MOTW: Why "Ghostbusters" will forever remain a favorite

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
January 13th, 2014

Striking the enjoyable balance between a supernatural ghost story with the humor of master comedians, "Ghostbusters" is an all-time favorite classic film. "Ghostbusters” tells the story of three parapsychologists who abruptly lose their comfortable university positions. Out of work in New York City, these scientists band together to use their research to bust ghosts for fun and profit. Converting a firehouse into a ghost-busting and ectoplasm-containment headquarters, the trio sets out to collect spirits. Along the way, the scientists develop ghost-catching devices, meet up with possessed humans, discover a gateway to another dimension and save the city from evil.

Featuring an array of special effects, from spectral ghosts to beams of laser lights, the film captivates the technologically advanced audience of today as easily as its audience from the '80s. Incorporating state-of-the-art ghost-busting technology from this era adds a believability factor to the special effects. At the time, scientific research indicated it was possible to make a device that could capture a ghost visually.

The crafting and timing of special effects throughout the movie play to the adventurous excitement on screen without being cheesy. Staying true to the storyline with deadpan humor, sharp one liners and genuinely funny acting keeps the interactive special effects sequences fresh. These effects leap off the big screen in the movie theater as readily as the smaller one at home.

At one point in the movie, thoughts become reality in the form of a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Viewers see him walking through the New York City streets leaving a trail of marshmallow. This lovable manifestation shows the intended softer side of ghosts. In another scene, the Ghostbusters encounter an adorable yet mischievous green slime classified as a full roaming vapor. Called Slimer, this ghostly guy loves food more than scaring people.

The tagline of the movie, "We are ready to believe you," also adds to the genuine feel of the movie. Throughout history, encounters with the supernatural and the desire to connect with other worldly entities has fascinated humans. Many people at some level believe in ghosts and have reported ghostly activity. "Ghostbusters” honed in on this phenomenon and presented it in a fun, nonthreatening adventure.

Movies prior to the "Ghostbusters” debut in June 1984 often depicted ghosts and hauntings as a dark, scary supernatural force. While "Ghostbusters” does have some dark moments for dramatic effect, the mood is lightened by the comedy of the situation. The fantasy aspect set against a realistic backdrop of modern day New York City combined with the humor is what makes the ghost-busting experience relatable to movie goers. This relationship with the public made "Ghostbusters” the highest grossing film of 1984.

The "Ghostbusters” popularity was evident in other arenas as well. The theme song with the same name sung by Ray Parker, Jr. was a number one hit for several weeks. The song remained at the top of music charts in both the United States and England for weeks. The catchy song asked, "Who ya gonna call?” with a crowd of celebrity and other voices responding, "Ghostbusters!" The movie also spawned a line of action figures, novels, comic books, television shows, video games and even theme park attractions.

The film was conceived by Dan Aykroyd from his interest in the paranormal, and he co-wrote it with Harold Ramis. Ivan Reitman directed the film. Aykroyd and Ramis each had starring acting roles in the film as Dr. Raymond Stantz and Dr. Egon Spengler. Bill Murray took top actor billing as Dr. Peter Venkman. This combination of writing, directing and on-screen talent shines brilliantly throughout the course of the movie.

A unique blend of science fiction, fantasy and comedy, "Ghostbusters” stands apart from all other films released in 1984. Aside from being a box office winner, "Ghostbusters” has also won several awards. Those honors include The Young Artist Award for best family motion picture in the category of musical or comedy, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films - USA, Saturn Award for best fantasy film, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Film Award for best original song. In 2005, Imagine Games Network voted "Ghostbusters” the greatest comedy ever. The American Film Institute lists "Ghostbusters” as the 28th funniest American movie of all time.

"Ghostbusters” is sure to remain a classic favorite for the same reasons it was so loved in the '80s. It is always a joy to watch a good story that is told through relatable writing and showcased by talented actors.