Thursday, October 1, 2009

Horrorathon Day 1: GHOSTBUSTERS (Ivan Reitman, 1984)

My intent this month, and it's something I've been wanting to do for a few years now, is to watch one horror movie each day, for the entire month. Then, on the next to last day watch 2. On the 31st, do four. So that's 35 movies in 31 days, all of which I plan to do write ups for. I wouldn't want to spoil the line-up before-hand, but expect updates daily. Thus 1.

What better way to start a horror lineup than with a 35mm print of Ghostbusters? It belongs to that pantheon of untouchable eighties movies like Back to the Future, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Robocop. They're so permanently etched into the unconscious of the culture, that it's hard to fathom someone actually created them. It'd be easier to believe that, like the earth, they are just here and sprung from relative nothingness.

Of course this isn't the least bit true, but it's a testament to the film itself that it takes on such a demeanor. All of the films mentioned above have incredibly unique plots (at least in terms of specificity) as well as the cast and director to make them so immovable. In the case of Ghostbusters, it is a vast array of things; there's certainly the one liners and visual uniqueness (a 100 foot 'Stay Puft' marshmellow man immediately comes to mind), but it is in the humane and playful nature of the character's that it carries the most resonance. This is, arguable, Bill Murray's finest comedic performance. Yes, Caddyshack and Stripes deserve mention, but here his comedy is so pungent and, in some ways, the most effortless of his performances. Here is the rare film where the actor really does make the difference. The material is stripped of didacticism; like the most fondly remembered films of the 80's, it is the comrodery of a few friends, rather than the individual, that accomplishes societal restoration. Perhaps modern cinema would do well to take a few notes (if not all of them) from Ghostbusters, especially in such a politically divisive era. The fun comes from the brotherhood and the comraderie of the characters; their actions certainly play a role, but what makes this film and those of its ilk possess such a gravitational pull is their underlying goodness, their sense of humanity.

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