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.