Tag Archives: Behind the Scenes

Believe It’s Magic! The Painstaking Special Effects of “Ghostbusters”

I think it goes without saying Ghostbusters is a once-in-a-lifetime movie experience that can and never will be replicated, and a lot of that credit goes towards the special effects of the film. In 1984, this sort of visual sorcery wasn’t running rampant across filmmaking. With few exceptions like Star Wars and Poltergeist, (both of which Ghostbusters visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund worked on) audiences were bedazzled with the hypnotic effects the movie presented within.

Let’s take a ride and talk about that.

A mere year after the visual stunner of Poltergiest, Ivan Reitman and his crew were tasked to make Ghostbusters in UNDER A YEAR. In this case, is asking the impossible with the sort of movie that called for such heavy special effects to sell the story. But according to Ivan Reitman, it had to be done in such a way as to balance the comedy with the “ghosts” so as to not make it too silly, or too scary as doing so would damage the film entirely.

“The special effects are just as important as the comedy. We’ve never seen this level of first-class effects in a comedy film before and it has to be evened out.” – Ivan Reitman

Much of Dan Akroyd’s vision for the creatures were on a large scale, some of which even ended up in space if you can just picture that! However, the budget for the film was about $5 million and Reitman worked with Akroyd to rewrite the script and the creatures in a way that would work in a beautiful balance of comedy and terror. Though they ended up around $700,000 over by the time the film was locked, if Dan Aykroyd’s original script had been filmed, according to associate producer Joe Medjuck, it would have had “50 large scale monsters”.

Enter Richard Enlund, head honcho of Boss studios. Launched in 1983 specifically for Ghostbusters, who knew the importance of not making these creatures into flat-out jokes for the film. And what we ended up with was some of the best damn practical effects of apparations still to this day.

In the instance of the Marshmallow Man, Edlund and his team went through dozens of ideas and designs before opting for the simple, yet practical 100-foot monstrosity we all know and love.

Part of what made the effects so, well, effective, was their practical nature. You just can’t beat practical movie magic no matter how much technology you throw in front of it. The clip below from Ghostbusters.net gives us a short and sweet breakdown of some of the wizardry undertaken in bringing the Library Ghost, Slimer, and more to life in the film.

Made in just ten months and filmed in 55 days, Ghostbusters is the prime example of practical effects done in a time-crunch without the technology of a computer. Cliche to say it has aged like fine wine, so we’ll just say it has aged as well as Keanu Reeves in 2022. Charming, beautiful, breathtaking, and as soft and nostalgic as a twinkie.

With that, I’ll leave here with my personal favorite shot from the movie- the ghost escape from the firehouse that wreaks havoc on New York City all leading up to the climax of Gozer. I’m actually kind of obsessed with this scene as it has everything that is great about this movie all rolled into two minutes of spectacular energy. It’s ominous, a bit silly, but not so much to where you can’t overlook the sense of dread that is coming. Paired with Mick Smiley’s “I Believe It’s Magic”, this is just cinematic gold right here. And I believe what Ivan Reitman set out to do in balancing terror and comedy, marries perfectly in this one scene alone.

“The Exorcist” Behind The Scenes Clips That Are Even Scarier Than The Movie!

I will NEVER forget the first time The Exorcist was seen by my eye holes.

Like everyone in the 80s and 90s, we had a stockpile of recorded movies on various blank Maxwell, Scotch, and Polaroid cassette tapes that held three or four films on each one. My Uncle Pat, who was the VHS Wizard Master for our family, would rent various movies from the video rental store and transfer said films onto the blank VHS tapes- conning the system in the 80s’ form of piracy rather than recording them off the television- which of course we still did, however.

Anyway, one of these tapes, in particular, was my absolute favorite at a young age and stayed that way well until it finally disappeared into the VHS Twilight Zone. I mean, realistically it probably got thrown out by someone in the family when the DVD era overthrew the VHS status quo. In any regard, this tape was a translucent light blue and stood out from the other black cassettes, shining like a piece of treasure among a sea of home-recorded films; and a treasure indeed it was as it held some of the most fantastic horror movies therein. In the exact order: Frankenstein, The Exorcist, and Halloween.

For visual purposes, I found the closest thing on the interwebs that resembles what this tape looked like. Also worth noting, I would give my right tit to be in possession of said cassette today.

Dreamstime.com

As stated numerous times here on NN, the Universal Monsters legacy films and Halloween were a pretty massive deal in our home and really laid down the foundation for my love of horror films via my dad and Grandfather, whom this tape belonged to rightfully. So, of course, I watched those two films rather religiously. Halloween, in particular, had to be accessed through fast-forwarding through The Exorcist and for the most part, only caught the last 2 or 3 minutes of the movie along with the end credits of Tubular Bells, of which even at the young age of six totally rocked out to. It wasn’t until I was around eight years old that I happened to stall on the infamous exorcism scene and I honestly had no idea what the hell I was looking at except I was like, “Wow those are hella dirty words!!” Then the thought came, “Should I be watching this?” The rebellious little shit in me was intrigued enough and went back all sneaky like to watch it.; at least I thought I was being slick anyway. This was dangerous and I thought it was like watching a porn or something so it was super thrilling to someone of my age. I mean, taking into account the masturbation scene, I’d say that was a pretty good analogy for someone of my age at the time.

