Ghostbusters: who you gonna call?

Ghostbusters: who you gonna call?


Some ideas are born by chance. Many authors appeal to this dogma of creativity when asked about the genesis of their creations, an easy way out in some cases, but for some masterpieces what seems a simple one is the plain and simple truth. If we then think of the 1980s, a decade that has given us some of the greatest hits of cinema such as Blade Runner or The Blues Brothers, it is easy to understand how new ideas were continually born in this maelstrom of creativity and madness. And it is from one of these crazed splinters of genius that one of the most famous films of the period came to life: Ghostbusters.

Ghost smashers, on the hunt for ghosts

Just hearing about it, Ghostbusters arouses the nostalgia of the lovers of the Ghostbusters film, who grew up with the myth of the four mad scientists who, aboard their deafening Ecto-1, whizzed through a New York suddenly invaded by ghosts. What today is considered a cult, was the epilogue of an adventurous realization, made of mind-blowing intuitions, commercial compromises and the certainty of giving life to a great story.

The first step towards the realization of Ghostbusters was accomplished when Ivan Reitman, with producers Joe Mediuck and Michaal Gross, decided to make the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the famous novel by Doug Adams. Comedian Dan Aykroyd, known for his excellent work on Saturday Night Live and fresh from the success of The Blues Brothers, was thought to play the protagonist Ford Perfect. This choice was the end of the project linked to Adams' novel and the luck for the birth of Ghostbusters.

Aykroyd, in fact, at that time was particularly interested in the paranormal. After living in a house that apparently lived the spirit of Cass Elliot, lead singer of The Mamas & The Papas, Aykroyd began to have a strong interest in ghosts, but this was a family gift. His great-grandfather, Samuel Augustus Aykroyd, was a scholar of spiritism, to the point of creating the Ayroids, a coven of paranormal scholars who tried to find evidence of the existence of ghosts and other paranormal creatures. To give even more strength to this passion of the actor, it was the reading of essays on quantum physics and parapsychology, which led him to conceive the subject of a comic version of these suggestions, with the provisional title of Ghost Smashers.

For Ghost Smashers, Aykroyd drew inspiration from famous films from the past that had addressed this theme, including Mickey and the Ghosts. The actor had imagined a much more complex story than the one he finally saw in the cinema, in which the ghostbusters would also travel in time and in other dimensions. It was with these ideas that Aykroyd showed up to a meeting with Reitman and the producers, convincing them to abandon their project to pursue this bizarre idea of ​​his. When the green light was given to the project, Reitman decided that to complete the script he needed the help of Harold Ramis, with whom he had previously collaborated on Animal House, with the belief that Ramis should also be one of the Ghostbusters.

Once Columbia officially gave a mandate to start production, Ramis and Aykroyd began working on the script, starting with Aykroyd's story. Many of his ideas were canceled or downsized to meet the needs of the budget, which could not support the crazy idea of ​​having more than one team of Ghostbusters in action at the same time. In this phase of the writing the essential traits of the characters were also defined, especially in terms of design of the 'scientific' equipment, which were entrusted to Stephen Dane, an expert creator of similar equipment for the cinema.

Dane created the famous proton backpacks and traps to capture ghosts after having browsed through a revisitation of military equipment in which new models of flamethrowers were presented, from which he drew inspiration for proton rifles, and of bomb transport compartments that became the concept from which traps were developed. Even the clothing of the four Ghostbusters was modeled on the military style, creating suits that echoed the style of those of the aviators.

All this work was done within a year, given the tight deadlines imposed by Columbia, but what was known as Ghost Smashers had yet to face its first major obstacle: becoming Ghostbusters.

From Ghost Smashers to Ghostbusters

The title proposed by Aykroyd did not convince the production, which wanted to look for an alternative that was simpler and more captivating. The choice fell on a classic term, such as Ghostbusters, but this decision put Columbia in front of an impasse: the Ghostbusters already existed. Or rather, the Ghost Busters, protagonists of a sitcom from the 70s, which featured two men and a gorilla chasing ghosts and monsters of the caliber of Frankenstein, the Flying Dutchman or the Red Baron.

