Saturday 24 January 2009

Ghostbusters - Bernstein's Supernatural Spectacular

Produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters was one of the highest grossing films of 1984. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver and Mr Stay Puft, Ghostbusters followed the comedic exploits of three New York City parapsychologists who out of financial necessity, become ghost exterminators.

Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters undoubtedly opened the doors for sci-fi comedies like Men in Black. The laconic Bill Murray all but steals the show with a stack of deadpan one liners such as:

  • "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass."
  • "Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.
  • "Mr. Stay Puft's okay, he's a sailor, he's in New York, we get this guy laid we won't have any trouble."
  • "Somebody blows their nose and you want to keep it?"
  • "I don't have to take this abuse from you, I've got hundreds of people dying to abuse me."
  • "Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big!"

There's some excellent support from the radiant but haunted Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett and of course Rick Moranis as the nerdy Louis Tully. Annie Potts who plays the Ghostbusters secretary Janine Melnitz was of course the husky voice of Bo-Peep who gave Sherriff Woody a woody in Toy Story.

To some folks, the music of Ghostbusters is personified by the catchy title song by Ray Parker Junior. Despite being proven to be a lift of Huey Lewis' "I Wanna New Drug", Parker's Ghostbusters was a mega hit of titanic proportions. I remember at the time of the film's theatrical release, going to a matinee performance at a provincial cinema and being highly amused by the kids in the audience all singing along to the theme tune as the opening titles came up - just like Saturday Morning Pictures!

The actual soundtrack for Ghostbusters was written by veteran film composer Elmer Bernstein and what cracking score it is too. Bernstein's piano driven swirling marching theme with a touch of the ethereal Ondes Martenot is a joy, in fact the latter instrument pervades much of the score. The exotic Zool cue is brilliant along with the fanfare which is originally heard during the Lion statue opening of the movie. Bernstein was evidently a little miffed that his score was padded out by a selection of rather insipid pop music, but in the 80's that's what film companies assumed audiences wanted. As a result it is only recently that music lovers can now enjoy the beauty of this great score instead of the limp songtrack that was originally released.

A rather dismal follow up Ghostbusters 2 was released in 1989 which rather abandoned the rough and ready style and and humour of the original and covered any plot holes if indeed there was much of a plot in favour of some not terribly special effects. Bernstein was not retained as the composer in house and score duties were handled by Randy Edelman. None of Edelman's pleasant score for Ghostbusters 2 was released and a so-so collection of pop, soft rock, rap and swingbeat was released instead including a Rap version of Ray Parker's Ghostbusters song by RUN DMC. Still Bobby Brown's Swingbeat On Our Own is worth tapping your feet to.

It appears that Harold Ramis is planning Ghostbusters III. Let's hope he doesn't do an Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull and lose any remaining cred!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I wish there was a continuation of the series other than the tv animated films. Vince