Ghostbusters, the 1984 classic, has been my favorite movie of all time for nearly as long as I can remember. I’ve seen it hundreds, possibly even thousands, of times. In all my years, I’ve yet to encounter a problem that can’t be solved by sitting down and watching the world’s greatest paranormal investigators and eliminators slug it out with a wide variety of supernatural creatures. I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. The Ghostbusters franchise proved to be one of the most profitable properties of the 80s-spawning a successful toyline, animated series, and even a hugely popular Hi-C flavor dubbed “Ecto Cooler.” Between the ’84 original and a pretty solid sequel, we’ve seen the boys in grey conjure up a 100-foot marshmallow man, make toasters dance, successfully mobilize the Statue of Liberty, and save the world from disasters of Biblical proportions on two occasions.
Without a doubt, the most rewarding of anything Ghostbusters related is still the original film…although Ecto Cooler comes really, really close. Here are 10 of the best things about Ghostbusters.
10. The Cartoon Spinoff
What a start, huh? The first thing on the list isn’t even featured in the original film, but hey…this is my Top 10 list and I can do whatever I want with it. The truth of the matter is, I just wanted to take the opportunity to give The Real Ghostbusters some credit. I’ve seen every cartoon that the 80s had to offer, and I can say with absolute certainty that this show was fantastic on every level and way ahead of its time. While the majority of the show’s contemporaries were designed to be nothing more than 20-minute toy commercials, The Real Ghostbusters had some real substance behind it…not to mention the absolutely majestic pompadour the animators gave Egon Spengler.
9. Larry King and Casey Kasem
One of the cool things about Ghostbusters was how seamlessly the movie is able to integrate itself into the real world, despite the rather outlandish nature of the plot. A big part of what makes that seamless integration work is the inclusion of media staples like Kasem and King, who appear during the film’s obligatory musical montage reporting on and theorizing about the indispensable defense science of the next decade. Additionally, the appearance of Kasem and King in this, of all films, goes a long way to establish their own possibly supernatural natures, given the fact that both have been around forever.
8. The Theme Song
It’s nearly impossible to even think of Ghostbusters without thinking about Ray Parker Jr.’s famous title track, which itself owes quite a debt to Huey Lewis and The News’ “I Want a New Drug.” Such a debt, in fact, that the group sued Parker-ultimately settling out of court. Of course, none of that changes the fact that, stolen or not, “Ghostbusters” is a song with staying power. To this day, it’s one of the most recognizable movie themes of all time, although the fact that nearly every other line is “Ghostbusters!” likely plays a role in boosting its recognizability.
7. The Twin Towers
With literally hundreds of movies being set and shot in New York, there are tons of quality skyline shots showing the formerly majestic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in all of their glory. Not a single one of them, however, can come close to touching the sheer perfection of the skyline shot in Ghostbusters. Go see for yourself, it occurs just after Winston and Ray’s Book of Revelation discussion. In a post-9/11 world, this particular shot, breathtaking as it is, takes on a much more nostalgic and somber tone, as it has quite literally become an image that can never be duplicated.
6. Dr. Egon Spengler
Harold Ramis is a far more prolific screenwriter and director than actor. He’s only got a few on-screen credits, and the bulk of them are cameos. Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II easily account for the majority of the man’s screen time, and that’s a bit of a shame because Ramis is hilarious. He was pretty funny as Bill Murray’s best friend, Russell Ziskey, in Stripes, but he is truly at the top of his game as Dr. Egon Spenger, the brains behind the Ghostbusters’ unique operation. Spengler’s character is so hilarious, with his willingness to drill a hole through his head in the name of science and his penchant for using Twinkies to get his point across, that he almost threatens to steal the spotlight about from Bill Murray. Almost.
5. Slimer
Originally dubbed “Onionhead,” Slimer was the breakout star of Ghostbusters, hands down. You can tell when you go back and watch that the filmmakers didn’t realize that they had a star on their hands with Slimer, but audiences found themselves falling in love the moment they were first introduced to the little green spud as he scarfed down the contents of a hotel room service tray. A few moments later, he slimed Bill Murray, and his fate as a cultural icon was sealed. Slimer was everywhere and ultimately outlived the Ghostbusters franchise as a whole, with his image remaining on cereal boxes and toy shelves years after the cartoon was taken off the air and a new generation of kids were obsessing over color coded Power Rangers and ice blasting ninjas.
4. Keymaster and Gatekeeper
It’s nearly impossible to go back and look at anything a few decades old and not pick out a double entendre or two, but Gozer the Gozerian’s return to the mortal plane being triggered by the union of Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster, and Zuul, The Gatekeeper, is one of the most blatantly in-your-face dirty jokes that a PG rated movies has ever had the guts to pull off. So, yes, just in case you missed it: Rick Moranis totally hooks up with Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, and their union nearly brings about the end of the world. It’s good to see that nerdy guys are somewhat more highly regarded today than they were in 1984
3. Crazy Rick Moranis
Louis Tully is just your average annoying neighbor right up until his party celebrating his fourth anniversary as an accountant is disrupted by a demonic dog conjured up by his evil apartment complex. Since Louis unfortunately chose to invite clients instead of friends, planning to write the entire affair off as a promotional expense, no one bothers to help him escape and he is ultimately possessed by the spirit of Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer, Volguus Zildrohar, Lord of the Sebouillia. Hearing Moranis deliver those lines, to a horse no less, is worth the price of admission alone.
2. Apocalyptic Plot
Despite the the light hearted nature of the plot, despite the fact that none of the ghosts are incredibly menacing, Ghostbusters manages to be just a little bit scary with the effective means that the threat of Gozer is conveyed. Ripe with references to The Old Testament and The Book of Revelation, the film makes it clear that Gozer is poised to bring some real wrath of God type stuff to New York City. You know what I mean: fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Ghostbusters crafts an absolutely terrifying villain, and from there, there’s only one thing the film can possibly do with a threat as terrifying as Gozer: have him take the form of The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
1. Bill Murray
Bill Murray’s portrayal of Dr. Peter Venkman could have carried a subpar movie on its back. Seriously, stick Dr. Venkman in a disaster like Troll 2 or Battlefield Earth and you’ve got an instant hit on your hands, but put Dr. Venkman in a movie that already has so much going right for it…and well you’ve got the single greatest piece of comedic cinema ever created. Venkman was a one man show, and only an actor the caliber of Murray could have possibly played him. As a matter of fact, it’s been widely reported that Murray’s on-set ad lib was so significant that he should have been given a writing credit on the script. Murray is the glue that holds both movies together, and one of the most essential elements to the franchise’s tremendous success. Ironically, Murray is also the sole reason that Ghostbusters 3 has never come to fruition. Murray has held out for over twenty years, vetoing every script that’s ever been sent his way. Thanks to a contract he signed before agreeing to return as Dr. Venkman in Ghostbusters 2, this effectively puts a stop to any further sequels going forward, proving that Murray is every bit the hero in real life that Dr. Venkman is on-screen. For the past two decades, Murray has protected the world from being forced to watch The Ghostbusters get the same treatment that poor Indiana Jones did. Murray’s steadfast perseverance is to be admired.

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