One of the results of the advent of DVD over the last 15 years has been the regurgitation of many beloved films and televisions shows from the 80s that were fondly remembered. What’s been quite sobering about revisiting many of these is the realisation that a lot of the stuff I loved as a child was truly dreadful, and my happy memories only existed through a haze of nostalgia. Thankfully, there are exceptions to this rule, and I was relieved to find the first film in this recently-released box set to be one of them – far from perfect, and not without its questionable moments, but even funnier than I remembered and laced with a strange but endearing kind of sweetness that makes it impossible to dislike.

I remember enjoying the humour, but seeing it as secondary to the supernatural elements of the film as a kid, whereas now it’s much more clearly an out-and-out comedy first and foremost. The script (written by stars Dan Aykroyd and the sadly departed Harold Ramis) is replete with endlessly quotable and memorable lines, the best of which are brought to life by Bill Murray’s semi-improvised performance, here cementing an onscreen persona that has been as long-lasting as it is idiosyncratic. The level of humour is also surprisingly dark and adult, with much more swearing and risqué humour than I was aware of, yet it’s never arch or cynical – this is a film that wears its heart on it sleeve throughout, something this blog is always going to support. It’s also in many ways a comedy about class – the core of its approach is the blue-collar leads taking down snobs, and it’s hard not to see hints of social commentary as a room of fine diners ignore Rick Moranis as he’s attacked by a demon hound.

The visual effects are a mixed bag (some of the stop-motion animation on those dogs looks terrible now), but some of them have held up astonishingly well – whether it’s the straight-up CGI used on most of the ghosts, or the mix of trickery employed to bring the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man alive (an inspired and completely silly climax which neatly sums up the film’s refusal to take itself seriously). Elmer Bernstein also did some really underrated work on the score, even if he’s somewhat upstaged by that ridiculously catchy Ray Parker Jr theme song. One final scene stood out for me as I had no memory of it whatsoever – during a montage of the team catching ghosts, we see Dan Aykroyd receiving a blow-job from a poltergeist, while dressed as a matador and with Egon in the same room. What the hell was that all about? The movie doesn’t bother explaining it – it’s a cheap gag, and by aiming low the filmmakers somehow scaled great heights.

Actually even more funny than you probably remember9
Unexpected hints of a class commentary8
Bill Murray being more Bill Murray than ever8
Special effects that have either held up well or just look plain embarrassing5
A strange kind of sweetness and kindness throughout10
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
Bechdel Test Failures
  • They only talk about men
  • One conversation between Dana and Janine, and it's basically about the Ghostbusters
8Overall Score

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