Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Recap: "Ghostbusters" Part 2: Unwarranted Interaction

And so, about a third into the movie, our team gets ready to bust their first ghost, despite being oh-fer.

Actually, wait, whatever happened to the library ghost? Why don't they practice their busting on her?

Eh, she probably finished her book and went back to Hell until George R.R. Martin published A Song of Ice and Fire.
When we last left our heroes, they were about to use their accumulated experience in supernatural matters to track down a ghost at the Sedgewick Hotel.

Venkman: "Hey, anybody seen a ghost?"

Yeah, it’s really not too much experience.

Once inside, they're met by some kind of maitre'd.

Who really wants to be John Cleese.
He quickly explains that the twelfth floor has always had... incidents, but never this bad and never this blatant.

Ray: "Don't worry. We handle this kind of thing all the time."

After a quick gag where they claim to be exterminators, they take the elevator up to the twelfth floor while finally realizing exactly what they're doing.

Ray: "You know, it's just occurred to me we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment."
Egon: "I blame myself."
Venkman: "So do I."
Ray: "Well, no sense worrying about it now."
Venkman: "Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."

Once they emerge on 12, they panic and unleash a blast into a maid's cleaning cart, leading the actress to ask the director "What the hell are you doing?" because they never told her about all the pyrotechnics in this scene. You know. For realism.

Venkman: "Sorry. We thought you were someone else."

With that test complete, they decide to split up, gang.

Venkman: "Yeah, we can do more damage that way."

Eventually, Ray comes across a green blob of a ghost, gorging itself on a room service cart full of food. Ray tries to hold it with his proton pack, but it zips off into the wall, leaving behind a mess of ectoplasmic residue.

And the echoes of the screams of the damned.
Then Venkman comes across it and radios it in.

Venkman: "It's right here, Ray. It's looking at me."
Ray: "He's an ugly little spud, isn't he?"
Venkman: "I think he can hear you, Ray."

In a fit of emotion, the ghost charges Venkman. Ray runs through the halls until he comes across both Venkman and the reason that this ghost has been nicknamed "Slimer."

As well as an obvious joke for my "Halloween Night at the Museum" Recap.
Well, that’s true, but in a roundabout way. It was nicknamed “Peanut,” but the official name was originally “Onionhead,” since it was supposed to smell really bad. But that detail never made it in the film, and the subsequent cartoon named the little guy “Slimer.” And the proton packs? They weren't even called that until the middle of the second film.

Egon radios in and tells them to save some for him before getting to the ballroom ASAP. After assuring the maitre'd that everything will be fine, they head inside and spot the little guy circling the chandelier. They fire a couple blasts, but succeed in only knocking the chandelier down.

It's at this moment that Egon tells them the most important part of ghostbusting.

Egon: "Don't cross the streams."

It’s also the most important part of using a urinal in a crowded restroom.

Venkman: "Why?"
Egon: "It would be bad."
Venkman: "I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean 'bad'?"
Egon: "Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light."

That actually makes a lot of sense.

Remember when they mentioned the “ionization rate” of ectoplasmic entities being a constant? Well, the gist of this film’s science is that ghosts have a negative charge. So by shooting a stream of positively-charged particles, they can keep the ghost immobilized long enough to trap and contain it. Because opposite charges attract. On the other hand, because two positive charges would repel each other, crossing streams would have the risk of causing a buttload of protons to repel each other. And Egon’s fear is that every other proton in the universe would do the same.

Ray: "Total protonic reversal...."

With that warning spelled out, they all try again. One metric buttload of property damage later...

Boy, it's a good thing wine isn't expensive, or anything.
...the Ghostbusters manage to successfully hold the ghost in their streams and begin to lower it into their trap.

Quickly! Before he gets a spinoff!
Ray: "Don't look directly into the trap!"
Egon: "I looked at the trap, Ray."

There’s been some wondering in fan circles exactly why you shouldn’t look into the trap. A fan-film theorized that looking into the trap sucks out your soul, since the eyes are the window to the soul. A more likely explanation is probably that the light it gives off is really bright.

