The early reviews for the new all-female Ghostbusters are out and… critics are saying it’s actually okay. Shocking, isn’t it? Okay, they aren’t saying that it’s a spectacular movie or anything like that; the critics are just saying it isn’t as bad as people think it’s going to be. As of this writing, the reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise stands at a 77% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6.5 out of 10.
Of course, this does mean that the movie is nowhere near as good as the original 1984 film which has a stunning 97% Fresh rating. However, it’s doing much better than Ghostbusters 2, which only has a 50% Rotten rating. But… wow! Take a look at that rating for the original movie! 97%? That’s incredibly high but a rather understandable rating. I actually watched the 1984 film over the weekend and, yes, there’s a lot of reasons why the original film was great. In fact, let’s go through five of those reasons right now!
1. It was actually scary when it needed to be
Yes, Ghostbusters was a comedy and it is pretty hilarious when they need to be funny. However, there were actually some scenes that could be considered genuinely creepy and frightening! As a kid, I was kind of freaked out when the Librarian turned from a kindly old woman into a floating monster. There’s also the portal in the refrigerator in Dana’s apartment. And, of course, there’s the armchair scene…
The horror was an important element as it made you remember that busting ghosts isn’t all fun and games. There’s a level of bravery involved. Putting in these scares made you aware of this and it made Ghostbusters a better film.
2. It was something original
Honestly, I can’t think of any other film before 1984 that was like Ghostbusters. The premise of three scientists and one hired worker (Can’t forget you Winston Zeddmore… even if you aren’t in the poster!) who are paid to trap ghosts using science, not magic, was totally unique for its time. Oh, there were other movies and cartoons that did do the hunt ghosts for money premise… but never with a sci-fi spin like Ghostbusters! Well, maybe there was one cartoon that did… but who actually watched that Ghostbusters animated series with the gorilla?
There wasn’t really anything like proton packs, PKE Meters or ghost traps before Ghostbusters! It was a new idea to use science to fight the supernatural and that made the movie stand out just a little bit more.
3. Respect for the supernatural and creating its own world
Gozer the Gozerian. Zuul The Gatekeeper. Vinz Clortho The Keymaster. Ivo Shandor. These were all created for the Ghostbusters movie and have become iconic names in the world of geekdom. All we actually know about them comes from Tobin’s Spirit Guide. And that’s another thing that made the 1984 Ghostbusters a great film: world building. We felt like a part of this totally unseen world. We never questioned why there is a Gozer or a Zuul or even a Tobin’s Spirit Guide. We simply accepted it because it felt… real.
A big part of why these elements were believable because, well, Dan Aykroyd, the man who conceptualized the film, actually believes in the paranormal. The man is fascinated by the supernatural so I’m betting he took some extra care in writing in some parallels with some of the stories he read. There’s a level of reverence to the occult in the story because of this. And, since he actually believes in ghosts and such, all the stuff that should’ve been dismissed as supernatural bunk came across as genuine and something that may actually exist!
4. A great cast of memorable characters
Let’s get this out of the way: the original Ghostbusters crew wasn’t great because they were all male. No, they became iconic characters because they were incredibly memorable. You got Peter Venkman with his deadpan delivery and confident swagger. You got Egon Spengler with his rather introverted book smarts and straight man of the group. You got Ray Stanz who’s an oversized kid who loves studying the supernatural and the occult. There’s also Winston Zeddmore, who was just hired so you can feel that he’s in over his head.
Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stanz and Winston Zeddmore were, simply put, fantastic characters. They were fleshed out and brought to life masterfully by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson, respectively. You remember the 1984 Ghostbusters because they were different from each other and not because they were all guys.
But it’s not just the Ghostbusters that were great. It was everyone of the primary cast! Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett was great. Rick Moranis as Louis Tully was hilarious. Heck, even the guy that plays Walter Peck was perfect! Oh, and I can’t forget about the Ghostbusters secretary, Janine Melnitz. She was played to perfection by Annie Potts and the decision to give Janine Melnitz that nasally accent was brilliant as… well, you couldn’t forget Janine once you heard her speak!
5. The theme song
Honestly, they don’t make theme music like this anymore!
Even if you were born way after 1984, you know the Ghostbusters theme song. Even if you never watched any of the original Ghostbusters movies, you know this song. Even if you don’t listen to the radio or music of any kind, I have a feeling this song managed to leak into your brain somehow. Heck, I think the Ghostbusters theme song is already embedded into our DNA because, once you hear the opening haunting tune, you know it’s Ghostbusters!
Ray Parker Jr. managed to encapsulate the feeling of watching the movie. It’s a fun and catchy ditty and it’s as iconic as the movie. It’s practically impossible to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. It’s the perfect song for one of the most perfect films of all time.
With that being said, I kind of feel bad for the new Ghostbusters movie. It was going to get a lot of hate whether or not it had an all-female cast. The original movie is a tough act to follow. I do hope the early reviews are correct and it’s not garbage. But there’s no way it’s going to be a great as the original film.
What other reasons made the original Ghostbusters such a great film? Let me know in the comments section below!