If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I’m not trying to be clever, who else would you call? Who else is even a possibility? Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray are the Ghostbusters, and they’re back in their second film, again directed by Ivan Reitman. The first film is a classic; there is no denying that. But this is a great sequel, and I know a lot of people consider this blasphemy, but I think it is on par, or maybe even better than the original. That doesn’t mean it’s better, it means it’s more Ghostbustery.
The first film of a franchise generally spends a lot of time introducing and establishing characters. In sequels, you already know the main characters, so you can just jump right into the story. That’s how Ghostbusters II starts. It begins five years after the events of the first movie, and the Ghostbusters are no more. But this is a sequel, and the stakes have to be higher. Right of the bat, pink slime is creeping out of cracks in the sidewalk and Dana Barrett’s baby goes for a wild ride in his carriage. She goes to Egon and Ray for help, and the Ghostbusters reunite to find out what is going on.
What is going on is that the soul of a 17th Century tyrant is slowly regaining power and is threatening to take on a physical form and take over the world. That’s pretty shady. Vigo the Carpathian is a much more formidable opponent than a giant marshmallow man. I think that a scary painting that comes to life (who also controls a river of slime) is a little bit scarier than a demon that lives in a refrigerator and a giant candy mascot. Vigo uses Dana Barrett’s boss, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), to try to kidnap Dana’s baby, Oscar. Oscar is going to the vessel, the body that Vigo will take over.
Naturally the Ghostbusters have a problem with this, and since Dana Barrett is a paying customer, they have to take him down. They discover a river of slime running underneath New York. They find out that the slime is a psyscho-reactive substance, a manifestation of negative emotions, and that it feeds off of angry, surly New Yorkers. The more pissed off and negative they are, the more powerful Vigo and his slime gets, and that in turn releases more and more ghosts. The Ghostbusters find out a way to use happy, positive emotions to control the slime, and use technology to animate the Statue of Liberty in order to fight the ghosts, because that makes total sense. Janosz successfully kidnaps Oscar, and the Ghostbusters have until 12:00 on New Year’s Eve to save the world.
There are a few reasons why this sequel is as good or better than the original. First off, everybody likes Slimer. And Slimer had a decent intro in the first movie, but he is actually helpful in this movie. He drives Louis to the museum, which was pretty important to advancing the plot. Slimer is the ghost mascot of the Ghostbusters, he was hardly in the first movie, but was featured prominently in the cartoon show and this sequel. There are better and more elaborate ghost-catching montages. Rick Moranis is awesome. And his character, Louis Tully, is expanded and has a lot more lines and scenes. He even gets some loving from Janine, the Ghostbuster’s secretary (who also has a bigger and better role to play). Even Ernie Hudson gets more screen time as Winston. Remember that there are four Ghostbusters, and Winston only showed up halfway through the first movie and didn’t do anything really. Winston is there from the get-go and has a cool first scene with Ray as they work a birthday party, establishing that they are now failures. He’s still not quite a lead, but his character actually involved in the plot now.
Vigo the Carpathian is a terrifying villain. He’s a creepy painting that slowly becomes more and more powerful throughout the film. The first movie uses demons named Zuul and Gozer, but you hardly see them. The destructor arrives in the form of the gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I know it’s comedy, but that shit’s absurd even for the ‘80s. Vigo is scary. He even turns the comical Janosz into a disturbing henchman for the underworld… the scene were his eyes become headlights will forever be etched into my memory.
The first movie had great moments. It will always be a classic. But I think that this sequel did more to establish Ghostbusters as a franchise. There are a lot of iconic Ghostbusters moments in this one…. The Statue of Liberty, Slimer the Bus Driver, more Winston, more Louis, the river of slime, the courthouse ghosts, baby-eating bathtubs… the list goes on and on.
Ghostbusters is a great movie. Ghostbusters II is a great sequel and a great movie. They celebrate that they are back, and you are glad they are. And Bill Murray is reason enough to watch this movie. So watch it.
Critically Rated at 13/17