Ghostbusters II Turns 25, Still Too Hot to Handle (Too Cold to Hold)

Oh yeah, and the original Ghostbusters is having an anniversary, too.

Yes, this weekend marks 30 years since that groundbreaking film Ghostbusters was first released. Trust me, I am more than excited for this fact; other than how old that makes me feel, that is. Sony is going all out for this anniversary too. Not only will the film be re-released in theaters this August, but they’re giving us a fully-loaded anniversary edition of the blu-ray in September!

As great as all of this is, I am here to talk about the thing I am actually even more jazzed about. You see, while 2014 is indeed the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, it’s also the 25th anniversary of Ghostbusters II, aka the greatest sequel in film history. Yeah, that’s right. Sorry Godfather 2 or Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. A little. But what I’m not exaggerating about is how much I love Ghostbusters II. I think that too many people sleep on the sequel.

Fine, I admit it’s not really as great as the 1984 classic, but it isn’t as terrible as the reputation that precedes it. Sure, the underground river of mood slime is no replacement for Zuul and the disciples of Gozer. Yes, Bill Murray is pretty much sleep-walking through the whole thing and clearly wanted no part in the sequel. And of course the walking Statue of Liberty is a poor imitation of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stepping on churches in Manhattan.

cap_ghostbusters_cinebug_5But, despite all of that, I still love this movie. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it came out during a very formative summer in my life. To this day I can’t think of a better time for movies than 1989. The number. Another summer. (Get down!) Sound of the funky drummer.

Just look at this list of movies released that year. In addition to Ghostbusters II (and Do the Right Thing), there were BatmanIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The AbyssLethal Weapon 2Karate Kid III (don’t judge), The ‘Burbs (probably my favorite Tom Hanks movie, btw), Honey I Shrunk the Kids, When Harry Met SallyThe Little Mermaid, and Back to the Future Part II. That is literally all the movies.

Even on its own, the Ghostbusters sequel holds up for me. So much so that I actually hope the studio reconsiders making another sequel. Any clamor to make a third Ghostbusters — especially without Ramis or Murray — is because people didn’t like Part II. But there are just so many redeeming qualities to Ghostbusters II that folks have simply forgotten about. For all of this movie’s warts, there are still some real laugh-out-loud moments and truly memorable characters throughout. To wit:

Baby on a ledge.

Maybe it’s because I’m a parent, but this scene — as well as the opening in which Baby Oscar’s carriage careens through oncoming traffic — is pretty terrifying. Sure, there’s some levity in the fact that Janosz (also, I think Janosz is just, generally, hilarious in this movie) is the ghostly nanny that does the babynapping, but seeing that kid dangling off the edge of the building still makes me queasy.

Heads on spikes.

The best thing about both Ghostbusters films is the way they mix humor and horror. Though both are comedies in which the terror is played for laughs, some of the scenes really are pretty frightening. On the whole, neither film is The Exorcist, but goddamn if those decapitated heads aren’t the most horrifying thing to witness when you’re a sheltered twelve year old.

“World of the Psychic”

I could spend all day watching Bill Murray reacting to allegedly “psychic” Milton — a pre-Transformers and True Detective Kevin Dunn — and Elaine — who played Danny DeVito’s girlfriend Linda in my favorite movie of 1988, Twins. If Ghostbusters II was just this for two hours, it really would be the greatest sequel in the history of cinema. Also, hairless pets really are weird.

Do… Ray… EGON!

It is such a shame that Harold Ramis passed and is no longer with us. This Ghostbusters anniversary feels a little emptier without him around to celebrate it. When Ramis left us in February, this clip was shared all over my timeline. It’s a great scene, too. And not just for Ramis’ knowing grin, it’s the sequence that triumphantly reintroduces the Ghostbusters into the narrative with a ghost-trapping set piece that actually rivals the Slimer one from the first flick.

Bobby. Brown.

Seriously, is there a better celebrity cameo in any other movie? I think not. Say what you will about Bobby Brown — and how awful a human being you might think he is — but in the late 80s, that dude could do no wrong. As an N.E. fan since Candy Girl, I had the Don’t Be Cruel cassette tape — yeah, cassette — on constant rotation. So when he showed up, it was a geek out moment for sure.

And even though Egon says the proton pack is not a toy, Kenner waited only a year before releasing one as a tie-in to the animated Real Ghostbusters series. Man, I wanted that thing so bad.

“On Our Own”

Apologies to Ray Parker, Jr., but Bobby and crew brought out another one of them funky ones (Heart, soul, d-d-dance!) that trumps the 1984 anthem in so many ways. Maybe it’s not as iconic as “Who Ya Gonna Call,” but damn if it isn’t one of my go-to songs for karaoke. Why is it so great? Nevermind the celebrity-filled video (Christopher freakin’ Reeve, yo!) or its late ’80s MTV style (dat Gumby, tho!), this song has the greatest rap interlude in the history of movie theme songs.

Too hot to handle, too cold to hold

They’re called the Ghostbusters and they’re in control

Had ’em throwin’ a party for a bunch of children

While all of the while the slime was under the building

So they packed up, regrouped, got a grip, came equipped

Grabbed the proton packs on their backs and they split

Found about Vigo, the master of evil

Try to battle my boys? That’s not legal

It doesn’t get better than that, folks. Ya-ya-ya know it!

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