But lo and behold, they've trapped a ghost inside a little box, which is enough for them to gloat as they exit the ballroom.

Venkman: "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!"

Venkman spins a little BS regarding how ridiculously high their bill is while Egon subtly hold up his fingers to tell him how much to ask for.

"Four dollars? Isn't that a little low, Egon?"
The maitre'd is shocked by the $5000 bill, but when they threaten to just put the thing back, he acquiesces.  Thus begins the team's meteoric rise to fame and relative fortune, as exemplified with a montage set to the Ghostbusters theme.

Complete with a newspaper image taken from the end of the film, paradoxically enough.
Casey Kasem and Larry King even speak up on the ghostbusters' fame, even though I would have thought the former would be busy hiding with Scooby in the Mystery Machine.

Hey, it's Larry King's beautiful neck!
And the montage allows them to recycle footage from an unused scene where a ghost gets very friendly with Ray by framing it as a dream.

You’re telling me that paranormal-lover Dan Aykroyd wrote a scene where a pretty ghost offers him sexual favors?
What are the odds?
Sometime later, Ernie-freaking-Hudson himself finally comes along to portray Winston Zeddemore, who's looking for a job with the team.

"Finally. Took me long enough to find the film set. I hope they didn't film the first third of the movie without me."
Naturally, they have to ask a few questions first.

Janine: "Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums, the Loch Ness Monster, or the theory of Atlantis?"
Winston: "Uh, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."

Good answer. You can’t hire a guy who doesn’t believe in ghosts, but you shouldn’t hire a guy who would be too obsessed with them to actually to the job of taking them out. Though that won't stop Winston from theorizing later in the movie.

And when Ray and Peter return from a case, they hire him on the spot and hand him the smoking ghost trap.

Ray: "Welcome aboard."

Some time later, Dana and a fellow musician are leaving their latest orchestral performance, discussing the latest guest conductor whose idea of conducting seems to be screaming at them in German. She spots Peter hanging around and goes to talk to him.

Venkman: “You're the best one in your row.”
Dana: “Thank you. You're good; most people can't hear me with the whole orchestra playing.”

Oooh, she’s got you there, Peter. After he insults "the stiff" she was talking to, they start talking business.

Said “stiff” would go on to menace Wonder World in Beverly Hills Cop III.
Peter: "Well, the name 'Zuul' refers to a demigod worshiped around 6000 B.C. by the... what's that word?"
Dana: "Hittites."

"Thanks. I'm not good with research. I think that '6000' number might be wrong, too."
Peter: "Hittites, Mesopotamians, and Sumerians."
Dana: "Zuul was the minion of Gozer."

All wonderful information, but kind of useless. Dana wants more practical information.

Dana: "Well, what's he doing in my icebox?"

Peter tries to schedule a meeting to discuss the the topic, sounding suspiciously like a date. After a bit of that patented almost-creepy Bill Murray charm, she agrees and hurries off to rejoin her fellow musician.

Back at Ghostbusters HQ, Ray is going over the trap-cleaning operation with Winston while Janine grumpily tells Peter that he has a visitor.

Janine: "All I do know is that I've been working two weeks without a break and you promised me you'd hire more help."
Peter: "Janine, someone with your qualifications, should have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries."

"Pretty sure you're breaking some labor laws."
"Pretty sure you need this job anyway."
Peter: "You gonna answer that?"
Janine: "I've quit better jobs than this.... Ghostbusters, whadda ya want?"

But call it fate, call it luck, or call it karma, Peter Venkman has a visitor from the Environmental Protection Agency named Walter Peck, played by poor, poor William Atherton.

Yeah, admit it. You didn’t even know this actor’s name, did you?
William Atherton was unable to go to bars for the longest time because of Ghostbusters. He played a jerk so well that people would just randomly start fights with him after yelling, “Hey, Dickless!” And sadly, “Dickless” is probably the name most people know William Atherton by.

From the very beginning, the two are unfailingly polite to each other, though both their tones of voice drip with contempt in the same way that Peter's hands are dripping with ectoplasm as they shake hands.

