30 Things You Need to Know About Ghostbusters on Its 30th Anniversary
If there's something strange in your neighborhood, you should probably read this list
You know how the line goes: If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you probably live near the Kardashians. We’re totally kidding! Everyone knows that if there’s something strange or something weird “and it don’t look good,” you’re gonna call the Ghostbusters.
Those four jumpsuit-wearing, proton pack-carrying heroes first appeared on movie screens 30 years ago this weekend, serving all of our supernatural elimination needs, reminding us never to cross the streams and, as the late Harold Ramis said, “turning the word ‘slime’ into a verb.”
To commemorate the occasion, here are 30 things that you might not have known about the Ghostbusters, the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster.
1. Dan Aykroyd comes from a long line of ghostbusters, sort of. His grandfather once tried to build a radio that would allow him to communicate with the spirit world, his mother claimed to have seen the ghosts of her great-great-grandparents and his dad has even written a book, The History of Ghosts, that details the séances the family used to host in their Ontario farmhouse.
2. Aykroyd told Esquire that he got the idea for the screenplay after reading an article about parapsychology in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. (Which reminds us that we need to renew our subscription to that same magazine, hopefully in time for its swimsuit issue.)
3. The flick was originally going to be called Ghostbreakers or Ghoststoppers. Although they liked Ghostbusters, there had been an unsuccessful 1970s kids’ show called The Ghost Busters and the producers were unsure if they could get the legal rights to use the same name. While they waited for their attorneys to give them the thumbs-up, they created logos for all three versions and filmed each of them hanging above the team’s firehouse headquarters.
4. Aykroyd wrote the script with the idea that his friend and fellow Blues Brother John Belushi would play the role of Peter Venkman. Sadly, Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982, well before filming was under way. “We loved each other as brothers,” Aykroyd told Vanity Fair.
5. Belushi’s spirit, so to speak, was kept alive in the film. Aykroyd has admitted that his “inspiration” for Slimer – the double-chinned ghost who’s a less discerning eater than Andrew Zimmern – was “John’s body.”
6. During filming, Slimer was know as Onionhead because his original, um, talent was supposed to be emitting a pungent, onion-like smell. Onionhead also sounds like an appetizer you can get at a chain restaurant.
7. Bill Murray ad-libbed a lot of Peter Venkman’s most memorable lines – as he was expected to do. “Ivan [Reitman] would say ‘All right, Bill, we need something here,'” Sigourney Weaver told Esquire. “And Bill would just come in and do something. It was absolutely effortless.”
(Credit: F Yeah 80s-90s)
8. When Weaver auditioned for the role of Dana Barrett, she felt like she had to convince Reitman that she could handle both the physical side and the comedic side of the role, so she went full-on Terror Dog in his office. “I remember starting to growl and bark and gnaw on the cushions and jump around,’ she recalled to Vanity Fair. “Ivan cut the tape and said ‘Don’t ever do that again.'” But it worked, which is why we’ll be trying the same thing at our next job interview.
9. After filming, Weaver wrote a poem about the movie that she read at the Los Angeles wrap party. The opening verse was “I am a little Ghostbuster/Sigourney is my name/This picture cost a lot of bread/Let’s hope it makes the same.” Michael C. Gross (more about him in a sec) sold her handwritten version on eBay for $490, offering to explain all of the inside jokes to the winning bidder.
10. Although Aykroyd has said that he had Eddie Murphy in mind for the role of Winston Zeddemore, Reitman says that wasn’t the case. “He was never a consideration,” he said.
11. John Candy, though, was originally supposed to play accountant-slash-Keymaster Louis Tully. When Candy said that he wanted to do the role with a heavy German accent while constantly being surrounded by two large dogs, the producers politely said “Nein, danke” (we’re paraphrasing) and cast Rick Moranis instead.
12. There are a number of cameos that now seem downright weird. For example, adult film star Ron Jeremy can be seen in the crowd standing outside the firehouse when the Containment Unit is shut down. Jeremy later had a role in the inevitable XXX version, This Ain’t Ghostbusters and we’re not even going to tell you how that theme song goes.
13. Adorable bubblegum popster Debbie Gibson is the girl with the hair bow celebrating her birthday when the Terror Dogs chase Tully to Tavern on the Green. You’ll have to be quick with the pause button to see her though (unlike her recent role in Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark, which requires a bit more fast-forwarding).
14. Jean Kasem – yes, Casey’s wife – is one of the guests at Tully’s party. She’s the one in the pink sweater with the dangerously high ponytail, although it’s hard to recognize her when she’s not throwing raw hamburger at her relatives.
