There are many of us out there who love movies. They can provide a couple of hours of escapism, and there's something to suit every mood. And within the gigantic pile of titles we deem great movies, we all tend to have one gem that sticks out to us like nothing else in our video libraries; our favourite film of all time. Although it can be very hard to just pick one, I do believe that if you think about it long enough, you too can come up with one (that is, if you don't have one already).
For me, I finally landed on 1984's 'Ghostbusters' quite a while ago. But do keep in mind that "favourite film of all time" does not mean "best film of all time". I would sooner give that accolade to something like 'The Godfather'. "Best", to me, appeals to the masses, whereas "favourite" is something very personal. The film will speak to one's personality, sense of humour, sense of nostalgia, embrace of darkness (if you're a horror buff), or whatever the case may be. I must have at least one film I hold near and dear to my heart in every basic category of film. But the truth is, 'Ghostbusters' may as well have been my introduction to movies, even though it wasn't.
There's a lot attached to 'Ghostbusters' that makes it my favourite film of all time, and it all starts with watching the 1986 cartoon when I was about 4 years old (at least, that's how old I would have been when it aired). For a little while, this was the cartoon that helped shape and form my particular tastes. It was interesting, weird, spooky, but not scary, funny, adventurous and believe it or not, even provided a bit of education - like the episode when Ray Stantz taught us how to syphon gas (no joke)! But you also got things like history and geography out of it. When it came to Netflix a few years ago, I found it was one of the few 80s nostalgic cartoons that really held up!
Anyway, some time passed, being obsessed with this cartoon, I was thrilled when my Mother told me that the 'Ghostbusters' movie was coming on TV. At the time, I didn't know there was such a thing. I believe I remember being around 6 when this happened. We watched the movie as a family, and recorded it on a blank VHS tape that I REALLY wish I still had, if only to watch the nostalgic commercials from the time. This was back when piracy was something we all did, and it didn't ever seem to be frowned upon if it was recording from the TV. Hell, we had VCRs with whole set-ups to do this! But I digress, all told, I loved the movie, and watched it time and time again while I was growing up.
Plot-wise, to keep things simple, three paranormal research scientists get the boot from their college only to form a business for themselves in which they go around New York city on calls as exterminators for ghosts. With all of the paranormal activity reaching a fever pitch, they bring on a new guy named Winston (who plays the audience, or the "everyman" in a way) for help, and ultimately face off with a deity named Gozer who threatens to bring an end to life as we know it. It's up to Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and the rookie, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), to put a stop to things.
The film also features Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett; Peter's potential love interest, and their first customer, whose paranormal experience is the catalyst for everything that unfolds. There's also the villain of the film, Walter Peck (William Atherton) who, funnily enough, is only REALLY doing his job to the best of his abilities... but we still hate him. And we can't leave out their secretary, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), who's just a likable and relatable character for those stuck in secretary-like positions. But currently, my favourite non-Ghostbusting character is Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) - an awkward and clumsy nerd, but altogether lovable, and definitely delivers some of the funniest lines in the movie.
At some point, I sort of got worn out with it and finally put it down for a few years. I think the majority of my early teen years went without watching it at all, and I finally rewatched it for the first time in a long time when I was about 16 or 17. Interestingly enough, it was almost like watching it for the first time again, because there are a lot of adult jokes and references in here that I didn't get when I was younger. Lines that made me laugh out loud, and scenes that I even wondered how they got away with. Just another thing that makes this one my favourite is that I came back to it after a while with a new mindset, and things changed for the better. It's funny, but in my head I was revisiting a "kid's film"... it's not one.
Over the years, I would claim many different titles to be my supposed "favourite", but one day I finally decided to sit and analyze movies I've seen that meet everything I could want in a movie. 'Ghostbusters' offers nostalgia, comedy, hints of horror, action, science fiction, a sweet 80s soundtrack full of obscure songs, and it has withstood the test of time in such a big way that nothing else with the 'Ghostbusters' title since has quite met its quality. To top it all off, it uses some of the best simple practical effects from the time that give CG a run for its money. It still looks fantastic today, apart from some of the brief stop-motion you get with the "Terror Dogs" - a couple of dog statues that come to life and essentially possess two characters, claiming to be the "key master" and the "gate keeper".
If you happen to be one of the few people who hasn't checked this movie out over the years, I can recommend it pretty highly for a mass audience. This is one of those movies I think has a little something for everybody, and if nothing else, it can be seen as simple fun, because that's what it is. Although this is a film that plays with somewhat serious themes like possession, haunting, and the end of the world, it does it all with a great sense of humour, and some wonderful quotable lines. One shouldn't go into this with any sort of impression that it will be like anything that came after it. Remember that this was what started it all in 1984, and has since been a bit of a cult phenomenon that I'm proud to be a part of... even if that cult is pretty damn big.
Leave a Reply.