Movie (Conspiracy) Theory!
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call- a sequel?!
Welcome to Movie (Conspiracy) Theory! This is exactly what you might be thinking it is- a far out, far-fetched theory based upon minute evidence- left either purposefully or coincidentally by those who make the movies. The name is Will, and I'm more than happy to lead you through the web of intrigue left behind....
Today's subject: Ghostbusters: Answer The Call. One of the most controversial movies of Ever, this supposed reboot brings us an all-new generation of Ghostbusters, ghosts, and other baddies to contend with. Brought to you by the same director that gave us Spy, Ghostbusters was a gender-swapped, special effects extravaganza! It featured plenty of jokes and cameos from the cast of the original Ghostbusters! However, this movie was very clearly divisive from the get-go. Many simply chose to believe that no matter what, Ghostbusters would be a substandard movie, a reboot that nobody wanted or even asked for. However, after giving this movie a few watches and analyzing the movie as presented, I hit upon a rather counter-intuitive theory. It is this:
Ghostbusters is intended to be a sequel.
The evidence is all there, lurking subtly underneath the bombastic plot and likable characters. All it requires is connecting the dots.
“What dots?” you ask. (You did, I heard you!) I'm glad you asked. We'll take a look at the evidence, and through it, discern what exactly is going on beneath the surface of the story.
Let's get started. Needless to say, there's gonna be some spoilers. Go watch the movie- or better, watch them all!- and then come back. I can wait; it's okay.
We'll begin with Erin Gilbert (played to the hilt by Kristen Wiig). When we meet her, she's trying to earn her tenure at Columbia University. It's here that we see a bust Egon looking into her office. We also discover that Erin had her own encounter with a ghost when she was very young and that it required years of therapy to get over. She goes from that to seeking tenure at a university that the original Ghostbusters themselves once attended (while not named in the original movie, Columbia's Havemeyer Hall was used to film the scenes at the fictitious Weaver Hall.) However, it's interesting to note that the original Ghostbusters were thrown out of Columbia in the original classic. A conundrum indeed.
The crux of Erin's problem at the beginning of Ghostbusters is that she's trying to get tenure at Columbia. She's approached by Ed Mulgrave, who needs help with his haunted mansion. She's afraid that the dean will find out about this, and tracks down her former partner, Abby Yates (played by one of my own favorite actresses, Melissa McCarthy).
Abby herself is continuing her research at a tech college, and has enlisted the aid of Jillian Holtzmann (played by Hilary Clinton- err, Kate McKinnon), who at best could be considered eccentric. The scene that they appear in contains some equipment that might be somewhat familiar to those who have seen the other Ghostbusters movies- yes, I'm talking about the cap Abby wears!
Rounding out the new team of Ghostbusters is Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones, yay!), a woman that works at the MTA who encounters the villainous Rowan and sees an electric ghost. She tracks down the Ghostbusters and joins them. Her connections to her uncle get them a hearse and some work outfits so that they don't get their own clothes soiled with ectoplasmic goop. With the knowledgeable and down-to-Earth Patty in place, we have our Ghostbusters!
This is where the fun really begins.
So after all this, we're treated to a newscast with the famed supernatural debunker, Martin Heiss- the loudest cameo in the whole movie. Naturally, because it's Bill Murray. We know him better as Peter Venkman from the the first and second Ghostbusters (and the third, if we're counting the Ghostbusters videogame released on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PC, Sony's PSP, and the Nintendo Wii.). Anyone can tell that Peter Venkman and Martin Heiss are two completely different individuals- unless they're not.
So, after the concert in which the Ghostbusters very publicly save the day. This prompts intervention by Homeland Security, and a visit to the Mayor of New York, Mayor Bradley. This is where we get our strongest, non-obscure piece of evidence that what we're looking at is indeed a sequel and not a reboot. One of the agents says, “The cat has been out of the bag before. Then people lose interest and put the cat back in.” The implication is very clear here- this sort of thing has happened before! Skeptics could easily dismiss this, however- New York is pretty used to strangeness and handles it with aplomb- whether that strangeness comes in the form of subway commuters, colorful people, or long-standing hauntings. However, a haunting of such magnitude? We've only seen this a few times before, haven't we?
Let's not forget about Vanessa, the receptionist. Annie Potts provides us this cameo, the same woman who plays Janine Melnitz. Unconnected? Perhaps- or perhaps not. She is really “good” at her job, however.
So, we'll dance through this towards the end, here. Specifically, the scene in which Erin tries to hail a cab. Dan Aykroyd cameos here as a tough-as-nails cabbie who “ain't afraid of no ghosts” and even knows the kind of ghost that are floating around are just “Class 5 floating vapors, nothing to worry about”. Not the loudest cameo for sure, but certainly the most accurate.
