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Ghostbusters 1 & 2 2014 Blu-Ray Digibook Set Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Sep. 30, 2014 at 11:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Ghostbusters 2, Home Video
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Sony recently released both Ghostbusters films on Blu-ray in honor of the franchise's 30th anniversary. This new Blu-ray release marks the third for Ghostbusters and the first for Ghostbusters II. Both films were also released twice on DVD. Most of Spook Central's visitors, undoubtedly, own one of those previous home video releases, so you'll want to know how these new Blu-rays stack up to the old digital home video releases. So, let's break this down, shall we...

INTRODUCTION

There are three distinct releases of this Blu-ray. There's an individual release of each film: Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II, a double feature set containing both films packaged inside a 27-page book (called a "Digibook"), and then there's a deluxe double feature set containing the two-film Digibook bundled with a Slimer statue. For the first print run (at least), the individual releases each have an embossed glossy slipsleeve, and a pre-printed "Personal Note From Ivan Reitman" was included with all releases.

There's also an UltraViolet digital copy code in each release, plus a booklet with a $3 coupon off dinner at several buffet chains, an ad for the official Ghostbusters store, a Krispy Kreme Doughnut deal, and an ad for the vinyl and CD soundtrack albums of BOTH movies. I found that one a bit odd since the Ghostbusters II soundtrack has been out-of-print for the past 20 years or so. The Ghostbusters soundtrack got a re-release back in 2006 with two bonus tracks, but there's never been any word of a Ghostbusters II re-release. This one has slipped under the radar because a quick check at Amazon shows that it's true. While the original was released by MCA Records, Geffen Records put out the re-release on September 9th, and in three formats no less: CD, Vinyl, and MP3. There's also a glow-in-the-dark vinyl release of Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" single (with remixes on the B side). Okay, now getting back to this Blu-ray set...

The double feature set is stored inside The Story of Ghostbusters 1 & 2 book. Sadly, instead of having one disc on the inside front cover and the other at the back, BOTH discs are on the inside back cover, stacked atop one another on offset hubs. I've never hid my displeasure of discs being stored atop one another, which is why I prefer the plastic cases in TimeLife's Real Ghostbusters set to the original Steelbooks, so you could imagine the look on my face when I saw this:

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On the positive side, the 27-page (numbering starts two pages in) full-color booklet is really nice. It contains "The Story of Ghostbusters", "The Story of Ghostbusters II", "Original 1984 Talent Bios" (from the press kit), and a few pages of photos. It's vastly different from the "Scrapbook" that came with the 2005 DVD double feature set, and is kinda like an extended version of the two-page liner note booklets that came with the original 1999 DVDs.

VIDEO & AUDIO

Each movie is presented with a clean still photo background with Ray Parker Jr.'s hit song playing in the background. I'm not sure why they didn't use Bobby Brown's song for the second movie's menu. The menus are easy to navigate, making them a big improvement over the clunky circular menu layout of the 2009 Blu-ray (which had a movie clip montage background). Both movies are marked with only 16 chapters, a huge reduction from the 28 chapters the DVDs have, but keeping with the 16 of the previous Blu-ray. I guess Sony likes for their Blu-rays to have just 16 chapters.

Overall, the picture quality of Ghostbusters is excellent. The flaws of the 2005 DVD and 2009 Blu-ray are gone, and it's much closer to the 1999 DVD. In fact, it fixes the flaws of that DVD in many shots, such as in the rooftop temple at the end. That said, the scenes where Peter gets slimed, and the terror dog runs across the street, are darker than in any of the previous releases. One of the big complaints of the 2009 Blu-ray was how grainy the opening scenes were, especially in the library. While there still is a bit of grain, it's far less than what was there before, and shouldn't warrant any complaints this time around. We're inching closer to a 100% perfect print, and this is the closet we've gotten so far. Check out the Ghostbusters Home Video Image Comparison page to see some picture quality examples for yourself.

Ghostbusters II, on the other hand, has a weird problem about it. It's always been the better looking of the two films, and that's generally how it looks here, but some of the colors seem to look better and more natural on the 2005 DVD. Even worse than the colors is the EXTREME DARKNESS in the pink slime effects shots. Check out the River of Slime comparison below for a good example. (Comparison done by Matthew Jordan for the Spook Central Facebook page.) In fact, if the 2005 DVD didn't crop a bit of the picture on the sides, I'd actually say that that was the perfect copy. That said, the film does benefit from the higher resolution of the Blu-ray format. Check out the Ghostbusters II Home Video Image Comparison page to see some picture quality examples for yourself.

