Documentary Review: ‘Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters’

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Greetings again from the darkness. For fans of the 1984 megahit GHOSTBUSTERS, this is the ultimate gift from the brother and sister filmmaking team of Anthony Bueno and Claire Bueno. It’s a deep cut “making of” feature that takes us behind the scenes for a detailed explanation of just how this comedy-horror-science fiction film made it to the big screen, became such a huge hit, and has maintained such an enduring impact.

If you’ve ever wondered about the origin of the story, you’ll be surprised to learn that Dan Aykroyd’s great-grandfather was both a dentist and a dedicated researcher of psychic phenomena and the paranormal. This documentary is filled with surprises and insider scoops on everything from the development of the script, the assembling of the crew, the craziness of the special effects team, and finalizing the cast. What makes this different from other ‘movies about movies’ is that many of the talking heads here are the crew and technicians from whom we rarely have access. There are even segments on the iconic logo and the popular theme song (“Who you gonna call?”).

Of course we also get interviews from the cast, including Aykroyd, Harold Ramis (who passed away in 2014), Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. Mr. Hudson and Ms. Weaver are especially forthcoming – he about how his role as Winston was reduced at the last minute, and she about her audition and game-changing idea for her character Dana, a role she compared to the great Margaret Dumont. Many of the secondary characters offer insight as well, including Alice Drummond, Annie Potts, and William Atherton, the latter since stuck with a not-so-flattering nickname.

Director Ivan Reitman recollects many of the challenges, not the least of which were an incredibly tight time line for what was actually an experimental film for the times. They were given one year to formulate a script, secure the locations, finalize the costumes, film the gags, and create the ‘monsters’. The famed NYC Firehouse was used for the exterior shots, though a Firehouse in Los Angeles (built in the same year) was used for internal scenes. But the real fun here is supplied by the crew, eager to tell their own stories. The creation of Slimer, with John Belushi eyebrows, is taken from sketch to final. There is an extended sequence on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the challenges incurred. Ray Parker Jr discusses his rapid work on the theme song, and we even learn about the siren on Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters iconic vehicle.

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, the sequel to the 1984 original hits theaters this fall, and the sibling Buenos even have a documentary in the works for the GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989). It’s disappointing that neither Bill Murray nor Rick Moranis were interviewed for the film, and it’s really sad to learn that the salary demands of the great John Candy kept him from appearing in the original film (in the role ultimately owned by Moranis). Sure, we miss hearing the theme song, but this documentary is everything fans of the 1984 comedy masterpiece could want. And you’ll have to watch if you want to know the importance of the leopard howl.

In theaters October 1, 2021 and On Demand October 5.

David Ferguson