Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters (2016), Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The House of Last Things, and Ghosts of Mars
Horror Bulletin Weekly Newsletter #267
I’m not ‘fraid o no ghosts! Well, not anymore, because the Ghostbusters took them all away. Yes, we’re going to talk about all four of the Ghostbusters films. We’ve got the first two from 1984 and 1989, the female-reboot from 2016, and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” from 2021. Of course, we’ll cover “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” when it releases sometime in 2024.
In addition, exclusive to our weekly email newsletter, we also reviewed:
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“The House of Last Things” (2012)
“Ghosts of Mars” (2001)
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Here. We. Go!
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Run Time: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a fun romp with some horror elements that still holds up for entertainment almost 40 years after release. The cast works well together, the script is good, and the special effects are still passable. We’d recommend it.
We open in the New York Public Library as a librarian runs into some weirdness in the basement. Credits roll.
We cut to Dr. Peter Venkman doing an ESP test on university students, and we see that he cheats depending on how cute the subject is. Dr. Raymond Stantz comes in, all excited about what happened at the library. Dr. Egon Spengler is already there, and he’s taken readings that show something is really happening.
The three go down to the basement, and Peter is skeptical, while the other two are true believers. They find some snot– er, ectoplasm. Then they see their first real ghost… Now what do they do? They quickly learn what not to do.
Afterward, Egon thinks he can come up with a way to catch the ghost. When they get back to the University, they find out that they’ve been fired. Peter wants to go into business for themselves. They buy an old firehouse as a home base.
We then cut to Dana Barrett, a normal woman who lives in a creepy high-rise next door to Louis, a tiny, very chatty nerd. She watches a TV ad for “Ghostbusters,” and it’s the three guys from earlier. The groceries she just bought start acting up, and her fridge becomes a portal to Hell. Who’s she gonna call?
Dana goes to see the Ghostbusters, and Peter’s eager to help. He’s more interested in Dana than the ghost, but he goes to her place to check her– it out. The fridge is full of– food. He’s persistent, but she’s not interested.
The guys complain that they’re just about broke, but then Janine, the receptionist, gets a call from a hotel. The manager says that this has been going on for years on the twelfth floor, but it’s all gotten worse in the past few weeks. The guys are not subtle or quiet about it. On the way up, they talk about the nuclear backpacks they’re wearing. Egon warns them to never cross the streams on their weapons.
Ray runs into the little green blob ghost and calls the others. It then slimes Peter. They fight the little slimer, and the hotel ballroom pays the price. They shoot it with their beams and force it into their trap device. It works! The hotel manager thinks they’re crooks and refuses to pay– until they threaten to release the ghost back where they caught it.
Suddenly, ghost sightings are breaking out all over the city. The Ghostbusters are suddenly very busy, and most people stop thinking they’re cranks. They have to hire more help, Winston Zeddemore joins up for the steady paycheck. Ray shows him how to put ghosts into the “ghost jail” machines. Peter woos Dana to agree to a date.
Walter Peck, from the EPA comes to the station to talk to Peter. He doesn’t believe in ghosts and thinks the Ghostbusters are con artists. He wants to see their storage facility and assess any environmental impact. Peter throws him out.
Egon warns that the paranormal level of the whole city is growing enormously. Meanwhile, on the roof of Dana’s building, the stone gargoyles start turning into demon dogs. When she gets home, she finds her kitchen has a problem and it pulls her right in. Louis, who’s having a party across the hall, gets a much more public visit from a devil dog.
Peter shows up for his date with Dana, and she’s clearly different. She wants to know if he’s the Keymaster; she says she’s Zuul the Gatekeeper, and she wants to prepare for the coming of Gozer. He knows she’s possessed, especially when she gets all Exorcist-y.
Across town, Louis has been possessed by the Keymaster, and he’s out looking for the Gatekeeper. Back at the Ghostbusters’ HQ, the police bring Louis to Egon. and he’s very strange. Ray and Winston talk about the end times and the end of the world.
The EPA guy shows up again, and this time, he’s got a court order to shut down the Ghostbusters’ containment facility. Egon warns him not to shut the machines down, but they do anyway. All the ghosts they’ve ever captured explosively escape into the city, all at once. In jail, Ray explains the blueprints to Dana’s building and says the whole place was built to be a huge ghost-magnet.
As the mayor calls on the Ghostbusters for help, the Keymaster finally comes to the Gatekeeper, and they get together. By the time the Ghostbusters arrive at Dana’s building, the place is getting scary. That’s OK, because the crowd is there cheering them on.
The Gatekeeper and the Keymaster open the doorway and release Gozer. She’s not nice at all, and the guys shoot her with their neutron beams. She vanishes– they won!
