Ghostbusters Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What is the effect of blending horror and comedy?

    While Ghostbusters is a comedic film, it also has many genuinely frightening moments, given that it is still a movie about ghosts and demons. The very first scene, in which we see a nice old librarian wandering the stacks of the New York Public Library putting books away, is especially frightening, as the audience can sense that there is a ghostly presence and see a number of paranormal things take place outside of her line of view. Additionally, the moments in which Gozer takes over the apartment complex and both Dana and Louis are possessed by demons is frightening. By juxtaposing the scares with comedic touches, Ivan Reitman and his actors create a playful filmic tone, one in which very scary events can easily get undercut by an irreverent joke, and in which comedic antics can likewise be interrupted by a spooky interruption.

  2. 2

    Beyond the literal threat of ghosts, what difficulty must the Ghostbusters contend with?

    In addition to their work exterminating ghosts, the Ghostbusters need to do battle with a lot of skepticism. While they enjoy a lot of success and their business is doing well, there are still many people who do not believe that the work the Ghostbusters are doing is real. This includes Walter Peck, a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency, who makes it his duty to see the Ghostbusters get shut down, even when they warn him that shutting down the power in their lab would unleash a slew of new ghostly issues. Because the Ghostbusters work in the realm of the paranormal, there will always be people who do not believe in their work and think they are completely out of their minds. This skepticism only holds the Ghostbusters back from saving the city.

  3. 3

    Why does Dana fall in love with Peter?

    When we first meet Peter, we learn that he loves to seduce women, and that is one of the main reasons he seems to have gotten into the realm of parapsychology to begin with. When Dana comes in complaining about the demon in her refrigerator, Peter tries to hit on her and get her to go on a date with him, but she rolls her eyes and doesn't take the bait. When he shows up at Lincoln Center and is waiting for her when she comes out of a rehearsal, she is bemused that he went out of his way to see her, and he makes some silly jokes that quickly win her over. She is charmed by his antics and begins to see that he has a genuine crush on her and isn't just a creep.

  4. 4

    How do the Ghostbusters defeat Gozer?

    After nothing else seems to work, the Ghostbusters decide to risk it all and destroy the portal to Gozer's demonic layer. While it is very dangerous to do so, and it is possible that they might die, the men "cross the stream" and shoot the proton streams from their proton pack into one united stream at the door to the portal. This is a strong enough blow to the portal to send Gozer packing, allowing the Ghostbusters to save New York City once and for all. This is an example of how the film blends humor with adventure; the image of men "crossing streams" calls to mind a juvenile reference to urination, but the stakes of this "stream crossing" are very serious and suspenseful.

  5. 5

    What about the film's setting in New York City makes it especially funny?

    Because New York City is such a crowded and exciting city to begin with, the presence of ghosts and demons often goes completely unnoticed by the residents of the city, who are used to seeing outrageous sights on the daily. At the hotel, the Ghostbusters go head to head with the disgusting green ghost in a giant fancy ballroom. While the manager of the hotel has advised to Ghostbusters to keep their work discreet, and nearly no one at the hotel knows what's going on, they soon set to work destroying the grand ballroom of the hotel. The people who are scheduled to use the ballroom wait impatiently outside for access to the room; meanwhile the Ghostbusters have destroyed almost anything. The humor in this scene comes from the fact that the guests are less concerned with what seems to be a destructive scene taking place in the ballroom than they are impatient about not having access to it. Then later, when Louis is chased out of his apartment by a demonic hell dog, the doorman rolls his eyes, mistaking the demon for a cougar that someone brought to the party. The humor of the film's New York setting is that the New Yorkers who are being haunted are often barely fazed by the occult events, because they just think it's another crazy part of living in the "city that never sleeps."