I was there in New York on that fateful day. A day that will forever be remembered and will live on in the lives of the people it touched. Here we are sometime later looking back at the events that unfolded and forever changed the world….I am of course talking about the events of Ghostbusters (1984). Join us as we take a look at Ghostbusters 2.
Where Are They Now?
5 years have passed and arguably too long to release a sequel but here we are getting blasted in the face by a title card that reads just that! 5 YEARS LATER!
We see some slime bubbling up from beneath a New York sidewalk, we see Dana Barret walking down the street pushing a pram, all the while a jaunty and familiar theme plays. It doesn’t concern us that this is the work of Randy Edelman and not Elmer Bernstein, we’re not thinking about the slime, we’re more preoccupied with Dana and her baby Oscar.
We soon learn that 5 years is plenty of time for Peter Venkman to somehow screw up their relationship, for Dana to marry, have a child and divorce. Ultimately plenty of time for her to arrive at this point. As for baby Oscar: over the course of the film it’s subtly implied (and backed up by Reitman) that his father is the musician from the first film (the one with the cold who Venkman refers to as “the Stiff”) who we learn got an offer from an orchestra in London and left.
When we do join the Ghostbusters it’s Ray and Winston racing to a job – sadly the job is a kids party. The Ghostbusters, having saved the city are now disgraced and being sued by multiple bodies regarding the events of the first film. I love that the film opens on such a sour note.
There’s hints that Peck was the reason the gang got “stiffed with the bill” which to be honest is fairly reasonable. Walter Peck was completely justified in his pursuit of the Ghostbusters on environmental health grounds, it’s just that he was a bit of a prick about it. This feeds into the Ghostbusters established lack of respect for bureaucracy and establishment.
We’re not quite sure what happened to Peck after he got doused in melted marshmallow but now there’s a new jackass making the Ghostbusters lives hell in the form of Hardemeyer.
The gang have fallen on hard times: Ray has opened his own occult book store, Egon has returned to academia, Peter is a television show host. Sadly the only member of the crew that isn’t explored in any depth is Winston. Outside of doing kids parties and appearances with Ray.
“My dad says you guys are full of crap” – Jason Reitman
I find it very interesting that Ray and Winston are dancing to the Ray Parker Jr theme, confirming that this piece of music exists in this universe. This opens a conversation regarding the song itself : does Huey Lewis also exist in this universe…..?
It’s been said that the film is more in line with the animated series The Real Ghostbusters than the original 1984 movie. We see this in a few subtle areas but the most notable being that the smoking, swearing and innuendo has been toned down from the first film, but also the visuals of Janine and Slimer (who seemingly lives at the firehouse now), the jumpsuits and the purple slime.
The sequel does dilute the brand somewhat instead of strengthening it. The story toes the line with established canon from the first film. Where Ghostbusters was a hefty, self contained story, Ghostbusters 2 expands that premise but frays slightly at the edges.
It’s been noted that the only reason Reitman, Ramis and Akroyd made the second film was so that someone else didn’t come along and mess it up. (we’re not getting into Ghostbusters : Answer The Call on this post…..)
Winston has a more central role in the plot but somehow has barely has any screen time. It’s such a shame and it feels like any lessons learned from the first film were swiftly ignored. It’s so obvious in scenes like the courtroom where the writers just conveniently make him vanish as soon as the action starts.
“Two in the box, ready to go, we be fast and they be slow”
In the Ghostbusters (1984) review i pointed out how Venkmans psychic test was strangely conclusive. This is echoed here in the scene when Venkman is talking to the psychics on his show. One predicts that the world will end on New Years Eve, the time chosen by Vigo.
There’s a theory doing the rounds that the ooze was the reason so much hate was directed at the Ghostbusters, the reason they were branded as frauds and sued. The ooze feeds off negative emotions and (as we see when Ray and Winston climb out of the slime sewer) amplifies this in a kind of negative feedback loop. It’s realistic to think that all it would take is one person to propose this fraud argument and have the loop begin.
The painting of Vigo (also known as Prince Vigo Von Homburg Deutschendorf, Scourge of Carpathia, Sorrow of Moldavia, Vigo the Carpathian, Vigo the Cruel, Vigo the Torturer, Vigo the Despised, Vigo the Unholy) is absolutely iconic at this point.