Peck: "Are you Peter Venkman?"
Venkman: "Yes, I'm Doctor Venkman."
Peck: "Exactly what are you a doctor of, Mr. Venkman?"
Venkman: "Well I have PhD's in Parapsychology and Psychology."

Only one of which is a thing you can actually get a PhD in. (I'll give you a hint: it's not the first one.)

Peck, on the behalf of the EPA (specifically, the 3rd district, even though that’s not how it works in New York), wants to know exactly how the Ghostbusters dispose of these "ghosts." Venkman tells them that they go into a storage facility, which Peck would like to see.

Venkman: "No."
Peck: "And why not, Mr. Venkman?"
Venkman: "Because you did not say the magic word."
Peck: "What is... the 'magic word,' Mr. Venkman?"
Venkman: "...'Please.'"

Basically, the EPA is a bit worried over the unauthorized handling of... whatever it is that the ghostbusters deal with, which might result in the possibility of noxious waste chemicals.

So, here's the question... What is in the basement? We never see anything which the EPA would automatically take issue with, like the aforementioned chemicals. There are only two possibilities for why Venkman is so hesitant to show Peck around down there.
  1. There actually is some kind of dangerous waste product down there, and the guys have just been letting it fester instead of trying to deal with it in a way that the EPA would approve of.
  2. Peter's just being a jerk for no reason.
Could go either way. But whatever the reason is, Peck is not allowed in the basement, so he heads of to plan his inevitable revenge while the other ghostbusters, in the basement, discuss the growing ghost problem. The containment facility is getting crowded, and Egon's estimates point to something big coming along soon, which he demonstrates with a Twinkie.

Egon: "Well, let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie... thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds."

"There are nights where I have dreams of such a Twinkie...."
Ray theorizes that this could be pointing towards a full blown crossover between dimensions, but Peter comes down to give them the bad news about the EPA and learn about the Twinkie.

Over at Dana's apartment building, the 80's lighting special effects are in full swing as a stone gargoyle on the side of the building begins to lose its stone shell, slowly revealing the living creature beneath.

Oh, man, why wasn't there ever a Ghostbusters/Gargoyles crossover?
Dana returns to her apartment, hoping to sneak by Louis's place... but fails. He invites her in to that party he was talking to her about earlier, but she declines. After all, she's got a date.

Louis: "Well, that's okay, you can bring him along!"

"You seem to misunderstand who the third wheel is, here."
She says that she might stop by and heads inside to get ready. Her mom calls, and they talk for a bit before she hangs up and notices the glow coming from her kitchen. And the strange shapes trying to reach out from inside her door. But there's little time to worry about that, because monster arms start reaching out from her chair, holding her down and dragging her towards the kitchen, where the hellhound from inside the gargoyle awaits....

Hey! Don't think I can't see where that one hand is grabbing
Back at Louis's party, Rick Moranis shows off his talents by improvising a long string of chit chat with the party goers (including a cameo by Casey Kasem’s wife) in one single take. As Louis dances, some more friends clients arrive. Louis takes their coats and shoves them in the bedroom, right on top of the hellhound. He asks if anyone wants to play Parcheesi, which is the last straw for the hellhound.

"This lame-o party ends now."
It bursts out of the bedroom in its stop-motion glory, ignoring the guests and chasing after Louis down the hall of the building. He runs out of the building, screaming about a bear in his apartment. The doorman gets a laugh out of this until said "bear" chases after Louis into the streets.

There’s a rather odd deleted scene where Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd are dressed up as bums and proceed to talk about nothing that has anything to do with the movie. You can find it online, if you look hard enough.

Just... why?
But back in the stuff that wasn't cut from the film, Louis makes his way into the park, where he finds some shelter; a fancy, schmancy restaurant that refuses to let him in.

Should have worn a tie, Louis.
As the 1% ignores him, the hellhound corners him....  Peter arrives at Dana's building, noting the destruction and asking what happened.

Cop: "Some moron brought a cougar to a party and it went berserk."

That line's even funnier these days, now that there's another definition of "cougar."

Peter heads upstairs, past Louis's place, and finds Dana.

