"Who ya gonna call?" Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis, of course, the stars of director Ivan Reitman's 1984 blockbuster hit, "Ghostbusters." It's great comedy from start to finish, with fine special effects; and Columbia TriStar do it up in topflight fashion in a Collector's Series DVD.
For the uninitiated, the Ghostbusters are Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman, Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz, and Ramis and Dr. Egon Spengler, all discredited psychic investigators thrown out of their college jobs as professors of parapsychology and gone into business for themselves. They are later joined by Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddmore, a helping hand.
Their first client is Dana Barrett, played by Sigourney Weaver, whose apartment is in an old New York building that once housed a secret, supernatural cult. Now, it's spook central, as she discovers when she finds a monster in her ice box.
While probing Ms. Barrett's case, the boys set loose a whole flurry of spirits on the city and summon up a demon of an ancient god. It's all good fun, made the merrier by the presence of Moranis as a milquetoast accountant, Louis Tully, who turns into raging beast; and William Atherton as an officious EPA representative, Walter Peck, who does his best to shut the Ghostbusters down. Poor Atherton will probably never live down the scurrilous appellation the Ghostbusters pin on him.
Most of the movie's best lines, though, come from Murray, whose deadpan humor grows all the more droll as the supernatural element of the story develops. And, surprisingly, the humor is never overshadowed by the special effects, which are, nevertheless, numerous. In short, it's a blockbuster comedy that works.
For the movie's DVD release Columbia TriStar have gone the whole nine yards. The picture size measures a very wide 2.25:1 ratio across my standard-screen HD television, and the image almost matches its theatrical exhibition size, revealing well over fifty percent more image than the pan-and-scan ratio previously available on TV and tape. There is a very slight blur to the copy, no more; otherwise, the colors are vibrant and alive and pleasantly natural.
The two-channel stereo is impressive in its remastered Dolby Digital format. Its dynamic impact is especially noteworthy, as is its deep, solid bass. The rear-channel signal is used subtly but persuasively, mostly for music and occasional unearthly effects.
Director Ivan Reitman and costar Harold Ramis do a full-feature audio commentary; and there are loads of storyboards, split-screen comparisons, production photos, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailers, and the like. The disc is dual layered to house everything. English is the only spoken language, which may not please everyone; otherwise, it's a first-rate job.
I have a warm spot in my heart for "Ghostbusters," more so than for its follow-up, "Ghostbusters II," which is also available from Columbia on DVD. Perhaps I like the first one best because it is more original, the introduction of its characters more endearing. Both films follow in a long tradition of comedy-horror movies, from Bob Hope in "The Ghost Breakers," Martin and Lewis in "Scared Stiff," and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" to Michael J. Fox in "The Frighteners."
But like the earlier films, "Ghostbusters" doesn't rely solely on its visual splendor to impress. Its characters and situations are funny, too. "Nice shootin', Tex." I love it.