Monday, August 19, 2013

Ghostbusters (1984)

Dr. Peter Venkman: He slimed me.
Three scientists who claim they're "scientists" -- and by "scientists" I mean they're... well... let's just say their methods aren't exactly textbook savvy -- have just lost their jobs at a university in New York City (studying the occult might have had something to do with it).  Sticking to their craft, beliefs, and theories, they decide to set up their new office and headquarters in an old firehouse and become Ghostbusters who trap pesky ghosts, spirits, and poltergeists as though they were rodents.  Then one day they come upon a gateway to another dimension, one which will most certainly release an ultimate evil throughout the city.  Can the Ghostbusters save the Big Apple?
"Ghostbusters" made its premiere in Westwood, California on June 7, 1984 before making its broad release the following day.  For some reason or another, it wouldn't appear in other countries such as Australia, Italy, Japan or Spain until November of the same year, most others would have to wait until December.
Having already directed Bill Murray twice before ("Meatballs" [1979] and "Stripes" [1981]) and Harold Ramis once ("Stripes"), Ivan Reitman took on the directing of "Ghostbusters" as well as its sequel.  Ivan had some remarkable ideas and input in the making of the film that may very well have been helpful in that "Ghostbusters", having cost an estimated $32 million to make, ended up grossing over $238.6 million, making it the second highest Box Office hit of 1984.  Sidenote: It fell behind "Beverly Hills Cop" by approximately $5.5 million.
"Ghostbusters" was written by actors Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who also acted in the film, as well as Rick Moranis who acted in the film yet was uncredited for his writing achievement.
The film starred Bill Murray (Dr. Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Dr. Raymond Stantz), Sigourney Weaver (Dana), and Harold Ramis (Dr. Egon Spengler).  "Ghostbusters" also co-starred Rick Moranis (Louis), Annie Potts (Janine), Ernie Hudson (Winston), and William Atherton (Walter).
"Ghostbusters" not only brought about the chart-busting theme song sung by Ray Parker, Jr., but was also nominated Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song, "Ghostbusters".  Sadly, it didn't win either.  However, the song did win a BAFTA award.
Filmed not just in California, but also in Manhattan in New York City at such places as the Manhattan City Bank, Hook & Ladder Company #8, the New York Public Library, and the Tavern on the Green (where 80s singer Debbie Gibson has a cameo appearance... She is barely visible with only the top of her head showing but is sitting at a table adorned with balloons; she is the patron with a pink ribbon in her hair), here's some more behind-the-scenes information you might enjoy...
1.  The role of Peter Venkman was originally written for John Belushi.
2.  Chevy Chase turned down the role of Dr. Peter Venkman, he claimed that the script used in the movie wasn't the original script and in the original script was very dark and even more scarier.  
3.  Michael Keaton turned down both the roles of Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Egon Spengler. 
4.  Christopher Walken, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Dr. Egon Spengler.
5.  Harold Ramis really had no intention of starring in the film, only writing it. But he decided to star in this film as Dr. Egon Spengler after he felt he was the best person suited for the role.
6.  The role of Winston was originally written for Eddie Murphy.  Eddie Murphy was asked to play the role, but turned it down to play the role of Axel in "Beverly Hills Cop" (a career-boosting decision).  Had Eddie Murphy accepted the role of Winston, the character was actually meant to appear in more of the film. He was to have joined the team much earlier, and it would have been he who was slimed at the hotel. When Murphy declined the role, the script was re-written to have him appear about half-way through the film.
7.  The role of Louis Tully was originally written for John Candy.  John Candy quit the role of Louis Tully because his ideas for the character were being rejected. According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD commentary, among Candy's suggestions he wanted the character to have a German accent and have a pair of schnauzer dogs. No one felt the German accent was appropriate for the character and since there was "dog imagery" in the movie (i.e.: the Terror Dogs), they felt having Tully own dogs was "too much". So John Candy quit early in production and Rick Moranis was cast at the last minute
8.  Sandra Bernhard was originally offered the role of Janine.   
9.  The original premise of "Ghostbusters" had three main characters: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. John Candy also was slated to play Louis. However, with Belushi's death and characters backing out, the script was rewritten and new actors cast.