No, they didn’t. A voice tells them to choose the form of The Destructor. They try not to choose anything, but Ray was thinking about marshmallows. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man attacks, and he’s a hundred feet tall. It stomps through town like a big fluffy Godzilla, and the guys shoot it again, but it has no effect.
Egon suggests they cross the streams on their weapon. That would be bad, but it just might work. They cross the beams, and everything explodes. The city is covered in marshmallows. Everyone is fine, even Dana and Louis.
They all go down to the screaming, happy crowd. As they drive their car away from the scene, we see that the Slimer is still out there.
I didn’t remember just how much product placement this one had. The special effects are good for 1984, but don’t hold up so well today. They’re just acceptable.
It starts off strong and never slows down at all. The humor is still humorous, the action is fun, and the cast works really well together. It’s still a good time after all these years.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Run Time: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a pretty good but not quite as good sequel to the original, with the same cast plus a few extra folks. In the five years since, things have settled down to normal, but they quickly go haywire again. Good thing The Ghostbusters still know their stuff.
Five years later, Dana walks home with her baby, but the stroller has a mind of its own, rolling through traffic down the streets of New York. Who is she gonna call? Credits roll.
The Ghostbusters show up to a call, but it’s just a kids’ birthday party. They all boo because they wanted He-Man. Yes, the Ghostbusters have gone out of business, but now they do public appearances and dance to their famous song. They were heroes, but they’ve been sued into the ground since then.
Dana goes to see Egon about her stroller problem. Egon still works with Ray from time to time, but they all tend to avoid Peter nowadays. Peter’s the host of a “Psychic” TV show where he makes fun of people who predict the end of the world. Jack Hardemeyer, the mayor’s assistant, doesn’t want the mayor associated with any of the Ghostbusters.
Meanwhile, at the art museum, Dr. Janosz Poha oversees Dana, who is restoring artwork. They wheel in a creepy painting with a scary guy on it. Janosz is a creepy little guy with a foreign accent, and he’s got a crush on Dana. We see the face in the painting struggling to get out. Peter goes to visit Ray and Egon, and he learns about Dana’s little problem.
The three guys head over to Dana’s place to check out the baby. We see that Dana and Peter had a thing for a while, but he wasn’t cut out for that. They don’t find anything special with the baby or the apartment, but they find some slime outside in the road. They dig a hole to see what’s down there; they find a whole river of slime. The guys are soon arrested for causing a power blackout.
Back at the museum, the painting of Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia, comes to life and attacks Janosz. “Find me a child that I might live again.” Janosz’s first stop is Dana’s house.
Hardemeyer is pressing charges against the three Ghostbusters, and Winston and Louis are there in court to help. They’re found guilty on all charges and sentenced to prison. The judge is so angry that it sets off the ectoplasm sample they had for evidence. The judge soon changes his tune and dismisses the charges. The guys suit up and go after the ghosts– they’re back!
Which is good, because things are creeping all around the city again. We get a musical ghostbusting montage! The slime under the city is psychoactive- it responds to human emotional states– it feeds on “bad vibes.”
Peter goes to see Dana at work and meets Janosz, who is still weird. Peter mocks the painting of Vigo, a lunatic and genocidal maniac. She mentions that she’s creeped out by the painting, and later that night, her bathtub tries to eat her baby.
Ray researches Vigo, and there was a whole story about how he ended up dying. Vigo, of course, swore to return someday. The guys go to the museum, and Peter asks Janosz about his weird accent, but he’s just from the Upper West Side. The painting does something to Ray.
Janine and Louis come over to babysit Oscar while Peter and Dana go out. Egon and Ray analyze the painting, and there’s something supernatural about it.
Egon, Ray, and Winston go down into the sewers to check out the slime they saw before, and they run into some bad stuff, including many severed heads and a whole phantom subway train. They all soon end up in the slime river, which leads right to the museum. They go to tell Peter, and the whole group is arrested.
The Ghostbusters go to tell the mayor about what’s going on. He wants nothing to do with them and tells Hardemeyer to handle it. He has them committed.
Back at the museum, Vigo and Janosz come to an arrangement about Dana and Oscar. Dana goes home to find that Oscar has been abducted by a ghost-nanny. Dana recognizes that the nanny is Janosz and runs to the museum. As soon as she goes inside, the whole museum becomes covered in slime.
Weird stuff starts happening all over town. The mayor wants to call the Ghostbusters; he has no idea that Hardemeyer had them locked in the psychiatric ward. “Somebody get me the Ghostbusters!” They show up, he goes with them and fires Hardemeyer.
The Ghostbusters show up at the museum. Inside, Janosz says they’re mainly waiting for midnight, and then the city will belong to Vigo. Janosz wants Dana, but she’s not interested.
