Ghostbusters 1 & 2 (1982 - 1989)
By: Trist Jones on March 26, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Sony (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, French DD 2.0, Spanish DD 2.0, Portuguese DD 2.0. English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish Thai Subtitles. 209 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts
Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Country: USA
The 80's was a great time for horror fans. Most horror fans tend to dig sci-fi, and the 80's was great for sci-fi too. It was a time when franchise films boomed because, well, we al know the 80's was all about the money. But the big horror and science fiction films in the 80's were just about always phenomenal. Sure, some didn't stand the test of time (for better or worse), but those that did still manage to put those that try to come close, even with today's technological advancements, to complete shame. It could just be sentimentality because we grew up with those particular films, but in the case of Ghostbusters (and arguably Ghostbusters II) it truly is a case where the film transcends the era it was made and sits well and truly above any would be dethroners.

If you haven't seen Ghostbusters, and are unaware of the plot, then you are probably not old enough to be perusing this website. If you are old enough though and uninformed, do yourself a favour and go and rent it now, because anyone with any self-respect has seen this film, even if they didn't enjoy it (and those who didn't would be in an incredible minority).

Ghostbusters and its sequel have both seen the light of day on DVD before. Ghostbusters' initial release was fantastic, crammed with extras and possibly the best feature commentary to ever grace a DVD. Ghostbusters II was pretty much a barebones release; all it had was a trailer and some cast notes. Now however, with the 21st anniversary of its release (well, last year actually), Columbia Tristar/Sony has put together an anniversary pack worthy of any fan's attention.

It's amazing how well this film has stood up over time. For a 1984 movie, it's pretty timeless. The only real telling signs of its age are a couple of songs heard on the radios in the background and the youth of the cast. The special effects hold up far better and remain far more convincing than a lot of today's CGI work. You never once question the fact that the 125 ft tall Marshmallow Man making it's way down Broadway is real. Ghostbusters II is a little more obvious with some of its fashion choices, but still holds up just as well as the first. The new print is the crispest thing next to the superbit version available in Japan and briefly in the United States, so the special effects really are a treat to see. You'll be surprised to see exactly what Slimer looks like in perfect detail, and the ghoul that comes flying out of the subway is now perfectly visible and a rather frightening creature to behold. Likewise in the sequel every minute detail lost to the previous versions can now be distinguished, such as the pulsating veins throughout the ectoplasm that covers the New York Museum, and the grotesqueness of the murderous Scoleri Brothers during the court hearing.

If you haven't seen it and are still reading this, without divulging any particular plot details, the storytelling is impeccable, and the sequel, thankfully, doesn't follow the same formula used in the first. For such a bizarre idea and one that could have gone either all out in the comedy and wound up rather stupid or all out in the horror and been another monster entirely, everything from the characters to the situations they find themselves in and the otherworldly intruders feel perfectly normal and acceptable in this perfect blend of science fiction, comedy and horror. Dan Aykroyd's penchant for reality based techno and psycho babble combined with Harold Ramis's comedic flair and knack for character based writing works together perfectly and you will likely never see another role so perfectly suited for Bill Murray than Peter Venkman. The film is probably also the best you'll find from Ivan Reitman's catalogue of films too (an interesting note for those who didn't already know, Reitman actually produced a large number of David Cronenberg's earlier works).

Horror fans may be reading this thinking "Where's the horror though?!" The opening to the first film remains one of the most effective 'ghost' sequences ever put to film, but you also get demonic Terror Dogs, zombies, a very nice homage to The Exorcist, floating disembodied heads, an amorphous ectoplasmic creature that attempts to devour Sigourney Weaver's baby in the bath along with all manner of ghosts and goblins. It's a horror in the same respect as Gremlins. Moments that could be terrifying under the hand of another film maker become rather entertaining while still retaining the suspense in the aesthetic of the scene.
The first DVD was a noticeable improvement over the VHS (as all good DVD's should be), but even this mops the floor with the first release. The colours are far more vibrant and the print itself is totally free of damage. Often times, films shot in the 80's will look older due to the colour fading in the print and the actual film used. Not here, if it weren't for the fashion, certain non-existent buildings, and the general youth of the cast, you'd swear it was made recently just from the look of it all. Ghostbusters is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio (though incorrectly labelled as being 2.40:1) and Ghostbusters II in 2.35:1, both in their original cinematic formats. The remastered video track makes the special effects look better than ever.
Both films have the option for both 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo sound, but Ghostbusters has a fantastic audio commentary track thanks to Harold Ramis (writer and star), Joe Medjuck (producer) and Ivan Reitman (director). The sound has also been completely remastered, and it really does show; everything sounds absolutely fantastic.
Extra Features
The Extras are predominantly the same as the initial release, save for Ghostbusters II which now contains two episodes of the much loved cartoon spin-off The Real Ghostbusters, which I will talk about in a moment.

There's a great full colour booklet that contains a number of production notes and sketches along with a fun little interview with producer Joe Medjuck.

The first film contains three behind the scenes featurettes, one being a large retrospective interview with the special effects crew, another being a promotional/behind the scenes feature which is both informative and entertaining. The Region 1 set (this one) has one more featurette over the Australian release (which unfortunately also misses out on the cartoon episodes), which is another retrospective piece but focuses more on the stars and key crew members.

You also get a slew of deleted scenes, a storyboard to film comparison feature, behind the scenes photo and art galleries, along with trailers. Unfortunately, and very surprisingly, there is no Ray Parker Jnr music video! However the animated episodes are a real treat. They are as follows:

The Real Ghostbusters: Citizen Ghost – goes over the events immediately following the film, revealing why they all have new costumes in the cartoon, and basically providing a bridge between the movie and the cartoon series. When the remnant psychokinetic energy absorbed by their suits isn't dealt with promptly, the ecto energy creates doppelgangers from the suits and the ghost Ghostbusters face off against the real Ghostbusters. This is a great little episode with some of the best animation of the series (and a far cry better than the shit kids watch these days!) and is considered a classic amidst the rabid fanbase.

The Real Ghostbusters: Partners in Slime – is one of the only episodes following the 1989 sequel that actually referenced the events of the film. Janine and Louis Tulley are kidnapped by a demon overlord called Chozo, who demands that the Ghostbusters open the containment unit in return for their friends. The boys refuse, and instead send Slimer into the unit to fetch one of Chozo's cronies to help catch the demon. They work out that Chozo has hidden himself appropriately enough in a ghost town outside of Jersey, and send Venkman in, coated in the 'mood-slime' gathered during the battle with Vigo the Carpathian.
The Verdict
Ghostbusters made the American Film Academy's montage of films that 'made' New York after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, so you can tell right there that it had some impact and retains it to this day. It really is a classic that everyone should see, and the sequel (though a bit of a divider amongst fans) is still a huge amount of fun but admittedly not as good as the first. Still this DVD boxed set is fantastic and comes highly recommended. Just make sure you get the Region 1 version for the extra features and cartoon episodes though.
Movie Score
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