Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer:   Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Genre:    Comedy
Year:     1984
Rating:   PG
Bill Murray      as Peter Venkman
Dan Aykroyd      as Ray Stantz
Harold Ramis     as Egon Spengler
Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett

Plot Summary

Ghostbusters opens with a librarian getting a fright by some unseen creature in the basement of a library. After this, Ray Stantz bursts in on Peter Venkman, who is supposedly running experiments to study psychic ability at the university but is actually flirting with female students, telling him about the ghost sighting. Reluctantly, he ends the experiment and comes along to investigate.

The pair meet up with Egon Spengler at the library, and they head to the basement to investigate, finding ectoplasm in the card catalog and books stacked six feet high in the aisles. Egon has apparently already invented the PKE meter, which acts as a ghost detector, and the trio manage to track down the library ghost. Unsure of what to do now that they've actually found a ghost, they run out of the library when the apparition transforms into a more ghoulish form.

Based on the readings Egon took of the library ghost, he and Ray are convinced they can build ghost capturing and containment equipment, but no sooner do they return to the university than they find the dean kicking them out for their unorthodox research. Now unemployed, they wonder what to do until Peter suggests going into business for themselves. To this end, they mortgage Ray's parents house to buy an old firehouse and the equipment they need to build their tools. And also time for TV commercials.

Their first case is Dana Barret, who sees a vision of a strange temple in her refrigerator, but upon investigating Peter can't find anything. Ray decides to check the architectural blueprints and history of the building while Egon checks on the word "Zuul" which Dana heard during the vision. Unfortunately for Dana, their research takes some time to complete.

In the meantime, having just run out of cash, the Ghostbusters get their first live case: the famous Slimer capture at the hotel. This is the first time the Ghostbusters actually fire their proton streams in the movie... at a maid's cart. But shortly following, after Peter gets slimed, they track Slimer to the ballroom and, after a messy and awkward battle and a warning never to cross the streams, they manage to wrangle him into the ghost trap. The hotel manager balks at the steep $5,000 price tag, but agrees to it rather than have the beastie set loose again.

With a successful containment under their belts, their business takes off. A montage follows of the Ghostbusters walking out of buildings with smoking ghost traps and their faces plastered on the front pages of newspapers and the covers of magazines, set to Ray Parker, Jr.'s Ghostbusters theme song. They have so much business, they have to hire on Winston Zeddmore for extra help.

And in the middle of it all, Dana and her neighbor Louis Tully are attacked by Terror Dogs and possessed by the spirits of Zuul the Gatekeeper and Vince Clorthow the Keymaster, both servants of an evil god named Gozer.

Unfortunately, just as the Ghostbuster's homemade ghost containment grid is starting to fill up to dangerous levels, EPA official and skeptic Walter Peck bursts into the firehouse with a warrant to shut down the operation because of their potentially dangerous and unregulated equipment. Against the Ghostbuster's warnings, they shut down the containment unit, releasing all their trapped ghosts in a spectacular explosion. Peck has the Ghostbusters arrested, and Dana/Zuul and Louis/Vince proceed to the roof of their apartment to open the dimensional doorway for Gozer.

In jail, the Ghostbusters finish looking over the blueprints for Dana's apartment, and discover that the architect, Ivo Shandor, was the leader of a cult devoted to Gozer intended to bring about the end of the world. The apartment building was designed as a massive antenna for paranormal energy. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Mayor is at the end of his rope and the only ones who appear to be able to do anything about the current crisis are the Ghostbusters. He frees them from jail and they suit up to take down Gozer. The ending is a special effects extravaganza involving a 100-foot tall Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man mascot stomping through New York and the Ghostbusters risking everything on one last desperate plan to force Gozer back through the dimensional door.


I have a theory that there are three types of people who enjoy Ghostbusters. You can tell them apart when Ray calls Slimer a "class-5 full roaming vapor"

  1. Whatever. Does that mean you're finally going to shoot your lasers at it already?
  2. This effective use of techno-babble has fully immersed me into the show's fictional reality. These men are professionals with their own unique jargon.

Anyone who knows me in real life should have no trouble figuring out that I fall solidly in category #3. Ghostbusters has the right mix of comedy, action, and plausible pseudo-science to keep me interested throughout its running time.

The original idea behind the movie was penned by Dan Aykroyd, and it was originally intended to be another Aykroyd/Belushi vehicle. Unfortunately John Belushi died before the movie could get made, and Bill Murray was hired to take his role. Belushi did receive a homage in the movie though, in the form of the gluttonous "onionhead ghost", more popularly known as Slimer, who was inspired by Belushi's Bluto character from Animal House.

Aykroyd's original concept for Ghostbusters bears little resemblance to the movie that ultimately resulted from it. At first, the team were highly trained professionals who do battle with the paranormal while jumping through time and dimensions, and what would become the heavy, bulky proton packs we now know were originally wrist-mounted wands that also performed the function of the ghost traps. His high-concept (and high-budget) script was fine-tuned by co-writer Harold Ramis (who played Egon) into its current incarnation. The characters, meanwhile, were re-imagined as out of shape college professors forced into an action hero role they were clearly not ready for.

The four characters that make up the Ghostbusters team play off of each other extremely well. Egon is the stoic scientist of the group, and responsible for the breakthroughs that make their work possible. Ray is the enthusiastic engineer, frequently called upon to translate Egon's babblings into English. Peter is the sleazy salesman, dealing directly with the customers and acting as the public face and voice of the team. Winston is the everyman the audience identifies with, hired on halfway through the movie.

Ghostbusters is followed by Ghostbusters 2, a standard "we were heroes at the end of the first movie but now everyone who hasn't forgotten us hates us" sequel. After years of trying to get a third Ghostbusters movie off the ground, Dan Aykroyd has declared 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game to be the third installment of the franchise.


I give Ghostbusters 5/5 Stars for a fun and engaging movie. One of the few movies I've seen multiple times. The special effects are dated, but it was always intended to be a family movie so it's not too scary for the kids.