On June 16th, 1989 Columbia Pictures released the sequel to the much-loved 1984 hit “Ghost Busters”, “Ghostbusters II”
Five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have been plagued by lawsuits and court orders, and their once-lucrative business is bankrupt. However, when Dana begins to have ghost problems again, the boys come out of retirement only to be promptly arrested. The Ghostbusters discover that New York is once again headed for supernatural doom, with a river of ectoplasmic slime bubbling beneath the city and an ancient sorcerer attempting to possess Dana’s baby and be born anew. Can the Ghostbusters quell the negative emotions feeding the otherworldly threat and stop the world from being slimed?
After the success of the first film and the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures pressured the producers to make a sequel. Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman were uncomfortable with this, as the original film was intended to be conclusive and they wished to work on other projects; but later agreed.
Some notable cast members in the film include one of Bill Murray’s siblings, Brian Doyle-Murray, who played the psychiatric doctor, Dan Aykroyd’s niece, Karen Humber, who played one of the school children, and Ben Stein, who played a public works official for the mayor. Jason Reitman, son of director Ivan Reitman, plays the boy who insults the Ghostbusters at a birthday party. Cheech Marin and Philip Baker Hall also appear in the movie, as the dock supervisor who sees the Titanic come in and as the city police chief, respectively. Bobby Brown also appears in this movie as the doorman to Gracie Mansion when the Ghostbusters go to see the mayor of New York City. In the scene he asks the Ghostbusters for a Proton Pack for his younger brother. While the role of Vigo was played by Wilhelm von Homburg, all his lines were dubbed by Max von Sydow.
During its release, Ghostbusters II was the biggest three-day opening weekend gross in history, a record that was broken one week later by Batman ($40,505,884). Ghostbusters II eventually grossed $112.4 million in North America and $102.9 million internationally for a total of $215.3 million worldwide. However, the film performed below Columbia’s expectations, especially in the wake of Batman’s higher earnings; thus the studio wrote it off as a commercial flop.
Ghostbusters II received mixed reviews. Based on 35 reviews, the film holds a 51% “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. At Metacritic the film has a score of 56% based on reviews from 13 critics.
Variety praised the film as having amusing visuals and a clever plot, while Nick Shager of Screengrab criticized the film, claiming that it “Effectively slimed everyone’s fond memories of the original”. On their show, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the picture two thumbs down, disappointed that the film didn’t try anything new. Siskel stated “The film contains little comic invention. It looks as if the filmmakers, particularly the writers, simply didn’t try to do anything special.” Ebert confessed that he saw the movie in a theater in Michigan and out of a packed house, there was only one laugh.
Did You Know…
- Originally, the producers planned on having the crashed Hindenburg appear as a ghostly airship. They dumped this in favor of the apparitions coming off the Titanic.
- The cameo appearance of Slimer the green ghost of Ghostbusters (1984) was prompted by the fact that in the years in between the two films, the cartoon series The Real Ghost Busters (1986) introduced the idea that Slimer was living at the firehouse as the Ghostbusters’ pet. Because the original film and the cartoon series were so popular with children, they put Slimer in the film.
- The scene involving a woman’s mink coat coming to life was originally written & storyboarded to be in Ghostbusters (1984).
- While the role of Vigo was played by Wilhelm von Homburg, all his lines were dubbed by Max von Sydow.
- Janine’s appearance was significantly different than in the first movie to coincide with the appearance of how she looked in the animated show, The Real Ghost Busters (1986).
- The shot of the Ecto-1 on the verge of breaking down at the start of the film is fitting in that while filming the bridge scene that’s seen in the montage, the car finally did break down.
- The term “proton pack”, was never officially used on screen until the Ghostbusters are in the subway tunnel and Egon says, “Before we go any further, I think we should get our proton packs.”
- Ivan Reitman had to postpone his next film Kindergarten Cop (1990) because he had to complete work on this film for Christmas, 1989.
- 200 visual effects shots were used in the entire film.
- In Peter’s apartment you can see the newspaper front pages from the first Ghostbusters (1984) movie, including the “USA Today” front page. Each one is framed on his wall. They are most visible when Dana (Sigourney Weaver) is still wrapped in a towel after getting out of the shower and Peter is telling her about finding slime residue in her apartment.
- Because of the wild popularity of The Real Ghost Busters (1986), the animated spin-off of the first film among children, Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis made a conscious effort to tone down the adult innuendo and behaviors from the previous movie. Between the two films, all the Ghostbusters gave up smoking, and the ghosts took on appearances closer to those in the animated series rather than the more frightening effects of the first film.