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On the audio front, both movies feature a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless English soundtrack, along with MANY other language audio tracks (and even more subtitle tracks). I can't comment on the audio as I listen to it through the stereo speakers on my TV, but everything does sound rich and clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES - GHOSTBUSTERS

Now we get to the other area that, I suspect, most Spook Central readers will want to know about. I'd bet that you're just as concerned with what isn't here as you are with what is here. Ghostbusters features a few new items. First up is a 24-minute interview with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd titled "Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective". This interview, hosted by Geoff Boucher, has been split into two parts; the second is on the second disc. While it's a great interview, and certainly more substantial than the Ecto-1 fluff pieces were got on the last Blu-ray, I would have preferred that Sony used the money spent on this interview on transferring vintage materials and re-transferring the Ghostbusters deleted scenes and the old photos/drawings in high definition. Of course, I have a preference for vintage materials, so that's just my opinion. Diehard fans probably won't learn anything new here, but it's good for the casual fans.

After 15 years, we *finally* get Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" music video. It's as awesome - and cheesy - as you remember it. A check of the video file on the disc shows that it's encoded at 720x480 DVD resolution. How well it looks will depend on how well your TV upscales video. I can tell you that it's complete, with the original copyright screens at the end. Also encoded at 720x480 DVD resolution are six Alternate TV Version Takes:

1. What A Knockabout of Pure Fun That Was!
2. Oh No!
3. Removal of Egon's "Oh Shit"
4. I Have Seen Stuff That Will Turn You White!
5. I'll Sue Your Funny Face
6. Wally Wick

For those who pay attention to such things, three alternate takes are definitely missing: "Ten Hut" (in place of "make it hard"), the cover-up shot for removal of "pissing me off", and "I want you" (without "inside me"). You can check out these few takes on the Ghostbusters Deleted Scenes page. Oddly, the one alternate TV version take from Ghostbusters II - Peter saying "wretched walking worms" instead of "miserable assholes" - wasn't included on that film's disc.

The back of the case says that there us a "poster art gallery" on the set, which leads one to think you'll find some original theatrical poster art, but what it's referring to is the Gallery 1988 fan art poster gallery. There are 31 images; but only 16 unique pieces of art (almost all have color variants). Infuriatingly, none of the artists are named, nor are the pieces. While you can currently get the names from Ghostbusters30th.com, that site won't stay around forever, and one should not have to go to an external source for this information. There is plenty of dead space on the sides of the images for this information to have been included on the disc.

Finally, we get a FAKE Ghostbusters theatrical trailer. Yes, you read that correctly. This is NOT the original theatrical trailer. They used the trailer audio and replaced the video with footage from the movie. Since Peter's "I'm the chairman of the largest paranormal removal company in America" line was from a deleted scene, they had to substitute other footage for it, which is the most telling giveaway that this is fake. That the look of the trailer matches the "remastered" movie is the other big giveaway. If they weren't going to use the original trailer footage, why bother including it, then? If they only had a standard definition copy, then why not just include it as is? They did that with all of the old DVD bonus features, so it's not like everything was gonna be in HD anyway. Anyway, the original theatrical trailer can be found in its most complete and proper form on the Criterion Collection laserdisc, but can also be found without the "coming soon to a theatre near you" end card on the GB2 1999 DVD (letterbox) and the GB1 1999 DVD (fullscreen).

Almost all of the special features from the 2009 Blu-Ray, and the video special features from the 1999 DVD, have also been included. What's missing from the 2009 Blu-Ray is the PlayStation 3 Ghostbusters Theme (which can be downloaded from the 2009 Blu-ray page), the Making of Ghostbusters: The Video Game featurette, and the Ghostbusters: The Video Game "Atari Live/When Disaster Strikes" trailer.

Anyone hoping for new deleted scenes, or to have old ones re-transferred in HD, will be sadly disappointed. Yet again, we'll never see that infamous Fort Detmerring scene. While the Ray Parker Jr. music video is a welcomed addition, it would have been nice to get the other two in the "set": The Bus Boys' "Cleanin' Up The Town", and Mick Smiley's "Magic".

SPECIAL FEATURES - GHOSTBUSTERS II

Neither of the two previous Ghostbusters II DVDs have had any movie-related extras, other than the fullscreen trailer on the 1999 DVD, so it's quite a joy to finally get some. We start with Part 2 of the Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd interview, here titled "Time Is But A Window: Ghostbusters II and Beyond". Running for 17-minutes, this picks up where Part 1 left off.

