Ghostbusters: Bustin’ For 30 Years

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Ghostbusters celebrates its 30th anniversary on June 7. Vanity Fair has a brilliant article with fresh interviews from some of the major players involved to commemorate the occasion. Here are a few highlights, plus contemporary TV interviews with Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd, and Rick Moranis, courtesy of Larry Wright.

The supernatural comedy was considered a risky play back in 1984. – a VFX heavy film with television comedy leads and a relatively inexperienced director, and an expensive location shoot in a city desensitised by drugs, loud music, crime, garbage…too angry, Woody! Dan Ackroyd’s initial draft went through several major  rewrites; the effects had to be handled by a new company, the major players tied up with the seasons big hitters (Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Return Of The Jedi).

Director Ivan Reitman described Ackroyd as “an idea factory…the Mount Vesuvius of original ideas.” His inspiration for trapping ghosts came from reading a parapsychology journal (Ackroyd is a true believer in the spirit world). “Virtually every comedy team did a ghost movie – Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope..”

Ackroyd intended it as a vehicle for himself and John Belushi. When Belushi died, Ackroyd says he intended Slimer’s body shape and disgusting table manners to be a homage to his friend. Bill Murray agreed to take Belushi’s place, but was notoriously difficult to pin down, or to even gauge if he’d read the script. Known as “The Murricane”, Ackroyd recalls, “Whenever you can actually put a script into Billy’s hand, as if you were a process server . . . you gotta look him in the eye [and say], ‘You did receive this.’ ”

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Two elements that survived the rewrites were the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, and the Ghost within the red stop symbol. Late realisation that there had already been a Saturday morning cartoon called The Ghost busters led to the crew erecting fake signs for the gang’s fire house headquarters. Matters came to a head when the crowd of extras on Central park West spontaneously began to chant “Ghostbusters!” The name was eventually cleared for use.

Reitman urged Ackroyd to set it in a modern American city. “If we could just play this thing realistically from the beginning, we’d believe that the Marshmallow Man could exist by the end of the film.” He saw it as his New York movie, an astute move, its own bubble with a weird, crazy energy all of its own. Several commentators credit Ghostbusters with making it OK to like New York again, partly heading up the city’s rebirth. James Sanders, the author of Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies, said, “[The film] is a moment of resurgence and affection and love for the city, which had gone through so much.” Bill Murray’s call to arms when Mr Staypuft stomps down the street: “Nobody steps on a church in my town!”

To create the effects, they considered setting up their own shop. Fortunately, experienced old hand Richard Edlund (Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Star Wars, Poltergeist) was looking to strike out on his own. Columbia Pictures and MGM co-funded his new effects house (MGM urgently needed an effects crew for 2010, the Peter Hyams sequel to 2001 A Space Odyssey).

I had to put a whole company together—and lawyers ate up a lot of time,” said Edlund. “[By the time] the contract was made out, we had more like 10 months to rebuild the studio, shoot all the scenes, and composite everything. We had to build elaborate equipment. It was an incredibly ambitious amount of work.”

Sigourney Weaver auditioned for Ivan Reitman by impersonating one of Gozer’s “Terror Dogs”. It was also her suggestion to make her character Dana a musician: “She could be kind of uptight and a bit strict, but you know she has a soul because she plays the cello.”

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Louis Tully was originally slated for John Candy, who wanted to play the part with a German accent, flanked by two huge dogs. That didn’t fly with Reitman, who choose Rick Moranis, who said, “Thank God Candy hates [it]. This is the greatest script I’ve ever read.’” Reitman denies Eddie Murphy was ever considered for the fourth Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddmore, a grounded, audience stand-in character.

The crew often shot guerilla style all over New York, long before it became the film friendly location of today. “That’s a real security guy, chasing them out of (the privately owned) Rockefeller Centre,” recalled associate producer Joe Medjuck.

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Despite dismal industry screenings, regular cinema goers lapped it up. Judd Apatow, who saw it when he was 16 in Long Island, recalls, “You never heard people laugh like they did when they were watching Ghostbusters in a packed theater.  It was like a rock concert; there was a line down the block.”  

Yep, bustin’ makes you feel good.

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Here are those three video interviews mentioned at the top of this piece.

 

Originally posted 2014-06-05 15:28:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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