Should I Watch..? 'Ghostbusters' (1984)

Updated on May 15, 2020
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online for over fifteen years.

Film's poster
Film's poster | Source

What's the Big Deal?

Ghostbusters is a horror comedy film released in 1984 and was both written and starred Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film depicts a group of oddball parapsychologists who team up to form a ghost-hunting business in New York and quickly find themselves overcome by an explosion of all things supernatural. The film also stars Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis and Ernie Hudson and it was directed by Ivan Reitman. Originally conceived as a project between Aykroyd and John Belushi, there was speculation that the film's expected budget and unusual premise might prevent the film from becoming a hit. But it did, released to critical acclaim and it went on to become the most successful comedy of the Eighties with total global earnings in excess of $295 million. Nominated for two Academy awards, the film was selected for preservation at the US National Film Registry in 2015 and would go on to inspire two animated TV series, a sequel - Ghostbusters II - in 1989, an all-female reboot in 2016 and a forthcoming revival in 2020.


4 stars for Ghostbusters (1984)

What's It About?

Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler are three scientists working at Columbia University who specialise in investigating the paranormal. After encountering a ghost at the New York Public Library, the resulting chaos encourages the dean to fire the three of them and dismiss their work. Unable to get 'normal' jobs, the three of them decide to create a business called "Ghostbusters" that will hunt and catch ghosts on behalf of paying clients. After their TV ad airs, sceptic Dana Barrett is compelled to call them after an apparition appears in her refrigerator and utters a single word: "Zuul".

While Venkman becomes romatically involved with Dana, Spengler and Stantz continue to research her claims as well as battling an increasing number of ghosts with their specially-designed proton pack weapons. Hiring a fourth member to cope with demand, Winston Zeddemore, the team not only realise that something truly dangerous is descending on New York but that they are also being investigated by EPA inspector Walter Peck who is determined to shut the Ghostbusters down for good.

Trailer for 30th Anniversary Re-Release

Main Cast

Bill Murray
Dr Peter Venkman
Dan Aykroyd
Dr Raymond Stantz
Sigourney Weaver
Dana Barrett
Harold Ramis
Dr Egon Spengler
Rick Moranis
Louis Tully
Annie Potts
Janine Melnitz
William Atherton
Walter Peck
Ernie Hudson
Winston Zeddemore

Technical Info

Ivan Reitman
Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Running Time
105 minutes
Release Date (UK)
7th December, 1984
12 (2012 re-rating)
Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Academy Award Nominations
Best Visual Effects, Best Original Song
Many of the film's special effects still stand up well today which helps keep the picture genuinely scary.
Many of the film's special effects still stand up well today which helps keep the picture genuinely scary. | Source

What's to Like?

Crossovers can be a difficult thing to successfully achieve but Ghostbusters is unquestionably one of the best examples. As well as being funny, it can be genuinely scary at times thanks to some impressive effects that have aged only slightly. The film packs plenty in, from tense encounters with spectral forms to the iconic climax featuring a giant marshmallow man rampaging through New York. Even minor characters such as the Slimer ghost have endured, possibly due to over-exposure in the subsequent cartoons. Given the age of the film, most of the effects are still first class and help keep the film watchable after all this time.

Murray, in the role of a lifetime as the most New York hero imaginable, delivers one of his best comic performances as Venkman but all the cast have their moments including Moranis as Dana's nerdy neighbour Louis. It's a remarkable blend of comedy and horror (albeit, mild horror) with the cast either making you laugh or chilling your blood. Reitman's direction never lets up and the film moves at a decent pace that rarely ends in boredom. Between Murray's weary put-downs, Aykroyd's delightfully nerdy scientist bickering with Atherton (who played a similar role in Die Hard as the journalist Richard Thornburg) and the effects that never let the film down, its blend of comedy and horror is as effective as it is in Shaun Of The Dead.

Fun Facts

  • Almost every scene in the movie contains lines that were improvised or ad-libbed. Nearly all of Murray's lines were improvised on set while the scene where Louis is greeting guests at a party was not completely improvised by Moranis but shot in just one continuous take.
  • The people shouting "Ghostbusters" in Ray Parker Jr's eponymous theme tune had to be found quickly in order to meet an approaching deadline. Parker just asked his then-girlfriend and her friends to appear on the song so it's them that feature on the finished record.
  • Atherton became so hated after this film came out that he was frequently targeted by drunken fans wanting to physically assault him. Atherton also recalls seeing children in school buses pointing at him and screaming as loud as they could "Hey, Dickless!"
  • The film features two brief appearances from people who worked in the adult industry: legendary porn star Ron Jeremy appears as an extra while Playboy Playmate Kymberly Herrin appeared as a dream ghost.

What's Not to Like?

As great as the effects are, there are times when Ghostbusters does show its age. The obvious green-screen during the battle with Stay-Puft Man, for example, gives the game away while the faintly ridiculous look of villainous Gozer made the character look like a camp Eurovision backing dancer representing Iceland - compared to the menacing-looking portrait of Vigo The Carpathian in the sequel, she looks a bit silly. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the film is as frightening as it is, given its obvious appeal to a younger audience. But the film does have some genuinely unsettling moments that will rattle the cages of children under the age of, say, eight. Nothing along the lines of something like Hellraiser but creepy, ghost-train kinda stuff.

The appeal might have waned in the face of the disappointing sequel and the ubiquitous cartoon series in the early Nineties but the original film is still well worth a watch. In a way, the film is a little like Back To The Future in that the original's quality is sometimes forgotten or overlooked because of sequels. In light of the failure of the female-helmed reboot, a film like this could really shine with a talented director, cast and improved special effects. As it is, its technical limitations and solid Eighties feel are part of its charm but it does mean we have to settle for a version of the film that isn't as crisp and clear as it could be.

The film established the franchise overnight with its combination of comedy, horror, effects and possibly one of the coolest movie vehicles in history.
The film established the franchise overnight with its combination of comedy, horror, effects and possibly one of the coolest movie vehicles in history. | Source

Should I watch it?

Ghostbusters is one of the seminal films of the Eighties and deservedly so. A rich blend of comedy and scares combine to make this one of the most inventive and unusual comedies of the decade, matched only by the macabre madness of Gremlins. With it's likeable characters, chilling effects and impossible-to-resist theme tune, this movie still has the power to make you scream - either with laughter or in fright.

Great For: anyone older than 10, nerdy scientists, nostalgia nights, fancy dress costumes, merchandise

Not So Great For: very young children, sufferers of night terrors, pen-pushing EPA officials

What Else Should I Watch?

Sadly, the eagerly anticipated Ghostbusters II failed to catch much of a break from the critics who simply felt that it was too similar to the original to stand out. Peter MacNicol is added to the cast as a possessed museum curator but otherwise, it was business as usual and the film struggled to escape the stigma of being made for money and not creative reasons. Worse was to come, though - 2016's Ghostbusters might not have flopped with the critics but audiences weren't impressed which led to the film losing around $125 million for Columbia Pictures, one of the biggest box office bombs in recent years.

As the Eighties appears to have now passed into "We can reboot that franchise now, right?" territory, audiences should be expected a flood of films playing off of that hallowed sense of nostalgia. We've already seen the tip of the iceberg with Steven Spielberg's nostalgia-drenched Ready Player One as well as modern remakes of films like Child's Play, Conan The Barbarian, Friday The 13th, RoboCop and A Nightmare On Elm Street. I would expect a lot more over the next few years.

© 2019 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Benjamin Cox profile imageAUTHOR

      Benjamin Cox 

      10 months ago from Norfolk, UK


    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      11 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Oh I love this film. I'm going to watch it now lol.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)