25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Ghostbusters’

The year 1984 was a treasure trove for movie lovers. Classics like The Karate Kid, Footloose, and A Nightmare on Elm Street made their way to theaters, but it was an especially fine time for comedies. The foul-mouthed Beverly Hills Cop, teen sex romp Revenge of the Nerds, Police Academy, Gremlins, and Romancing the Stone are just a few of the movies that debuted that year. But let’s not forget the film that combined elements of horror, slapstick funnies, big special effects, and some of the best comedic actors: Ghostbusters. This August, audiences will have the opportunity to catch Ghostbusters on the big screen. They’ll also get to enjoy a 30th-anniversary Blu-ray edition. To prepare for these moments, we’ve gathered 25 fun facts about the movie that you might have missed.

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The film’s original title was Ghost Smashers.

Director Ivan Reitman voiced the evil Zuul and the ghost nicknamed Slimer.

The original ghostbusting cast included John Belushi (as Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray), Dan Aykroyd, and Eddie Murphy. However, plans changed after Belushi died (before the screenplay was completed), and Murphy (up for the part of Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson) wouldn’t commit to the part. John Candy was also eyed for the role of Louis Tully, but was unsure how to portray the character — who was then written as a straight-laced business man. Candy envisioned Tully with a German accent, toting two schnauzer dogs.

The original premise for Ghostbusters found the gang in tactical uniforms (like a SWAT team), with wands instead of guns and proton packs to fight paranormal entities. The original storyboards also showed the men wearing riot squad-esque helmets with transparent, movable visors. The story was set in the future, where Ghostbusters were like any other service worker (akin to firefighters and paramedics). That version was too costly, so star and co-writer Harold Ramis set the film in modern times.

During filming, Reitman remarked that ghost Slimer reminded him of Bluto in Animal House, John Belushi’s character. From then on, Slimer was frequently referred to as “The Ghost of John Belushi” by cast and crew. He was also nicknamed “Onionhead” due to his grotesque smell that he used to scare a couple in a scene cut from the original movie. Slimer is never actually named in the film. The ghost wasn’t dubbed Slimer until the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, came about in 1986.

During Ghostbusters’ release, Reitman recreated the commercial featured in the film, replacing the phony 555 number with a working 1-800 line. When people called up, they heard a recorded message from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd saying they couldn’t talk because they were out catching ghosts.

Porn legend Ron Jeremy plays an extra in the movie. He appears as an onlooker behind a police barricade (on the left) after the containment unit is shut down. As a nod to his cameo, Jeremy played the librarian in the 2011 porn parody This Ain’t Ghostbusters XXX.

Many lines in the film were ad libbed by the comedic cast. One example can be found in the scene where the bookcase falls, which was accidental. Murray ad libbed the line, “Has this ever happened to you before?”

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man goop was shaving cream — gallons and gallons of it.

The famous Ghostbusters firehouse was actually two different locations. Hook & Ladder 8 in New York City served as the exterior, while the interior was shot at a firehouse in downtown Los Angeles.

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Gozer’s name comes from Gozer Chevrolet dealership in upstate New York and a documented haunting in New England. “Gozer” would appear throughout the house, written on the walls and different objects.

Co-writer Harold Ramis had no intention of starring in the movie, but felt he fit the part of Dr. Egon Spengler best.

Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, and Christopher Lloyd, and were all reportedly considered for the part of Dr. Egon Spengler.

The Louis Tully party scene was entirely improvised and featured Jean Kasem (the tall blonde), wife of radio personality Casey Kasem, who is currently in the news.

It’s all CGI these days, but Ghostbusters employed a number of old school practical effects, including the scene where Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett floats and the library scene in which the drawers and books move on their own. One form of the librarian ghost was actually a puppet. A different, more terrifying version of the librarian puppet was rejected and later used in the ’80s vampire favorite Fright Night.

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The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man actually appears three times in the film, including his famous scene. The eggs that fry themselves are sitting next to a Stay Puft Marshmallow package. Also, there is a Stay Puft mural advertisement painted on the side of a building.

Dana Barrett’s apartment is real and is located at 55 Central Park West in New York City.

The original Ectomobile was black, until the crew realized it would be hard to capture on film during the nighttime scenes. It was then painted white.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was inspired by Peter O’Boyle, a security guard at Columbia Pictures Reitman met. His look is inspired by the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Michelin Tire Man.

Stay Puft was created by visual effects sculptor Bill Bryan. The character was brought to life on film using miniatures, optical compositing, and footage of Bryan in a latex suit. Three special suits were created for Ghostbusters. They cost $20,000 each.

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Paul Reubens, at the beginning of his fame as Pee-wee Herman, turned down the role of Gozer (played by Slavitza Jovan in the film). In the original script, the ancient god was written as mad architect Ivo Shandor himself (who started the Gozer cult, as scripted in the final film). Reubens would have appeared as a pale, slender, unassuming man in a business suit.

Venkman’s office door graffiti reads: “Venkman Burn in Hell.” It’s a nod to the graffiti in Brian De Palma’s Carrie, which reads: “Carrie White Burns in Hell.” Originally, Venkman’s door was supposed to be plastered with sexual obscenities, but Reitman wanted to keep the film family friendly.

Pop music icon Debbie Gibson has a brief cameo in the film. She’s an extra for the Tavern on the Green restaurant scene where Louis is being chased. Gibson is the party girl with a pink bow in her hair.

Other Ghostbusters casting might-have-beens include: Chevy Chase for Bill Murray’s Venkman, Michael Keaton for Venkman and Ramis’ Spengler, Sandra Bernhard as Annie Potts’ Janine, and Liquid Sky actress Anne Carlisle as Zuul.

Ray Parker Jr. wrote the chart-topping Ghostbusters theme song in less than two days. Huey Lewis and the News and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham were offered the gig, but turned it down. Lewis was busy working on the Back to the Future soundtrack. Buckingham just finished the song for National Lampoon’s Vacation and didn’t want to become known as a movie theme artist. Lewis later sued Parker Jr. citing the similarities to his hit “I Want a New Drug.” Oh, and there’s a rap version of the Ghostbusters theme by Run–D.M.C.