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Stay-Puft, Sigourney, and the "Ghostbusters"

This is Nathaniel's entry into this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot topic, Ghostbusters (1984). Tonight, we'll see what others chose!

This may shock readers of a certain (young) age but would be blockbusters used to open directly against each other rather than giving each other wide berths to accumulate loot. No really, they did! Ghostbusters and Gremlins, courting the same demographic, opened simultaneously on my birthday weekend in 1984. I chose Gremlins (which little me loved) and caught Ghostbusters a few days later with school friends. Ghostbusters emerged as the clear champ with the public but little me thought Gremlins ran circles around the supernatural comedy: scarier, funnier, cuter monsters, better-paced... only faililng in its lack of SigWeavieness. They were both big hits, of course, but Ghostbusters was HUGE -- Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walking amongst skyscrapers huge. And it stayed ahead in pop culture, too, netting Oscar nominations (Original Song & Visual FX) and endless sequel or revival talk thereafter.

Cut to 2016: With the gender reversed reboot on the way, it was a topical choice for Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Plus I figured I'd finally see what charms eluded me way back then...


But I looked and looked and it remained as invisible as a ghost, the non-CGI kind. This puts me in the .001 percentile that does not love Ghostbusters but it's true. Despite a game Bill Murray (Golden Globe nominated) and an original premise, I just don't find it funny. As a Best Shot subject it's also rather pedestrian (my apologies!). Though the DP László Kovács did fine work on 70s classics like Shampoo, New York New York, and Paper Moon there's not much here to feel visually drawn to. Was it the then newish and probably cumbersome visual effects (Oscar nominated but horrifically dated!) crowding out more traditional dramatic lighting on the planning meter? 

Ghostbusters does have laughs but they're of the dry chuckling kind (courtesy of Murray). What it needs desperately and doesn't have much of is visual jokes. Exceptions are few and far between but it saves its A+ gag for last when "The Destroyer" takes the form of the Stay-Puft Marshallow Man. The punchline takes its time arriving and that first wide shot is a darkly underlit pink and blue beauty. And when we cut to this close-up...


Peels of laughter. Perfection He's so innocently happy about Destroying the World. 

I had really hoped not to be predictable and choose a shot of the great Sigourney Weaver but I am who I am and other than Stay-Puft she's the movie's most memorable visual; she's so at ease with her Amazonian stature that she sells Desirable Woman, Sophisticated New Yorker, and Possessed She Devil with equal aplomb. She's so good in the picture that you don't even get caught up with the very distracting question of how a classical musician can afford a Central Park Penthouse apartment with a giant terraced view of Manhattan. And the images of Sigourney keep getting richer and sexier as the insanity mounts, culminating in this funny crude and carnal pose in wide shot with the priciest of backdrops. 

gold - my pick for best shot

Are you the keymaster?

If you are she'll let you in. But the Gate she's keeping sure looks dangerous. We're approaching vagina detenta territory.

Her apartment is now ash and cinders and missing its best feature, the terrace. It's more cave/cliff hellish precipice than a glamorous one bedroom but given the location and the view it's still way beyond a regular human's price point in the NYC market. How much do demigods pull down before taxes?

Come back tonight for a full range of choices from other blogs joining our merry Best Shot club. Hopefully we'll have several entries. Next Tuesday we're hitting the ravishing Atonement (2007) which is available on Netflix Instant Watch.

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Reader Comments (12)

Zack Galligan--what a fox.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Spoiler alert, my shot is your best shot. Though let's see I might change my mind now. ;)

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I agree that the movie really isn't all that visually fun. I remembered thinking I would include the librarian ghost's terrifying death face...and then I found even that kind of ugly?

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR

So I know Chris Hemsworth is supposed to be Annie Potts in the new one, but whose the Sigourney Weaver, not to mention Rick Moranis?

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike Troutman

Nat: Personally, that committed dry-ness is probably why it's endured and Gremlins is more often viewed as dated. My best shot, though, would probably be the shot of Dan Aykroyd's face during the ghost blowjob. Yes, I know how juvenile a choice that is.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I see we've both been seduced by Sigourney. She's irresistible and, to me, the film's best visual effect, even if, unlike you, I do love the Oscar nominated effects work. Here's my best shot entry:

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterca

Ryan T - same here! GHOSTBUSTERS is oddly one of my favorite New York movies, and that shot captures both the foreboding story moment and the gorgeousness of the city.

March 8, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

I almost wrote my entire post about how fantastic Ghostbusters makes NYC in the 80s seem. COULD a symphony string player afford a penthouse apartment on Central Park West then? WHO KNOWS?!? I actually almost chose your Best Shot as mine.

It's a great piece of pop art (the magazine/newspaper covers are all hilariously on point) even if it's not really a great movie. It is fun, though, but for a big crowd-pleasing hit the tone is REALLY dry. The overtly funny stuff (Slimer) feels thrown in specifically for kids.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Well here is my best shot pick.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Hey Nathaniel, here is my best shot entry:

I really enjoyed doing this, I don't know why I didn't do it sooner!. Thanks.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR

dennny -- absolutely agree about the magazine covers. I had completely forgotten about that but they really are on point as to what those magazines looked like.

lady edith - welcome aboard

March 9, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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