It’s been years or even decades since the last time I watched Ghostbusters, but it is one of the required movies for my Readings In the Genre The Haunted class in order to get my Masters in Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.
I have a lot of fond memories of Ghostbusters from watching it while I was growing up and some of those memories and general feelings of enjoyment have likely colored my reaction to rewatching this movie for this class.
One of the first things I noticed about Ghostbusters is the tone used throughout the movie. The rest of the books and movies for The Haunted have approached the topic of hauntings with the desire to inspire fear or terror in the audience. Ghostbusters works to promote a sense of humor while still discussing the same topic and in that sense, I think Ghostbusters did a much better job with making a memorable addition to supernatural events.
I’m fairly certain this is the oldest movie in the list of required movies for The Haunted class, and it really shows in the graphics and the animation, and even in the way the characters interact with their world. While this is not chronologically the oldest movie, as The Others took place in 1945 and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Amityville Horror, and Ghost Story would have happened in the late 1970s, Ghostbusters was a unique movie for its time. Yes, it was campy and ridiculous in some ways, but I don’t remember there being much of a push to advertise paranormal investigators or ghost hunters in the past. It’s only because of movies like Ghostbusters and the fascination people have with supernatural occurrences that have resulted in our modern acceptance of shows like Ghosthunters. This medium and genre have become something of an acceptable troupe and I believe a lot of that acceptance is based on the history in the genre of movies and entertainment venues such as Ghostbusters.
In Ghostbusters, there are a lot of the standard hauntings and ghost experiences, but Ghostbusters adds a little bit of a different level by having the ghosts be actually visible. Most of the hauntings so far have all demonstrated events where things simply moved of their own accord as witnessed by the characters involved and not necessarily seeing the entities causing the disturbances. The very first ghost the team encounters is the ghost of a librarian, going through the stacks in the New York library. They attempt to make contact with it in the most obvious way possible, by actually talking to it like they would talk to a normal person, and the ghost changes into something terrifying and chases them out. This provides the team with a new purpose and direction and also presents new challenges, such as now that they have conclusive evidence that ghosts exist, what are they supposed to do about it?
Another different aspect that Ghostbusters shows from the other movies and books in The Haunted is that paranormal events could be triggered by events from another plane of existence. While the team doesn’t go into much detail as to where Gozer and Zool come from, it certainly appears as though they come from a place that exists separately from our own world, but that this place has the ability to interact with our own world. Most of the previous works for this class seem to have more of a religious feel and the occurrences are linked to demons or spirits from people with a religious background or other people involved with religion are brought into the story.
All across human history, there are stories or myths about paranormal events, long lists of things that can’t be explained through normal methods. One of the most common reactions to things that we can’t explain or understand is to have fear of those events or the circumstances surrounding them. Ghostbusters take the time and their scientific backgrounds to search out not only explanations for the paranormal events, but also to work towards finding solutions to prevent those manifestations from harming anyone. The big difference between Ghostbusters and the other readings and movies so far is that there is no religious aspect to their work. It’s purely based on science and I think that’s the fascinating part because it’s kind of like showing physical proof as to why these things happen.
Overall, I would probably rate this movie as a three on my rating scale, but most of that probably stems from my memories of the movie from when I was a kid.