "When someone asks if you're a god, you say yes," says Winston. Sage advice. Now Peter's pissed. They pull out their guns and try to shoot her simultaneously. She jumps out of the way before they can get their shit together. They re-aim and she disappears. They think for a minute that they got her, but all signs point to no, not so much.

Let's have fun.
 A creepy voice says they get to choose the destructor. Peter yells not to think about anything in particular. Uh-oh, Ray has accidentally chosen the form of their destruction with his imagination. IT'S A GIANT STAY-PUFT MARSHAMALLOW MAN, marching through New York City. What a lovable smile, though, really! Ray was trying to think of something harmless. They used to roast marshmallows at camp. They're going to have to roast him with their equipment. Peter, "Mother piss bucket." "Nobody steps on a church in my town!" They count to three and try to roast him. He sets on fire a bit and it spreads to the building. They hide to figure out a new plan. Peter says the marshmallow dude's a sailor, so they just need to get him laid. Egon says they can reverse the doorway if they cross the streams. They might survive. BTWS, cynical, sardonic, sleazy Bill Murray is far more of a national treasure than, like, the Constitution or Yellowstone National Park or any of that shit.****

They line up at the weird gateway and spray their laser pee streams across each other's. An explosion occurs. The top of the building's all jacked up. Marshmallow debris covers everything. Take that, EPA guy!

The storm clouds disappear, and all is quiet. They're foamy, but all the guys are okay. They assume Dana's dead, but she starts to emerge from the petrified gargoyle corpse. Louis is fine, too. The GBs are triumphant. Peter awkwardly kisses Dana in front of a roaring crowd. They're all marshmallowy. Janine is relieved Egon's okay. I ain't 'fraid of no ghost. Aykroyd is smoking again. Several priests are blessing some rubble. The guys get in their ambulance and move past the crowds of onlookers and the media and military. There are Ghostbuster t-shirts now. Sweet. "Bustin' makes me feel good!" Oh, here comes Slimer! Didn't catch him! The end.

*I originally blogged this when he was "missing" or whatever. R.I.P., Casey. I'll never forget you on Saved by the Bell.

**In high school, my brother and I knew some dudes in our hometown of Vancouver, WA with a ska band called "Yes Have Some" after this quote. I believe the tape (THE '90S) had this exchange from the movie at the beginning.

***Not because he does more crimes, duh, but because he would have the experience of being disproportionately targeted for criminal activity and is perhaps statistically more likely to have direct experience with the criminal "justice" system. USA! USA!

****I was going to poorly photoshop Bill Murray's face onto Mt. Rushmore, but now I am too lazy. Just imagine that I did it.

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