Ghostbusters is more than just a Comedy!

A look at the scarier aspects of an 1980's classic.

Ghostbusters is more than just a Comedy!
The librarian ghost...

When Ghostbusters was first released in 1984, it became an instant mega-hit. It has often been hailed as one of the best comedies of the 1980's (and in some circles of all time).

However, to simply refer to Ghostbusters as just a mere comedy does a great injustice to the film. Ghostbusters is far more rich and diverse. In its truest sense, the film is an amalgamation of several genres.

Ghostbusters opens with eerie and foreboding music - and then pans in on a librarian that experiences a genuinely creepy haunting. This scene establishes perfectly that in the mythos of the film, ghosts are indeed real and they are scary. A scene of a kitchen haunting that impacts the character Dana, complete with a monstrous hellhound screaming ''Zuul'' is similarly unnerving.

Ghostbusters really amps up the scare factor near the end of the film when several clawed-monster arms explode from a chair and hold Dana down, before being thrust off towards the hellhound. A rotting-brown skeleton creature in a taxi cab is another notable creepy scene.

A terrifying monster that only the Ghostbusters can handle.

The film does not simply rely on the ghoulish imagery of its monsters though. The atmosphere of the film is at times very dark, with several scenes done under the cloak of night. Dana's building, the epicenter of the supernatural is a ominous structure, complete with gothic statues.

The dialogue concerning the ghosts is also played seriously. A conversation between Ghostbusters Ray and Winston concerning ''the dead rising from the grave'' emphasises perfectly the dreadful situations they may be finding themselves in. Another line from a city hall official concerning ''bleeding walls'' further illustrates this point.

The film's ability to take the ghosts and ghouls seriously, and the reaction of terror from those who encounter these phenomenon, adds a real fright factor to Ghostbusters. It is one that is easily on par with the scarier moments of many of the horror-comedies that came out of the 1980's like Fright Night, The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, Critters, House, and Gremlins. Interestingly though, while these films often get the tag ''horror-comedy'' ... Ghostbusters always gets streamlined as ''just'' a comedy.

Many of the promotional posters that were released for the film contained the tagline ''They're Here to Save the World." This wonderfully captures the ''hero'' aspect of Ghostbusters. As the film had established that ghosts are indeed real, and they are indeed terrifying, the main characters are almost seen as superheros for their unique ability to stop these entities. Especially, since no one else can!

The four Ghostbusters face-off with Gozer.

Nowhere is this more evident than during the end of the movie, when the four Ghostbusters show up to Dana's building to face-off with Gozer. They are greeted by a crowd of enthusiastic supporters who are chanting ''Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters.'' They are lauded as they heroes they are. The infectious ''Saving The Day'' song that plays over this climactic scene just further adds to the immense feel. The actual catching and battling of the ghosts (and the destruction that ensues due to their nuclear-powered proton packs), adds a layer of action to the mix.

Of course, throughout the scares and specters, the heroic moments, and the underdog story (of how four seemingly average men eventually became not only successful businessmen but celebrated heroes), there is the comedy. This is nothing short of brilliant as it weaves so naturally through the other aspects of the film. Ghostbusters never draws unnecessary attention to the jokes or humor. It doesn't degrade itself with needless slapstick. Instead the humor simply flows through naturally. It is hilarious and it works amazingly.

Because the comedy works so well, this may be why Ghostbusters has been referred to as simply that. But the films other aspects are just as important. Ghostbusters is wonderfully imaginative, frightening, inspiring, and of course funny. To many fans it is far more than just a comedy. But whatever genre it is flunked in with, one thing is certain, Ghostbusters is an amazing film!

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Matthew Ellerbeck
Matthew Ellerbeck
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Matthew Ellerbeck

Happily married - Writer and reviewer of music and movies.

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