I was always a hardcore kid that didn’t scare easily, and The Exorcist was no exception. I grew to adore that VHS blue tape in its entirety and the film has become a favorite since that adventurous day at the tender age of 8. However, the behind-the-scenes clips taken from the BBC documentary, “The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist”, are goddamn more creepy than the film itself. Kind of like that one banned trailer from the film that was almost more horrifying than the film itself. The makeup tests alone from the series of videos are from the stuff of deepest, darkest nightmares. Thanks to the Youtube channel, The Exorcist Online, we have confirmation that The Exorcist indeed, is the scariest film ever made- quite literally.

Each video is looped to the next to avoid uploading eight different vids here. Enjoy Nostalgic Nuggets!

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch Is The Imperfectly Perfect Halloween Film

If you would have told me ten years ago I’d be writing these following words, I would absolutely say you were out of your fucking mind. HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH is finally recognized by most fans as a worthy entry in the beloved horror franchise; and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased that SOB Colonel Cochran is part of the inclusive horror legends club.

Now, John Carpenter’s Halloween and it’s sequels, particularly 2 and 4, are of course amazing and essential Halloween viewing. However, Season of the Witch is an entirely different bag of dicks in the franchise as we all know and although the fans have been much kinder to the red-headed stepchild of the series in recent years, the hatred still exists for those unwilling to accept a non-Michael Myers Halloween movie.

To that, I just have this to say…

Which brings me to a very good point that we can only watch Myers gut up teenagers so many times before our brain sensors tell us enough; we want something else. Which is precisely what John Carpenter had in mind when studios were pushing for another Halloween film from the director after burning Michael alive in Halloween II. The Shape was dead and Carpenter grew tired of the story- hence Season of the Witch came to be with the idea of a Halloween horror anthology series focusing on different and terrifying urban legends and folklore surrounding the holiday. The main idea of the film would be “witchcraft meets the computer age.” They brought in Joe Dante ( Gremlins) to direct, and hired the remarkable Nigel Kneale (the Quatermass films) to pen the script, which focused on modern-day Druids practicing Halloween in the old-fashioned way. Oh and well, with a couple of androids thrown in. After all, the early to mid-eighties movies focused a LOT on technologic advances; peering into the future with slave robots and such.

Now get Pauley that beer SICO.

Dante dropped out of the project when Steven Spielberg and John Landis offered him a chance to participate in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Even though Halloween III was a box-office bomb, I’d much rather be associated with Season of the Witch than a movie that contributed to the death of three people. Anyways, in stepped in Tommy Lee Wallace to direct who also helped Carpenter coin that Silver Shamrock jingle that is forever imbedded into our brains as some sort of fucked up version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”; which is exactly what the tune was modeled after.

Halloween III may be the most “halloweeniest” of all the movies in the franchise- yeah, I just made that word up for all intents and purposes. It takes every aspect of the beloved holiday and throws it all together in this film like a delightful bowl of Halloween candy varieties. When you think of Halloween, you think costumes, children, trick or treating- and this installment has it all and then some. Along with aheavy dose of old-world style witchcraft. For the longest time, society has paired witches and Halloween together in an unholy matrimony. It’s sort of problematic to practicing witches, as they are who they are all year round, and they are certainly not evil, but that’s an argument for another day. It’s never been a deal breaker for me so let’s move on.

While, other films in the franchise may have scenes involving Trick or Treating that set the nostalgic Halloween mood, Halloween III focuses on the premise of DEATH by trick or treating and their beloved masks. That’s pretty fucked up and to boot, the film had the balls to kill a kid very brutally in front of us. It was trailblazing at its finest.

As for atmospheric settings, one could never forget the montage near the end with that Silver Shamrock jingle going off in the background like some sort of death march for the children decked out in their Silver Shamrock masks rushing through a night of candy- collecting all in an effort to get home in time for “the big giveaway”. Beyond the opening credits and nighttime neighborhood scenes in Halloween 4, this movie gives off the some of the most Spidey-senses worthy moments of the holiday ever captured in these films. My favorite moment, and maybe the most iconic, is the group of children trekking across a dark landscape, silhouetted against a pumpkin-orange sky. Few images in the Halloween series better sum up the spirit of Halloween night as much as this one moment right here.

It’s a true aesthetic pleasure to say the very least.

Then, there’s Conal Cochran: the most underrated horror villain of Halloween… EVER.

I don’t use the word “underrated” lightly, however, I feel it’s quite appropriate here. Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), the proprietor of Silver Shamrock Novelties and sworn allegiance to the dark arts of Witchcraft make him for a dangerous enemy to have indeed; especially if you’re a kid. Cochran, presumably has way more kills under his belt than not only his film predecessor Myers, but the holy trinity of slashers themselves – Freddy, Jason, and Michael. And think about this: The ending is open-ended and leaves us to speculate whether the final commercial ran its full course. If it did, then Cochran would have succeeded in committing mass genocide of children across the United States.

What a dick, eh? Cochran, who uses his success of his company to coordinate the largest Samhain sacrifice to appease the Celtic Gods on the glorious night of Halloween, is as evil and terrifying as they come. As if his ominous stare downs weren’t creepy enough, his monologue alone is chilling to the bone (the thrill and absolute madness in his voice sells it completely). Cochran is hardcore. But as tough as he was, he was no match for Tom Atkins: The Man, The Myth, The Mustache. If anyone can save the world from a Pagan madman, beer guzzling- womanizing Dr. Challis was gonna be that guy.

While the movie has gained moderate success over the past few years, maybe the key factor in acceptance of the bastard installment is our own maturity and longing for the nostalgia aspect of what Halloween once represented. As children, we hated it. As adults, we embraced it as the perfectly imperfect Halloween film it is. What a grand joke on the children, eh?