Harold Ramis, the fantastic actor, writer, director, and producer of many successful movies, passed away last month. He leaves behind a long legacy of excellent features and productions, and a great deal of happy memories cherished by those who enjoyed his work. Ramis certainly had a tremendous impact on my own childhood, with his writing and acting credits on the two Ghostbusters movies, and the co-creation of the animated series.
As a young boy, I was never specially drawn towards football, wrestling, fast cars, or anything like that. I have always gravitated toward the weird and unusual, simply because I found that whole Universe to be much more fascinating. My favourite childhood movies, for instance, were Gremlins, Jurassic Park, Beetlejuice, Batman Returns, and, of course, Ghostbusters. I suppose Ghostbusters worked for so many children because of the ‘franchise potential’. There were a massive amount of toys and play-sets that helped you immerse yourself in the world of Spengler & co., and then there was the animated show, which was where I discovered the franchise in the first place.
The Real Ghostbusters, a cartoon still held in very high regard today, was my introduction to the proton-pack, energy blasting Universe of the Ghostbusters. I, in my young naivety, thought that the movie was actually based on the cartoon, and I completely embraced the colourful whimsy of the whole thing. Add to the action and excitement a genuinely catchy theme tune and completely likeable heroes, and I soon fully embraced the Ghostbusters world, lapping up the cartoons, the books, the games, the toys, and the movies.
Harold Ramis had a large part to play in the success of the Ghostbusters. He co-wrote, co-produced, and of course, acted in both movies, and he and Dan Aykroyd were integral in the creation of the animated series that breathed new life into the franchise in the 90’s. As Egon Spengler, Ramis brought a deadpan humour to the group, contrasting nicely with the humanity of Zeddemore, the childlike enthusiasm of Stanz, and the sarcastic quips of Venkman. One of the funniest scenes in the original movie is when Janine asks Egon if he has any hobbies, and he replies, completely straight: “I collect spores, molds, and fungus.” In both films, neither script nor actor misplace any of Spengler’s characteristics or his personality.
From being a young boy, I have always been drawn to heroes ‘with a difference’. Batman, the Doctor, Beetlejuice (anti-hero, I know!), Arthur Dent, Harry Potter, and, naturally, the Ghostbusters, are all characters that I felt I could relate to, or understand. Looking back, it’s easy to see how somebody like me could have looked up to the Ghostbusters: all geeky misfits, doing something the rest of the world seems to frown upon, and having a great time doing it. They’ll always be more fascinating to me than Superman, or G.I. Joe.
So I just want to say, thank you, Harold Ramis. Not only for giving us a pair of the funniest, most original films to come out of Hollywood, but also for presenting a young boy with a group of heroes that he could identify with and latch on to, at a time when he felt like a bit of an outcast (he still does, but he knows now that he’s not alone). It’s a shame we will never see Ramis back in Ecto-1, but the Ghostbusters PlayStation 3 game was certainly a worthy last hurrah for one of the most talented writers, actors, and directors this world will ever see.
I might grow older, I might grow wiser. But my goodness, I’ll never grow up. Ghostbusters forever!
“Harold was the glue. There wouldn’t a ‘Ghostbusters’ without Harold Ramis. Harold Pulled it together…” – Ernie Hudson
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis…” – Dan Aykroyd
“He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him…” – Bill Murray