Also, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man gets his own cameo. Fun, but not unexpected.
After that, we've got Patty's Uncle Bill Jenkins (Ernie Hudson!). He owns the funeral home Patty got all her stuff from. Of course he wants to know where his car is. Very down-to-earth, like Patty. Like Winston...
Lastly, there's Holtzmann's mentor, Rebecca Gorin. She looks awfully familiar- but is also our strangest, weakest piece of continuity evidence of the whole bunch. Dana Barrett had an incredible amount of talent all on her own- and if you apply yourself to anything for thirty years, you're likely to become really good at it.
So we've got all of these seemingly disparate cameos, the product of simple actor placement, excited for one more go-round, a sendoff of the old generation to usher in the old generation. Or...is it that simple? So cut-and-dry?
How Does This All Come Together?
So how do we put all these disparate pieces of evidence together? Does it make any sense? To that I say, “Well yes, of course it does, if you're looking.” The evidence points to something sinister, and that the movies connect in some interesting ways.
As stated before, Erin Gilbert has an encounter with a ghost, and years later attempts to get tenure at Colombia. She and Abby Yates wrote a book together, “Ghosts From Our Past”. She wrote this book almost certainly because of that encounter. If Erin's family was living in New York at the time, it would also explain the entire sighting- not that you'd need Ghostbusters, of course. People have been seeing ghosts for as long as there have been dead people!
Also, we can discern from the agent from Homeland Security that this sort of thing has happened before, twice (or again, three times if we want to count the videogame as number three).
We know that Rowan is reading Ghosts From Our Past, and is using the knowledge in the book to build his machinery. He's a self-proclaimed genius, after all, and is able to fully understand and apply the science and conjecture in the book to bring about some sort of ghostly apocalypse. So how did Erin and Abby get their pseudo-science information? Could it be that perhaps Egon Spengler himself was interviewed in the book? Even a chance encounter of this magnitude would explain why his bust almost looks into Erin's office. This would also make sense if that had been Egon's office at some point as well. Of course, we can't downplay Erin and Abby's own vast intellect. They put in the work, and in the end, got results!
Unfortunately, by the time this movie came out, Harold Ramis had already passed, and the bust was a nice and fitting tribute. However, we may also surmise that Egon is also dead- but how and why?
And the others....?
Let's talk about Martin Heiss, the professional debunker of the supernatural. He certainly goes all out, especially with his wardrobe- that is a pretty authoritative hat! When we first see Heiss, he's on a newscast, debunking what the newly minted Ghostbusters have done at the concert. It's also worth noting that before this newscast, nobody had ever called the Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination the “Ghostbusters.” Could it be that perhaps the “famed debunker” gave the newsman the idea to call them that- even offhandedly? Also the way he shows up at their headquarters/Chinese restaurant is also highly suspect, as was his need to catch a ghost on his camcorder. Similarly, we know that Peter Venkman is an impressive showman. Dana Barrett even mentions that he's “more like a game show host”. Have a quick look at what Heiss is wearing. A big floppy hat and an awful suit would go pretty far to distance himself from Venkman. But...why? Don't worry, we'll get to that.
Also, the Cabbie that looks like Ray Stantz. He knows the Ghostbusters' classification of ghosts and their behavior. Having been given no other identity, it must be Ray...but why is he driving a cab?
Patty's Uncle Bill owns a funeral home. Other than that, we don't know anything else about him. Yet he, too, looks incredibly familiar... so why the name change? Why change anyone's name?
There might be a good reason for that. Strap yourselves in, this is going to get a little...strange.
We can infer from his bust and absence that Egon Spengler is dead. His death is probably one of the reasons that there are no Ghostbusters anymore. There must have been an event so cataclysmic, that even the Mayor's office had to publicly deny and distance themselves from the Ghostbusters- while still privately funding them. A part of the deal was that they had to disappear, and so they did. They disappeared- and kept watch, choosing professions that would allow them enough contact with the city. Venkman decided to go big, re-stylizing himself as a “famed” debunker of the supernatural. For a showman like him, it was as easy and putting on a different coat. Winston faded into the background, using his take to fund a funeral home- what better way to keep track of the dead? Ray chose to drive a cab to maintain contact with the streets of New York, to stay close to the people they all chose to protect.
Together, in their own way, the Ghostbusters kept watch over New York. They watched and waited for a time that they were needed, and Rowan's incident may have kickstarted a fire that would continue to burn. They've seen that these new Ghostbusters have been tested and are ready for whatever comes next.
Which, if the after credit scene is to believed, has something to do with a familiar Gozerian....
Thanks for reading. I hope you had as much fun reading as I have writing this! I look forward to your comments, criticisms, and critiques!
Let the theorizing begin!