The Ghostbusters shoot the slime surrounding the museum, but it won’t budge. Only the good vibes of the citizens of New York will do the job. They go to the Statue of Liberty and wire her up with loudspeakers and lots of slime. Then they “drive” the animated, activated Lady Liberty through town. Meanwhile, Janine gets Louis dressed up as a Ghostbuster.
The Ghostbusters break through the roof of the museum and drop in, just before midnight. They hose down Janosz with good slime, but Vigo is gone from his painting. He appears before the group, and they blast him, which bounces back against the guys.
Vigo has the Ghostbusters paralyzed, and he’s just about to possess Oscar, but he hears all the people outside singing, which saps his powers. Outside, Louis arrives and zaps the ectoplasm outside; this time it works. Vigo possesses Ray but a blast of good slime solves that. The guys shoot the painting, which explodes.
Everyone goes outside to greet the cheering mob.
Who’s going to put the Statue of Liberty back where it belongs? Better yet, how?
Max Von Sydow did the voice for Vigo, as the original German actor’s accent was too strong.
It’s a good continuation, but it all seems very low-stakes and a little slower-paced until the very end.
Aware of the Wolf (2023)
Directed by Joshua Nelson
Written by Joshua Nelson
Stars Tony Murphy, Suzanne Johnson, Katie Raulerson
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Life coaching from a motivational speaker can help the meek and afraid find the animal inside them. Maybe sometimes it works really, really well and takes things a little too far. This was a fine piece of indie work that we enjoyed.
We open with a girl running through the woods. It’s not a monster; it’s her boyfriend, who isn’t primitive or manly enough for her. She wants to be dragged through the woods and gone through like a knife through butter. She wants to be scared! When she hears the howl of a wolf, she smiles– that’s more like it! “That wasn’t me,” says her boyfriend. When the werewolf shows up and kills them both, she looks really scared.
Credits roll as real wolves stalk the snowy woods and fight over meat.
Two girls talk about one of them sleeping with the other’s boyfriend; this sounds like a good idea to exactly one of them. This friendship looks more than a little one-sided as one girl is really greedy.
Detective Wagner walks through the woods, investigating the dead bodies of the couple from before the credits. She finds part of a face, along with a business card.
A woman tries to throw out her pregnant stepdaughter, even though the daughter pays all the bills. We soon cut to the same pregnant girl in a classroom where Terry begins talking about “Terry’s Transformations.” “How many of you don’t feel good enough?” Everyone raises their hands. They talk about Darwin and “Survival of the Fittest.”
We cut to an office where the woman boss tells an underling to come over to her house this weekend when her husband is away. Veer comes in, wanting to be the best man at his brother’s wedding on Saturday, but she tells him no, he can’t have the day off. She’s not a great boss.
Another young couple is out in the woods talking about having sex; something watches them from the trees. They hear growling. Then they become meat.
We cut back to Terry’s Transformations group, where we see most of the people that we just saw being taken advantage of. Terry brings in Vinnie, who is not prey; he’s a predator. Nobody messes with Vinnie, and he’s not afraid of anyone. “They knew I was an animal!” Ella talks about her abusive boyfriend in Alabama.
Terry’s been talking about changing, but he hasn’t really demonstrated anything. Then it’s time. He gets very excited and starts howling.
The pregnant girl gets yelled at by her cursing mother again. Elsewhere, Miles gives an impassioned speech about hating how non-confrontational he is and that he hopes Terry’s lessons will help him.
Detective Wagner gets called to another crime scene; this one is much like the first one. One of the women from the group asks her gaslighting husband if he’s having an affair. All of these things come up at the next meeting of Terry’s group. This all goes on just a little too long and stretches into the realm of TMI.
Terry eventually tells them their problem is that they aren’t “Aware of the Wolf.” He makes everyone get up out of their seats and attack their guest speaker. They kill him, and Terry cheers them on with glee.
The young pregnant girl gives birth, but afterward, she’s once again berated by her nasty mother. The baby is a werewolf– Nope, just a dream.
The girl with the greedy friend comes back for money after wrecking her car, and the first girl starts howling. The other girl walks away, getting nothing.
It’s time for the final meeting, and Terry pours a liquid into goblets decorated with wolf-heads. “This will complete your transformation, so drink.”
The two women detectives talk about a self-defense course, and one of them talks about self-help courses and “Transformation Therapy.” could something like that be related to the bodies they’ve been finding in the woods? The “therapist” from that old case was never caught; it was “Mike’s Metamorphosis.”
Afterward, they all complain about their $2500 fee. Nothing happened. “It’s time to get ready to get rid of the people who are holding me back. We hunt in a pack.” The whole group goes out.
