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The Movies That Made Us: Ghostbusters (Netflix Episode) Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Dec. 4, 2019 at 11:50 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Reviews & Merch, Cast & Crew

On Friday, November 29, 2019, Netflix premiered their new series The Movies That Made Us. Contrary to the name, the series does NOT chronicle the fans whose lives have been influenced ("made") by these motion pictures. You know, like a guy who has run a Ghostbusters fansite for over 23 years. No, the series is more akin to AMC's Backstory, in which each 50-ish minute episode details the making of a film with new interviews with the people who made it. So, a better name for the series would have been The Movies That We Made, but then that wouldn't match the sister series, The Toys That Made Us. Anyway, the first season consists of four episodes, each devoted to one of these films: Dirty Dancing (episode 1), Home Alone (episode 2), Ghostbusters (episode 3), and Die Hard (episode 4). Obviously, you know the one that I will be reviewing today. Nobody puts Slimer in a ghost trap...

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to state that I have known about this series, and the Ghostbusters episode, since early May 2018. At that time, I was contacted by the filmmakers to see if I would be interested in participating in it. I even had a lovely phone conversation with executive producer Jay Chapman. After a month passed without hearing anything more, I reached out to them in early June 2018, and was told that they had just been out here to New York to film Dan and Ivan at the firehouse. I live out on Long Island (where the Extreme Ghostbusters once visited), a short train ride from Manhattan. It wouldn't have been much trouble for me to head over to the firehouse to meet Dan and Ivan, and participate in the festivities. It would have been a joy to finally meet both gentlemen, and to visit the firehouse, too. (This isn't the first time filmmakers asked me to participate in a project, came out to New York without telling me so they could interview others, and then moved on without me. Hence why I can never get fully behind the Cleanin' Up The Town documentary.) Alas, the producers behind The Movies That Made Us, chose not to have any fan involvement in the series, including not showing fan photos during the end credits (as they do on the Toys series). I had sent Jay a photo of "Spook Central Headquarters" in the hopes they would have included it in that manner. They didn't even give me a Special Thanks credit, even though I'm positive they used Spook Central as a resource. (I would bet that they used this Stay Puft drawing image from Spook Central that was originally sourced from the Criterion laserdisc.)

The series was originally set to premiere on December 25, 2018 (as Jay told me), and after that date was in the rearview mirror, I believed that we would never see it. Imagine my surprise when, shortly after the third season of Toys premiered on November 15th, I found out that Movies would release a mere two weeks later.

Let me make it clear that a diehard Ghosthead is not likely to learn anything new from this 47-minute episode, but we're not really the intended audience anyway. There are still a couple of new or "different" tidbits, but for the most part, this episode doesn't have the large amount of vintage photos and clips that made Ghostbusters: Behind Closed Doors worth watching.

Normally when I write a review, I take my notes and transform them into a proper article with paragraphs, and (hopefully) proper grammar and spelling - the latter is an issue because I'm a horrible typist; my English is fine. Since I have a lot on my plate this week - with various holiday releases to cover on The Corner Penthouse - I'll take the lazy way out and just transcribe my notes as is. So, instead of a formal article, this will be more of a bullet-pointed list. That'll probably make it easier for you to read, anyway.

Every episode is narrated by Donald Ian Black, not to be confused with Michael Ian Black. New interviews were conducted in 2018 with the following people (listed in no particular order):

(click for unmarked enlargement)

Spook Central patch seen in January 2018
(credit: Eric Reich at Ghost Corps)
  1. Joe Medjuck - at Ghost Corps headquarters by the fan patch display case. I saw my Spook Central patch in there (top middle of the frame). Since this interview was conducted in 2018, it's in the same location as the photo Eric sent me in January 2018. It has since been moved to the very bottom of the same case, as seen in Ghostbusters: Behind Closed Doors.
  2. Dan Aykroyd
  3. Ivan Reitman
  4. Steve Johnson
  5. Sheldon Kahn
  6. Richard Edlund
  7. Violet Ramis-Stiel
  8. Ray Parker Jr. (not in Behind Closed Doors)
  9. Frank Price (former Columbia Pictures CEO) (not in Behind Closed Doors)
  10. Thaine Morris (pyrotechnic specialist) (not in Behind Closed Doors)
  11. Mark Stetson (model shop supervisor) (not in Behind Closed Doors)
  12. John Bruno (visual effects art director)
  13. Karen Rea (casting director) (not in Behind Closed Doors)
  14. Ernie Hudson
  15. William Atherton
  16. Mark Bryan Wilson (ghost maker and performer)
-- As with all episodes of the series, it starts with an episode preview, followed by the title sequence, and a quick rundown of the movie's plot - for the benefit of those who have never seen the film.

