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So, this came out in the summer of 1984, when I was 8 years old. I vaguely recall seeing a commercial for it on TV, and wanting to see it. And I vaguely recall that when I told my parents I wanted to go see it, my dad asked what I thought it was about, and whatever my answer was (based on my limited recollection of/understanding of the commercial), it probably wasn't very accurate. So... I didn't get to see it in a theater. (Par for the course.) I don't know when I first saw it, but I definitely saw it on TV sometime in the 80s. And surely I got it on VHS sometime after that. I'm not sure how many times I saw it, over the years, but I would guess not more than a few times, because I'm rarely in the mood to watch something I've already seen, no matter how much I might love it. Anyway, I'm writing this review in 2015, after watching it on DVD. Oh, I also wanted to mention that one of the first audio cassette tapes I ever owned was a copy a friend had made me of the soundtrack, which I believe he gave me for my birthday one year. Everyone knows the main theme song, "Ghostbusters," by Ray Parker, Jr., which was a fairly big hit at the time, and became a Halloween playlist staple forever after. But I really liked all the songs (and instrumental music) on the soundtrack, and listened to it many times.
Anyway, it begins in the New York Public Library, where a librarian is frightened by a ghost (which we don't get to see, just yet). Then there's a scene at Columbia University, where we see Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), conducting an experiment involving ESP, with two student volunteers as his lab rats. (One of them is a guy, the other is an attractive girl, and Venkman is clearly not concerned at all about the experiment as anything more than a way to pick up the girl. So right away we learn that he's basically an unprofessional ass, albeit a really funny and sort of charming ass.) Then his colleague, Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) interrupts the experiment. He's excited to have learned about the incident at the library, and he wants Venkman to drop what he's doing and go with him to check it out. A third member of their team, Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis, who cowrote the movie's script with Aykroyd), is already at the library. And... well, they (and we) see the ghost, which scares the hell out of them. When they get back to the university, they find that they've been fired. So Venkman decides that the three of them should go into business for themselves. (Ray is concerned about working in the private sector, where "they expect results." It didn't occur to me until probably sometime in the past couple of years how funny that is, because of course they expect results. I suppose the idea that that's particularly demanding is meant as an indictment of our educational system. But I think when I first saw the movie, and for many years afterward, I didn't give the line any thought at all.)
Anyway, they buy an old, run-down fire station to use as their base of operations, and start advertising their services as "Ghostbusters." (Ray and Egon apparently invented some equipment for catching and storing ghosts.) And they hire a receptionist named Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts). Their first actual client is Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who had a rather frightening experience in her apartment. (Re-watch bonus: her groceries included Stay-Puft marshmallows.) So Venkman goes to her apartment to check her out (er, check out her apartment), but he doesn't find anything unusual. (Incidentally, watching the movie now, after a couple of years learning via SJW articles and such just how creepy and potentially dangerous random men can be, that scene definitely was more fraught, in my mind, than it ever was before. Of course Venkman was just being his goofy, mildly lecherous self, but I couldn't help thinking that Dana had no way of knowing he wasn't dangerous, and I think in real life... some of his "goofiness" could easily be read as warning signs.) Anyway, he leaves, and sometime later, the Ghostbusters get another client, an upscale hotel. It's there that they catch their first ghost, in the process causing so much damage that I can't believe the hotel didn't charge them. But after that, there's a montage in which they become media darlings, and apparently quite successful at their job. (There are various famous people like Larry King and Casey Kasem who talk about them, and they're on lots of magazine covers- including OMNI, which probably meant nothing to me the first time I saw the movie, but now I find it both cool and wistful, because I miss that magazine.) Of course, all this fame means they've become overworked, so they hire a fourth Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).
And, um... lots of other stuff happens. For one thing, there's an EPA guy named Walter Peck (William Atherton) who believes the Ghostbusters are scam artists, and that they pose a threat to the environment. (In real life, I generally think of the EPA as good guys, but in the movie, Peck is basically just an ass.) Also, Ray and Egon learn more about Dana's case. It seems her apartment building had been designed after World War I specifically for supernatural purposes, by a the leader of a cult that worshipped an ancient Sumerian god named Gozer. And Gozer had a couple of servants: a demigod named Zuul, and a demon named Vinz Clortho. So now, there are these "terror dog" things, one of which attacks Dana, and one attacks her neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). Then Zuul possesses Dana (who calls herself the Gatekeeper), and Vinz possesses Louis (who calls himself the Keymaster). (Nope, there's no sort of innuendo there.) Anyway... the Ghostbusters eventually have to fight Gozer, who appears first as a woman, and then... as something else. Which, on the remote chance that you don't know, I'm not going to spoil. But of course they win, in the end, and the whole city loves them. Oh, and Dana and Louis return to normal (which in Louis's case is a relative term).
And... I feel like I'm forgetting so much I wanted to say. (I kind of wanted to pause the movie every few minutes to work on my review, but I foolishly opted to wait to start it until after I'd watched the whole thing.) But maybe I'm not forgetting anything too important (and if I am, I can always edit the review later... even if it's not until the next time I watch the movie). One thing I definitely wanted to say was that I remember the first time I ever watched the movie, on TV, there was a scene near the end where Venkman reacts to something by saying "Mother pus bucket!" and I always assumed that was an edit made specifically for broadcast. When I later watched it on VHS, I must have discovered I'd been wrong about that, but before watching the movie on DVD, I had completely forgotten, and still assumed that's not what he actually said. But it was what he actually said. So... yeah, weird. But anyway, um... the movie is really hilarious, with tons of quotable lines. And I'm sure Dana must have been one of my earliest movie crushes. And, you know, it's just a really fun and cool movie. And stuff.