Nasty mother gets confronted in her hallway. The woman with the cheating husband bakes him a cake as a peace offering. Yeah, it’s drugged, which leads to him being eaten. Veer substitutes with Rick for his unwanted weekend “date” with his boss. The girl with the greedy roommate finds her with her own boyfriend, which leads to much growling.
Ella gets angry at Terry for ripping her off and raping her, and she goes berserk; her eyes turn yellow.
Meanwhile, the police come to question Terry. He says he “helps” people all over the country. Detective Wagner ends up shooting her own partner. She yells at Terry for choosing such weak people to take his classes. Turns out she and Terry are brother and sister. As they leave, they hear growling outside, and she’s killed by a full-on werewolf. Terry runs, but another one gets him.
I guess the lessons worked!
The half-face they found in the woods is really effective. The werewolf masks aren’t as great, but they work well enough.
The lighting and sound are well done, and everything looks good here. The acting and dialog are just hilarious. The self-confidence speeches and motivational stuff go on way too long, but overall, it was fun.
You know from the beginning where it’s headed, but it’s a good time getting there. I’d rate it higher if they’d cut out just a little of the talky bits in the group sessions, but overall, I liked it!
Directed by Paul Feig
Written by Katie Dippold, Paul Feig, Ivan Reitman
Stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
Run Time: 2 Hours, 13 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a complete reboot of the original with four female Ghostbusters, a male secretary, and a different story of peril to the city of New York. We went in with an open mind, willing to give it a fair chance to entertain us. While it does have some bright spots and chuckles here and there, it’s not a patch on the original.
We open on a tour guide talking about an old, historic house. He makes it sound like old man Aldridge might not have been such a nice guy. His daughter, Gertrude, may have been even worse; they locked her in the basement for years. “No one has opened this door since then,” he says. Later, after closing, he sees the doorknob turning and someone screams. As the ghosts get him, credits roll.
Erin talks to her boyfriend; she’s a particle physicist. No one comes to her lecture except Ed Mulgrave. He’s the historian for the Aldridge Mansion, and he’s read her book. The Dean, Harold Filmore, is snooty and doesn’t care for Erin; he walks past a bust of Egon Spengler on the way out.
Erin goes to see Abby, who has published Erin’s book without permission. They wrote the book together many years ago, but now it’s gonna look bad on Erin’s tenure application. Jillian Holzmann is an engineer who works with Abby. They demonstrate a fart joke. Erin tells them about the Aldridge Mansion.
The three women go to the Aldridge House, but the tour guide, Garrett, lets them in but also adds, “You’re going to die in there.” They soon see Gertrude’s ghost, who vomits gallons of ectoplasm all over Erin. It all winds up on YouTube, which does not please Dean Filmore, who fires her.
There are numerous emails from people who report seeing ghosts. There’s a TV show out there called “Ghost Jumpers,” but they’re a bunch of fakers. Abby wants to do it for real. Soon, Abby and Jillian are fired too, so what do they have to lose?
Patty Tolan, who works in the subway, follows Rowan, a weird guy, into the tunnels and sees a ghost. Somehow, Rowan made that ghost appear. We see that he has a whole bunch of ghosts trapped inside mirrors where he works.
The women go to the firehouse from the original Ghostbusters movie, but the rent is $21,000 a month, so they end up moving into a former Chinese restaurant instead. Chris Hemsworth shows up, and he wants to be their receptionist, Kevin. He’s got a really confusing conversational style, and he’s just stupid, but he looks so good they hire him.
Patty comes to see them about the ghost she saw. They all go down into the subway and they see the ghost too. They shoot it with a proton gun, and it just annoys him. They post the video online, and no one believes it’s real. Patty wants to “join the club,” and she seals the deal by bringing them a Hearse.
Jillian fixes the proton gun, and it might work now. Actually, it might be a little overpowered now. They watch an interview show with Dr. Heiss, a paranormal expert, who says the girls’ videos on YouTube are all fake.
Rowan goes to a rock concert, and we see that he’s got a device with him.
Jillian has had the Hearse redecorated to look like a proper Ghostbusters car. They have coveralls, proton packs, and look just like the um, “Real Ghostbusters.” They go into the concert hall and find a ghost-attracting device. They are soon chased by a possessed mannequin. They shoot the mannequin, which explodes into a big winged flying ghost, which goes out onto stage in front of the crowd, which thinks it’s part of the show. They work together and actually manage to capture the ghost.
Dr. Heiss comes to visit the Ghostbusters. “Why are you pretending to catch ghosts?” They release the ghost they caught to prove it to the old man, and it throws him out the windows. “He just wasn’t Ghostbusters material,” someone says.
The mayor calls in the Ghostbusters for a little talk. They tell him that someone is causing all the ghost activity on purpose, and he tells them to stop doing their thing as the government can handle it. The government is going to publicly say the Ghostbusters are fake.