15. The ghost who sort of suggestively haunts Ray Stantz during that dream sequence is NOT his wife, former model Donna Dixon, but Kymberly Herrin, the March 1981 Playboy Playmate of the Month. Herrin later appeared in the video for ZZ Top’s “Legs.”
16. The iconic Ghostbusters logo was designed by illustrator Michael C. Gross, who also created posters for the 1968 Mexico Olympics and was an art director for National Lampoon magazine. In 2012, the Pratt Institute designated the logo as one of 125 Icons that had been designed by their alumni, putting that famous “No Ghost” symbol on the same list with the original Ford Thunderbird, the Washington, D.C., metro map and the Chrysler Building. No, really.
17. The Ghostbusters’ firehouse headquarters is a real, active fire station. Hook & Ladder 8 is in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. On the sidewalk outside, you can see their own Ghostbusters-ish logo which features a just-busted ghost holding a crowbar and an ax. Yes, they sell T-shirts (and yes, that’s crazy awesome).
18. Although the actual location for the prison scene is unknown, the late Harold Ramis confirmed that it was filmed at an out-of-commission and abandoned New York City prison. In keeping with his character, both onscreen and off, Aykroyd claimed it was haunted. “If there are ghosts anywhere, they would be [there],” he said.
19. The smarmy EPA inspector Walter Peck was played by longtime stage actor William Atherton, who used to insist that the movie ruined his life. According to Reitman, Atherton complained that “he couldn’t go into a bar without people wanting to pick fights with him.” On one occasion, an entire bus of tourists shouted “D***less!” in his direction as they passed him on the street.
20. Atherton was actually covered with shaving cream – sadly not a real chunk of melted marshmallow – at the end of the movie. A plastic bag filled with 75 pounds of shaving cream was dropped onto him from the extended arm of a crane, although the original splat! was supposed to be twice as big. “They put some poor stunt guy underneath to show the sissy actor ‘OK, nothing’s going to happen,” Atherton said. “So they unleashed it and it flattened him. So they took out half the shaving cream and I went in very happily and was slimed.”
21. The Stay Puft Marshmallow man can be seen at least twice earlier in the film: When Dana’s eggs start cooking themselves on her countertop, they’re beside a bag of Stay Puft brand ‘mallows and he also appears on a faded billboard which is at the left edge of the screen when the Containment Unit explodes. Eat your marshmallow heart out, Tyler Durden.
(Credit: Rick Moranis GIFs)
22. The Ghostbuster’s sweet ride, Ecto-1, was based on a “1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor limo-style ambulance-hearse combo.” There is also nothing in the movie that is freakier than the word “ambulance-hearse combo.”
23. The name Gozer might have been taken from the case of the Enfield Poltergeist, a notorious haunting that supposedly took place in Enfield, England, from August 1977-1978. One of the affected family’s children reportedly mentioned an evil spirit called Gozer, which is a billion times scarier than a chick in a leotard.
(Credit: Ghostbusters Fans)
24. Gozer was played by Yugoslavian model Slavitza Jovan, who has only had a handful of minor roles (“Saleslady” and “Twisted Nurse” among them) since then. In a rare 1998 interview, she wouldn’t confirm whether she believed in ghosts but said she does “believe in demons.” And here’s where we’ll just back away slowly slowly …
25. Theme song writer Ray Parker, Jr. might not be afraid of no ghosts (or of no double negatives) but he’s probably not thrilled with Huey Lewis, who sued Parker over the similarities between “Ghostbusters” and his own “I Want a New Drug.” The case was settled out of court and, due to a confidentiality agreement, the terms have not been revealed. “Ghostbusters” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” from that other 1984 classic, The Woman in Red. No, we’ve never seen it either.
(Credit: Shadows in the Dark)
26. The term ectoplasm was first coined by Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winning physiologist and later written about by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
27. Aykroyd has referred to Ghostbusters: The Video Game as “essentially the third movie.” He and Harold Ramis co-wrote the game’s script and all four original ‘Busters gave their voices to their onscreen alter egos.
28. But really, what about the third movie? “We are currently working hard to re-create the magic of the original in order to bring a new Ghostbusters adventure to life,” Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad told Vanity Fair, words that don’t exactly make us levitate above our beds out of sheer excitement.
(Credit: Ghost of Cheney)
29. The official Ghostbusters Facebook Page has suggested a massive online viewing party on Saturday, June 7. At 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST, everyone who’s interested in releasing mass hysteria – dogs and cats living together – is encouraged to watch the movie online or on DVD. It has also been announced that Ghostbusters will be back in theaters nationwide on August 29.
30. In his original June 1984 review, Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars. As Ebert wrote, “rarely has a movie this expensive provided this many quotable lines.” Hey, total protonic reversal doesn’t come cheap.
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