Thursday 31 May 2018

1,001 Films: "Ghost Busters" (1984)

Ghost Busters was a major blockbuster distinguished above all else by its casting: contrary to the 1980s' general movement towards chiselled, monosyllabic-laconic action heroes (from Stallone and Schwarzenegger to Willis), it pushed centre stage a cast of talky, nerdy, somewhat doughy comics (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis) who wrote or, in Murray's case, simply made up their own material. You can tell the casting directors were onto something from the way they went for Sigourney Weaver, no kind of bimbo whatsoever, as the heroine who has something nasty at the back of her fridge that may bring about the end of the world as we know it.

The effects continue to hold up particularly well - particularly Slimer, the translucent poltergeist who leaves Murray in such a state in that hotel corridor - though more of the film than you remember is in analogue: the ground opening up outside Weaver's haunted apartment block is a nice sight gag achieved without the aid of computers. It's as hip and savvy a studio production as Men in Black was to seem a decade or so later, acknowledging its New York location as both a melting pot and city under siege, and that horror - a genre then going like gangbusters on the nascent home-video format - could be repositioned as a viable mainstream phenomenon if done with the right spirit(s). But the film's innocence, its sense of fun, is what you warm to: somehow it seems entirely appropriate that the action should come down to the toasting of marshmallows on a massive scale.

Ghost Busters is available on DVD through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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