I'm gonna go for broke. I am madly in love with you
There are many films that you see that shape your life when you are growing up or even older. This particular film has given me a life-long love of many other films, actors and an American institution. That film was Ghostbusters. It was released in the UK on the 7th December 1984; I’m not sure when we went to see it, but it was pretty soon after it was released. There was another film which was released on the same day – Gremlins – which has given me equal pleasure over the years. Unfortunately, Gremlins was certificate 15 when it came out so we couldn’t go to the cinema to see it.
My Dad took my brother Gary and I to the Byron Cinema in Hucknall, Nottingham to watch Ghostbusters. As I mentioned, I can’t remember which date but it was definitely a matinee showing on a Sunday, most probably after Christmas. We queued up outside to get tickets, yes this was the days where you queued up outside a cinema! The Byron Cinema closed down for a number of years but is now restored to its former glory and back open again, you can visit it at www.hucknall.arccinema.co.uk
We went round to my grandparents’ house after watching it as my mum and little brother were there. I can remember Gary and me recreating the scene with Slimer with our imaginary proton sticks.
I can’t exactly remember where we had first heard about Ghostbusters but I am guessing it was an advert for breakfast cereals, Shredded Wheat. The advert was advertising that there were water transfers of Ghostbusters in the boxes of Shredded Wheat. The part of the commercial I remember was Sigourney Weaver’s Dana possessed by the Gate Keeper blowing the walls and window out of her apartment and the different light shooting through the sky.
Gary reminded me that the advert for Ghostbusters was also in the Marvel UK Transformers comic and this was probably the first time we saw it. It was the Ghostbusters symbol with Venkman, Ray and Egon in the Ghostbusters outfits standing in front of it.
We only purchased two packets of Shredded Wheat (they took a long time to eat!) and had a devil dog and Slimer in the water transfers. For us, the interesting part was the cereal box artwork which featured Slimer, the devil dog, Ecto 1 and the Marshmallow Man on it. The most impressive thing was the Ghostbusters badge, which we cut out and Gary traced and replicated so we had Ghostbuster’ badges. One of these badges I pinned on my scarf; I still have the scarf with the badge attached to this day as well as few of the other badges.
The other things which we bought were Ghostbusters sweat tops. We got these from the Cash and Carry in Aspley near where we lived. It was basically the Ghostbusters logo on a grey sweat top (clearly a cheap knock off) and we also got some jeans/combat type trousers in grey from this place which we would wear together, this was the closest we had to the boiler suits.
I collect spores, molds, and fungus.
Apart from these few things, there wasn’t much else at the time. The merchandise was awful for Ghostbusters, the studio thinking it wouldn’t be as big as it was. We would have loved figures of the Ghostbusters back in 1984/85 but this wasn’t meant to be until four years later when The Real Ghostbusters cartoon burst on British television screens on 11th January 1988. The first episode I remember watching was "Mr Sandman, Dream Me a Dream", in which three of the Ghostbusters fall foul of a rogue Sandman, who has plans to put everyone to sleep in order to bring peace to the world, and Winston and Janine save the day. I can still remember the Sandman’s strange echoey voice uttering: “We are many my friends.”
The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was great but, like every cartoon and associated toyline from the US in Britain around this time, it came out a long time after the film. In America, it had been broadcast from 1986. The figures were released in 1988 when the cartoon was shown on UK TV and we bought them. The part that we didn’t like about the figures was that the proton beam was constantly on the proton stick. My brother, Gary, cracked open the stick and we customised them to be able to take out the beam out and put them back in when needed. How annoying for all those who didn’t have a Gary to do this!! Our younger brother, Guy, mainly got all the ghosts and Ecto 1. We did play with these though.