The most anticipated special feature of this release are the deleted scenes. Ghostbusters II has enough deleted scenes to make a second cut of the film - and many of us old enough to have seen the film in the theaters know that many of them WERE shown theatrically. A lot of people will be disappointed to learn that we only get a mere seven scenes, and a couple of the most-desired scenes are not included. That said, let's appreciate what we did get:

1. Dana's Curse - After discoving the hotspot in the road, Dana and Peter talk about the possibility of her being cursed and predisposed to supernatural phenomena.
2. El Gato, The Cat - Dana chats with Peter in the courtroom before the trial.
3. Sewer Invitation - Ray, Egon, and Winston turn up at Peter's apartment to ask him to go down the sewers with them.
4. Louis' Secret - Louis tries to zap Slimer in the firehouse lobby, and nearly fries Janine in the process.
5. Peter's Concern - Peter and Ray talk to the mayor outside the museum. This is the original "tenth level of Hell" dialog spot.
6. Jack Buys It - The Mayor's aide, Jack Hardemeyer, decides to remove the slime shell himself...which doesn't end well for him.
7. Driving Miss Liberty - The guys argue in Lady Liberty' crown about the best route to take to the museum.

All are in 1920x1080 HD, but have not been cleaned up at all, and effects are temporary or non-existent. The "Louis' Secret" scene is missing the shot showing Slimer in Louis' rearview mirror, which is used on Slimer's credit card at the end of the film. The scene is also missing the "pizza man" line, which tells me that there might be more than one take of this scene. All of the scenes have a 2008 copyright screen at the end, which tells me that they were originally intended for the un-released 2009 Ghostbusters II Blu-ray.

Since Sony included the first film's big hit music video, it's only fair that they include the second film's, as well. Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" music video appears in 720x480 DVD resolution, and is complete with the original copyright screens at the end. Sadly, Run-D.M.C.'s "Ghostbusters" music video is not here to complete the pair.

Finally, and this isn't advertised anywhere, we get three Ghostbusters II theatrical trailers: Teaser, Trailer #1, Trailer #2 - all in full 1920x1080 HD widescreen (trailer #1 was on the 1999 DVD, but in fullscreen). Teaser and Trailer #1 use the original footage and are in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, though Trailer #1 is missing the "Coming June 16th To A Theatre Near You." card at the end (it's on the GB1 & GB2 1999 DVDs). Trailer #2 is in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and the original video has been replaced with footage taken from the remastered movie. This is evident not only by the aspect ratio, which is the same as the movie and different from the other two trailers, but by the look of the footage, which matches that of the movie - most notably the darkness of the River of Slime scene. This teaser has never been released on home video before, and I've personally never seen it before, so I don't know if any shots were replaced, as was the case with the trailer on the GB1 disc. I should also note that this is the first time I've ever seen a Blu-ray released by Sony that did not contain previews/trailers for other movies...not a single one. That's a welcome change. It's just a shame that one trailer we got for the first film is a fake.

Disappointingly, there is no commentary for the film, though a few years ago Dan Aykroyd did say that he recorded one. (I can't find the online link to support this, but I remember reading it.) Also, the Electronic Press Kit interview and footage isn't here, either. Not that I was really expecting for either to have been included, but it would have been nice. Sadly, but not surprisingly, none of the new content is dedicated to Harold Ramis, who passed away seven months ago. Ivan and Dan do pay respects to him in the new interview, so that must have been recorded some time between March and August 2014.

CONCLUSION

For most fans, the double feature digibook set should be the one-and-only copy of the films you'll need. A diehard fan may want to also pick up a copy of the GB1 1999 DVD for the extra bonus features and real theatrical trailer. If you also want a DVD copy of GB2 - and why not, I think all fans should keep at least one DVD and one Blu-ray copy of each film in their collection - you'll want to get the 2005 GB2 DVD for the better picture quality and colors.

The GB1 2009 Blu-ray has been sufficiently replaced by this new Blu-ray (only two video game related videos are exclusive to that release; the PS3 theme can be downloaded from this site as previously mentioned). The GB2 1999 DVD can, also, be considered replaced (unless you *really* desire biographical trivia and not-up-to-date filmographies on the main actors). The 2013 movie-only "Mastered in 4K"/"Optimized for 4K Ultra HD TVs" has near-identical picture to this new Blu-ray, and no bonus features, so I don't see why anyone will want to bother with it; and the GB1 2005 DVD should be avoided at all costs.
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