‘Ghostbusters’ (1984) | As Good As We Remember? (Retro Review)

Written By: Traves Bezenar

With the release of the new ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot and all the controversy surrounding it, I’ve decided to rewatch the original film to see if it’s as good as  we all remember it. Long time listeners of our podcast will know that I’ve been in favor of the reboot since the beginning. I’m not the type of person to attach sentimental significance to movies or television shows and that may have something to do with why I wasn’t outraged at the prospect of a new ‘Ghostbusters’ film like so many others. That said, I do legitimately like the original movie and it’s one of my favorite non-horror movies of the 80’s but it’s hardly the cinematic masterpiece the internet remembers it as. Firstly, the original ‘Ghostbuster’ debuted way back in 1984 and managed to make $13.5Mil on its opening weekend which is significantly less than the $46Mil that the reboot made last weekend. Secondly, when you adjust for inflation (which would bring the original to about $29Mil) there is still a huge difference in the amount the two movies were able to pull in the first week. If you believe what some online are saying, that the reboot is hemorrhaging money, the revelation that it’s made nearly twice as much as the original did on its opening weekend probably comes as a bit of a surprise. But, box office revenue isn’t the be all end all of a movie's quality, so let’s talk about the film itself.

The cast of the original, like the reboot, is made up mostly of SNL alumni. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd are the main protagonists of the movie and have the majority of the best scenes built around them. Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson make up the remaining core of the ghostbusters team and each brings their own brand of comedy to the movie. Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver also play large parts in the film but I found them to be the least entertaining of the cast by far. Now, while I enjoyed the cast and their interaction with each other I didn’t think it was Murray’s best performance. Truthfully, I found him to be a little flat at times. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis gave better performances than the rest of the cast in my opinion but still had moments where it was too over the top. The worst of the core characters for me was Ernie Hudson because he was kind of just around for the majority of the movie without doing or saying anything that affected the plot.    

The special effects in the original ‘Ghostbusters’ are amazing. They may look a little dated by today’s standards but back then they were something to behold. I love the use of practical effects especially when they’re expertly mixed with digital effects. From the first time the team encounters a ghost in the library basement until the climactic showdown with the Stay Puft Marshmallow-Man, there isn’t a single visual effect worth complaining about.

Similar to the effects, the plot is also great. There are going to be a few spoilers ahead but if you haven’t seen the original by now you probably never will, but you’ve been warned. After the team is fired (and rightfully so) from their cushy university  jobs they go into business for themselves. Eventually, after a few high-profile busts, the ghostbusters are tasked with saving a city that had previously blamed them for the uptick in supernatural events. I enjoyed the story, for the most part, from the onset and right up until the final credits rolled. There were still a few issues with the plot and characters like the EPA agent being completely justified in his actions of shutting the ghostbusters down.

Like I said in the opening, I like the original ‘Ghostbusters’, I’d even say it’s a fantastic movie, but it’s not perfect. Despite what people online say about how amazing the cast was, and how Ernie Hudson was the everyman addition to the ghostbusters team, neither are really true, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. I do recommend watching the original ‘Ghostbusters’, which is available on Netflix, but I also recommend seeing the reboot. No movie, including ‘Ghostbusters’, is so good that it can’t be improved on. So go and see both, decide for yourself if the original is as good as you remember, and if it was worth rebooting.

Grade: 4/5