In Defence of Ghostbusters II

Let me come right out and say it — Ghostbusters II gets a bad rap, and I think it’s entirely uncalled for.

Now, I’m not here to say that it’s better than the original, because it’s not. The original Ghostbusters is a classic piece of comedic filmmaking, combining hilarious performances, a solid (although incredibly traditional) story structure, and an underrated musical score to create one of the best movies of the 1980s.

Ghostbusters II: Unfairly msince 1989.

Unfairly maligned since 1989.

But just because the sequel can’t quite reach the dizzying heights that its big brother can, doesn’t mean that Ghostbusters II is a steaming pile of crap (as its current score of 6.0 on IMBD would dare to suggest).

It’s much better than the vast majority of sequels to other popular movies, that’s for sure. Admit it … which movie would you rather watch? Ghostbusters II or Temple of Doom? Neither are as good as the first, but when compared head to head, the second outing of Egon, Peter, and Ray trounces Short Round and Annoying Screaming Lady, any day of the week.

In fact, if you bring Ghostbusters II out the shadow of the original, you’ll find that it’s a clever, funny, and highly entertaining movie — but people refuse to acknowledge it simply because “it wasn’t as good as the first one.” Well, nuts to that. With the following points, I shall defend the honour of the unfairly maligned Ghostbusters II and restore order and balance to the universe:

Vigo the Carpathian

Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia, the Sorrow of Moldavia.

Scourge of Carpathia, Sorrow of Moldavia ... yes, yes, I know that already.

Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia, the Sorrow of Moldavia (also known as Vigo the Cruel, Vigo the Torturer, Vigo the Despised, Vigo the Unholy, and at times, Vigo the Butch) is a severely underappreciated villain. Sure, some people say that’s he’s a total pushover during the final battle, he poses no real threat to humanity (let alone New York City), and that he sucks simply because he lives in a friggin’ painting. All valid points. But Vigo is much more effective as the lead antagonist than Gozer ever was.

You see, Gozer spends most of Ghostbusters as a faceless entity, up until the very end when it’s revealed to be a female Czech gymnast who can turn into a giant marshmallow man. Hell, for the longest time, Zuul seems to the be the focus of the Ghosbuster’s efforts, not Gozer. Vigo, on the other hand, well, you know that he’s evil and creepy right from the very start. You know that the final showdown will be between Vigo and the Ghostbusters. It is inevitable, really.

Plus, Vigo gets way better lines than Gozer ever did. “Choose and perish?” “Are you a god?” Total amateur hour. Here’s Vigo’s backstory, as narrated by him:

“On a mountain of skulls, in a castle of pain, I sat on a throne of blood. What was will be, and what is will be no more! Now is the season of evil!”

Bad. Ass.

As an added bonus, Vigo can actually be scary at times (as useful trait in a movie about, you know, ghosts). His face bulging out of the painting near the start of the movie is a nice touch, but when you see Vigo’s true form (first in the photos analyzed by Ray and Egon, and then again at the end during the final battle), you see that time has not been kind to Viggy. Indeed, his bloated, twisted, demonic visage has undoubtedly been seared into the minds of countless impressionable children of the ’80s.

The true face of Vigo.

The true face of evil. You are like the buzzing of flies to him!

Dr. Janosz Poha

Every bad guy needs a lackey, and since he has to live in a painting, Vigo possesses Dr. Janosz Poha, Curator of the Manhattan Museum of Art, to do his dirty work. While Vigo is looming and ominous, Janosz is hilarious. His awkward mannerisms and bizarre accent serve to create a truly memorable character, complete with great lines such as, “Why am I drippings with goo?” He practically steals every scene he is in. You could even say that Janosz Poha is to Vigo as Louis Tully is to the Ghostbusters — a well-meaning, but mostly inept sidekick / comedic foil.

The Ghosts

While Vigo is clearly the top banana, all of the other ghosts sprinkled throughout Ghostbusters II are just as memorable (and much better than the lame ghosts found in the original … face it, Slimer blows). The Scoleri Brothers? Awesome. The mink coat that comes to life and tries to eat its owner? Awesomer. The arrival of the Titanic? Awesomest.

Better late than never.

Better late than never.