My biggest question is whether or not she just had that outfit lying around.
Dana: "Are you the Keymaster?"
Venkman: "Not that I know of."

And she slams the door in his face. Luckily, she seems to have short-term memory loss like Dory, because Peter knocks on the door again and gets the same question.

Dana: "Are you the Keymaster?"
Venkman: "Yes."

Once inside, he clarifies that he's a friend of the Keymaster's, and is dropping by on his behalf. One of the things that's really cool about this entire scene is that this is Peter's most professional moment in the entire film. As soon as Dana opens the door and asks for the Keymaster, Peter knows that something's up. So he quickly claims to be a friend of the person that Dana's waiting for, and from this point on, he's actually following the recommended procedure for demonic possession. You stay calm, and you let the spirit inside know that you’d really rather talk to the other person. Like a puppy, you have to let the demon know that’s being naughty and you won’t put up with that.

He might have to rub her nose in the carpet, too.
He calmly asks her what her name is.
Dana: "I am Zuul. I'm the Gatekeeper."

He stays calm as he looks around, finding smoke, mist, and ectoplasmic residue everywhere.

Venkman: "What're we doing today, Zuul?"
Zuul: "We must prepare for the coming of Gozer."
Venkman: "Gozer, huh?"
Zuul: "The destruct-or."

Isn't "Destruct-or" off slaying the Multi-Bear?
Zuul makes her way into the bedroom, breathing heavily as Peter plays the fool.

Venkman: "Are we still going out? You know, you could pick up the place if you're expecting someone."
Zuul: "You want this body?"
Venkman: "Is this a trick question?"

Zuul tells Peter to take her, right then and there. She quickly gets impatient with the jokes and slams him down to the bed, pawing all over him and forcing her tongue down his throat.

Zuul: "I want you inside me."
Venkman: "Oh. [laughs] Go ahead. No, I can't. Sounds like you've got at least two people in there already. Might be a little crowded."

You know, say what you will about Peter Venkman's earlier creeping on Dana. When the chips are down, he refuses to take advantage of a woman who's unable to say "no."  Instead, he gently convinces Zuul to lie down and take deep breaths, continuing the standard procedure for possession. He tells Zuul that he wants to talk to Dana, the person who used to pilot that body.

Zuul: "There is no Dana. There is only Zuul."

He insists, telling Zuul gently, but firmly, that there would be consequences if he didn't get to talk to Dana. In response, Zuul floats into the air while snarling, which anyone can tell you is the end of a conversation.

Meanwhile, Louis is wandering around the streets of New York, muttering to any who will listen about how he's Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster of Gozer, and all prisoners will soon be released after some kind of sign.

Insert impression of Ben Stein in the Clear Eyes commercials here.
Later, Janine answers the firehouse door and finds a police officer.

Janine: "Dropping off, or picking up?"
Cop: "Dropping off."
Janine: "Just a moment."

She brings out Egon, and the officer tells him that they found this nutjob running around and figure that, since they don't want to make things worse by locking the poor guy up, they'd see if the ghostbusters could make anything of it first. Egon's PKE meter lights up like a Christmas tree when he scans the guy, who turns out to be Louis, so he agrees to look after him.

Janine: "You are so kind to take care of that man. You know, you're a real humanitarian."
Egon: "I don't think he's human."

Egon hooks him up to a colander with wires sticking out of hit, which produces the image of a hellhound on Egon's monitor. He asks Louis his name, which he once again gives as "Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer," despite his wallet claiming otherwise.

His brain scan, on the other hand, shows a dog. So who knows who he really is.
One of the things like like here is how subtly evident it is that Vinz here doesn't know how to act like a normal human being. Just like Johnny Depp. One of the things he tends to do is mimic others. For example, Janine hands Egon Louis's wallet. Vinz sees two people reaching out, so he does, too.

Janine: "Do you want some, uh, coffee, Mr. Tully?"
Vinz: "Do I?"
Egon: "Yes, have some."
Vinz: "Yes, have some!"

Janine goes to boil the water as Egon asks Vinz what "sign" he says he's waiting for.

