‘Ghostbusters II’ Deserves A Second Look For The New Year

Ghostbusters II is one of those movies that was bound to happen come Hell or high water. The first movie had become such a success that the big wigs in Hollywood would’ve done one with or without the orginal cast who were all mostly objected to a sequel, mainly Bill Murray who was on a self-imposed sabbatical in Europe following the disaster of his pet project The Razor’s Edge.

Columbia Pictures, which hit paydirt with the first movie, was desparately in need of a hit following disasters like Leonard Part 6, Ishtar and The Slugger’s Wife. According to an interview Murray gave to Entertainment Weekly in 1993, the original concept of the sequel was more oriented around the cast and their characters. ” This was on account of negative test screening resulting in some scenes being cut, re-edited and new scenes shot. Even though The Real Ghostbusters was a popular Saturday morning cartoon, Slimer had more scenes but children didn’t care for him, so that’s why it’s reduced to just two quick scenes. There was supposed to be a subplot about Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) trying to capture Slimer that was cut.

The premise this time has the four ghostbusters ought on their own five years after the events of the first movie. Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray) is doing his own TV show World of the Psychics. Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) has gone back to working for a college doing research (and according to Ghostbusters: Afterlife started a family). Dr. Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) has opened his own book store specializing in occult books. And Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and Ray are reduced to appearing at birthday parties for quick money. (But in Afterlife, he’s a rich millionaire so he must’ve made some good investments.) Jason Reitman, who would direct Afterlife, appears briefly has a bratty kid.

Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is a single mom divorcee working at an art museum restoring old paintings. The movie opens with the baby stroller carrying her son, Oscar (William T. and Hank J. Deutschendorf), down the sidewalk on its own and through traffic but not getting hit by the cars. She goes to Egon to discuss this and he says he’s going to bring Ray on to see what’s going on with any paranormal acivity. But Ray lets it slip to Peter who comes along rekindling the tense relationship he had with Dana.

Pretending to be working with the phone company, they cut into the street when they readings off the PK Meter. When the lower Ray down, it’s discovers there’s a river of slime flowing in the Beach Pneumatic Transit However, Ray accidentally knocks out an electrical line when the slime appears to try to reach his feet. This cause a blacklot all over Manhattan.

Later they are arrested and go to court where the cranky Judge Stephen Wexler (Harris Yulin) believes like many others the ghostbusters are a bunch of con-artists and charlatans. Funny how everyone forgotten the events of the previous movie where the walls in a police precinct bled and a 100-foot tall Stay Puff Marshmallow man walked through the city streets before being roasted on top of a high-rise apartment building overlooking Central Park.

The judge’s cranky angry demeanor during a court appearance causes some slime in a container to summon the spirits of the Scolari Brothers, who Wexler had sent to the electric chair years earlier. The Scolari ghosts terrorize the courtroom until Peter, Egon and Ray get Louis, acting as their attorney, to dismiss a court order restraining them performing services. They capture the Scolari brothers and then go back in business with Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) resuming her duties as receptionist with Louis also working as their accountant.

At the same time, Dana has been noticing something odd from a portrait of Vigo the Carpathian (Wilhem von Homburg but dubbed uncredited by Max von Sydow) acting weird. And for good reason. The portrait is actually a portal for the spirit of the 16th Century tyrant to possess humans, such as Janosz Poha (Peter MacNichols) who supervises restoration at the art museum. Vigo tells Janosz to bring him a child so that he can live in the body in the new year which is approaching as the movie is set at Christmastime. Janosz tries to get Oscar for Vigo.

Ray and Egon have determined there is a lot of slime at several of the locations they are responding to to capture the ghosts. They determine the slime feeds off the negative activity of the community, which is what caused the Scolaris to appear at the courtroom. And the river of slime running underground is leading to one location – the art museum. And once again, the ghostbusters are not believed when they try to bring this to the mayor Lenny Cloth (David Margulies). His sniveling assistant, Jack Hardemeyer (Kurt Fuller) is more worried about the mayor’s chances of running for governor in the next election year. So, he has them comitted to Bellevue for psychiatric care.

