“New York was their town, no question about it,” says Harold Ramis, recalling the winter when fellow Ghostbusters Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, filming on location, slimed their way into the hearts of Manhattanites. No matter that they closed avenues and tunnels and backed up traffic from Central Park West to 23rd Street. “We got cheers from people,” remembers Ramis. “Cruising around the city in that converted ambulance in those goofy janitor uniforms and seeing the popularity those two had achieved was an amazing experience. Yeah, we knew we were on to something.”
Their premonitions proved right; Ghostbusters did gang-busters at the box office and was No. 1 for much of the summer. The tale of parapsychologists who start up a spook-disposal business also spawned a No. 1 Ray Parker Jr. song (“Who ya gonna call?”), a fan club and, five years later, a hit sequel.
Ramis, 49, an actor-writer-director whose credits include 1980’s Caddyshack and last year’s Groundhog Day, had just finished work on National Lampoon’s Vacation when Aykroyd approached him with a script in 1983. “Dan originally wrote it for himself and John Belushi when they were still the Blues Brothers,” he says. “After John passed away, Dan and director Ivan Reitman asked me to help rewrite it.” Aykroyd brought his own twisted humor to Ghostbusters. The movie’s vision of evil incarnate—a 100-foot marshmallow man dressed in a sailor suit—”came from Dan’s demented imagination,” says Ramis.
The Ghostbusters Zeitgeist apparently lives on. “Adults continue to watch it, and new generations of kids fall in love with it,” says Ramis, who appears in the forthcoming comedy Airheads. “What I really liked about it is that we took something esoteric and treated it in a mundane way. It was great fun.”