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Films > Ghostbusters > Music
Soundtrack Album
2006 Remastered Reissue
Liner Notes Essay

When it burst out on the screens in 1984, Ghostbusters became more than an amusing comedy about some pseudo-scientists facing out-of-this-world phenomena. It created a generational catchphrase in the title song performed by Ray Parker Jr. So much so, in fact, that the song eventually transcended the vehicle for which it was written, and typified the mid-1980s, with its shugging bass line, its catchy refrain, and its snappy lyrics.

To be truthful, this may have been one of the most interesting sidelines to the story of Ghostbusters. Already fueled by the exuberant performances of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis, the film was propelled to stratospheric heights of recognition when the Ray Parker song hit the charts, where it stayed for 21 weeks, ending on the #1 spot for three, and becoming a dance club favorite in the process.

The wonderfully zany story, a hilarious saga about a quartet of paranormal investigators intent on ridding New York City of its otherworldly invaders, filled with knowing comments and rip-roaring one-liners, cast the four comedians, each with his own idiosyncratic character, in the pursuit of ghouls who had infested the invested the Big Apple. With its savvy blend of horror elements, wisecracking repartees, and action scenes well designed to appeal to a mass audience, Ghostbusters achieved the improbable - it became the highest grossing film hit of the season, raking $139 millions in its first go-round, and spawning a sequel, Ghostbusters II, five years later.

Initially, the film, written by Dan Aykroyd, had been devised as a potential vehicle for him and John Belushi, Aykroyd's partner in the television series, Saturday Night Live and in the hugely profitable Blues Brothers stage and screen appearances. The death of Belushi, in 1982, forced Aykroyd to reconceive his project, with Harold Ramis, his co-writer with Peter Torokvei. With the addition of Bill Murray, like Aykroyd another SNL alumnus, and Rick Moranis, fresh from his own success as a highly visible contributor to the Canadian comedy series, SCTV, the cast for the new film was complete. And the story evolved naturally from that point on.

In a Manhattan apartment building, on the West side, overlooking the vast, green expanse that is Central Park, the dashing Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) attempts to fend off the advances of nerdy neighbor Louis Tully (Moranis). But a greater danger looms in the building - ghouls have set up residence there, intent on eventually take over the Earth.

Enter the Ghostbusters, a trio of would-be scientists, who have just been expelled from their university jobs, and who are currently trying to establish their credentials as bona fide supernatural investigators, even though nothing in their background seems to qualify them for the job. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) is a gung-ho character with some scientific knowledge but little expertise; Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) has been hiding behind a fake assurance his own incompetence in parapsychology, a field he also knows nothing about, only using his position to meet potential bedmates; and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) brings to the mix his pseudo expertise in all things technical.

Together, this unlikely threesome, soon joined by Moranis, brandishing all sorts of electronic zappers and guns, sets out to reconquer Manhattan. They first have to convince the powers-that-be that a) there is a real danger looming around, and b) that they are the only ones who can do the job. That they succeed beyond their wildest dreams is a credit to the imagination of the screenwriters and to the combined talents of the cast. In a marvelously terrific send-up of the Godzilla movies, they destroy the ghouls who have emerged together as a giant version of the smiling Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man.

Adding its own colorings to the saga of the Ghostbusters was the soundtrack, replete with great contemporary tunes, including, in addition to Ray Parker Jr.'s title tune, The Bus Boy's appropriately cheery "Cleanin' Up The Town," Laura Branigan's "Hot Night," Air Supply's "I Can Wait Forever," and Alessi Brothers' "Savin' The Day."

With its strong song line-up and percolating rhythms, well designed to please the most demanding customers, the soundtrack album shot up to the #6 position on the charts, and enjoyed a long-lasting tenure of 34 weeks.

This new reissue adds another selection heard in the film but not found in previous incarnations of the album, The Trammps' torrid "Disco Inferno," a crucial element in one of the film's most memorable scenes; it also features the 12" remix version of "Ghostbusters," which ensured the film's high visibility in dance clubs around the country. Altogether, these tracks constitute the most complete version available of this popular soundtrack -- Didier C. Deutsch