Last Saturday marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Ghostbusters, the most popular and commercially successful movie ever to feature a scene in which one of the lead characters receives a blowjob from a ghost. (Contrary to scurrilous rumour there is absolutely no evidence that Dan Aykroyd getting head from the dead was the origin of the popular theme lyric: “Bustin’ makes me feel good.” The only connection is the one you’re making now, in your own mind, and neither I nor the filmmakers can be held responsible for what goes on in there.)
I’m sure you all celebrated the occasion in your own way, perhaps by eating some Stay Puft marshmallows or a big Twinkie, but I decided to strap on my proton pack and head over to the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles to join original Ghostbusters Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson at the Ghostbusters Fan Fest. I have to confess, there was a part of me that felt a little cynical about the whole endeavour. The idea of hosting a sort of ComicCon in miniature based solely on Ghostbusters could have been little more than an exercise in flogging merch and fleecing the very fans who hold the series so dear. I couldn’t help but think of Bill Murray’s line as Peter Venkman in the original 1984 film: “The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams!”
Yet as soon as I arrive I realised how wrong I’d been. Most of the costumes – and there were a lot of costumes – on display were homemade, whether it be jumpsuits or the impressively intricate proton packs everyone seemed to have designed for themselves. As if by magic, I felt myself being transported back to my brother’s birthday when we were kids, the one when we used foam-firing proton guns and a ghost trap made out of a shoebox to hunt and eventually capture Casper the Friendly Ghost, in what many critics claim to be “the most ambitious crossover event in history.”
The idea of children wielding proton guns turns out to be central to the plot of the eagerly awaited Ghostbusters 3. Jason Reitman, the director of Juno and Up In The Air, took part in one of the day’s most eagerly awaited panel discussions and revealed all sorts about what we can expect from next year’s film. He told the crowd: “We wanted to make a love letter to the original movie. I did not expect to be making a new Ghostbusters movie. I thought I was going to be this indie dude who made Sundance movies. And then this character came to me. She was a 12 year old girl. I didn’t know who she was or why she popped into my head, but I saw her with a proton pack in her hand. And I wrote this story. This story began to form over many years actually. It started with a girl and all of a sudden it was a family. And eventually I knew this was a movie that I needed to make.”
He confirmed that the 12-year-old girl in question will be played by Mckenna Grace, who recently played the young Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel. Her family will be fleshed out by Stranger Things star (and Calpurnia frontman) Finn Wolfhard, who of course already has some experience in a Ghostbusters uniform, and Gone Girl’s Carrie Coon as their mother. Reitman also promised that the film would blend horror in with the comedy, joking: “I want to scare children.” He’d earlier mentioned that Steven Spielberg had recently told him that he considered the library ghost from the original film as being one of the “Top 10 scares of all time.”
The big question hanging over the film, however, has been the extent to which the cast of the original two films will return. Reitman made a show of attempting to keep his lips sealed, but he did lay a pretty strong hint at their involvement by confirming that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver have all read the script for the film.
The sweetest moment of the day though was when Reitman turned to his father Ivan – director of the original two Ghostbusters films – to sincerely express his “gratitude for telling this story that’s brought people together from all over the world.” Just like that, all my cynicism exploded like a 100-foot tall Marshmallow mascot in the streets of New York. Roll on 2020, I’m excited beyond the capacity for rational thought.