-- A look at New York City in the 1980s, with era-appropriate stock footage. The shot at 2:48 with the noticable "Beefsteak & Brew" yellow sign actually shows the Wienerwald restaurant and Embassy theater in the background if you look carefully. Louis would walk past these Time Square landmarks in the movie.

(click to enlarge)

-- Dan Aykroyd's family and career history.

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-- Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Eddie Murphy were supposed to be the original three Ghostbusters.

-- Belushi passes away, so they look for more talent.

-- Ivan's is brought on. His career is discussed.

-- He directed Stripes with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis.

-- Joe Medjuck was interviewed at Ghost Corps headquarters by the fan patch display case.

-- Dan's talent agent Mike Ovitz gives the script to Ivan, who finds it to be "way too outlandish". The script, which was set in space with lots of ghostbusting teams, Medjuck thinks is "impossible to make". Ivan decides to make it into a going-into-business story.

-- Harold Ramis is brought in.

-- Bill Murray's career history.

-- Finding a studio to pay for it.

-- Columbia Pictures gives the greenlight, under the condition that it is released on June 8, 1984.

-- Ivan, Dan and Harold go to the beach (Martha's Vineyard) to write the script. Harold's daughter, Violet, recalls that "they were stoned a lot of the time".

-- They couldn't figure out what the do with the notion of a "Keymaster" and a "Gatekeeper".

-- Ivan has doubts about Stay Puft, which is one of the only things left from Dan's original script.

-- At 13:54 is a Stay Puft drawing that is clearly sourced from a video screenshot (notice the "shimmer" in the lines around Stay Puft's face and necktie). I'm positive that it's a zoomed-in version of this Stay Puft drawing that was sourced from the Criterion laserdisc.)


-- They want to hire ILM to do all of the special effects, but they're busy with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The monkey brain eating clip is shown.

-- Former ILM employee Richard Edlund goes out on his own to start Boss Film effects studio. Columbia gives them 5 Million Dollars. Richard cherry-picks his team, "tearing the heart from ILM's core talent pool". The Temple of Doom heart-rip scene is shown.

-- Various storyboards and behind the scenes photos are shown. Most of them are pretty common, some clearly sourced from the Making Ghostbusters book - such as the three-panel 3D Movie Theater deleted scene sequence at 16:03.

-- Frank Price "has a Coke problem". Coca-Cola recently bought Columbia Pictures and knows nothing about making movies. They don't want to make Ghostbusters because "it was an expensive special effects comedy that would never make its money back".

-- The "Ghostbusters" name is already taken by Filmation. Clips of the live-action show are shown

-- Casting begins. They thought John Candy would be Louis, but he didn't like the part as written. So, Rick Moranis is brought in. A photo is shown, sourced from Making Ghostbusters, of Rick in the Louis Encounters Muggers deleted scene.

-- Gozer was going to be Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Rubens), but Serbian actress Slavitza Jovan is cast instead.

-- There were no female characters in Dan's original script. Ivan and Harold added the females (such as Dana) because, as Dan says, "Romance wasn't for me. I'm not romantic."

-- They audition a lot of women for Dana. They didn't necessarily want a "name". They wanted someone with the right chemistry with Bill.

-- Sigourney Weaver tells Ivan that Dana should become a dog. She demonstrates by getting on Ivan's coffee table "howling and wiggling" on her hands on knees. Her unique audition "unlocked" the Keymaster/Gatekeeper idea they had.

-- They discussed getting Eddie Murphy for Winston, but they couldn't afford him. Besides, the role Dan wrote for Eddie was essentially given to Bill now.