Then in 1989, the second Ghostbusters film was released. In America, the film came out in the Summer but in Britain, it came out in December again. The first thing that I got from the second film was the “On Our Own” 12-inch vinyl single by Bobby Brown, this was during the six-week school summer break from a little independent record shop in Great Yarmouth while we were on our family holiday. This was the main song to the Ghostbusters 2 film. I bought this and then had to wait about five months until the film came out!
Myself, my brother Guy, my cousin Greg and my mum went to the Byron cinema on a Saturday afternoon to see Ghostbusters 2 when it was first released. I don’t know why Gary didn’t go. Maybe he had his Saturday job by then. I really like Ghostbusters 2. Is it as good as the first? I think the only part that lets the second film down is the Statue of Liberty, but I don’t know if it’s any less believable than a 100-foot Marshmallow Man. I remember one Halloween around this time Guy dressed up as a Ghostbuster and Gary made him a PKE meter from an air freshener container, card and red transparent plastic, he painted it black and had a small torch inside to illuminate the red perspex.
After this the Ghostbusters went quiet, we heard rumours in the late 1990s that there might be a third film in the works, and that Dan Aykroyd and SNL writer Tom Davis had written a script called Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent. This seemed to be in development hell from about 1993 to 2007 with multiple other writers getting involved. Then Harold Ramis sadly passed away and it seemed like they would no longer make another Ghostbusters movie. The female Ghostbusters was made in 2016 which was not received positively but all in all it’s not a bad film, but obviously carries the weight of the originals.
We both have the same problem: YOU.
What Ghostbusters did do was make me interested in the other films and ventures of Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray. I remember Spies Like Us coming out the following year with Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, I didn’t know much about it and didn’t see it at the cinema. The one thing I do remember is the Spies Like Us song by Paul McCartney – which divides fans! What I do remember was Dan, Chevy and Macca walking across the famous Abbey Road crossing but at the time I didn’t understand the significance of it.
I didn’t see any of Aykroyd’s films at the cinema and I may have mentioned before from about 1985 to 1989 we didn’t go to the cinema we just rented videos and recorded everything we wanted that was shown on TV. I remember when Ghostbusters was first shown on television on ITV, before the watershed hour. It was heavily censored with some of my favourite lines altered by overdubbing, all of which I can recall as they were so different.
In the scene where the Ghostbusters are in the Mayor’s office they had some of these corkers:
Instead of Venkman calling Walter Peck Mr Pecker he calls him Wally Wick! Instead of Venkman saying “Yes it’s true this man has no dick” it was changed to “this man is some kind of rodent I don’t know which”. Also, Winston says “I have seen stuff that will turn you white!”
But back to the actors the first film I remember Bill Murray being in after Ghostbusters was his return to the big screen with Scrooged. I know it had mixed reviews at the time but it’s got to be up there with his best films and is now a Christmas classic. It was also written by former Saturday Night Live writer Mike O’Donoghue, who appeared in the first broadcast sketch on SNL in 1975 with John Belushi.
To be honest, though I wasn’t that much into their films I’d seen a few on videos such as Spies Like Us, Dragnet and the Great Outdoors and loved them and we would see them when they were on TV. I remember seeing Blues Brothers and Neighbors when they were shown on television and my dad recorded them. Then in about 1990 and 1991, I saw a few of their films that I hadn’t seen before Animal House, Nothing Lasts Forever, 1941, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Fletch and also some of Steve Martin’s films, as mentioned in my other blog http://www.geekforce.co.uk/films/wild-crazy-guy-roxanne-30-years-later/ . Bill Murray films though I hadn’t seen as much.
When we get to 20, tell me, because I'm gonna throw up.
I think a big thing around this time in 1992, which led me to the original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players”, was that the film Wayne’s World was released and the UK went Mike Myers crazy. It was interesting to read up on Mike in the many articles that were around (remember this was in the days before the internet when you couldn’t get information at the touch of a button) and this persuaded me to look further into Saturday Night Live. I knew that Aykroyd, Murray and Belushi had been on Saturday Night Live as my brother, Gary, had told me this when Ghostbusters first came out, how he knew I don’t know. This opened the door for my obsession with Saturday Night Live related films and the cast from it.