Peter Macnicol shines so bright in this film it gives Rick Moranis a run for his money. The character of Janosz Poha oozes with tangible creepiness and occupies the roles of simpleton and possessed madman all at once.
The best scene in the film has to be the courtroom scene when the lads don their Proton Packs to fight the Scoleri Brothers. It really gets the film going and puts Louis Tully firmly back into frame, but sadly kicks the film into a beat for beat retelling of the first film.
“Kitten, i think what i’m saying is that sometimes shit happens, someone has to deal with it and who you gonna call?”
Mike from Red Letter Media pointed out that the Proton Packs are much like Lightsabers – when used sparingly they have the most impact. This definitely the case in this film. I think the same applies for the slime blasters aswell.
Annie Potts absolutely radiates in this film. When paired with Moranis for the romance sequences the screen glows with talent. It is just beautiful and flits between charged and heartwarming in equal measure. And somehow the audience are all on board for it.
In keeping with Venkmans character he talks about how they could market the dancing toaster. This leans back on his previous remarks about franchising the business.
Being a resident of Belfast it was great to see the Titanic scene. As such it is an obligation for me to point out that the Titanic was “fine when it left here, and that it took and Englishman to sink it”.
There was a significant sub plot involving Ray being possessed by Vigo that was all but removed from the final cut. You can still see the remnants of this in the scene where the gang investigates the painting and later during the finale. The shot during the “back in business” montage where Venkman and Spengler look at each other quizzically in the back of Ecto 1 is a leftover from one of these sequences.
“We’re the best, we’re the beautiful, we’re the only ghostbusters”
If Die Hard is a Christmas film (which it most certainly is) then the same metrics can be used to affirm Ghostbusters 2 as a New Years film.
It lost out when it went up against Batman with its release but managed to gain popularity over the years on VHS and DVD release.
I’m unsure why this film receives the level hate that it does. I get certain criticism. It’s a dilution of the brand, the logo is a bit shit and from what i gather New Yorkers like to be mean but don’t like to be told they’re mean. Outside of that i’m confused. Thematically the film carries the torch adequately from the original.
This film features the same fist in the air feel good moments as the first film backed up by a sweet soundtrack. Admittedly towards the end it leans on a few of the original beats to get the job done but it’s great to revisit this world.
The original concept for the film was supposed to be set in Scotland with Dana being kidnapped and taken to an old castle which is an interesting concept.
I always felt the “put the baby down” joke missed the mark with audiences, which is a shame because it’s a great joke.
Back in the day i recall Shreddies cereal leaning heavily into the marketing for this film including stickers from the Scoleri Brothers scene and Oscar in his yellow jumpsuit.
The closest we got to a third film in the franchise was the wonderful computer game (which you can watch in its cut-scene-entirety on Youtube). Obviously now we have the release of Ghostbusters : Afterlife to look forward to.
Ghostbusters : Afterlife
I have a lot of hope for Ghostbusters : Afterlife. The right crew for the job has been assembled so i feel like it has the potential to be a continuation of the franchise.
I have hope that the filmmakers lean into the Louis and Janine relationship and that Louis went on to bust ghosts with the team. I know Annie Potts reprises her role and hope that Moranis makes a surprise appearance but i’ve heard nothing to indicate this.
I enjoyed the references to Egons upbringing being joyless (he had “part of a slinky”) in Ghostbusters 2 and hope they make reference to it in the new film.
We know from the trailer that Rays Occult Books features so it will be interesting to see the context.
The last time we saw Slimer he was successfully driving the New York city bus that ferries Louis to the scene of the finale in Ghostbusters 2, again it will be interesting to see if he makes an appearance and also if Bill Murray finally got his wish and gets killed off in the first act.
I have no doubt that Ghostbusters : Afterlife will remain faithful to the franchise but in what sense i cannot be sure. It was a very real slap in the face to have Ghostbusters : Answer The Call completely ignore the original franchise (and subsequently brand anyone that complained about it a misogynist) but it would have infuriated fans further to try and sully the legacy of this world and its characters.