The Comedy

Yeah, I know, this movie isn’t as funny as the first, and that’s most likely on account of its lame PG rating — which means no more classic lines such as, “Yes, it’s true, this man has no dick.” But that matters not, because Ghostbusters II still packs a plethora of comedy gold into its 100 minute timespan, including:

  • When the team powers up their proton packs for the first time years, they do so with the classic line: “Do … re … Egon!”
  • The character of Egon continues to amuse, especially the deadpan tales of his childhood (“We had part of a Slinky, but I straightened it”).
  • Louis Tully acting as the Ghostbusters’ lawyer.
  • Ray and Winston whoring themselves out at birthday parties for “yuppy larvae” who would rather see He-Man.
  • Peter “putting down” of baby Oscar.
  • Peter hosting his own TV show, “World of the Psychic”, which provides exceptional insight into Venkman’s character.

And that’s just to name a few of the film’s memorable scenes.

At times, it’s a different type of humour than what is found in the first Ghostbusters (a little more “family-friendly”, perhaps), but it still works just the same. There’s no denying that the sequel is a genuinely funny movie that can be enjoyed on multiple levels by both kids and adults alike, just like the original.

Next week: hairless cats. Weird!

Next week: hairless cats. Weird!

I could go on, but I think the points I’ve made above should be enough to properly honour and respect the awesomeness that is Ghostbusters II. It’s not as good as the first one, no. There’s no debating that. But people need to realize that it’s still a damn fine movie and it doesn’t deserve to be shunned or outcast simply on account of what it isn’t and could never hope to be.

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21 Responses

  1. […] A well argued piece that I happen to agree with – it’s a weak-willed attempt by studio execs to trap lightning in a bottle a second time by doing the exact same thing, but it still filled with the same things we loved about its predecessor. Besides, everyone knows Highlander 2 is the epitome of crappy sequels, and Ghostbusters 2 is nowhere near that bad. […]

  2. well said!

  3. found this article via Proton Charging. You rock!

  4. I totally agree with this. Do you know what work so well with this sequel? – it copied the major points in the original film, without making them seem like copies. The 3 main Ghostbusters catch a ghost to gain credibility/respect. Dana hates Peter, but loves him by the end. Remember the montage of newpaper articles while the Ghostbuster ran up and down the street? Totally in both movies. And lets not forget that we can’t end a Ghostbuster’s movie without something giant trashing through the streets – Mashmallowman; meet Statue of Liberty. To me it was the best sequel period, until Spiderman 2 came along. And of course Dark Knight wins the title as the first sequel better than the original….but I digress…

    • “And of course Dark Knight wins the title as the first sequel better than the original….but I digress…”

      Obviously Empire Strikes Back wins the first sequel better then the original, not that I’m disagreeing with what you’re implying about Dark Knight

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys! Glad to see other people have a soft spot for GB2, too.

    Good point about how the structure of the movie essentially copies the major points of the original without ripping them off completely. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

  6. While it’s always been accepted that GBII is not as a good as the original, I haven’t noticed people taking a crap on it until a few years ago. Is it because of the renewed interest in GB? GBII does deserve a certain amount of respect.

    A very good article and I agree with it. I’m not with some of the commentors here just in that I would have preferred GBII to not have the exact same story structure as the first movie (company not doing well, helping Dana, proving themselves with a bust, montage, thrown in jail/asylum, fighting big bad…). It DOES work because it copied the first film, but I would have even preferred it if they had shaken things up but failed. And it’s greatest sin? Needs more Winston! I don’t know if that’s because it was still following the first too much.

    What I find interesting is this is exactly what Dan Aykroyd did with the far worse sequel “Blues Brothers 2000.” Largely same elements and story only watered down for kids. Fantastic soundtrack but there is no point in watching that film.

  7. I agree that Ghostbusters 2 is a funny movie… I often find myself quoting that movie just as much as I throw out GB 1 quotes.

    However, I understand that you’re trying really hard to point out that Ghostbusters 2 is an excellent movie, but that doesn’t mean you have to go bashing Slimer. Slimer is no way even comes close to “blowing”. One of the best scenes in GB 1 is when Ray first comes upon Slimer eating food off of the cart in the hallway. I just think bad mouthing Slimer was going a bit too far and uncalled for.

    • Fair enough … perhaps I was a little harsh on the little green dude. His cameo at the end of GB2 where he’s driving the bus is cute (albeit only in the movie as a nod to the cartoon).

      But in the end, he’s just a floating green blob, and I believe that his equivalents in the second movie (the Scoleri Brothers) are far superior.

  8. GB2 has always been underappreciated. Without it, our Ghostbusters lexicon would be much more limited, as we would be forced to live our lives without quoting such lines as:

    “suck in the guts, guys.”
    “Slime! A river of slime!”
    “this is what you do with your spare time.”
    “it’s always the quiet ones.”
    “tasty pick, bonehead.”
    “judicial mistrangement order”
    “sh*t happens, someone’s got to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?”
    “the one…the only…the beautiful…ghostbusters”
    “everything you are doing there is wrong. I want you to know this.”
    “hose ‘em!”

