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Ghostbusters: Old vs New

Writer: Casey Chong


The old "Ghostbusters" versus the new.

Back in the '80s, "Ghostbusters" was no doubt one of the biggest and most well-known movies ever made in Hollywood. Packed with iconic characters, memorable one-liners, a nifty premise and... yes, Bill Murray!

No wonder this supernatural comedy blockbuster remained such a beloved property until today. Thirty-two years later after the original (excluding the 1989 much-maligned sequel, of course), "Ghostbusters" is back and (sadly) it's not what most of us expected. Instead of a long-rumoured "Ghostbusters III", Paul Feig took over the franchise reign from Ivan Reitman (the director of the first two "Ghostbusters") and turned it into an all-female reboot. For those who are keeping track with the reboot development, you'll know Paul Feig's version has met with harsh criticism and whatnot.

But like it or not, the all-female "Ghostbusters" reboot is already here. That being said, here are the comparison between the original Ghostbusters and the all-female Ghostbusters.

1. The Cast


The original "Ghostbusters" team in the 1984 original.

The original "Ghostbusters" was an all-male cast, which included Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. A former SNL (Saturday Night Live) alumni, Bill Murray's impromptu acting skills was the heart and soul that made the 1984 original such a beloved classic. As Peter Venkman, he was more than just a scientist. He loved to flirt with girls (as evident during the beginning of the movie and his first client Dana Barrett, played by Sigourney Weaver) and also a less "serious" member among all the Ghostbusters team. Another fellow SNL alumni, Dan Aykroyd (as Ray Stantz), was a paranormal expert and a handyman (he's the one who fine-tuned the Ecto-1 vehicle) while Harold Ramis (as Egon Spengler) was the nerdy scientist who helped build all their Ghostbusters' equipment (though not visibly shown in the movie) including proton packs, ghost trap and P.K.E. Meter. Finally, Ernie Hudson was their new recruit as Winston Zeddemore. Unlike the three founding members who were all scientists, Zeddemore was more of a regular Joe who just wanted a job with a reasonable paycheck. Hence, his famous quote, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say".


(L-R) Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy),
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon).

Now, the "Ghostbusters" reboot was a polar opposite altogether. All the existing original characters from the 1984 original and the 1989 sequel were replaced by an all-female cast. Leading the new cast is Kristen Wiig, who plays a Princeton university professor Erin Gilbert. Melissa McCarthy plays paranormal expert Abby Yates, who is basically a female version of Dan Aykroyd's Ray Stantz. Of course, no Ghostbusters team would be complete without a techie. Instead of Harold Ramis' Egon Spengler, Kate McKinnon fills in the shoes as Jillian Holtzmann who is responsible for designing the team's proton packs and other proton-charged equipment. Leslie Jones' Patty Tolan, who was a former MTA worker and highly knowledgeable about New York City, is hired as the team's first recruit after encountering a ghost in the subway.

2. The Ghosts


Gozer (Slavitza Jovan) in a scene from the original "Ghostbusters".

In the original "Ghostbusters", the primary villains were Zuul and Gozer. Zuul, which was reminiscent of a monster dog with horns and red eyes, was also the minion of Gozer and The Gatekeeper (who possessed Sigourney Weaver's Dana Barrett) with another demon, Vinz Clortho as The Keymaster (who possessed Rick Moranis' Louis Tully). Gozer, played by Slavitza Jovan but voiced by Paddi Edwards, was the main antagonist who is summoned to New York City from another dimension and plans to destroy the world. The other ghosts featured in the 1984 version includes Slimer, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the Library Ghost a.k.a. Eleanor Twitty.


Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) tries to communicate with the ghost of
Gertrude Aldridge in a scene from "Ghostbusters".

On the flip side, the "Ghostbusters" reboot wasn't about Zuul and Gozer. Instead, the main villain was actually a loser named Rowan North (Neil Casey) who also plans to destroy New York City by unleashing all the malevolent entities from a ghost portal. Both Slimer and Stay Puft Marshmallow Man were also featured in this reboot. Then there was the iconic Ghostbusters' logo itself, which subsequently morphed into a gigantic ghost monster. Plus, in a direct reference to the library ghost of Eleanor Twitty in the 1984 original, the reboot featured the ghost of Gertrude Aldridge.

3. The Proton Equipment


(L-R) Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Ray Stantz
(Dan Aykroyd) are ready to track down the ghost with their proton packs.

The most famous equipment in the original "Ghostbusters" was no doubt the proton packs. They were basically nuclear-powered weapons that fired a beam of proton streams to capture a ghost. Each time a ghost was captured, one of the Ghostbusters members would contain the entity right into the ghost trap.


Jillian Holtzmann (left) introduces the ghost chipper to
Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) in a scene from "Ghostbusters".

The equipment featured in the "Ghostbusters" reboot was more diverse. Apart from the famous proton packs and ghost trap, we got to see Jillian Holtzmann design a few other proton-charged gadgets that include a proton glove and ghost chipper.

4. The Story


The original "Ghostbusters" step up to face their ultimate foe in
a scene from "Ghostbusters".

The original "Ghostbusters" was mainly about three university scientists – Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) – planning to start their own paranormal business nicknamed as "Ghostbusters". After they successfully capture the first ghost (Slimer) in the Sedgewick Hotel, they quickly rose to fame and even gained their first client in the form of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), as well as hiring their new recruit Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson). Their paranormal services were subsequently put into an ultimate test when a greater enemy (Zuul and Gozer) terrorises New York City.


The Ghostbusters team are facing various paranormal entities in the heart of
New York City in a scene from "Ghostbusters".

The "Ghostbusters" reboot did follow the same story pattern like the 1984 original. Both Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) joined forces and started up their own ghostbusting business. They also hired a new recruit in the form of an ex-MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). The biggest difference in the reboot's storyline was the villains they encountered that had nothing to do with Zuul and Gozer.

5. The Special Effects


How the effect of Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was created on the
set of the original "Ghostbusters".

Back in 1984, the special effects used in the original "Ghostbusters" were primarily a mix of practical and optical effects. For instance, the library ghost of Eleanor Twitty featured at the beginning of the movie was painstakingly animated frame by frame. The iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man seen terrorising the city blocks of New York was basically "a guy in a suit". Remember the scene where the library cards were mysteriously flying off the drawers? It was actually done by using a combination of fake walls and copper pipes!


Slimer is back in the "Ghostbusters" reboot!

Whereas the original "Ghostbusters" was all old-school effects, the reboot had the privilege to use state-of-the-art digital trickery. Most of the ghost effects featured in the reboot were executed using CG effects. The effect team did utilise some practical methods as well, which mainly involved wires and drone as a "stand-in".

"Ghostbusters" is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.

Cinema Online, 26 July 2016


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