Unwilling to stop, Jillian comes up with a whole bunch of new weapons and toys, all of which make a mess. They figure out that the bad guy is using the devices and ghosts to charge up some ley lines, which will break down the walls between realities. The center of all the activity is the Mercado Hotel, which is where Rowan works, and Patty recognizes his picture on the website.
They track down Rowan at the hotel and find his workshop, which is really something. He does a whole monologue, and then Abby gives him a speech about how great the world is. He fries himself in the equipment, shorting it out, and the ghosts stay put. The Ghostbusters call on the government to clean it all up, and they blame the Ghostbusters for this “publicity stunt.”
Rowan’s ghost possesses Abby, who then starts smashing the Ghostbusters’ equipment. Patty slaps the ghost right out of Abby. The ghost then possesses Kevin, who rides away.
Erin goes to tell the mayor to evacuate the city, but he won’t do that. Possessed Kevin goes back to Rowan’s place and continues the “dead” man’s work. He releases all the ghosts, including Slimer, who steals the Ghostbusters’ car.
In the meantime, the Ghostbusters are menaced by haunted parade balloons, including a giant marshmallow man.
Kevin/Rowan shows up at the Mercado and makes all the police, agents, and crowd do a dance. There’s an all out ghost battle with lots of action, but they finally go inside to face off with Kevin.
Rowan depossess Kevin, but they can’t shoot the ghostly Rowan. He wants to know what form he can take and appears as the cartoon ghost from their logo, only huge and scary; skyscraper-sized huge and scary.
Abby and Jillian say the only way to stop the giant monster is to cross the streams on the proton guns when they shoot the portal. It doesn’t work, so they decide to turn the Ghostbuster car into a giant ghost trap. It works, but the huge ghost grabs Abby as he gets sucked into the portal.
Erin hooks a cable onto herself and jumps in after Abby. They both come back out, but now they have white hair. Kevin insists he helped avert the crisis. The mayor once again denies everything.
The city offers to give them the firehouse they couldn’t afford before along with funding. Patty’s Uncle Bill comes by, looking for the Hearse, which they lost in the portal.
We watched the extended cut, which includes fifteen extra minutes of stuff not shown in theaters.
Everyone tore this apart when it came out, and we didn’t see it then. In the meantime, we’ve seen lots of opinions saying it was unfairly maligned and underrated.
No, it’s just not funny. There are a few laughs, but many, many more just fall flat. Melissa McCarthy is just not funny.
The special effects are really well done, far better than the originals. It’s a lot more action-oriented than the originals, which were mostly jokey-comedy.
The action and the special effects are quite good. The jokes and humor are very weak.
Ghostbusters Afterlife (2021)
Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman, Ivan Reitman
Stars Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace
Run Time: 2 Hours, 4 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This blissfully continues years after Ghostbusters 2, and it’s as if the 2016 reboot never happened. Young folks take up the helm to save the world this time, with some help from the original guys. With the young folks, it seemed like this one was geared a little more toward a younger audience, but we still thought it was entertaining. It was a worthy sequel.
At the Shandor Mining Company, a man drives like a maniac through town as a device in the truck beeps menacingly. He goes off the road and crashes. He then runs through the cornfield to a house and throws a switch. He’s got a ghost trap and some other “Ghostbusters” equipment, but it doesn’t work. The ghosts kill the farmer. We never get a good look at him. Credits roll.
Callie tells the landlord that she’s just inherited some money from her recently deceased father. He tells her that she’s evicted. She and her kids, Trevor and Phoebe, drive out to the farmer’s house. The house is quite the old monstrosity.
Janine comes by, she was Callie’s fathers friend. She says the place is worthless and her dead father was broke. [It’s clear by this point that the dead father was Egon, one of the original Ghostbusters.] That night, Phoebe’s chess set moves a single piece.
Callie takes the kids to school, and she meets Grooberson, the teacher, who is also a seismologist. It’s summer school, so all he does is put “Cujo” in the videotape player. Phoebe meets a kid named “Podcast” who, believe it or not, has a podcast. Grooberman talks to Phoebe about seismology. This place gets regular earthquakes, but there’s no geological reason.
Podcast takes Phoebe to a strange mountain where the mines are. One by one, the miners started killing themselves, so they had to shut the mine down. Trevor gets a job at the diner, and he’s awful at it. He tries to fix up the old Ghostbusters car, rusting in the barn.
That evening, Phoebe plays chess with an invisible opponent. We also see the ghost detector light up when that happens. She finds the device and follows the readings to a puzzle built into the floor. Inside is one of the ghost traps.
