Stuff I Watch in October: Ghostbusters II (1989)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Ghostbusters II (1989)

ghostbusters II

DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman

WHAT IS IT?: Five years after the events of the original “Ghostbusters”, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd re-teamed as writers and director Ivan Reitman returned to the director’s chair to give us “Ghostbusters II”, a sequel which, while fun, doesn’t quite capture the manic energy or civil camaraderie of the first film.

THE PLOT: The movie sees the Ghostbusters completely out of business after they were sued to hell and back by “every agency in New York” following the “Dimensional Cross-rip Event of 1984”. After Peter (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykroyd, and Egon (Harold Ramis) begin to investigate a supernatural case brought to them by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) which involves her son, the trio illegally cut into the streets where they discover a massive river of slime which reacts to angry human emotion. The cutting lands them in jail and in court where they end up saving the judge from being killed by the destructive ghosts of two convicts he put away for murder. This act prompts the judge to allow the Ghostbusters to resume business — and right on time because that river continues to grow.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: They hated it and I have no idea why. This what a fun movie and a nice follow-up to the 1984 original. The complaints ranged from “cheap copy” (Gene Siskel) to “unfunny” (Roger Ebert) to the complaint that Bill Murray’s character grew from immature to responsible…which just goes to show you that some writers have no idea what character growth is. In any case, the movie was panned.

ghostbusters II

WHAT DID I THINK?: “Ghostbusters II” isn’t a bad movie

The special effects are much improved after the first outing (Reitman was apparently unhappy with the work done by Richard Edlund and “Boss Film Studios) as Industrial Light + Magic stepped in to do the work this time around. It might be because effects work had made some progress in five years but the opticals look far sharper and more crisp this time around.

The characters all feel like family and the film feels like an old piece of comfortable clothing that you enjoy wearing.

The problem is that, at times, the movie feels like a cheap-hokey knock-off of the original. The epic scope of the first one is missing replaced by the tale of Vigo, a long-dead sorcerer who is trapped, for the most part, inside of a painting and needs the body of a young child to inhabit so that he can go on to rule the world.

It’s fine but it’s missing the flair and scope of the first bust — though how the guys get to Vigo after a heavy layer of slime blocks them from doing so is pretty imaginative, if not just a bit silly.

The score here is more like something you’d hear in a Hallmark Channel film with light late 80’s rom-com piano and synth moves rather than something that was bouncy-creepy like Elmer Bernstein’s score from the last picture.

One last plus is Peter MacNicol joining the cast as Janosz Poha, the museum head curator who lusts after Dana in a not-so-subtle manner and, eventually, uses his link with Vigo to try to capture her heart. His heavy Polish accent is hilarious and his performance is good comedy but, just like the film, it’s still something else that feels hokey and over-the-top.

“Ghostbusters II” is still a good time but you’ll be happy that the franchise took a long break — and should have taken even longer than that if the reboot was any indication.


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