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GhostbustersGhostbusters, Collector's Series DVD

It'll Make You a Believer

by Jim Bray

Columbia Tristar Home Video's spectacular release of "Ghostbusters" shows just how good a DVD can be.

As with other studios' special DVD's it's chock full of extras and has been lovingly remastered and transferred into the digital medium - including a conversion of the original Dolby soundtrack into Dolby Digital.

Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters updates the old Abbot and Costello schtick of combining monsters and mayhem with comedy and state of the art production values. Released in 1984, the film is one of the top grossing comedies of all time.

The movie tells of a group of flakey scientists who set up a professional "paranormal exterminator" service - just in time for all Hell to break loose in New York City, threatening to rock the Big Apple to its core.

I've never been a big fan of "Ghostbusters," but this DVD is so outstanding that fans of the format should run out and buy it so they can have an example of how great DVD can be when properly exploited.

As a DVD, "Ghostbusters" breaks new ground. Sure, it has the usual extras of chapter stops and pretty, interactive menus. Add to that such "special edition" features as storyboards, production photos, conceptual drawings, and deleted scenes and you're starting to get a pretty good disc. But it doesn't stop there.

You get play by play commentary by director Reitman, co-writer/star Ramis, and producer Joe Medjuk - but not your ordinary commentary. Columbia Tristar actually filmed the backs of these guys in a screening room, and on a couple of the subtitle tracks you can see their heads and shoulders in silhouette as they reminisce about the film - periodically gesturing toward the screen to point out elements they're illustrating (like where a particular matte painting begins, for example). It's a wonderful idea and I hope to see it repeated on more discs. Oh, you can also listen to the commentary without their heads taking up part of the widescreen image.

Another subtitle track contains the text from the book "The Making of Ghostbusters" by Don Shay, and gives you a "running commentary" of notes and anecdotes about the movie.

And that still isn't all...

There are three separate documentaries, one from 1984 and two contemporary ones - one featuring Ramis, Aykroyd and Reitman talking about the film and its effect on their careers and another that stars the original visual effects team. You can also compare storyboard illustrations with their eventual filmed versions.

Best of all for the DVD medium, Columbia Tristar makes use of the normally ignored "Angle" feature. What they do is show you three of the films SFX sequences and let you switch between the final version and the "pre-effects" shot using the angle button. It's another wonderful feature. Please give us more!

And that still isn't all...

There are three still photo galleries, ten deleted scenes and DVD-ROM capabilities that include cast and crew information with Web hyperlinks and the original final shooting script. The DVD section also includes four trailers, from both Ghostbusters movies, Stripes, and Groundhog Day.

There's even a decent set of liner notes in the package itself, as well as a chapter listing.

Picture and sound? Oh yeah, these are also lovingly restored and remastered, and the widescreen presentation looks and sounds as if it were shot yesterday.

So while Ghostbusters may not be my idea of a laugh riot, it's definitely my idea of a great DVD - and I recommend it highly.

Bravo, Columbia Tristar!

Ghostbusters, Collector's Series, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
107 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts
Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis,
Produced and Directed by Ivan Reitman


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Updated May 13, 2006