This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Hallowe'en Horror Week

Released: 1984
Director: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver


A classic 80s comedy – but does it hold up?

What’s Hallowe’en without a tale of ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night?  And what’s a Hallowe’en Horror Week series without a review of at least one ghost film? And who you gonna call to end all of these annoying questions? Ghostbusters!

Originally released in 1984, with a UK re-release scheduled on 28th October 2011 and persistent rumours of a third film in the pre-production stages, Ghostbusters remains a hugely popular film among movie goers of a certain age.  Is it as brilliant as we all seem to remember?  If I’m honest, I’m not sure that it is.

Parapsychologists Dr Peter Venkman, Dr Raymond Stantz and Dr Egon Spengler are kicked off campus at Columbia University and have their funding withdrawn.  Broke and unemployed they set up in business as paranormal exterminators – Ghostbusters.  Work is slow at first but supernatural occurrences start taking place all over New York and soon they have more work than they can cope with.  One of their clients is the glamorous Dana Barrett, played by Sigourney Weaver, whose apartment appears to be the portal to a hell dimension.

The script was so much cheesier than I remembered from the 80s.  Even then the scenes of New Yorkers chanting for the Ghostbusters must have raised a snort or two – maybe the 80s were just much cheesier than today?  Whatever the truth, there were a few moments when I found myself wincing at just how cliched the dialogue was.    And as for the special effects, I know it was made almost 30 years ago but some of them belong firmly in the 50s!  At times it seemed that the quantity of effects was more important to the film’s makers than quality.

I’ll don my hard hat before this next part: I don’t like Bill Murray.  It’s not that I don’t like the character of Peter Venkman (although I don’t) it’s that I dislike Bill Murray and his performances.  He always seems to play the same self-satisfied, narcissistic creep.  He plays the character very well, too well in fact and it always puts me off.  I much prefer Dan Aykroyd but Murray’s overbearing presence stifles his very talented co-stars.  I also found Rick Moranis really annoying in this film – yes, I know Louis is supposed to be annoying but when I’m already feeling irritated by one of the main characters another nuisance isn’t what I’m looking for.

Enough of the criticism.  It’s not the perfect film I remember from my early childhood but Ghostbusters is still pretty damn brilliant.  The concept (by Aykroyd) is excellent – supernatural and grounded at the same time.  Most of the time the script works and there are some exceptionally funny moments.  I’m not sure that any film I review this week with a more terrifying image than a dissolving, angry giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – Freddy Krueger’s melting face pales by comparison!  The opening scene in the the library is quite scary too, particularly for fans of the Dewey Decimal System who will have been horrified to see books and index cards whizzing around at will.

The soundtrack is simply perfect.  From the spooky music at the beginning to the kitsch classic theme tune by Ray Parker Jr everything fits the narrative beautifully.

I feel a bit guilty being mean about Ghostbusters, after all it is one of the most successful comedies ever and a film I genuinely like a lot.  It seems watching it today that it is very much a product of its time and has diminished slightly with the passing of the years.  Who knows – maybe Part 3 and a reboot for the noughties isn’t such a bad idea after all?

Previous and next posts in this series:<< SawThe Phantom of the Opera >>
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


  1. Interesting review as always Louise. Funnily enough I watched the film this week and I still love it.

    I actually like the special-effects, they have a certain quality that must have been so difficult to achieve back then and so easy now. Yet, today’s perfect CGI is just too perfect, I prefer the DIY effects of Ghostbusters circa 1980s.

    What do you think of the sequel?

    • I’m now wondering if I was a little harsh on the special effects. I love Ghostbusters but just felt a little deflated when watching it this time. I generally quite like the sequel, although the Statue of Liberty sequence makes me bite cushions because of how corny it is.

  2. I get what you’re saying about Bill Murray. He doesn’t necessarily annoy me but he does always play the same charater. Rick Moranis drove me crazy in this movie.

    • Rick Moranis doesn’t normally bother me so much but I found myself wanting to throw him from the top of the building, even before he became evil.

Speak Your Mind