Recapping the all-important rivalry between the Ghostbusters and Walter Peck ahead of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

There's something strange in the neighbourhood in the upcoming Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, and we're not just talking about those pesky spectres. An old enemy of the Ghostbusters has also resurfaced and is ready to cause havoc in his own right: the slimy Walter Peck, played by William Atherton.

Those who grew up with the original 1984 Ghostbusters will remember Peck as one of the most entertainingly slappable antagonists of the decade. He could be considered a more dangerous villain than the ghosts themselves. Even Atherton himself was harassed on the street following the movie's release, so effective was his depiction of an insufferable bureaucrat who interferes with the Ghostbusters' plans to save the world.

Got no idea who Walter Peck is? Who ya gonna call for an all-important recap? Put the phone down, because we've got all the essential franchise history right here. Brush up on your Ghostbusters/Peck history ahead of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire's release this March.

The origins of the Ghostbusters team

  • The Ghostbusters begin life as a group of disgruntled Columbia University parapsychologists: sarcastic Pete Venkman (Bill Murray), font of paranormal wisdom Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and science geek Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis)
  • After being kicked out of the university, the team establishes its own HQ in a New York Hook and Ladder Fire Station where they brand themselves as the Ghostbusters
  • Now in possession of their car, the classic Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters, later to be joined by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), begin patrolling Manhattan, trapping rogue spirits with their self-devised proton packs and ghost traps
  • The Ghostbusters quickly attain a measure of fame and attract the attention of the haunted cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver)
  • It becomes clear that Dana's Central Park apartment building is the nexus point for the re-emergence of Gozer, an ancient demon with the ability to destroy the entire world



Walter Peck's introduction

  • The Ghostbusters' new-found fame also attracts the attention of environmental protection officer Walter Peck
  • Peck's initial meeting with the caustic Venkman doesn't go well with the latter stonewalling him and suspicious of Peck's intentions to investigate the team's ghost containment facility
  • Peck believes that the Ghostbusters are charlatans and vows to return with a search warrant



Peck shuts down the Ghostbusters containment facility

  • With Dana now possessed by Zuul, Gozer's minion, Peck returns to the Hook and Ladder building with a court order and the authority to shut down the Ghostbusters' containment unit
  • Still believing that the Ghostbusters fool prospective customers with hallucinatory effects and lights, Peck orders the unit shut down with disastrous consequences
  • Every spirit that the team has captured to date is unleashed again in central Manhattan, including the greedy Slimer, the signature ghost in the franchise
  • Peck refuses to admit wrongdoing and the Ghostbusters are taken into police custody
  • This occurs at the same time that Dana (the 'gatekeeper') forms a union with her possessed neighbour Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), known as the 'keymaster', to bring about the apocalyptic return of Gozer



The Mayor sides with the Ghostbusters against Peck

  • The Ghostbusters are compelled to make their case to the New York Mayor (David Margulies) and multiple senior-ranking authority figures
  • Venkman dryly describes it as an incoming apocalypse in which they'll have "dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria"
  • He eventually wins Mayor Lenny's attention by playing on the opportunity to save the lives of "millions of registered voters"
  • To Venkman's delight, the flabbergasted and enraged Peck is thrown out of the Mayor's office and the Ghostbusters are given all the resources they need to save Dana, restore order and banish Gozer to the netherworld



Peck is deluged by the remnants of Stay Puft the Marshmallow Man

  • Amid the climactic battle with Gozer, the Ghostbusters try to avoid random monsters (the 'Destructor') popping into their mind, lest they take on physical form in the real world
  • Ray fails the test set by Gozer and inadvertently materialises the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
  • The Ghostbusters cross the streams of their proton packs, the deadliest thing they can do, to destroy Gozer and restore Dana and Louis, now in the form of demon dogs, back to normality
  • In the process, Stay Puft is disintegrated, the roof of the apartment building is obliterated and, at ground level, the unsuspecting Peck is hit by a wave of marshmallow remains
  • Venkman, Ray, Egon and Winston ultimately save Dana and Louis and are celebrated as New York heroes



Peck appears some 40 years later in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

  • In the Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire trailer, Peck appears for the first time in four decades
  • Judging from his office environment and apparel he now appears to hold a higher-ranking bureaucratic position than before
  • This is especially bad news for both generations of Ghostbusters, including nascent heroes Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Egon Spengler's grandkids who first adopted the proton packs in 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Much like their predecessors, the teens are going to have their work cut out for them in convincing Peck that a new supernatural menace is on the loose
  • It remains to be seen if Peck will again compromise the wider safety of those in New York by interfering with the Ghostbusters' best intentions

William Atherton as Walter Peck in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire


Witness the rebirth of a classic big-screen rivalry in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, which hits Cineworld screens on March 22nd.