The season is upon us, kids. The other day, while cutting grass in the searing, humid, Southeastern heat, I saw the beginnings of turned leaves. It’s getting darker earlier now and while we haven’t started getting the cooler weather here yet, all I need to know is that the stores are stocking a lot more orange and black than they did a couple of weeks ago.
So, it’s the perfect time to ease our way into hardcore Halloween countdown material. What better way than to start off with nearly everyone’s favorite gateway horror film, Ghostbusters. This year rings in its 30th anniversary and to celebrate, I SAW IT IN THE THEATERS LAST FRIDAY NIGHT. Yes, that’s right. It got re-released this weekend and it was more fun than Janine’s giant glasses.
While the film is known as one of the greatest comedies of the ’80’s (and one I can quote nearly every line of), a few things jumped out at me the other night as I was in the theater.
THERE IS SOME SERIOUSLY SCARY SHIT IN THIS THING, YOU GUYS.
I mean, a few little things, and I don’t meant the over abundance of Coke product placement. So, we’re going kick off the season of Samhain with my…
Let’s go ahead and get the big Twinkie out of the way. Everyone’s favorite: The Library Ghost! Ivan Reitman knew what he was doing putting her scene early on. Between Peter Venkman pulling a hot blond using $5.00 electric shocks and Ray Stanz’s sponge migrations, the kooky tone is set up very early on. This is not going to be a serious movie. And then, all hell breaks loose. We all remember it. I don’t have to describe it, but in case you’re one of the last people on Earth who for some reason, has never seen it, here’s the scene.
Listen, I’m 30 something years old and that shit gets me every single time.
It actually turns out the ghost has a really cool back story. I’m going to warn you though. Be careful clicking that link. The Ghostbusters Wiki will seriously suck you in. I was supposed to hit “Publish” on this thing last night, but after getting distracted there for an hour or so, I was ready for bed and that was that.
I’m putting this appropriately after the Library Ghost because it also ranks up there as being as unexpected as it was scary. Reitman did a a great job up to this point of sort of giving you a sense of dread when “Dickless” had the containment unit shut down, thus causing every ghost The Ghostbusters had caught so far to explode through the roof of the building. There was a real sense that stuff was going down.
However, people were oddly going about their day despite the fact that just up the street, a fire station’s roof exploded, resulting in smoke and screaming souls to shoot out. But, you know, New York.
It’s at about this point that Random Man on the Street decides to hail a cab…of the undead. Then, the camera pans over to reveal some shit that will turn you white!
You just don’t see that level of creepy makeup work in comedies. I was terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
This is one you’re not likely to find on most lists. At this point, the guys have pissed off Gozer, having shot some futile photon beams at her, causing her to flip around and disappear. So, the building starts shaking and falling apart a little bit. Thanks to some seriously bitching design by Ivo Shandor, Dana Barrett’s apartment building has some really great and spooky detail. Dude straight up carved some giant dogs at the top presumably for the purpose of one day causing Sigourney Weaver to get all slutty. So, when Gozer starts to have her little temper tantrum, THIS thing fell from the top of the building.
I cant explain it, but as a kid, that right there really creeped me out. Shandor knew what he was doing.
This one actually has me more excited than anything else I’ve discussed so far. I’m a sucker for a scary voice. It’s something that just isn’t done that well in film anymore. Correction: It’s barely done at all. Of course, the most notable one is Mercedes McCambridge’s voice for Regan McNeil in The Exorcist. Another notable (and personal favorite of mine) is Doug Bradley’s Pinhead in Hellraiser, not to mention The Female Cenobite’s rasp. If you’re a Hellraiser or Clive Barker fan at all, you’ve got to check out The Hellbound Heart audiobook narrated by Barker himself. His take on what he imagines them to sound like is particularly interesting and is a bit of a departure from what you’re used to.
Back to business. Ghostbusters is one of the most quotable films of the ’80’s and whenever Gozer comes up in conversation, everyone likes to throw around the “Are you a god?” line. No, fuck that. As fun as that entire scene is, if you want to hear one of the creepiest examples of solid voice work, you’ve got to go to the “Choose the form of the destructor” scene.
Gozer herself was played by Yugoslavian actress Slavitza Jovan. But the VOICE…THAT VOICE was done by Paddi Edwards. I’d love to see some behind the scenes stuff to see what in the world was done to create that perfect blend of androgyny and Hell. As a kid, I used to stay at home watching this alone and walking around practicing my best, “The traveler has come!”
I uh…spent a lot of time alone as a child.