This part was supposed to include scenes with Eugene Levy as Louis’ cousin, Sherman Tully, who helps them escape from the hospital. But when they looked at the first rough edit, there weren’t much connection between Vigo and the slime and test audiences felt that Vigo wasn’t much of a worthy villain. So, additional scenes were shot that focused more on special effects including redoing the climax with Vigo. This also included a scene of Ray and Egon looking at pictures of Vigo to discover the river of slime and then the pictures bursting into flames. There was also a scene added where they discovered many severed heads on pikes at they’re touring the underground train tracks as well as the ghost train.

A cameo by Cheech Marin as a dock supervisor was added as well. Filming on the movie had initially been from November 1988 to March 1989, but additional reshoots began almost as soon as principal photography ended and lasted until April 1989. Originally, Ghostbusters II was supposed to be released during the July 4 holiday weekend, but it was moved up to mid-June, as it was released one week before Batman, which was highly anticipated.

A lot of these reshoots and emphasis on special effects is what upset Murray. But a lot of the negative test audience reactions was that there was too much of a focus on the relationship between Peter and Dana and not about ghosts. He said it was a totally different movie than the one that was initially discussed. Other cast members had the same reaction. Ramis said if the studio demanded a third movie, he wouldn’t be a part of it. Moranis said that the original was hard to duplicate with his “offbeat, unusual and unpredictable” nature. And Hudson again felt his role had been reduced again with some of his lines going to Murray.

Even Ivan Reitman said the making of the movie hadn’t been as fun as the original. He said the audience had changed in the five years. Some of the critics, such as Gene Siskel, said it felt like a copy of the first movie saying it felt like they only filmed the first draft. Roger Ebert said he saw it in a crowded theater and there was only one big laugh. And afterwards, he said people were coming up to him telling him how bad they thought the movie was.

The movie has become a joke. When Murray received the Mark Twain Prize in 2016, Steve Martin only had something brief to say about Ghostbusters II: “Didn’t see it.” Well, somebody did because it grossed $215 million at the box office, which was $70 million less than the first one made but still a good return at the time.

I think public opinion has changed a little, thanks to the disastrous 2016 remake. However, Afterlife seemed to have some of the same feel of the original. And I think it’s caused some people to re-examine Ghostbusters II in recent years. With the explosion of the Internet and social media, a popular meme is Bob Ross drawing the portrait of Vigo, sometimes with a kitten. The Statue of Liberty moving is not the best substitute for the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man but it’s still a good idea.

If anything else, it’s a timeline of New York City when it was considered the scum hub of the world. Changes would happen in the 1990s to make NYC a far more pleasant place for tourism. All major cities have crime and issues with civility. But in a post 9/11 world where strangers banded together to make stretchers and stand in line hours to donate blood for the victims, it’s hard for many people to imagine a NYC with a lot of negative activity. Despite what conservatives want you think, NYC like most cities, has had a drop in crime since the 1980s.

Some movies just aren’t as well appreciated on their initial run. Gremlins 2: The New Batch was released the following summer and had a different approach to the more successful Gremlins which was released the same summer as the first Ghostbusters. It was a bust with audiences and critics. But now, more than three decades later, it’s considered a biting satire on the nature of sequels. You have to walk a tightrope in what the audience expects and what the audiences doesn’t want to see again. Home Alone 2 had many similarities with the first one but I consider it a better sequel. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just a soft remake of Star Wars: A New Hope and I didn’t like it. But I did like The Last Jedi, which not many SW fans like currently, but one day they may see a lot better.

I still say the first Ghostbusters is the best and the popularity of Afterlife with a sequel schedueled for the 2023 Christmas season will surely bring a younger audience to both the first and second movies. Surely if Peter and Dana are seen together at the end of Afterlife, they must have raised Oscar together. Will an adult Oscar be appearing in the movie? Will Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson don their Ghostbuster uniforms one more time? Or will they try to bring the characters from the failed 2016 movie into the timeline?

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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