She takes the trap to school, and Grooberson knows what it is, but he thinks it’s a replica. “There hasn’t been a ghost sighting in thirty years.” Phoebe says it’s not a replica. He tells her and Podcast about the event of the original film; they’ve never heard any of this before. They decide to open it after school. That goes badly, and the ghost heads straight for the old mines. Phoebe’s grandfather was a Ghostbuster!
Podcast and Phoebe read about the Gatekeeper, Keymaster, and Gozer the Gozerian in one of the books at the house. “What did we let out?”
Trevor and his friends all go up to the mine. They see smoke and fire down in the well, and then they watch something pop out.
Back at the farm. Phoebe finds her grandfather’s secret lab and Ghostbusters uniforms, all marked “Spengler.” His ghost shows her around, all invisibly, of course. She watches the old Ghostbusters TV ads and gets a proton gun working again with the ghost’s help. She and Podcast check out a factory that had something inside making creepy noises. They find a ghost inside, but it gets away before they can trap it. Since it was eating metal pipes, they call it “Muncher.”
Grooberson and Callie go on a date, and she explains that science puts her right to sleep. She doesn’t like to talk about her ex or her father.
Trevor gets the Ghostbusters car working and takes Phoebe and Podcast to town. They hear a radio report that indicates Muncher is in town. They chase it right through town, blowing up everything they pass; it’s heading for the mountain. Finally, they manage to catch it, right in front of the mountain where Trevor saw weirdness the previous night. They are soon arrested for their in-town hijinks.
With her one phone call, she calls the number on the old Ghostbusters ad, which goes to Ray’s occult bookstore. He explains what happened with the original Ghostbusters crew. Egon had been going on and on about the end of the world, and it was too much for Ray.
Callie and Grooberson go to the police station to pick up her kids. That goes about as well as can be expected. Grooberman goes to Walmart, where he finds a baby marshmallow man who bites his finger. The store is soon crawling with the little guys, who have a great time wrecking the place. He also finds a devil dog there who chases him outside.
The kids figure out that the guy who founded the mine and the town is the same guy who built the ghost-magnet building from the first film. Then they all ride the elevator down in the long-abandoned mine where they find Gozer’s huge old temple– and a tomb. Ivo Shandor is the old guy who founded the town. Something tries to climb up out of the pit, but a bunch of proton guns keep the things down there; this is where the earthquakes keep coming from. Egon had wired the whole place to automatically keep the monsters suppressed in the hole.
Back at the farmhouse, Callie finds the ghost detector, which leads her to her father’s secret lab. The ghost shows her that he had many photos of her and didn’t abandon her by choice, which is what she always thought. Then the devil dog jumps out and gets her.
Callie is now Zuul, the Gatekeeper, and she takes off running toward the mountain. Grooberman, the Keymaster, goes to the mines and disables the proton beams, releasing whatever’s down there.
Phoebe figures out that the whole farm isn’t for growing things; it’s a giant trap. Callie and Grooberman get together at the mountain and release their inner hellhounds. Gozer climbs up out of the pit and makes short work of Ivo Shandor. Phoebe walks up and tells Gozer bad jokes; Gozer is not amused. It’s a distraction until Podcast can trap the Gatekeeper.
Callie turns back into herself and tries to tell Phoebe about the secret lab, but Phoebe knows all about that. They drive back to the farm, pursued by Gozer, and they use the Gatekeeper, in a trap, as bait. As before, the field-trap doesn’t work.
It’s all looking very grim until Ray, Peter, and Winston show up. Gozer remembers them. They shoot Gozer and cross the beams again. With the help of Egon’s ghost, the three original Ghostbusters, along with Phoebe and Trevor, activate the field trap and it pulls Gozer right in, along with all the other ghosts from town.
Ray says he listens to Podcast’s podcast. Winston wants to fix up the old car. Everyone says goodbye to Egon’s ghost, especially Callie, who has made her peace with him since he was right all along.
After the credits, we cut to Peter and Dana doing psychic tests, and she enjoys shocking him. He gets them all right, but he admits that he marked the cards. We then cut to Winston, who’s become very successful. He pays for Ray’s bookshop. He walks into the old firestation as the Hearse drives in. We see that the old containment equipment may not be entirely empty…
Harold Ramis died in 2014, but instead of recasting him, they made the entire movie revolve around the mystery of Egon’s death. With a stand in actor and digital trickery, they gave us the illusion that Harold Ramis was there in spirit.
This was a hundred times better than the 2016 reboot, but it’s absolutely a kids’ movie. Genius-level precocious children are usually unbelievable in film, and this one’s not different. That said, McKenna Grace, as Phoebe, is quite good here. Finn Wolfhard and the other young folks were okay. The adults were all fine as well.
It was good!
