With each passing day throughout the month of October, the opportunity for scares increases into a fever pitch leading to Halloween night. Horror films take the center stage in the theaters, and are earning an increasingly large role on our television screens as well. Sometimes we want to be scared, sometimes we want to witness others being scared and sometimes we want to be the ones delivering the scares to others. Regardless, the chances to be filled with fright and horror are ample during October. But it is good to take a break from that from time to time, and what better way to get some relief from the menacing monsters and spooky specters is with some comedies that use those very things that frighten us to instead amuse us and fill us with laughter.
Released in 1984, Ghostbusters is not only a high point for the comedy horror sub-genre, but, depending on who you ask, it is one of the greatest comedies of all time. It possesses the power of a stellar comedic cast at or near the height of their production. Director Ivan Reitman and writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis team with Bill Murray to create a masterwork in comedy about some schlubby dudes who get pushed out of their university positions for being a bunch of crackpots who study ghosts. This forces them into the main aspect of the film, which is a film about some folks trying to start their own small business; that business just happens to be about catching ghosts. Instead of filing taxes, doing inventory and looking for a way to get ahead of the competition, these guys are out tearing up hotel hallways, carrying smoking and possibly (likely) radioactive devices through the middle of New York and
Being one of the finest comedies ever made, there are many aspects which cause this film to shine. Each character brings something essential to the table. Ray Stantz is passionate and brings a blue-collar attitude, Peter Venkman is a cynic and an asshole who provides at least some essential doubt about the supernatural for the core trio, and Egon Spengler is a weirdo genius who is just bonkers enough to make the fact that they are carrying around nuclear powered laser beams on they backs seem normal. Oh, and he also delivers crucial safety tips.
While the headliners are well known, the other characters also provide crucial grounding for the audience to buy into the fact that ghosts are terrorizing New York City, and that those very characters are turning into dog-bear monsters in order to summon some ancient God named Gozer to end the whole dang world. Louis Tully and Dana Barrett are what allow the audience to buy into everything going on. It is via these great characters which allow all of the prime comedy to hit home which is crucial considering almost all of the comedy is delivered via clever and well written dialogue.
The one aspect of Ghostbuster which stands as a little weak for our purposes is its lack of scares. The librarian is creepy looking and much of the confrontation with Gozer has a real interesting and intimidating, but most of the ghosts are still comedic. Even the initial confrontation with the librarian ghost is punctuated with some typical comedic piano music transitioning to the next scene. It is definitely a horror, and one of the best ones around, but it definitely leans more towards the comedy aspect than the horror aspect.