Study Guide

Ghostbusters The Supernatural

The Supernatural

PETER: As a friend I have to tell you: you've finally gone round the bend on this ghost business. You guys have been running your ass off meeting and greeting every schizo in the five boroughs who says he has a paranormal experience. What have you seen?

Venkman might have a PhD in parapsychology, but he begins the movie as a real skeptic when it comes to all things paranormal. It seems like the script wisely uses Peter as a vehicle to voice audience skepticism in the whole ghost-y thing. Sometimes when a character voices the questions that audiences are thinking, it makes the wilder plot points easier for the masses to swallow.

EGON: I wouldn't say the experience was totally wasted. According to these new readings, I think we have an excellent chance of actually catching a ghost and holding it indefinitely.

RAY: Well, this is great! If this ionization rate is constant for all ectoplasmic entities, we could really bust some heads! In a spiritual sense, of course.

PETER: Spengs? You serious about this catching a ghost?

EGON: I'm always serious.

Not only does Ghostbusters mix the world of ghosts with the world of religion, it slips a big whopping dose of science in there too. All through the movie we get this kind of techno-babble from Egon and Ray. Throughout they find the science in what the world previously thought was superstition.

RAY: Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?

EGON: Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?

PETER: Have you or any of your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?

RAY: If the answer is yes, then don't wait another minute. Pick up your phone and call the professionals.

PETER, RAY, EGON: Ghostbusters!

This is from the Ghostbusters cheese-ball TV commercial, which feels like a bad ad for a plumber or exterminator. It's worth pointing out that a lot of the laughs in the movie come when it mixes the supernatural with the everyday. Incidentally, part of Aykroyd's original concept was that he wanted to make a movie about guys who were like exterminators, but for ghosts.

PETER: Well, okay. I found the name Zuul for you. The name Zuul refers to a demi-god worshipped around 6000 BC by the—what's that word?

DANA: Hittites.

PETER: Hittites, the Mesopotamians and the Sumerians.

DANA: Zuul was the minion of Gozer. What's Gozer?

PETER: Gozer was very big in Sumeria. Big guy.

Is it us, or is this where the movie starts to get really weird... and cooler? We're not just dealing with the ghosts of dead humans, we're dealing with ancient gods, which we later learn are sort of evil super-beings from another dimension. It's kind of great how the movie continues to expand its supernatural world.

EGON: Well. Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

WINSTON: That's a big Twinkie.

Again, we get a good laugh here when Egon's supernatural techo-babble is butted up an everyday thing—in this case a Twinkie. It's pretty masterful how Aykroyd and Ramis conveniently place a character with questions whenever the screenwriters need to explain some of their more far-out concepts. Somehow this Twinkie analogy makes us totally buy into the idea of a massive buildup of psychokinetic energy threatening NY.

WINSTON: Hey, Ray, do you believe in God?

RAY: Never met him.

WINSTON: Yeah, well I do. And I love Jesus's style, you know.

Besides the early shout out to St. Jerome, it's been a while since we've had a Biblical reference. After this point, the movie has a bunch of them. Another thing to think about here is the irony that Ray had faith that ghosts existed for years, but for whatever reason is skeptical about the existence of God.

WINSTON: Hey, Ray. Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?

RAY: I remember Revelation 7:12. And I looked, as he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black as sackcloth. And the moon became as blood.

WINSTON: And the seas boiled and the skies fell.

RAY: Judgment Day.

WINSTON: Judgment Day.

RAY: Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.

WINSTON: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is because the dead have been rising from the grave?

It seems like the movie basically has three threads of the supernatural world running through it. We've got the world of ghosts, Christianity, and Gozer-worship. This is first place in the movie that weaves all three together, with Ray and Winston theorizing that all religions have similar Doomsday myths and that many include the dead rising from the grave. It's pretty great how organically the script connects the dots here.

EGON: After the First World War, Shandor decided that society was too sick to survive. And he wasn't alone. He had close to a thousand followers when he died. They conducted rituals up on the roof, bizarre rituals intended to bring about the end of the world, and now it looks like it may actually happen!

Where most religions look to the supernatural world for salvation, redemption, or peace, Gozer-worshipers look to it to totally obliterate everything. To the Gozer cult, the world is too corrupt to survive and needs to be destroyed.

RAY: What he means is Old Testament biblical, Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!

EGON: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!

WINSTON: The dead rising from the grave!

PETER: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

The movie gives us a scenario in which the Biblically predicted Doomsday doesn't come from any Christian figures, but instead from a god of some forgotten religion. What should we take from this? Could it be that all religions are inspired by the same super-powerful beings? Is Gozer supposed to be another version of Satan? The movie doesn't got into details so we're left to come up with our own theories.