House of Last Things (2013)
Directed by Michael Bartlett
Written by Michael Bartlett
Stars Lindsey Haun, Blake Berris, RJ Mitte
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a very unique ghost story. There are clearly strange things happening, at different points in time in the house. Understanding that strangeness and why the haunting is going on takes a little while to figure out. It’s slow to get there, but it was fascinating getting there. We liked it a lot.
We watch men playing golf as credits roll. It’s the Portland Pines Golf Course, and we see many people in period costumes playing there, so the course has been around for a while.
Alan works in his kitchen until a golf ball blasts through his window. He’s got a house sitter, Kelly, all lined up to watch the place when he and his wife, Sarah, go to Italy. Alan finds another golf ball in his sugar bowl.
Later, we cut to Kelly, staying at the house alone. Jesse, her boyfriend, comes over and wants to stay there with her, but she doesn’t want that, so they argue. She calls Tim to come inside, and he finds a key in the dirt. He’s her brother, and she watches out for him.
Once Tim has gone to bed, Kelly takes the key around the house to see what it opens. She sees a child running around outside and finds a yellow balloon that isn’t there when she looks a second time. Tim gets a vision of two coffins when he looks at a photo of Alan and Sarah. Kelly finds a box knife in the bathtub.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Alan and Sarah still aren’t happy. Things at the house and things in Italy are oddly parallel.
Jesse comes back and brings them food. Jesse picks on Tim, which Kelly doesn’t like. Late that night, Jesse also sees the yellow balloon, and he follows it to the garage, where he finds a classic car. Jesse puts on Alan’s glasses, and he can suddenly see much better.
Jesse takes Alan’s antique car to the store to sell it to some guy, but picks up an abandoned child instead. He thinks they can ransom the kid to his parents. The kid’s name is Adam, and he’s not in any big hurry to go home.
We flashback to Kelly having sex with Alan; they knew each other before Sarah got out of the mental hospital. He explains that Sarah tried to kill herself. “Maybe next time, I won’t be there to help her stop,” he says. When Alan tried to sell the house, he had some very strange people come to visit, including Rose, a psychic, who says the house was built on an old golf course. Another woman is attacked by hundreds of yellow balloons. We see that Alan and Sarah had a child who died.
Adam and Tim meet. Tim keeps seeing weird things, but Kelly thinks he’s just weird. Adam is weirdly obsessed with yellow balloons. Over in Italy, Sarah talks Alan into going back home.
Kelly wonders why there’s no mention of the kidnapped child in the newspaper. It should have been all over the TV by now, but there’s no mention at all. “It’s like nobody wants him. They don’t want him back.”
Jesse starts seeing things too. He watches as EMTs carry out a dead body on a stretcher. Kelly cuts an apple in half and finds a golf ball inside. Adam asks if Kelly is going to forget about him too. Jesse finds some hidden money, but how did he know it was there? He can’t answer that question. Jesse starts getting very parental around Adam as Kelly comes to the conclusion that the house is haunted.
Jesse and Kelly are behaving more and more like Alan and Sarah, taking their personality traits and interests. She gets crazy, and he gets protective. Rose the psychic is suddenly there to give Kelly soup and “earthworm tea.”
In Italy, Sarah and Alan argue about going back, and about him lying about everything. We finally hear about the golf course and what happened to their child, whose name was Adam. Alan accidentally killed Adam with a golf ball, then he shoved the golf ball into a tree and said Adam hit his head on a rock. Sarah blams Alan for killing their son. Sarah is driving in the wrong lane, and they’re both killed.
At the same moment, weird stuff happens at the house. Adam wants Jesse to chop down the apple tree. In the morning, Jesse and Kelly seem very different; they’re Adam’s new parents, all clean-cut and home-makery now.
TIm notices all the changes and doesn’t understand it. He goes to the apple tree and hangs himself.
Kelly finally figures out what that key opens, and it’s a safe with a photo album of Adam, and she doesn’t care that he’s a ghost.
It’s visually very interesting, with lots of color and neat things to see. It’s interesting how when something happens, the same thing happens in Italy, or in a different time- it’s all very nicely done.
I’m not sure what point there was to Tim’s character. He was in a lot of scenes, and saw a few things, but it seems like his character could have been cut entirely and not changed the story a bit. Actually, with all the parallels between the two couples, it would have worked better without him in the mix at all. Why was he shoplifting all those eyeglasses?
The story is weird and doesn’t make a huge load of sense for the first half, but it all comes together eventually. It’s pretty clear from early on that Adam is a ghost, but how that ties into the golf course and everything else, takes a long time to unfold.
It’s a very simple ghost story told in a very unusual way. It’s a little stretched out, but I never got bored, and overall liked it a lot.
2001 Ghosts of Mars
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Larry Sulkis, John Carpenter
Stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Pam Grier, Jason Statham
Run Time: 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is heavy on science fiction and action, but there is a horror element of ghostly possession. It’s overly heavy on flashbacks and hordes running around. It’s okay, but not great. Certainly not John Carpenter’s best work.
