Cultural Cringe: Ghost Busters

Ghostbusters_coverThis afternoon we went to see Aliens in the Attic. My expectation of kids movies rides pretty low to the ground these days – but I found it rather entertaining – especially a corker line early in the movie.

Cool, blonde haired cousin says to uncool, dark haired cousin about parents, “They’re wired differently to us. Their brains were fried by 80’s music.” It seemed a rather poignant (and potentially offensive – not sure which yet) after spending the past 24 hours singing The Ghost Busters song with my five year old son.

Dylan and I watched Ghost Busters last night.  He’d been waiting weeks to get his hands on it after we bought my Dad a Ghost Busters t-shirt for Father’s Day at the start of the month.  Dylan was intrigued by the symbol and wanted to know more while we were shopping.  The first thing to spring to mind was to sing the song (and can still remember without googling it – that Ray Parker Jnr sang it) It wasn’t’ long before we were doing a duet and he was bugging me to remember more of the words.

A few things struck me, 25 years on, about Ghost Busters as we were watching it last night.

  • How bloody young every one looked – Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis and Dan Ackeroyd.
  • How much hair both Murray and Ackeroyd had.
  • How Ackeroyd, Murray, Weaver and Moranis went onto bigger and better things (I guess if you count the Honey I Shrunk… series as bigger and better for Moranis?) while others of the cast were swallowed up never to be seen again.
  • How much smoking there was in it- everyone bar Murray and Weaver seemed to have a cigarette jammed between their lips.
  • How basic the special effects are – especially the demons – and how I didn’t even notice any of that the first time I saw it.  Unlike Indiana Jones, the special effects are really dated.
  • How little the melted marshmellow at the end looked like melted marshmellow and how it suspiciously looked more like shaving cream.

What I didn’t know about Ghost Busters was:

  • Ackeroyd wrote the original screen play but budget limitations meant it became the story we all know today.
  • The screen play was re-written with Harold Ramis in a bomb shelter in Martha’s Vineyard over three weeks.
  • The original characters were to be played by James Belushi (who died while the script was being finished), John Candy and Eddie Murphy. Candy and Murray were unable to commit.
  • Harold Ramis never intended to play Egon but after considering different actors – including John Lithgow, Chevy Chase, Christopher Walken (now there’s an Egon I would have loved to have seen) and Jeff Goldblum – it was decided he knew the character best and he stepped infront of the camera.
  • The Ghost Busters song spent three weeks at #1 on the American Billboard Charts and Huey Lewis sued Parker Jnr for plaguerism.
  • The Marshmellow Man was in the original script of Ackeroyds but in a different time and space.

Sadly I got Ghost Busters 1 and 2 mixed up and was disappointed to discover the Statue of Liberty was not going to walk through New York City. How ever the Marshmellow Man remains a classic.

Ghost Busters was released in June 1984. While I didn’t see it until years later on video I remember spending New Years 84/85 in the bedroom with my sister and our older friend Steven listening to the Ghost Busters song on tape over and over again (probably why even after 25 years my lyric recall is pretty damn good) – when we weren’t hiding around corners laughing at people scooping up french onion dip, into which we’d put a flattened bug.

One could argue it wasn’t just the music from the 80’s which warped and rewired our brain cells.  Plenty of the blame has to be directed at the movies we devoured as teenagers. Or is it impossible to separate movie from music, given the influence that each has on the other?