Few franchises have had as strange a journey as Ghostbusters. Starting as a decent little SNL Alum-led comedy, the franchise has grown exponentially. With overly possessive and toxic fans, many continue denouncing any project that tries to add to the original.
While the 1984 comedy certainly is beloved, in retrospect, it does not deserve as much unneeded protection as it receives. Upon rewatch, the film has many issues, occasionally on the technical side, but more often than not, in its social markers. Whether due to its character's treatment of minorities or its whispy thin plot, Ghostbusters is nowhere near the perfect film fans make it out to be.
10 Venkman's First Experiment
Bill Murray is a legend in the world of comedy. His wit and deadpan delivery have cemented him as one of America's most beloved funnymen. His role in Ghostbusters is often a favorite for many, but in reality, Venkman is nothing more than a sleazeball.
Look at his introductory scene. Venkman appears first attempting an experiment to test clairvoyance. He tests two students to see if they can guess symbols on the backs of cards. One is a relatively nerdy young man, and the other is a young woman. Venkman deliberately fails the boy while passing, and flirting with, the woman. The move is not only dishonest, but the power disparity is very uncomfortable. Venkman, a professor, is flirting with what is obviously a much younger female student.
9 It Abandons Any Scares
Ghostbusters is a comedy first and foremost. From its stars to its writing team, it was led by a who's who in the world of '80s comedy. But, the film still has an inherently spooky premise, one that occasionally teeters into the world of horror.
When watching the film, there are some genuinely scary moments. The opening scene in the library especially is beyond creepy. Watching the drawers in that dark basement slowly open, or seeing the librarian ghosts first form is incredibly unsettling. But, every scare is upended by jokes. While it makes total sense, it is a shame that the film couldn't lean more into its horror side.
8 Its Plot
Ghostbusters works fine as a comedy and visual effects piece. There are many hilarious and iconic one-liners that fans have been quoting for years. The ghost effects are also some of the best out there. But, when it comes to the actual narrative glue that holds the film, it is lacking anything substantial.
There is nothing inherently valuable in the journeys of these characters. The overall conflict works just fine, but all of the characters never go through any substantial changed by the end of the film. The ghostbusters continue busting, Dana gives in to the obnoxious advances of Venkman, and Louis is still the annoying neighbor he was.
7 The Treatment of Ernie Hudson
Ernie Hudson only appeared in the latter half of Ghostbusters as Winston Zeddemore, the everyman who is just looking for his next gig. Winston had never gotten his due as the character, being relegated as nothing much more than a last-minute token figure. According to Hudson, that's not how it originally was supposed to be.
In the original script, Winston appeared from the get-go, with a much more nuanced and elaborate backstory. Once Hudson signed on though, the script was rewritten and Winston's part was diminished to what we now see in the film. He has his moments without a doubt, but when compared to the rest of the cast, he is sidelined more than anyone. Hudson deserved better than what Ghostbusters gave him.
6 Its Anti-Regulatory And Anti-Environmental Stance
Ghostbusters has a lot of traits that tie it to its era. One of these is its conservative non-regulatory politics. In the film, there is a whole other bad guy apart from the evil Gozer. William Atherton's Walter Peck, a representative from the Environmental Protective Agency, is seen as a bureaucratic nightmare. His environmental regulations look to shut down all the good that the Ghostbusters are doing for the city.
In reality, maybe making folks who are concerned about the environment out to be villains wasn't the best move. Climate change, as many know, is a pressing man-made problem. Looking back, it is embarrassing to see how a character like Peck regulated to nothing more than a government boogeyman who is harassing the working class.
5 Venkman's Behavior Towards Dana
Venkman, as stated, is a bit of a sleaze. Not only does he go after young girls who are his students, but he also can't take no for an answer (a trait that everyone can agree is wrong). When he first investigates Dana's apartment, he isn't taken an ounce of her complaints seriously. When they come to the conclusion that there's nothing there, he professes his love to this woman he hardly knows. She tells him to leave and he continues his barrage, saying that he will prove himself to her. Granted, its all played off as a joke, but nowadays that behavior isn't cute, it's creepy.
4 It Wastes Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver is one of the best actresses of her generation. Just three years after Ghostbusters, Weaver would be nominated for her role as Ellen Ripley in James Cameron's Aliens. Looking back on Ghostbusters, Weaver has little reason to be in the movie and is wasted as a character.
Regulated to nothing more than a damsel in distress, Dana could have been played by anyone. While no one can complain about more Sigourney Weaver in anything, the fact that she accomplishes so little in the role is a real shame. She is belittled by the male characters and turned into a puppet for an all-powerful god.
3 THAT Scene Between Dan Aykroyd And An Eager Ghost
This scene has never been good, and it's only gotten worse with age. In a truly '80s style montage, audiences see the Ghostbusters rise in fame and popularity. They grace the cover of magazines, bust more ghosts, and the iconic theme song plays along in the background. This scene though interrupts the whole sequence with a joke that is barely funny, and more confusing in its implications.
Essentially, Dan Aykroyd's character Stantz wakes up in the middle of the night to find a ghostly woman hovering above him. She disappears, and Stantz's belt and pants unbuckle. Going crosseyed, Stantz receives what could only be an interdimensional bit of oral. It's so bizarre and not in a good way.
2 Venkman's Menstruation Comment
Once again, Venkman's crappy behavior towards women rears its ugly head. In the opening investigation of the library, the gang questions the clerk who witnessed the ghastly apparition. In questioning, Venkman inquires about her family's history of mental illness, use of drugs, and her current menstrual state. Yeah, you heard that right.
The insinuation that a woman who is on her period would hallucinate spirits feeds into the harmful and misogynistic belief surrounding menstruation. This line of questioning is once again a toxic attempt at a joke that just reinforces backward behavior.
1 The Smoking
Yes, it was the '80s, and yes people smoked. A lot. But, this movie teeters the line of being a family film. Because of this, the presence of smoking must be noted, especially considering the sheer amount of it. Obviously, with the recent controversy surrounding Stranger Things 3, this topic is in the zeitgeist.
While smoking is a given in this era, Ghostbusters takes it to another level. Everyone in this film smokes. Because of this, many parents will most likely have to reconsider when they allow their children to watch it. This is a shame considering how many grew up with the film, and how much of a staple it has been for many.