10.  Bill Murray agreed to do this movie only on the condition that Columbia finance a remake of "The Razor's Edge" with him as the star. The remake was made and Bill was the star.
11.  Dan Aykroyd's original title for the film was "Ghost Smashers".
12.  According to Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis in the DVD Commentary, in Dan Aykroyd's original rough draft of the movie, the story was going to take place in the future and that there would be teams of Ghostbusters like there are paramedics and firefighters (thus explaining basing the Ghostbusters HQ in a firehouse). According to Reitman, such a film would cost "at least $300 million in 1984 dollars". So Harold Ramis was brought in to rewrite the script and bring it into modern times.   
13.  Dan Aykroyd's original version of the script began with the Ecto-mobile flying out of Ghostbusters HQ, but director Ivan Reitman suggested that it would be better to show how the team got started.   
14.  The original script had a budding romance between the cynical receptionist Janine and the blissfully out of it Egon, but most of it was edited out of the film. The special edition DVD features a deleted scene of Janine giving Egon a coin for luck before he goes off with the other Ghostbusters to fight Gozer; they are interrupted by Venkman. The relationship between Janine and Egon was explored more in the animated series that followed.   
15.  The character of Winston was initially written to be a guard at the Ghostbusters firehouse. Also, in earlier drafts of the script, Winston was the one who conjured up the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
16.  In the original draft for Bill Murray's character, sexual obscenities were written on Peter Venkman's door; but Ivan Reitman wanted to make his film a target audience for families so the phrase "Venkman Burn in Hell" was added. In fact, this is a nod to the final scene in Stephen King's "Carrie" where there is a for-sale sign on the vacant lot where Carrie's house once stood, and someone has graffitied it with "Carrie Burn in Hell".
17.  In rehearsal, Bill Murray (Venkman) teased Yugoslav model Slavitza Jovan (Gozer) about her pronunciation of the line "Choose and Perish", which sounded to him like "Jews and Berries" and he'd say "There are no Jews and Berries here!"   
18.  All the college scenes were filmed at Columbia University in New York, including the fictional Weaver Hall office/lab interiors. Director Ivan Reitman decided to use an actual on-campus office instead of a soundstage so the film crew could film indoors if the weather turned bad, rather than lose a day's filming. Columbia University agreed to all this, on the condition the school not be mentioned by name on-camera.   
19.  In the library scene, as an addition, there is a part where books are stacked, cover to cover, one on top of another. This is discovered with Ray calling it "symmetrical book stacking." The whole scene was thought up by director Ivan Reitman that very day as he was driving to the set.
20.  When Alice the librarian is queried as to whether anyone in her family had ever had any history of mental illness, she replies she had an uncle who thought he was St. Jerome. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians.
21.  There was an even more ferocious version of the Librarian Puppet that was going to be used, but it was rejected. However, it was recycled and used in another successful Columbia Pictures film released one year after this one, "Fright Night".
22.  The interiors for the hotel scene were filmed (mostly) at the famous Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, on the corner of 5th and Grand. This famous location has been used for hundreds of films, TV shows, commercials and even a few music videos. The three doors that the Ghostbusters walk through in the movie are actually located on the entrance on 5th St. The Grand Avenue entrance leads you to the main lobby, which used to be the hotel ballroom, as seen in the film. (The ceiling is a dead give away.) The room's formerly solid walls have been replaced by glass doors (at the entrance) and archways. The reception desk is where the long banquet table was located in the film. To the right of that would have been the bar that Egon blasts. If you go into the bar to the right of the main lobby, there is a picture of the old ballroom on one of the walls, giving you a better perspective of what the room looked like in the early '80s.
23.  Flashbulbs were used on the business end of the proton pack weapons so that the special effects creators could properly synch up the effects with the action (most visible in the dining room scene, frame by frame, when capturing Slimer).
24.  Dana's apartment building actually exists at 55 Central Park West in New York City. The building is actually only 20 stories high. For the film, matte paintings and models were used to make the building look bigger and with more floors. According to the commentary on the DVD, the top of the building is modeled after the top of the Continental Life Building in St. Louis, MO.
