Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
"Who you gonna call?" If you had shouted that anywhere in the country during the summer of 1984, a multitude of voices would've screamed "Ghostbusters!" back at you.
The paranormal comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and directed by Ivan Reitman was an immediate smash with its mix of broad humor and special effects hitting a home run with kids and their parents. You probably remember the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man that nearly destroys New York, but here are some fun facts that you might not know.
When Aykroyd was originally writing his script for the movie he intended for John Belushi and Eddie Murphy to play Peter Venkman and Winston, the roles that eventually went to Murray and Ernie Hudson. Belushi died while he was still working on the script and the shooting schedule for Beverly Hills Cop forced Murphy to drop out.
John Candy was cast initially in the role of Louis, who becomes possessed by the Keymaster. Candy quit after Reitman wouldn't let him do the character his way, which included speaking with a German accent. He was replaced by Rick Moranis, who was Candy's longtime costar on SCTV.
It's all in the marketing. The initial advertising for the movie was simply posters with the "No Ghost" logo, followed by the Ghostbusters' car (Ecto-1) being driven around New York City without explanation.
After the movie opened, Reitman created a trailer out of the commercial in the film which gave a working 800 number. The number led to a message of Murray and Aykroyd saying that they were out catching ghosts. It reportedly received an average of 1,000 calls an hour every hour for six weeks.
Stay-Puft Marshmallows is not a real product, but in the movie there's a pack of them in Sigourney Weaver's apartment as well as a billboard on the side of a building advertising them.
Rietman was originally planning on doing a film version of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. When the director and his producing partners contacted Aykroyd about being part of the project he instead pitched them his ghost movie.
The famous theme song by Ray Parker Jr. was number one on the Billboard charts for three weeks. Parker has said in interviews that he was inspired to write the song as a jingle in line with the commercial in the film after he saw a TV spot for a local plumber while trying to overcome a bout of writer's block. Huey Lewis apparently disagreed with that version of events since he sued Parker claiming that the melody plagiarized his song "I Want a New Drug." The dispute was resolved by an out-of-court settlement.
On the DVD commentary, Rietman confirms that Aykroyd's original script was set in the future where there were teams of Ghostbusters all over the world, with sci-fi touches like the Ecto-1 flying, and would've been too expensive to shoot. Ramis, who co-wrote Animal House and Caddyshack, was brought in to tone down Aykroyd's vision.
Ramis originally wasn't going to act in the movie, even though he had previously starred with Murray in Reitman's Stripes. He joined the cast after he formed a close association with the character while writing the script.
Ramis' character Dr. Egon Spengler was named after German philosopher Oswald Spengler who wrote The Decline of the West, which argued that all civilizations eventually break down.
Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) was originally offered the role of Gozer the Destructor. After he declined, the role was reworked and went to Yugoslavian model Slavitza Jovan.
Michael Keaton was in discussions for both the Venkman and Louis roles but turned them both down. Chevy Chase was also considered for Venkman, while Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken were among those talked about as possible Egons. Comedian Sandra Bernhard was offered the role of the Ghostbusters secretary that eventually went to Annie Potts, while Michael McKean was one of the other actors considered to replace Candy in the Louis role.
A real jail was used for the scene where the Ghostbusters are locked up, and Aykroyd believed the location to actually be haunted.
The exterior for the Ghostbusters headquarters is the real Hook and Ladder No. 8 Firehouse in the famous Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. The location was almost closed as part of the city's budget cuts in 2011, but was one of 19 firehouses saved in a restructured plan by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The movie was the first to have veteran broadcaster Larry King appear as himself, while porn actor Ron Jeremy and pop songstress Debbie Gibson were both extras during the filming.
The scene where Weaver levitates was done in the same manner as a magician uses in a stage show. Reitman had worked with illusionist Doug Henning on the Broadway show Merlin and was familiar with how the trick was done.
Actor William Atherton, who plays the Ghostbusters' nemesis Walter Peck, has long claimed in interviews that for years after the movie was released he would have people yelling at him on the street for his treatment of Murray and company. He said that it even led to physical altercations in bars. Atherton went on to play sleazy reporter Richard Thornburg in Die Hard and Die Hard 2.
The ghost that wreaks havoc on the Sedgewick Hotel didn't have a name in the script. The model that was used on set was nicknamed "Onion Head" because of its smell and Aykroyd joked that it was the ghost of Belushi. Fans of the movie started calling it Slimer and the name stuck, eventually being used in the animated series that the movie spawned.
Unbeknownst to the producers, Filmation had made a short-lived animated series in 1975 called The Ghost Busters. Heading off a potential lawsuit, Columbia paid Filmation a fee for using the name.
Murray agreed to do the movie only if Columbia Pictures would provide the funding for a film version of the W. Somerset Maugham novel The Razor's Edge that he would star in. Murray's pet project was released later in 1984 and made $6.6-million at the box office. Ghostbusters grossed more than $238-million in the United States alone.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.