When Columbia decided to christen its film Ghostbusters, to avoid possible legal repercussions, it obtained from Filmation, the company that owns the rights of The Ghost Busters, the authorization to use the name for the film. A precedent that came in handy when both Columbia and Filmation decided to make an animated series for their respective Ghostbusters: The Original Ghost Busters for Filmation and The Real Ghostbuster. Where Filmation aimed to identify their ghost hunters as the originals, Columbia preferred to play on a higher importance (real can also be translated as true).

This catch was also solved, the heroic four had to be chosen ghost Buster. When Aykroyd had begun to develop the idea of ​​him, the composition of the unusual team that would support him was clear in his mind: Eddie Murphy, John Candy and John Belushi. This paranormal dream team, son of that springboard that was Saturday Night Live, never materialized due to the untimely death of Belushi, while the other two actors, although interested in playing the proposed roles, had to refuse for previous engagements: Candy for Splash - A mermaid in Manhattan, while Murphy was about to don the shoes of the unusual cop Axel Foley, the star of Beverly Hills Cop.

Ernie Hudson, who had to pay the price for playing a Winston Zemorde of visibly diminished importance. In fact, in the first draft of the screenplay, the black ghost catcher had more time, which was used to tell about his past as a veteran and ex-paramedic. Winston's background was not entirely forgotten, being used as the subject for one of the episodes of the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters.

To give Egon Spengler a face, after a series of unsuccessful castings that saw actors of great fame (Christopher Walken, John Lightgow, Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd), at the end Harold Ramis was banished, who since beginning had tried to escape from this role. Yet, in the end he accepted, imposing as a condition of adding to his character a scholarly tone, which led him to transform his passion for ancient history, in particular Babylonian history, into one of the essential points of history: the evocation of a Sumerian god, Gozer. Egon's character owes its name to a schoolmate of Ramis, Egon Donsbeck, a Hungarian student part of a cultural exchange program, and to the German philosopher Owald Spengler.

On the death of Belushi, for the role Venkman was initially thought of as Steve Guttemberg, who preferred to become a law enforcement recruit playing Carey Mahoney in Police School. A renunciation that opened the doors to Bill Murray, backed by Aykroyd who had already joined him during some gags on Saturday Night Live. Once again, the case gave Ghostbusters a winning hand, as Murray's comic streak was at its best during the making of the film. Legend has it that not one of the scenes in the film went as originally planned, given that improvisation became the rule on the set. A dogma that gave birth to some of the film's most successful scenes, such as the crossing of streams during the clash with Gozer.

For the role of Dana Barret, Sigourney Weaver came to the audition with the hope of being able to interpret a comic character who distanced her from the sci-fi heroine of Alien, Ellen Ripley. What convinced the production to entrust her with the role was her improvisation during the audition, when everyone was surprised by playing one of Gozer's demonic dogs, complete with assorted growls and cries.

Ghostbusters, signs of a myth

Ghostbusters is still adored today for some of its hallmarks, which helped make this film one of the cult of the period. Part of this fascination is having made New York one of the protagonists of this story, making the most of the settings offered by Manhattan, such as the legendary base of the Ghostbusters, a real New York fire station, home of the 8th Hook & Ladder, whose exteriors became the unmistakable seat of the Ghostbusters, while the interiors belonged to a similar building in Los Angeles, which was also reused for another cult of the period, Big Trouble in China Town.

But how can we forget Slimer, the first ghost captured by the Ghostbusters? Initially, the ghost was not meant to be one of the main figures in the film, and its creation was almost a joke, so much so that the ghost was initially called Onion Head in mockery, to reiterate the annoying smell of the material it was made of. Only Aykroyd called him differently, referring to him as Bluto, in homage to the character played by late friend John Belushi in Animal House. The name Slimer, in reality, is never mentioned in the film, but it appears in the animated series, after the success of the ghost convinced the producers to make him a recurring figure in the life of the Ghostbusters.

