Ghostbusters: Answer the Call” (2016) was labeled as ill-conceived before it came out, with people asking “Why remake a classic?” The good thing is that it’s not a straight remake of the beloved 1984 original (which is slated to get its second sequel next year). Although it has the same general threat of a portal linking New York City to a ghost dimension, and the team is pestered by government agents, it’s more of a re-imagining than a remake.
Ghostbusters II” (1989), which feels even more Eighties than the 1984 original, is a prime example of one of those old-school blockbuster sequels that’s defined as much by the fact of its existence as it is by the continuation of the story. Today, everything is nostalgic, and we can find fans of all but the most obscure stuff online. Thirty years ago, an entertainment property was either “in” or “out,” and “Ghostbusters II” seems consciously aware that it’s “out” and weaves that reality into the fictional narrative.
Thirty-five years later, “Ghostbusters” (1984) stands as a master class in how to smoothly mix genres. Bill Murray is consistently in a wry comedy while everyone else is his straight man, and the film delivers lots of laughs with this structure. The gothic schlock horror, taking full advantage of real New York City architecture, is mesmerizing. The composited special effects of Slimer, the animated gargoyles and of course the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man are so 1980s, but in a good way.