Monday, October 19, 2009

Ghostbusters 1 & 2 - Double Feature Gift Set DVD Review

One of my most beloved childhood franchises, I forced my father to rent Ghostbusters on VHS time after time after time again. We finally ripped our own poor VHS copy of both Ghostbusters and its sequel, Ghostbusters 2, at which point I watched them until they couldn't be watched any more. I knew every line, every camera angle, ever effect, and then, finally, I stopped watching them. Flashforward to summer 2009, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game is just released, which I happen to pick up. Being the unofficial third film, the game made me realize that not only had I not watched the Ghostbusters films in well over a decade, but that I also no longer owned any copies of them.

Both problems were easily fixed, as Ghostbusters and its sequel are sold in a bundle DVD pack, a "Double Feature Gift Set," as it's called. The first film, Ghostbusters, sees college professors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) lose their cushy university jobs, forcing them to go into business themselves. And what business do they specialize in? Why, investigation of the paranormal, of course! It seems that ghost sightings and the like are on the rise in Manhattan, and when something goes bump in the night, who you gonna call?

Inventing their own ghost capturing equipment and renovating an old firehouse to be their headquarters and containment facility, the Ghostbusters set out to keep New York safe from that which can not be explained. Their first client, the lovely Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), apparently has a demon in her fridge, and her case may turn out to be larger than even the Ghostbusters are prepared to handle!

Released in 1984, Ghostbusters was a hit phenomena that struck a cord instantly with audiences worldwide. The humour is campy, the cast a perfect match for one another, and the special effects were great for their day. I did find that the film didn't transfer to DVD with the best of quality, however, and the image can look rather grainy, however the audio came over cleanly, and overall the film is still a joy to watch and this is just a minor issue.

There's also some deleted scenes on the DVD, as well as some behind the scenes featurettes, such as storyboard comparisons and various cast and crew interviews, but nothing here is too special, and the actual DVD's menu is very poorly done featuring really low quality animation.

The gift set also contains a Movie Scrapbook, a small collectible that shows various storyboards and script excerpts, as well as discussing the script revisions, casting, and logo design of the film.

The second disc of the set features the 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters 2. Five years after they saved New York City from paranormal destruction, the Ghostbusters have fallen on hard times. Sued by every major entity in the city and ordered by law to cease practicing their Ghostbusting operations, the team has had to go its separate ways. Venkman is hosting a poor psychic-themed cable show, Spengler is doing private research, and Stantz and Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) are entertaining at children's birthday parties with Stantz running his own occult bookstore on the side. That is, until Dana comes back with a disturbing case of her own. Apparently her baby, Oscar, went for a wild ride when his baby carriage started driving down the street on it's own! During their secret investigation, the Ghostbusters discover a massive river of slime flowing beneath Manhattan, and it's threatening the end of the city but what can the boys do now that they're out of business?

Like the original film before it, Ghostbusters 2 is packed with laughs, chemistry, and cheesy good fun as everyone's favourite paranormal investigators get back on the case. While lacking the originality and surprise of the first film, this is a sequel after all, Ghostbusters 2 never-the-less provides us with more of what we love, and a deeper exploration of these great characters.

The picture on this disc came through a lot crisper than that of the first film, and the audio also sounds great. The DVD's menu is nearly as bad as the first, but more so because it's the exact same thing, reflecting the original film's theme save that instead of a Marshmallow Man walking around, it's the Statue of Liberty. The bonus features on this disc, however, are far cooler than that of the first. Why? Because they're two full episodes of the animated '80's cartoon! Both episodes have a direct relation to the films in that the first, "Citizen Ghost" deals with the Ghostbusters' aftermath of their battle with Gozer (Slavitza Jovan), and the second episode "Partner in Slime" features the use of Vigo's slime (except it's yellow instead of pink). It was really cool watching these old cartoons, as I loved The Real Ghostbusters as a kid.

I was able to pick up Ghostbusters 1 & 2 Double Feature Gift Set for $14.99, which is a great deal for two awesome classic films, and certainly worth the cost of admission for the trip down memory lane.

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