Inevitable companion of adventures of the Ghosbusters is the legendary Ecto-1, the car with the four Ghostbusters scuttled around New York with sirens blaring. The car with which the Ecto-1 was made was a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Combo, a revolutionary car in the 'combination car' segment, that is cars that were assembled on special elongated chassis so as to be used as ambulances, hearses or limousine. For Ghostbusters, given the particular nature of the medium, only one specimen was found, which did its job very well, recording only a mechanical failure that did not delay the processing of the film, since it occurred at the end of the shooting. For his unmistakable siren, Richard Beggs, the film's sound designer, sampled the growl of a leopard and then processed it analogically.

Ghosts and Courts

A production like Ghostbusters could have avoided ending up in court? Of course not, and it was two of the film's most iconic traits that brought the film to court.

The Ghostbusters logo was created by executive producer Michael Gross and Aykroyd's friend John Daveiks. In creating the symbol, they tried not to make it too similar to Fatso, one of the characters of Casper, a Harvey Comics comic, who in the end thought it well to sue Columbia believing that the Ghostbusters logo was too similar to his ghost, losing however the litigation. Unnamed for years, the specter enshrined in the Ghostbuster 'no-ghost' ban was dubbed Mooglie in 2016 by Paul Feig, director of the film's female remake.

Less fortunate was Ray Parker Jr. , author of the famous theme of the Ghostbuster s. In the first place, Huey Lewis was consulted, whom he rejected as he was already working on the Back to the Future soundtrack. Parker Jr. quickly worked on a song, the famous Who you gonna call? , recording her using his girlfriend and some of her friends as choristers. When the song became a smash hit, Huey Lewis sued Parker Jr. as his tune was very similar to I Want a New Drug, a Lewis song that was initially requested by the Ghostbusters production as part of their soundtrack. Everything was resolved with a confidential agreement between Parker Jr and Lewis, which saw the latter win. When Lewis revealed this detail years later in an interview, Parker Jr missed no opportunity to sue him for violating confidentiality agreements.

Ghostbusters: an immortal cult

Ghostbusters was a real phenomenon. No expense was spared for the advertising campaign, a real phone number was even created for the Ghostbusters, which also appeared in the film, and which included a pre-recorded response from Murray and Aykroyd in which they warned that the Ghostbusters were on a mission. The number received a million phone calls in less than two months, demonstrating the impact of the film.

To shoot this cult cult, the area around Central Park was practically sealed off, increasing people's interest and focusing attention on this production. When complaints came, the set crew said they were working on a Francis Ford Coppola film, but this little ploy did not stop a particularly keen New Yorker from grasping the truth. On the other hand, if you are Isaac Asimov it is not easy to deceive you, but apparently closing the access to your usual streets is reason enough to make you angry, as the popular writer complained about the inconvenience. A complaint that lasted very little, when Bill Murray managed to appease him by revealing himself to be a huge fan of his.

The cultural impact of Ghostbusters is still today one of the spearheads of pop culture, so much so that it has been inserted within the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress of the United States in 2015. Since the release of the first film, which was followed by an incomplete sequel and an animated series, the four Ghostbusters have become a symbol of this cinematic decade, driven by impeccable merchandising, like the themed Reeboks, and which kept the interest in Ghostbusters alive, which cost $ 32 million and earned nearly $ 300 million, making it the film of the year for 1984. Reitman's film has been cited in several works that deal with this period, not least Stranger Things, and its success has meant that for years people have been clamoring for a third chapter, a wish that could finally come true i with Ghosbusters: Legacy.

Thanks to Ghostbusters and these four deranged scientists, the world of cinema has had the opportunity to combine comedy and paranormal, giving life to an immortal myth that has profoundly marked our imagination, showing us how to face ghosts with a smile but above all by teaching us that if a Sumerian deity asks us if we are a god, it is better to answer yes.

You can see Ghostbusters on Netflix thanks to Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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