-- They created Winston to be the audience surrogate, and the role was given to Ernie Hudson. Clips are shown of Ernie as Cal Freeman in the The A-Team season 2 episode "The Taxicab Wars" (November 1, 1983). The role of Winston is a big part and will be huge for his career. In the first draft, Winston shows up on page 28 and has "a lot of really good lines".

(click to enlarge)

-- Filming is set to begin in New York City, but they don't know if Bill will show up. He's currently in France. Thankfully, the next day, at 8 AM, he shows up on set ready to work.

-- Still unable to get the rights to the "Ghostbusters" title, the crew are filming scenes twice; the second time with an alternate title. (I wonder if that alternate footage exists, other than the commercial outtakes, where the alternate titles are "Ghost Stoppers" and "Ghost Blasters".) Joe Medjuck thinks it's "nuts" to film everything twice, including a "Ghost Breakers" sign on the firehouse. While outside the apartment building, Joe calls Columbia from a nearby payphone and has them listen to the 400 extras shouting "Ghostbusters". "We can't do this twice." From that moment on, they "only answered to Ghostbusters".

-- Unfortunately, Frank Price left Columbia, so who would step in to protect Ghostbusters from Coca-Cola? Frank: "In finalizing Ivan's contract, I gave Ivan a great deal of control over marketing, so that nobody could step in and kill the project."

-- Back in Los Angeles, Boss Films is hard at work. Steve Johnson heads the creature shop. The first ghost they design is the hotel ghost. He makes 12 different models for final approval. The night before the decision is to be made, Steve gets a note saying that he has to look like John Belushi. Knowing it was impossible to do at the last minute, he simply told them that he made it look like Belushi, even though he really didn't.

-- Mark Bryan Wilson shows off Slimer's butt (which excites a certain Canadian named Jason), then explains how the character was puppeteered.

(click to enlarge)

-- Ivan and crew head back to Los Angeles to film the interiors. The L.A. Public Library's basement fills in for New York's.

-- In a film clip, Egon: "I think this building should be condemned." Narrator over footage of the L.A. firehouse: "It actually since has been."

(click to enlarge)

-- The Sedgewick Hotel is actually the fancy Biltmore Hotel in L.A.

-- After finishing with the L.A. location shooting, they moved to The Burbank Studios to do the remainder of the shooting on soundstages.

-- When discussing the scenes in Dana's apartment, Dan says that "it was exciting to be there and watch Billy and Sigourney work".

-- Most of Venkman's and Peck's fight in the mayor's office was improvised.

-- Sheldon Kahn talks about the different takes of Peter's line when exiting the ballroom, and his four other lines instead of "I've been slimed" - one of which was "I've been gooed". In the original draft, Winston had the "slimed" line.

-- A lot of Winston's part was cut, including his backstory. "When Ernie signed on, Winston showed up on page 28. But during shooting, it became page 65." Harold told him, "All this stuff that you think is personal, it has nothing to do with you."

-- As the release date deadline approached, Ivan was shooting by day and editing by night. Sheldon says that they would work until midnight, one o'clock in the morning.

-- Less than two weeks after they wrapped shooting, Sheldon had the whole movie edited together, and it was decided that they would preview it for test audiences the following week.

-- The test audience reacts positively, even though there were no effects in the version they were shown. They screamed when Dana opened the refrigerator door, even though there was only a "Visual FX Shot Here" placeholder. They also reactively positively to a non-existent Marshmallow Man in Columbus Circle. The only "completed" effects shot was the reveal of Stay Puft's head behind the buildings, to which "they went crazy".

-- The test screening happened in March 1984, three months before the release date. Ivan decides that he wants extra effects shots, so Richard Edlund meets him in the parking lot with a samurai sword.

-- A faux "March 1984" calendar page is shown, only the photo used on it is from Ghostbusters II. Oops.


-- Some of the effects were done live on the set. The ones that weren't were done as quickly as possible by Boss Films.

-- Ivan needs a pop song for the film "that had the right rhythm, the right bop and beat to it".

-- The music came fairly easy to Ray Parker Jr., but he had a hard time coming up with the lyrics. No matter how he tried to sing it, the word "Ghostbusters" was just not going to work - but Ivan wanted the word to be in the song. (Filmation had no problem singing "Ghostbusters" nine years earlier!) He comes up with the lyric, "Who you gonna call?", after thinking about late-night plumber commercials.

