Ghostbusters: 5 scenes that prove it’s a scarier film than you remember

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is on release in Cineworld cinemas from this Thursday. One of the best things about the movie is how it honours the creepy spirit of the 1984 original – yes, the very first Ghostbusters has more to it than simply Bill Murray’s inspired improv and that classic Ray Parker Jr. title song. It’s actually a genuinely scary experience at times, adroitly flip-flopping between skin-prickling menace and big laughs.

Does Afterlife live up to the mantle of its cherished predecessor? That’s for you to decide when the movie, directed by Jason Reitman, hits Cineworld screens. In the meantime, one of the best ways of prepping oneself for the new Ghostbusters adventure is to check out the following scary set-pieces from the original 1984 classic. You never know, certain elements of the following scenes may well turn up in the new movie… Who ya gonna call?


1. The library ghost

Elmer Bernstein’s eerie score, with its pronounced use of the ondes martenot (an early electronic instrument), infuses spectral portent into the edifice of the New York Public Library. (Bernstein’s score is liberally quoted by composer Rob Simonsen in the Afterlife soundtrack.) It’s the ideal way of setting up a world that’s been overrun by pesky spooks, as a timid librarian is scared out of her wits by something strange lurking behind the bookcases.

In a clear sign of how brilliant Ghostbusters is, the eventual payoff, with the team confronting the spectre, manages to puncture the threat with a sense of hilarity: “Get her!”


2. Dana’s fridge

The haunting of innocent New York cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is central to the plot of Ghostbusters. Weaver draws on her experience in Alien, projecting a potent sense of deep-seated fear as Dana comes to realise that something is not right in her apartment. (Unbeknownst to her, the building was designed by the mysterious architect Ivo Shandor, the founder of the Cult of Gozer.)

While eggs cooking on the kitchen counter may be whimsically unsettling, the reveal of the Zuul terror dogs inside the fridge strikes the kind of threatening note best suited to the likes of H.P. Lovecraft. The level of threat invests us in Dana’s plight and also acts as the catalyst for her eventual relationship with Pete Venkman (Murray).


3. Dana in the armchair

Once again it’s Bernstein’s score, this time with chilling use of apocalyptic brass chords (again quoted in Afterlife), that cues us into an atmosphere of impending evil. The shot of the Zuul dog statue bursting into life still scares us to this day – but it’s only the start. As Dana relaxes at home, blissfully unaware of the spectral light coming from her kitchen, our hackles begin to rise.

Ivan Reitman’s horribly canny direction then misleads us by having her glance off-screen before allowing the terror to come from a different area: out of the very chair in which she sits. It’s allegedly a family-friendly movie, but Ghostbusters has scenes like this that rival the best kind of adult horror content.


4. “How about a little music?”

This scene is more ominous and portentous than truly scary, but it demonstrates that Ghostbusters is not afraid to get serious when needed. As Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) trade banter about the end of the world, including quotations of Biblical scripture, the conversation gradually tips into the realm of despairing dread, anticipating the climactic battle with the evil deity Gozer.

The beautiful aerial shot of Ecto-1 entering Manhattan accompanied by a blood-red sunrise (and Bernstein’s rocking ‘Judgment Day’ cue) compounds the element of unease. Aykroyd is himself a confirmed believer in the supernatural, and one can discern his screenplay involvement in moments such as these.


5. ‘I Believe It’s Magic’

We’re used to horror set-pieces routinely taking place at night. Allowing supernatural evil to reign during the day, however? That takes skill. Reitman replaced Elmer Bernstein’s proposed track for this scene, instead tracking in Mick Smiley’s woozy pop number ‘I Believe It’s Magic’ over the sequence of the spectral energy making its way towards the possessed Dana’s apartment.

The juxtaposition, along with the arresting cinematography of the Manhattan skyline, works a treat, invoking the sense of a waking nightmare. The scene is broken up with farcical sights such as Slimer gorging on hot dogs and undead cab drivers, but the overriding feeling is one of impending catastrophe. And to think, it’s all because of the actions of “dickless” EPA official Walter Peck (William Atherton on superbly slimy form).


Are you ready to answer the call? Then click here to book your tickets for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, on release in Cineworld cinemas from Thursday 18th November.