Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis has died at the age of 69. The actor and filmmaker passed away early on Monday (24Feb14) following a battle with rare blood disease autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Ramis started out as a playwright in college, honing his skills by penning parodies and editing Playboy magazine's jokes section in the late 1960s. He joined the Second City improvisational comedy group, where he met John Belushi and Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray.
The trio went on to work together on the New York-based radio show The National Lampoon Radio Hour in the early 1970s and Ramis' work on the programme helped him land a job as a co-writer of the 1978 comedy film, National Lampoon's Animal House, which starred Belushi.
He and Murray became frequent collaborators, and Ramis served as writer/director on their hit movies Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. He also wrote and directed Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal's 1999 comedy Analyze This.
As an actor, Ramis was perhaps best known for his role as bespectacled ghost hunter Dr. Egon Spengler in 1984's Ghostbusters and its sequel, while he also played Russell Ziskey in another Murray collaboration, 1981's Stripes.
His other acting credits included As Good as It Gets, High Fidelity and Knocked Up, in which he was cast as Seth Rogen's dad.
Ramis also directed The Ice Harvest, Bedazzled and prehistoric comedy Year One, which was to be his final movie in 2009.
His final years were marred by private health battles - he suffered an infection in May, 2010, which caused complications related to his ongoing autoimmune disease and robbed him of his ability to walk. He recovered only to be struck down by the condition again in late 2011.
It is not clear how Ramis' death will affect the planned second Ghostbusters sequel, which has been in development for some time.
The supernatural thriller The Rite is a different kind of literary adaptation a film not “based on” or even “inspired by” a written work but rather “suggested by” one. The degree to which this fictional film adheres factually to its source material Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of an American Exorcist is anybody’s guess. Fans of The Exorcist might argue that it’s more strongly “suggested by” William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic than anything else.
Erstwhile unknown Colin O’Donoghue in his first feature role plays Michael a seminary student sent to Rome to learn the intricacies of demonic possession. A pronounced skeptic who isn’t even sure he believes in god much less the Catholic doctrine of exorcism Michael is inclined toward the more humanistic view of the “possessed” as simply disturbed or schizophrenic individuals. What they really need he insists is not a priest but a good psychiatrist. (That belief certainly won't endear him to the Church of Scientology.)
To rid him of such malignant pragmatism Michael’s headmaster (Ciaran Hinds) ships him off to serve an apprenticeship under Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) a Welsh Jesuit (shorthand for “eccentric”) and practicing exorcist. Having been around the theological block a few times Lucas reacts to Michael’s unbelief with wry nonchalance (a Hopkins specialty and the film’s most appealing trait); he knows that Satan’s arguments will prove far more convincing than any he might offer.
And Satan gets to work forthwith first using a pregnant Italian girl as his vessel then incorporating other representatives of the animal kingdom tormenting Michael with horned frogs and red-eyed demon mules. At first exhibiting admirable restraint director Mikael Hafstrom eventually employs just about every weapon in his terror arsenal bombarding Michael with harrowing visions and flashbacks (he grew up in a funeral home with an undertaker father played by Rutger Hauer who had a habit of bringing his work home with him) which offer ample opportunities for cheap scares. His trump card of course is Hopkins whose character eventually becomes possessed himself thus allowing The Rite to fulfill the Lucas/Lucifer conceit we all knew was coming.
The Rite varies wildly in tone with Hafstrom seemingly unable to decide if his film is to be a moody serious-minded psychological thriller or some campy outlandish horror-comedy. By the time Father Lucas becomes possessed and the reenactment of the first great celestial battle begins the film gives itself wholly over to the latter. As channeled by Hopkins the devil comes off as a less eloquent more vulgar version of Hannibal Lecter taunting Michael with naughty words and voraciously devouring scenery. The Dark Lord as a dirty old man is something of a novel concept I suppose. Scary? Maybe a little. Creepy? Oh hell yes.