Okay, I'll admit it: in the words of Ray Parker Jr., 'bustin' makes me feel goo-o-ood.' I'm a huge Ghostbusters fan.
And yet the news of a potential third chapter has long filled me with trepidation. Now, as I wait eagerly for my copies of the 30th anniversary editions of I and (to a lesser extent) II to arrive, I'm reminded why.
For me, Ghostbusters has deep roots in my childhood. It belongs to a time in which the writing was sharp but the picture quality less so; a time in which you could only sate your Ghostbusters craving via VHS (oftentimes discovering that some annoying person had not rewound said videotape to the beginning after use). A time in which I would declaim, with absolute conviction, that Peter Venkman was my future husband. A time before CGI ruled supreme. A time before Zac Efron.
I'm not picking on Mr Efron, by the way; but when a potential storyline for the second sequel was announced - the next generation of ghost chasers, possibly all-female, or possibly featuring Dana Barratt's son, Oscar - I couldn't help wince at the idea of some deliciously-polished youth (male or female) picking up the mantle. I mean, come on. If the first film was made now, who would play our heroic scientists? It wouldn't be a group of average-yet-charming 30-something-year-olds with bad skin, bad hair and no six packs (note that the description deliberately applies to the 'scientists' alone - because Winston was pretty tonk). No.
Take the wise-cracking, flirtatious Venkman, for instance: he'd be played by the aforementioned Zac Efron or Dave Franco or someone of that ilk, hair artfully tousled, donning a huge pair of hipster glasses and perhaps a dickie bow tie, sleeves rolled up to show a slim arm with a hint of bicep. Perhaps, to give the impression of all-consuming scholarly activities, they'd forego the tan - but the teeth would be marvellously even and beautifully white. The rest of the cast would follow suit. Maybe - if we were lucky - one character would be allowed to break this sea of aesthetic perfection, possibly the highly-intellectual yet sentimental Ray Stantz (I'm looking at you, Seth Rogen). But this would be a choice made with a specific brand of lookist humour in mind: much would be made of this character's averageness during the course of the film, and there'd probably be copious shots of his untoned stomach for 'comic' value.
All of which is absolutely fine. Some of the time. But never for our beloved 'busters.
And then there's the careful handling of effects in the original instalment. True, the effects are clunky at times, but I'd argue that this quality only enhances the kooky charm of the material; it's not always slick, but neither are our ghost chasers. Plus, this is an unknown world we're dealing with here, so who are we to say that Slimer wouldn't have a funny blurry line around him? Okay, okay - even the most die-hard of fans has to concede that some moments are undoubtedly better than others, but there are those that work extremely well, and that is testament to the skill of the team involved. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was a real man (fabrication wizard Bill Bryan) in a latex suit, stomping on miniatures; vast amounts of shaving foam were dropped on cast members to create the mallowy explosion; and Sigourney Weaver really did float! In a full body-cast and attached to a post that was cleverly disguised, sure, but she wasn't against a green screen or swimming in a tank - she rose upwards from that very bed. The effort that the crew put in to making these effects a reality cannot be underestimated, because that's what they were: real. Much more real than the overbloated CGI that we see in many modern Hollywood blockbusters, which is so often a cheap alternative to a bit of thought and which, in the process, is damaging an entire industry of stuntpeople, puppeteers and special effects brainiacs. Some CGI is extremely effective, but when overused it can look offputtingly artificial. If there is another edition of Ghostbusters, I'd hope for some restraint.
Much of what I say is tongue-in-cheek, but there is some truth underneath it all, not least my love for the original film - a film that absolutely stands the test of time. On that note, I should point out that by revelling in the nostalgic charm of Ghostbusters, I'm not consigning its relevance to the 1980s. Far from it: it was wonderful then and it's wonderful now. That's exactly my point. The film industry should make more like it. Exactly like it. Not rebooted, repackaged, reworked. Just great, unpretentious storytelling, filmed with ingenuity and enhanced by fantastic performances from talented leading men (that are in no way seen as lacking because they don't possess washboard abs or great hair). If this could be promised for Ghostbusters 3, I'd be there like a shot. But I won't hold my breath.