Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Ghostbusters

Written as part of the series hosted by Nathaniel R. over at The Film Experience, where I also contribute on occasion.

The Film Experience's Hit Me With Your Best Shot is BACK, BITCHES!!!!! And I couldn't be happier, even if this season's first episode is a bit of a strange one. I mean, it makes sense: The pop culture mainstay from 1984 just made its debut streaming on Amazon Prime and the trailer for this summer's female reboot/remake/whatever just dropped not too long ago. So that all makes sense. But the thing is, Ghostbusters is a special effects-driven horror/comedy, and as Nathaniel has been reminding us for quite some time now, great special effects DO NOT automatically equal great cinematography.

Not that Ghostbusters is in any way lacking in iconic imagery:

Hello, gorgeous!
Or in imagery that makes me giggle:

Good puppy!
But picking my favorite shot is mostly a fool's errand. I enjoy Ghostbusters, sure. But one of the things that impressed me most while rewatching it for this project is how remarkably efficient it is. The movie's 107 minutes just fly by, and hardly any of them are wasted. And the special effects on the ghosts are absolute perfection, just barely transparent enough so that they feel almost tactile in addition to being fully spectral apparitions. You fully believe that they can touch things like library books and hotel room service trays, but that if you touched them, all you'd feel is some ectoplasmic goo.
All the ghost special effects hold up spectacularly well, by the way. Those with the Keymaster and Gatekeeper in their dog/gargoyle form, not so much, but CGI was in its infancy in those days. But perhaps that's for the best, because those animatronic put the film's true lineage into perspective: Ghostbusters is a perfect '80s blockbuster version of the classic 50s monster B-movies, complete with the EPA butting in to worry and hand-wring about potential nuclear ruin (indeed, how perfectly 1984 is it that the film's secondary villain, and main human one, is an inspector from the Environmental Protection Agency?). And a monster B-movie simply isn't a monster B-movie without a man in a giant rubber suit walking right through the center of the nearest metropolis:
Best Shot
This is The Traveller, and He will Destroy us. So of course, it's going to be a 50-foot tall marshmallow boy in a sailor suit with a jaunty little cap on who is smiling the most innocent smile. It's an image that can inspire both fear and laughter, which is the tone that Ghostbusters works best in. But it's also the image that makes the most sense when thinking about the film's legacy and impact, bridging the gap between the old-school monster movies and the slick "high concept" Hollywood product of the 1980s.


  1. Oh boy, I remember this one. I remember seeing Ghostbusters in Grade 3 and enjoying it, only to watch it again ten years later and realize it really wasn't that great a movie. I could sort of see how it might have gotten a few laughs when it came out but it hardly seemed to warrant the following it has. I found the story to generally be kinda weak, and it was actually kind of misogynistic. I mean, disregarding the fact that the Ghostbusters are all men, the only two women in the film are a damsel in distress who for some reason gets romantically paired with Bill Murray (who was kind of a pervert in this film) that has to be rescued by men and Janine was a secretary who was not only kind of irritating but also added absolutely nothing to the film. Actually, I have an article of my own that discusses it in-depth: http://hitchcocksworld.blogspot.ca/2014/11/why-come-no-female-ghostbusters.html

    Anyway, now that my obligatory feminist rant is out of the way, the effects in that film weren't too bad as I recall. They were a bit campy but I suppose that was probably intentional.

    1. It is misogynistic, and I'm so confused about people being up in arms about Leslie Jones's role in the new version, since Ernie Hudson has literally NOTHING to do in this movie. He's like the token token black guy. And without him, the Manhattan of Ghostbusters would be lily-white.

  2. That shot of Sigourney Weaver opening the door is a close second, but you picked the right shot. Great call on a very fun movie. Looking forward to the reboot/remake/whatever, too.

    1. Thanks! I'm also looking forward to the upcoming female-led version.

  3. Oh how I love is movie and I laughed so hard when the Stay Puff came on the screen. I loved when the Rick Moranis character throws the coat in his bedroom and it lands on oone of those pesky Donald Trumps...we, I mean evil dog things. I am also looking forward to the new movie and wonder what Harold Ramis would have said or if he would have been part of it.

    1. LOL I was thisclose to choosing the shot of the evil dog with the coat being thrown on it. Nothing in the film makes me laugh harder.

      Also, I am weirdly attracted to Harold Ramis in this movie.