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30 things you (probably) didn't know about Ghostbusters


Do you believe in things that go bump in the night? Are you convinced you spy an apparition of Great Auntie Beryl whenever you use Uncle Brian’s outside loo?

If so, you’re in good company – not that we’ve ever spied on your elderly family members, mind, that’s strictly between you and her. Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore are just a few of the folk who don’t think you’re crackers.

Ah, Ghostbusters: arguably the greatest film of the 80s, comedy or otherwise, and a cinematic staple that speaks to the wide-eyed innocent in us all.

But how much do you really know about this masterpiece? Did you know any of the following Ghostbusting facts? Read on, read on…


Dan Aykroyd was the initial driving force behind the film. His family, especially his grandfather, whom Aykroyd says once attempted to construct a radio that reached the spirit world, were fascinated by ghosts.

Aykroyd’s first treatment was 40 pages long and was written with himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi in mind. Belushi died while Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the screenplay.

Originally, the story was set in the future and focussed on a worldwide coterie of Ghostbusters. It was director Ivan Reitman decision to concentrate on one group of Ghostbusters working out of a fire station in New York.

Eddie Murphy and John Candy were originally scheduled to appear. Murphy was to have played Winston Zeddemore and Candy was down to star as hapless Louis Tully. Due to a clash with filming Beverley Hills Cop, Murphy had to back out, while Candy eventually declined the role.

After Belushi’s death, and before Bill Murray was confirmed to appear, both Michael Keaton and Chevy Chase were linked with the part of Peter Venkman.

During her audition Sigourney Weaver began to imitate a dog. Such was her enthusiastic portrayal; Reitman knew she was perfect for the role of Dana Barrett immediately.

According to Reitman, Aykroyd and Ramis had distinct roles for the three leads, Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler. Venkman (Murray) was to be the mouth of the group; Stantz (Aykroyd) the heart and Spengler (Ramis) the brains.

The original title was Ghost Smashers.

Columbia Pictures paid production company Filmation a licence fee to use the name Ghostbusters after it emerged Formation had made a short-lived show in 1975 called The Ghost Busters.

Christopher Walken, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Dr. Egon Spengler. Having got so close to the character during writing, Ramis felt compelled to play the part, thus resurrecting his dormant acting career.

Danny DeVito, Chevy Chase, Terri Garr, Irene Cara, John Candy, Carly Simon, George Wendt, Jeffrey Tambor, Peter Falk and Al Franken all appear in the video to Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic title track.

Heavyweight broadcaster Larry King, 80s pop queen Debbie Gibson and rotund porn star Ron Jeremy all appear at some point in the film.

Slimer was known on set as Onion Head due to the foul stench it emitted. It was audiences that came up with the name Slimer. In the sequel and subsequent cartoon series he is credited as Slimer.

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.”

Despite being perceived as a New York movie, only three weeks of filming took place in The Big Apple.

Shaving foam was used instead of marshmallow for the memorable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man explosion at the film’s end.

When it came to shooting the final scene, the ending still hadn’t been clearly sketched out. It was only when discussing what to do that the idea of ‘crossing the streams’, which was in an earlier draft of the film, was hit upon.

For years after the film first screened, William Atherton, the actor who plays Walter Peck, 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.

The exterior shots of the Ghostbusters firehouse were shot outside real life New York fire station Hook and Ladder #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.

The film opened in America on 8 June 1984, and was the highest grossing film that week. It held 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.

One of Bill Murray’s favourite scenes is the experiment with the cards and administering electric shocks. Based upon a real case study, the Milgram Experiment, the purpose of this scene was to see how the audience would react to a hero who handed out unfair electric shocks.

Ivan Reitman knew the film would be a success when audience members at a screening at Colombia Studios both laughed and screamed when the first ghost made its appearance onscreen.

Incredibly, only one car was used for Ecto 1. It eventually gave up the, ahem, ghost midway through filming of Ghostbusters 2.

The romance between Egon and kooky secretary Janine, which is hinted at in the finished film, never got off the ground as most of these scenes were cut.

Ray Parker Jr. was the subject of a lawsuit from Huey Lewis after the release of the theme tune. Lewis claimed the song plagiarised his hit I Want A New Drug. The matter was settled out of court.

Sandra Bernhard (Janine), Michael McKean (Louis) and Paul Reubens (Tozer) were all considered for parts, but declined for one reason or another.

To give an indication of how big he was, the Stay Puft Man was meant to originally emerge from the River Hudson next to the Statue of Liberty. The plan was abandoned after it proved too difficult to shoot.

Reitman’s Broadway experience – he was involved in staging the musical Merlin with illusionist Doug Henning – came in handy when it came to staging the shot of Dana levitating and rotating 360 degrees. The director also provided Dana’s gravelly voice in this scene.

The scene in which the Ghostbusters are jailed was filmed at an actual jail – Aykroyd claimed the building was haunted.

Methyl Silos, Chinese food starch, was used as slime in the drawers in the opening library scene.

(Images: All Star)



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