-- Boss Films sends over test shots for Ivan's approval, and due to the lack of time, Ivan puts these test shots in the final film. Richard Edlund: "There are some funky shots in Ghostbusters. We just didn't have time to finesse them." A zoomed-in close-up of the wobbly apartment building when Stay Puft's foot lands on the street is shown.

-- Ivan takes Ray Parker Jr.'s demo cassette and adds it into the final movie mix.

-- Richard Edlund: "About 80% of the (effects) shots in Ghostbusters were 'Take Ones'. We did not have time to do extra takes."

-- After 10 months, the movie was complete, but they still didn't get the title from Filmation. They "failed dismally" to get it all through production. Luckily for them, Filmation was owned by Universal, which was now headed by Frank Price, the former head of Columbia who greenlit Ghostbusters. Of course, he grants them the rights to the title.

(click to enlarge)

-- Some of Entertainment Tonight's coverage of the June 8, 1984 movie premiere is shown, featuring Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, and Dan Aykroyd.

-- The movie and song were huge hits. Dan: "We opened and we stayed at number one for 13 weeks."

-- Worldwide, Ghostbusters grossed nearly 300 Million Dollars and created a marketing frenzy. A clip is shown of Bill Murray on Late Night with David Letterman showing off Ghostbusters cocktail napkins that feature the No Ghost logo with the slogan, "Lift your spirits with Ghostbusters".

(click to enlarge)

-- When discussing the "marketing frenzy", clips and movie posters are shown to illustrate everything that's come afterward: Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters (2016), Ghostbusters (2020) - all of which are listed as "sequels". Coca-Cola joins the merchandising blitz, which also includes cereal, the aforementioned "sequels", The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, computer games (the David Crane NES game title screen is shown), and of course, The Real Ghostbusters toys. As the toys are shown, a music sting of The Toys That Made Us theme is heard; "but that's another series".


-- Narrator: "For everyone involved in this comedy largely about death, it seems this movie might live forever, and that's pretty good for a simple going-into-business story set in the greatest city on Earth." As this line is spoken, side-by-side comparisons are shown of the following from 1984 and 2018: Ivan Reitman, Richard Edlund, Joe Medjuck, and Dan Aykroyd.

-- New footage is shown of Ivan and Dan visiting New York City filming locations back in May/June 2018: 55 Central Park West, firehouse, and library. The filmmakers match up movie shots with real life, to show how the locations look 34 years later. They only go inside the library. At 41:17 is the black and white photo of filming at the library from Making Ghostbusters.

(click to enlarge)

-- Ivan and Dan reminisce about Harold.

-- Harold reunites with Bill in 1993 for Groundhog Day. According to Violet, nobody knows what happened between them, but after that, they were not friends anymore. "Towards the end of my dad's illness, he was at home in Glencoe, Illinois, and Bill showed up at the local police precinct because he didn't know exactly where my dad lived, but he knew he wanted to see him. So he went to the police and said, 'Take me to Harold', and they drove him over with a police escort. He and my dad sat together for a few hours."

-- A photo of Egon standing next to the Ecto-1 appears with the text "Harold Ramis 1944-2014" superimposed in the lower right corner.

(click to enlarge)

-- The movie brought the Aykroyd family research "full circle". Dan: "It was the completion of the research that the Aykroyd family started. It was the ultimate result."

(click to enlarge)

-- While standing on the library steps, Ivan ruminates, "There was a sense that it was a great story, and perfectly told in a great city."

-- The episode closes on the lion that opens the original film.

-- The complete 3D Movie Theater deleted scene storyboard sequence is shown alongside the end credits, including panels with the Three Stooges that were not seen in Making Ghostbusters. Every episode features storyboards from that movie on the side of the end credits, instead of the fan collection photos seen in The Toys That Made Us.

(click to enlarge)

The above bullet-point list is a text commentary on the 47-minute video below, which is compressed and in DVD-resolution.

Play Video
(with optional English subtitles)

And that sums up the entire 47-minute episode. Nothing groundbreaking in terms of knowledge for us Ghostheads, but there are worse ways to spend an hour. If you're a paid Netflix subscriber, you can view the episode on the Netflix website or app (on your favorite streaming device).