25.  The party scene where Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) mingles with his party guests (commenting on the price of the salmon, and so on) is not only taken in one continuous shot, but is almost entirely improvised.
26.  The firehouse used is actually two different firehouses that are in two different cities. The exterior is in NY, while the interior is in downtown Los Angeles. The LA firehouse is very popular with filmmakers and has been used in many movies.
27.  Scenes in the montage sequence of the Ghostbusters running around New York (and also driving in the Ecto-mobile) were done on the first day, largely without film permits. In one scene, someone who looks like they might be a security guard begins chasing after them, and Dan Aykroyd can be seen actually driving the Ecto-mobile.
28.  The Ectomobile was originally painted black until it was pointed out that most driving would be at night and the car would be difficult to see. It was then repainted white.
29.  When Venkman mentions the time Spengler tried to drill a hole in his head, Spengler's response ("That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me") was actually ad-libbed by Harold Ramis.
30.  The floating Sigourney Weaver special effect is an actual physical effect, not an optical effect. The actress was put in a full body cast and attached to a post that was hidden in the curtains. According to the commentary, this effect came from director Ivan Reitman's Broadway experience.
31.  When the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man arrives, Ray says that he remembered the Stay-Puft marshmallows from when he use to go camping at Camp Wauconda. Camp Wauconda is an actual boy scout camp outside of Peoria, IL.
32.  The Stay-Puft marshmallow man was originally supposed to come up out of the water right next to The Statue of Liberty, to get a contrast of size, but the scene was too hard to shoot.   
33.  The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man suits cost Approximately $20,000 apiece. Three were made and all were destroyed during filming.
34.  After the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is destroyed there is a shot of a man down on the street being deluged by a huge amount of marshmallow goo (the "marshmallow" goo was actually shaving cream. More than fifty gallons was dumped on Walter Peck (William Atherton), almost knocking him to the ground. Due to the extreme angle of the shot most viewers don't realize that this is Walter, until he screams, "I HATE you, Venkman!". A cut scene (included on the DVD) took place a few moments before, at the same angle, where Peck tells the police to go up to the roof and arrest the Ghostbusters.   
35.  In the DVD commentary, Ivan Reitman says he received a call from William Atherton complaining that the movie ruined his life. The character of Walter Peck was so hated that people would talk Atherton as if they were giving the character Peck a piece of their mind. Apparently more than once, physical fights had been started with Atherton in bars.
36.  The demonic voice of Dana/Zuul was performed by director Ivan Reitman. The voice of Gozer was provided by Paddi Edwards.   
37.  Though never referred to in the script, the green ghost the guys bust in the hotel was dubbed "Onionhead" by the crew, because of its horrid smell. A scene where the ghost haunts two newlyweds showed this characteristic, but it was cut. Since it was never referred to in the movie, the writers of the animated show came up for a different name for the green ghost: Slimer.   
38.  On the set, Dan Aykroyd referred to the "Slimer" ghost as the ghost of John Belushi.   
39.  Almost none of the scenes were filmed as scripted and, in fact, almost all of the scenes had at least one or two ad-libs. Most of Bill Murray's lines are ad-libs.
40.  Until the release of "Home Alone" in 1990, this was the highest-grossing comedy of all time.   
And now you know.
For you "Ghostbusters" fans, both Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are currently writing a script or screenplay for "Ghostbusters III".  Supposedly, the concept will revolve around "Ghostbusters in Hell".  A director for the film has yet to be decided upon.  Whether or not Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis or Ernie Hudson will reprise their roles has also been undecided.
But hey... the idea is there.
Until we know for sure, enjoy these picture still from the film as well as pictures of behind-the-scenes moments and a picture still of the Ghostbusters and Ray Parker, Jr. from the music video, "Ghostbusters (Who You Gonna Call?)"...









[Persuading the mayor to let them stop a supernatural upheaval]
Dr. Peter Venkman: If I'm wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail - peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it! But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing... Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.

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