When I was at school I kept diaries and I’ve had a look to see if I could pinpoint when my obsession started and like all obsessions, it was a gradual build-up! It was Steve Martin that I was most into at this time and for my birthday in 1992, I received a lot of his films on videocassette. I think I have mentioned this before in my Steve Martin Roxanne blog (link above). What I had forgotten was that Gary was really into Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase. My diary entry for the day after my birthday is that Gary’s friend had let me borrow “The best of John Belushi”. I remember that I put a tape recorder up to it to tape the sound so I could listen to it again. This really made me a fan of Belushi. Also that day my dad had bought Gary an ex-rental video copy of “Dragnet” from Ritz Video Hire Shop in Ilkeston, yes I was that specific in my diary!
Then in the Summer holidays, I managed to pick up “Things We Did Last Summer” which had the original cast of Saturday Night Live performing different sketches and The Blues Brothers singing. It seems my main diary entries for 1992 are of getting Steve Martin films on video and taping them off the TV. In fact, I forgot how completely obsessed I was with the comedy of Steve Martin until I re-read my diary. I got Caddy Shack II on VHS for Christmas 1992, which is bizarre because I hadn’t seen Caddy Shack at this point and maybe that was a good thing because obviously I wouldn’t be disappointed on viewing the second film first!
Then in 1993, I diversified. An early entry was that I was listening to the Fletch soundtrack after revising for a Science exam. I remember that we got these cheap from a shop in town called “What Everyone Wants”. Why Fletch soundtracks were knocking around in 1992 I don’t know! But I also got Billy Crystal’s “Don’t Get Me Started” stand up video, “Spies Like Us” and Steve Martin’s “Father of the Bride”. For my birthday that year I received “Wayne’s World”, again still on VHS, the Blues Brothers’ tapes of “Made in America” and the “music from the soundtrack”. I also got The Best of Steve Martin SNL which had a series of postcards in it with characters of the show such as the Blues Brothers, the Cone Heads – these were all new to me but I would end up getting further best of Saturday Night Live videos over the next few years. After leaving school in May that year I bought the Dan Aykroyd film “Loose Cannons” from Virgin Mega Store and on a visit to town with my nana later that week I bought “The World of SNL” book from Forbidden Planet, when it was in the soon-to-be-demolished Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. I read the book cover to cover probably while I should have been revising for my last few exams but this really opened my eyes to how the cast altered and what the show was about. Then Caddy Shack was on TV and I finally saw that in the summer, this was the moment my brother Guy became obsessed with golf, whereas I chose comedy! As a side note, I also got my first MAD magazine that year. Other films which I bought on video that year were The Blues Brothers movie, Foul Play (which was Chevy’s first film), Steve
Martin’s “The Jerk” and “Man With Two Brains”. I also purchased the cassette of Brief Case Full of Blues and a pair of black sunglasses like the Blues Brothers!
I hadn’t got many of Bill Murray’s films up to this point I think this came more in 1994 when I finally saw Groundhog Day and then What About Bob? and Quick Change but my diary writing had stopped by this point so I can’t bore you with any more of this. I replaced all my videos with DVD from about 2010. In fact, I have a lot more DVDs of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Steve Martin than I ever had on video.
I couldn't help it... it just popped in there!
To this day I still love the films of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi and a lot of the Saturday Night Live cast from the 70s, 80s and 90s and the Canadian comedy show SCTV.
A few years ago for Halloween at work, I dressed up as a Ghostbuster and then at the Christmas party with my colleague Kevin we went as the Blues Brothers.
So what Ghostbusters did for me was introduce me to the world of Saturday Night Live. I may have come to it much later in the early 90s through Wayne’s World but it’s something that I have loved ever since. So I probably do have a problem…but I do know who to call.