Ghostbusters Study Guide

The genre of horror buddy comedy was not particularly common at the time that Ghostbusters was released, and it redefined the genre in unforeseeable ways. Star and writer Dan Aykroyd initially imagined that Ghostbusters would be a star vehicle for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live cast member John Belushi, but Belushi's unexpected death changed those plans. The premise came from Aykroyd's actual fascination with the paranormal, and his family's history as spiritualists. Aykroyd's great-grandfather as well as some of his other relatives had close relationships with the paranormal realm and were known for communing with alternate realities. Aykroyd's initial visions were modified significantly because Harold Ramis, Aykroyd's costar and cowriter, thought that some of Aykroyd's ideas were not practical from a budgetary standpoint.

Filming and production time for the film was unusually short, so the filmmakers had to be resourceful in how they put together their premise and shot the film. After director Ivan Reitman signed on to direct, he was able to secure a producer who could match their intended budget, but on the stipulation that they release the film by the summer of 1984. This meant that writing, shooting, and editing the film had to be done in one year, a markedly truncated timeline for a film, especially with the kind of visual effects that Ghostbusters has.

The result was one of the most iconic comedy films of all time. While critical reception was mixed about its comic appeal and visual effects, audiences flocked to the theater. Writing about the political landscape and its reflection in film culture, Richard Brody of The New Yorker wrote of the film, "The original Ghostbusters wasn’t a particularly good movie, but it is an icon of the age of Reagan, both in its confident cheer and in its incidental iconography." Its appeal as a wholesome romp made an impression. It created a following and was nominated for 2 Academy Awards, for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song.