If you are like I was just over a year ago, that headline probably looks a little weird to you. Why would a comedy from 35 years ago need a super-modern, high-tech, ultra-deluxe 4K makeover—much less its less popular sequel from five years later? After all, the sort of audio-visual purists who spring for the most advanced home theater tech are probably more interested in effects-heavy sci-fi and action blockbusters, not old movies generally built around talking. In the last year, though, I’ve become pretty much addicted to buying 4K UHD Blu-rays. Streaming can’t match physical media; streaming 4K video kills your bandwidth, and you never know what movies will be available on any service from month to month. So I’ve started buying discs again, and haven’t regretted it.
Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II are somewhat unique for comedies, of course, because they both depend greatly on special effects. As hilarious as Bill Murray and Rick Moranis are, the parts most people remember are the showdown with the massive Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper turning into an ancient Babylonian temple, or a gluttonous little green ghost coating Murray in slime. These are two comedies that can actually benefit from a well-done Ultra HD upgrade, and fortunately that’s what you’ll find in this package.
Also, of course, nostalgia sells, especially in the 4K collector’s market. And the original Ghostbusters, at least, is one of those classics that will always be fondly remembered by its fans, and winning over new viewers throughout the years.
Some of it hasn’t aged that well. Murray’s insistent pursuit of Sigourney Weaver is out of step with today, coming off a bit too creepy and stalker-ish. (If you’re a youngster watching it for the first time in 2019, no, this is not how you win somebody over.) And its desultory treatment of Ernie Hudson’s Winston, the only black Ghostbuster, remains disappointing all these decades later.
That first movie still holds up as a deeply satisfying mainstream comedy, though. Murray’s trademark wiseass, Dan Aykroyd’s (mostly) straight man, Moranis’s increasingly manic nerd, Harold Ramis’s offbeat genius, and Annie Potts’ no-nonsense receptionist all transcend the stock types they easily could’ve been in the hands of lesser performers. It’s a fantastic ensemble that imbue even mundane interactions with humor and warmth.
The sequel isn’t quite as bad as its reputation. There are a lot of laughs, and Vigo the Carpathian is a memorable villain. Just seeing the core group together again makes it worth a watch. It’s nowhere close to the original, though, and presumably that’s why they come bundled together in sets like this—because way less people would buy the sequel if they were sold separately.
Together the two Ghostbusters movies foreshadowed a supernatural, metaphysical strain of comedy that would continue to grow over the following decades. You can trace so many later movies or TV shows to Ivan Reitman’s films, from outright clones like Evolution and Pixels, to the more inspired comedy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories. Even the original Ghostbusters wasn’t a pop culture phenomenon that inspired cartoons, toys, sequels, and multiple reboots, it no doubt would’ve still left a mark on the comedy world due to its core cast of SNL and SCTV vets.
If you’re a 4K collector who loves Ghostbusters, you can’t go wrong with this set. Not only does it include both films in 4K with HDR10, but there’s a third disc full of legitimately interesting bonus footage. There are newly rediscovered deleted scenes, clips of Murray and Aykroyd promoting the film in 1984, and even an entire 1989 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. It won’t just scratch your nostalgic itch—it’ll also give you more ghostbusting action than you’ll know what to do with.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.