If there’s something strange in you neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Perhaps the police, but we’re of course talking about Ghostbusters. It was one of the hit films of the 80s, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The films starts Bill Murray and both writers Aykyroyd and Ramis as eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-busting business in New York City.
Also in the film are Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis as a client and her neighbour. Ernie Hudson also starts as the Ghostbusters’ first recruit.
Dan Aykroyd first imagined Ghostbusters as a project for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live personality John Belushi. The ‘ghostsmashers,’ as they were originally going to be called, we going to travel through time and space. Following Belushi’s death, the script was rewritten. This was also after Reitman though that Aykroyd’s original script was financially impossible.
The film was released in the United States on June 8th 1984. The reviews were greatly positive and the film grossed $242 million in the States and $295 million worldwide.
In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The film launched a media franchise that included a 1989 sequel, two animated TV series, several video games and a 2016 reboot which comprised of a mostly female cast.
So, buckle up an enjoy the following twenty things you may not have known about Ghostbusters.
1. It Wasn’t Originally Called Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters was originally called ‘Ghost Smashers’, because the film studio had yet to secure the name ‘The Ghost Busters’, which had previously been the title of a 1970s live action kid’s TV show. Columbia Pictures had to pay the production company Filmation a licence fee to use the name. We think ‘Ghost Smashers’ sounds pretty cool.
2. It Was Going To Be Set In The Future
Reitman and Aykroyd’s original story took place in the future where there were teams of Ghostbusters everywhere (like paramedics, the police and firefighters). It was decided that this would cost too much money, so a change was made to set it in the modern day. I guess they wouldn’t be special if there was lots of ghost busting teams around.
3. It Could Have Included Even More Big-Hit Names From The 80s
John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and John Candy were originally supposed to be in the film, but Belushi died before the film started shooting, and Murphy decided to star in Beverly Hills Cop instead. Murphy was going to play Winston Zeddmore whilst Candy was going to be Louis Tully.
4. Sigourney Weaver Got The Part By Behaving Like A Dog
When told during her audition that her character would be possessed, Sigourney Weaver began growling and barking like a dog, as well as getting down on all fours. Director Ivan Reitman was so impressed that he immediately cast her in the film.
5. Some Of The Film Was Shot Illegally
Some of the footage from the Ecto-1 montage sequence was filmed without permits, meaning that in one shot Dan Aykroyd is chased down the street by an actual security guard. In the industry, filming without location permission is called ‘guerrilla filming.’ It is usually only done for low budget productions with a small cast and crew.
6. The Ghostbusters Phone Number Was A Working Number
In the original trailer, the ‘555’ number seen in the film was replaced by a working 1-800 number, which when dialled, directed you to a recording of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The number received a thousand calls an hour, 24 hours a day, for six weeks. If this isn’t great promotion then we don’t know what is.
7. It Was Inspired By Real Events
Ghostbusters was inspired by Dan Aykroyd’s grandfather, as well as his own genuine interest in real-life paranormal events. Aykroyd, who co-wrote the film with Harold Ramis, even claims that his grandfather invented a device that would allow people to communicate with ghosts via radio waves. But did he go out and bust them with said device? We think not.
8. The Film’s Ending Was Added At The Last Minute
Aykroyd and Ramis came upon the idea of ‘crossing the streams’ during filming of the finale. This meant that an earlier ‘set-up’ scene had to be filmed and edited in, explaining the danger of combining the energy streams in that way. What a thing to leave down to the wire.
9. Slimer Had A Different Name On Set
On the set, Slimer was known on set as Onion Head because of the foul smell it emitted. It was audiences that came up with the name Slimer. In the sequel and subsequent cartoon series he is credited as Slimer. I personally think onions smell quite nice, but each to their own I suppose.
10. People Couldn’t Quite Grasp That The Film Was Fictional
For several years after the film was first screened, William Atherton, the actor behind Walter Peck (the the Ghostbusters’ nemesis,) was routinely abused in public, to the point that he was involved in a number of altercations in bars. He was even shouted at by a bus of tourists in downtown New York.
11. The Ghostbuster’s Firehouse Was Real
The exterior shots of the firehouse were shot outside a real New York fire station called Hook and Ladder no.8 in Tribeca. It was the subject of a recent successful campaign to save it from the municipal axe. A Ghostbusters sign proudly hangs inside. The interior shots were filmed in Los Angeles.
12. John Belushi Was Supposed To Be In The Film
The first treatment of Aykroyd’s idea was forty pages long. He wrote it with himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi in mind. Sadly, Belushi died while Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the screenplay. Aykroyd jokingly referred to Slimer as the ghost of John Belushi. Says Reitman: “He’s just a party guy looking to have a good time.”
13. It Did Well At The Box Office
In America, the film opened on June 8th 1984. It was the highest grossing film of that week. The film held onto the top spot for eight weeks in total, seven of them consecutively. It re-opened for two weeks in August 1985, breaking into the top ten both weeks. That’s pretty impressive.
14. The Theme Tune Cause A Bit Of A Dispute
The singer/songwriter of the film’s theme tune, Ray Parker Jr, was the subject of a lawsuit from Huey Lewis after its release. Huey Lewis said that the song plagiarised his hit single ‘I Want A New Drug.’ The matter was settled out of the courts. So who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
15. It’s Difficult To Shoot Something As Big As The Statue Of Liberty
To show just how big the Stay Puft Man was, he was originally meant to emerge from the River Hudson next to the Statue of Liberty so that you could compare them in size. However, this plan was abandoned after it proved too difficult to shoot. Oh well!
16. Being On Broadway Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Filming
Reitman has plenty of Broadway experience. He was involved in staging the musical Merlin with illusionist Doug Henning. This experience came in handy when it came to staging the shot of Dana levitating and rotating 360 degrees in the air. The director also provided Dana’s gravelly voice in this scene.
17. That Wasn’t Marshmallow…
Stay Puft Marshmallow man was, you guessed it, a very large creature supposedly made of marshmallow. He sounds absolutely delicious, but probably shouldn’t get too close to the fire. At the end of the film, when Stay Puft Man explodes, shaving foam was used instead of marshmallows. That must have been an incredibly disappointing day for the cast waiting for an explosion of soft sugary goodness.
18. Not Much Was Filmed in New York
Despite the film being set in the city, only three weeks of filming was actually done in the Big Apple. A lot of it was shot in the Warner Bros studios in California and some scenes were also filmed in Los Angeles. Thanks to movie trickery though, it doesn’t really matter where a film is shot nowadays.
19. They Knew It Was Going To Be A Success Early On
Ivan Reitman, who directed the film, knew it was going to be a success when audience members at a screening at Colombia Studios both laughed and screamed when the first ghost made its appearance onscreen. To be fair, the ghost are both funny and horrific in equal measures.
20. There Could Have Been Much More Romance In The Film
It seems like the film could have been a bit more romantic. The romance between Egon and kooky secretary Janine is hinted at in the finished film but never really took off the ground and went anywhere. This is because most of their scenes were cut.
So, how many of these things did you already know about one of the greatest films of the 80s? Maybe there are some that you know that aren’t on our list. Comment with your favourite memories of this truly terrific film.