    …and countless others. GB2 rocks (except for the Statue of Liberty, maybe).

  9. I like Ghostbusters II. It’s just the expectations were too high.

    I think the worst sequiel ever is “Son of The Mask”-A Jim Carrey sequel…without Jim Carrey.

  10. Vigo, the courthouse scene with The Scolari Bros and Janoz Polka help make this film memorable.

  11. Can’t say I’ve ever read a blog post that goes into this much depth on Ghostbusters before. Love it. ❤

  12. This was a GREAT article. Thank you! It is great to finally hear somebody come out in defense of Ghostbusters 2. I have always LOVED both movies. I readily admit that Ghostbusters 2 wasn’t as good as Ghostbusters. But, I could never understand why it is so hard for people to like a sequel just because it isn’t as good as the original. I mean, it’s like people expect a sequel to be better than the original, and if it’s not they crap all over it and call it the worst movie ever filmed.

    It really aggravates me, because Ghostbusters 2 really was a great movie. If you truly take a fair look at it, without comparing it to the original, you can see how it was actually a great movie. Not as good as the first, of course. But, it was still awesome. This was the best argument I’ve ever seen to show why.

    Besides, if we never got Ghostbusters 2, do you think we’d even have gotten the limited stuff we’ve had over the years? The Neca stuff? The 88MPH comics? The recent comics? Hell, do you really think we’d even be getting the video game? Maybe, but probably not.

  13. Good article – I love GBII, and so do most people I know personally. I am truly astonished to see how much hate it gets.

    To be honest I have a hard time saying which movie I prefer, although I saw GBII first so that may be a big factor.

  14. I always liked GB2. Infact I just bought the GB 1 &2 dvd gift set. I dont know why people hate GB2, its a funny movie.

  15. The one part of Ghostbusters II that I can’t defend unfortunately comes right at the very end: the reveal of that painting (and the terrible jokes they make about it) unfortunately always means the movie concludes by leaving a bad taste in the audience’s mouth. Otherwise, there’s a lot to like about it, although I really hope to see the deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray release…

  16. I think “Ghostbusters” & “Ghostbusters II” are both awesome movies! The video game is amazing and I look forward to “Ghostbusters III”. Hell, I am soooooo ready to believe, again.

  17. What most people forget all the time is–as even Harold Ramis said–the Ghostbusters films are “serious comedies”, which means the plot is just as important. I think the first film forget that a bit and focused more on the comedic aspect. I recently watched the first one again. Now, bear in mind that I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan….and actually prefer the sequel( though I’m even more of a fan of the RGB cartoon)…yet after watching the original again, I’ve grown to appreciate it even more. However, I still find the sequel superior.

    The battle sequence with Vigo at the end is pretty much the same length as the one with Gozer, and I think the greatest aspect of the 2nd is that the city realizes that they ACTUALLY DO NEED the Ghostbusters towards the end, where as in the first, they went completely unappreciated for the most part.

    Vigo just completely rocks my world, and I’ve been dying for a figure of him for years. And the funny thing is this: Gozer was supposed to be some omnipotent Sumerian god, and Vigo simply a vicious 16th century tyrant….so why did they both take the exact amount of time to take down? And why was Vigo able to terrorize the whole city with his river of slime, whereas Gozer was pretty much stuck just doing it to the Shandor building, until the Ghostbusters finally came in to take ‘er out?

  18. I’ve just watched both films recently on DVD, both still rocks. And I agree, I think the second one was kind of a good movie, even in a comparison with the classic first one. The “real face” of Vigo scared me to hell when I was a kid :).

    Anyway, to be honest, this was the first time I saw these films in english, I was a bit disappointed with it. The hungarian-dubbed version was much more funny IMHO.

    And not just funnier, sometimes even creepier, for example, Gozer’s voice was scary as hell – you may check it here:

  19. i actually enjoyed the 2nd film better then the first. i liked the family friendly vibe it had at times. bill murray was still as funny as always and i liked his not-so-crude humour this time around. viggo was a scary ass villian! and no i didnt think gozers voice was scary at all,. it was laughably bad. sounded like some weird elf. i likedf the more heroic, light hearted score by randy edelman more then bernstien. GB 2 rocks and i have no idea why it gets such a bad rap. if your a GB fan, you gotta love the sequel!

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