Patreon-Exclusive Bonus Feature - Over 100 full size (1920x1080) images grabbed from the episode + the original 1920x1080 2.5GB MKV video file (with lots of subtitle languages).

As for the rest of season one, the "Die Hard" episode features more of William Atherton's interview (and a clip of him as Peck in Ghostbusters), along with Reginald Vel Johnson (Jail Guard in Ghostbusters), and several Boss Films crew members. The "Dirty Dancing" and "Home Alone" episodes have no connection to Ghostbusters at all. It is unclear at this time if season one of The Movies That Made Us will ever be released on home video in the future. The first two seasons of The Toys That Made Us were released on Blu-ray and DVD, so that opens up the possibility of the sister series getting a physical disc release, but does not guarantee it since there are different licensing issues involved with movie clips.

(click to enlarge)


Comment from: Alex Newborn [Visitor]

My biggest pet peeve about the episode was Joe Medjuck and Sheldon Kahn both mis-remembering the detail of the alternate title. Here’s a quick video I made yesterday about it. (Irony: I slightly recut their footage of editor Sheldon Kahn!) https://youtu.be/3RsghTrK8u4

Dec. 6, 2019 @ 09:15
Comment from: [Member]

Good video, Alex.

Yeah, every time Joe and Sheldon said “Ghost Breakers", I was thinking to myself, “That isn’t right".

Like you said in the video, I binged all four episodes of Toys a few weeks ago, and the editing style drove me NUTS! It wasn’t so bad in seasons 1 and 2 as it was in season 3. Some lengthy interviews are clearly edited down to ONE SINGLE MEANINGLESS SOUNDBYTE. Other stuff that isn’t important is repeated ad nauseum to create a “story” instead of presenting things as facts. Here’s what I wrote about it in a Facebook comment a few weeks ago:

45 minutes just isn’t enough time to do any of it justice.

The editing is the most annoying part. They go through the trouble of bringing some people in for interviews, and then you only see a mere five seconds of them. As an example, John DeLancie in the My Little Pony episode. He *literally* appeared in just one clip, and what they used of him contributed absolutely *nothing* to the show. I’m sure that he had much more interesting stuff to say.

The other big problem with the editing is that the whole thing is edited to make a “story", instead of being a documentary type of narrative. I’ll bring up the Pony episode again, because there were several times in it when they replayed a quote from an interviewee like it was a character’s inner thoughts. And don’t get me started on the incessant mention of “golden rules” for the ponies that seemingly only *one* employee actually believed existed - which the show disproves every chance it can. Why bring it up CONSTANTLY if it’s not true to begin with?!?

That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything. I never knew anything about MLP history, or even the behind-the-scenes stuff on all of the wrestling figure lines (many of which I had when I was younger). So, the show is still worth watching, but it’s not what it *could* be.

If they keep doing Blu-ray and DVD releases (seasons 1&2 are out on both formats), I hope they put some complete interviews on there. You can tell that there is much MUCH more filmed that isn’t used in the episodes.

One thing that annoyed me, which I didn’t mention in my other comment, was something they showed for a second or two in the wrestling episode. They quickly showed a photo of Hulk Hogan’s and Roddy Piper’s car toys for an unreleased Rock ‘n’ Wrestling toyline. Yet they never once spoke about it. They never even mentioned there being a toyline planned for the show. Unless I completely missed it in my childhood, a toyline was never made for the show. There was lots of other merch, but not toys. So, it would have been nice to get some history there.

(source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1476720649259650/permalink/2371501113114928/)

– Paul

Dec. 7, 2019 @ 12:47
Comment from: Mac [Visitor]

They covered the legal matter regarding Filmation, but not the lawsuit with Huey Lewis. It shows Ray Parker jr saying how the melody was the easy part of writing the song & other interviewees mention the theme song. Maybe it’s part of the gag order in the settlement that neither party is at liberty to discuss it in interviews?

I’m interested to see how much they cover the Filmation Ghostbusters toys in The Real Ghostbusters toys episode whenever it gets made.

Dec. 22, 2019 @ 12:04

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