The original 1984 Ghostbusters was simply a phenomenon in its time, a revelation of comedy and horror. From the director of Meatballs and Stripes, Ivan Reitman’s third go-around with Bill Murray struck absolute gold. It had much sharper wit and creativity, and the entire cast seemed born for their roles.
Needs: Genuine Scares
Although Ghostbusters II fell adamantly into a family-friendly atmosphere, the original didn’t start off that way. Our first encounter with the librarian ghost is pretty unsettling, and probably gave kids nightmares. Comedy works best when there’s contrast. If everyone is joking all the time, it has less value and effect.
The original film wasn’t exactly flawless. There’s definitely some cracks in its armor, and one of the scenes that still feels pretty out of place is Aykroyd’s relations with a ghost. Some of the other sensuality in the film works on a kooky level, but outright sex doesn’t fit. Certainly not for the target demographic of its time.
Needs: Modern Parody
Before Cabin in the Woods, which feels more like a judgmental roast than the ribbing of a horror fan, we had Ghostbusters. It turned the entire horror genre on its head, simply by understanding it so well. The story deconstructed various tropes, without being blatant and condescending about it.
When you’re making a parody, it can be very easy to accidentally lose the reins. There are dozens of parodies that end up yielding to the same issues that they intended to mock. Somehow, Ghostbusters managed to toe that line. It was goofy, and it absolutely went overboard, but it was controlled chaos.
Avoid: Blatant Messages
Ah, yes, the most divisive thing these days. The tiniest of comments can label your entertainment outrageously political. The truth is, not everything has a conspiring agenda. Everyone has become more sensitive to opinions in general. For example, being inclusive is not a tragic offense, it’s just a better mirror of the American population.