Vinz: "Gozer the Traveller. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the Rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveller came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the Third Reconciliation of the Last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him. That of a Giant Sloar! Many Shubs and Zulls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you."

Either Louis Tully has gone insane and created a fantasy realm with more extensive history and made up words than The Silmarillion, or he's privy to information beyond the ken of man.

Janine calls Egon over and tells him the blindingly obvious.

Janine: "There's something very strange about that man."

Maybe the popcorn just smells really good. You don’t know.
Janine: "Listen, I'm usually very psychic, and I have a terrible feeling that something awful's gonna happen to you. I'm afraid you're gonna die."

Ooooh.... that line's gotten pretty sad in recent years. Rest in peace, Mr. Ramis.

The phone rings, and Egon answers it, finding himself talking to Peter. Peter fills in Egon about the whole Gatekeeper thing, which he seems to have handled for now.

Venkman: "I just whacked her up with about 300 cc's of thorazine; she's gonna take a little nap now."

...Why did Peter decide to take a cup and a half of thorazine with him on a date? That would take a lot of regular-sized syringes or one big one. I hope he meant milligrams, not cc's. Partially because that's a better dose and also because thorazine should be dosed by weight, not volume.

More importantly, how did he get thorazine? Sure, he’s a psychologist, but psychologists can’t prescribe. Psychiatrists can do that, sure, but Peter Venkman isn’t one.

The word "Gatekeeper" rings a bell in Egon's head, and he mentions that he has the "Keymaster" with him.

Venkman: "Oh, wonderful. We have to get these two together."

Egon looks at the odd man drinking hot water from a coffee pot and thinks otherwise.

Egon: "I think that would be extraordinarily dangerous."

Isn't that also what they said about dividing the fanbase with the now-aborted "Dudebusters"?

They hang up, and Vinz starts handing Egon random things as Peter says his goodbyes to Zuul. On the way back from a job, Winston and Ray have a conversation about the one things that hasn't appeared yet in this movie: Religion.

Winston: "Hey, Ray. Do you believe in God?"
Ray: "Never met him."

This makes sense as an answer. Ray is, first and foremost, a scientist. He always believed in the supernatural because, to him, the evidence was always there. And now all he knows for a fact is that ghosts are coming from somewhere, not that they're specifically coming from Hell, or some kind of afterlife.

Winston, on the other hand, is not a supernatural scientist and can believe whatever he wants, as is his right.

Winston: "Well, I do. And I love Jesus's style."

"That hippie rocked those sandals."
Ray is a little distracted by the blueprints of the top of Dana's building. A magnesium/tungsten alloy? That's a terrible combination for any kind of structural integrity.

But Winston's had something on his mind for a while. That bit in the Bible about the last days, where all the dead rise from the grave. Ray knows it well. Of course, he paraphrases it, and identifies it by “Revelation 7:12” instead of “Revelation 6:12,” but the gist is there.

Ray: "'And I looked as he opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake and the sun became as black as sackcloth. And the moon became as blood.'"
Winston: "'And the seas boiled, and the skies fell.'"
Ray: "Judgement Day."
Winston: "Judgement Day."
Ray: "Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world."
Winston: "Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is because the dead have been rising from the grave?"
Ray: "...How 'bout a little music?"

As the music turns on, the sun rises, and Ray and Winston head back to base, unaware of what will await them.

Coming up in Part 3! Judgement day. And not the Terminator one.


  1. "Actually, wait, whatever happened to the library ghost? Why don't they practice their busting on her?"

    I think she returns in the videogame, which is sort of a Ghostbusters 3

    "Oh, man, why wasn't there ever a Ghostbusters/Gargoyles crossover?"

    There's a fanfic about that, it's in TVTropes Fanfic Recs for The Real Ghostbusters

    1. You know, I keep forgetting that video game exists. Which is a darn shame, because I really want it.

      Honestly, if I ever play the Ghostbusters video game, I'd gladly review it as an unofficial Ghostbusters 3.

    2. They even got the actors and the models are how the actors would have looked like in the time the game takes place