It’s 2176, on Mars. Rumors have spread that something that had been buried for centuries had just been uncovered. Whatever it is, it’s very fatal. Credits roll.
In the city of Chryse, the capitol of Mars, the council talks about recent “incidents.” A train recently arrived from down South, and only one person, Melanie Ballard, was aboard, unconscious and drugged. Melanie comes in to be questioned, and she tells her story.
We flashback to Melanie and her crew on a prisoner-retrieval mission. We soon meet the various characters, including commander Helena. Their mission is to pick up James “Desolation” Williams for a murder charge. Sgt. Jericho is the new guy on their team, a flirty Australian.
The team disembarks from the train, but no one is there to meet them. The planet’s not fully terraformed, so they have to wear a breathing tube for some extra air, but they don’t need space suits. Melanie and Jericho find a blood-stained mess in one of the buildings , along with some very odd boobytraps.
We cut to Helena, Michelle, and Descano, who find the other townspeople hanging upside-down and dead. All of them. This is exactly like how Desolation Williams was supposed to have killed his victims, but he’s still safely locked up in jail. They find four other prisoners in the jail, but they don’t know anything, except for Whitlock, who says this is the only safe place.
They find a woman locked in a closet, and she doesn’t seem quite right. They watch as another man cuts his own throat. Melanie is ambushed, and Williams is the only one that helps her. He swears he didn’t murder anyone; he tells her the story about how he found all the dead men.
Jericho tells his story about finding a bunch of weird mutants who all speak in an unknown language and cut off the heads of regular humans. All the miners have gone insane and Commander Helena is dead.
Dr. Whitlock thinks that something extremely old has awakened and it possessed people. One of the possessed bursts in and they shoot it, so the spirit moves into one of the other prisoners.
Jericho has picked up three men who tell their story, about when all the miners suddenly became possessed and mutilated themselves. The three men actually work for Williams. They all promise to play nice together. One guy gets high and cuts his own thumb off.
As the group makes its way to the train station, the other buildings in town start exploding and the possessed start throwing spears at them. There’s a long battle between the dozen or so normal people and two hundred mutants. Several of the good guys are killed.
Whitlock says “they” just drift on the wind until they can infect a person, who they use up and then move on. She tells about an archaeological find, a tunnel carved into the rock; someone buried it on purpose, and it wasn’t humans. A cloud of gas escaped from the tunnel and started infecting people.
Melanie gets infected, so Jericho gives her some drugs, which he thinks will drive the creature out of her. She has visions of the Martians of the past. She wakes up just in time to do martial arts against a mutant and steal his weird sword. Later, she tells the others what the Martians want: to drive the humans from Mars.
The barbarians break down the front gate and charge the place, and Willians and Melanie and Jericho shoot as many as possible.
The train arrives, and the survivors all make a run for it as mutants pour out of every building, and every building explodes. They board the train, which departs immediately.
Melanie thinks the five of them have some kind of a chance to stop the hundreds of marauding mutants. She wants to blow up a nuclear power station; that’d go boom and blow up everyone. Melanie, Jericho, and Whitlock get off the train to detonate the plant.
The people on the train stop and shoot mutants as a diversion as Whitlock sets the reactor to explode. Whitlock gets possessed, but Melanie and WIlliams make it back to the train.
The mutant leader and few others make it onto the train, and there’s one more fight. The nuclear plant explodes, but the two of them survive.
Williams sews up Melanie’s cuts and wounds. She promises to tell the authorities that he’s no murderer and that the charges against him need to be dropped. He then handcuffs her to the bed and gets off the train.
We cut back to Melissa’s interrogation in the present. The judge laughs at the idea that Mars has ghosts. Some time later, Melissa hears a call that the city is under some kind of strange attack…
Williams breaks in and hands Melanie a gun; “Time to stay alive,” he taunts.
Everyone runs around on the planet’s surface, and the air and temperature aren’t really a factor. Why is this set on Mars if it’s just a “western-style” mining town?
So many flashbacks. Flashbacks within flashbacks, even. It’s a whole planet full of “What’s in your wallet?” people. The possessed, or mutants, or whatever all look like someone out of a 1980’s “Mad Max” film, not a Mars city. It’s a very 1970s-looking film, except it was from 2001 and it’s not supposed to be retro.
Director John Carpenter says this was supposed to be over the top and silly, and too many people took it seriously as a horror film. The fight scenes are certainly over the top, but there’s really very little silliness or comedy, so the satirical intent eludes me.
It’s not the worst movie of all time, but it’s got some real problems.
Stay tuned for more regular and bonus reviews next week!
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