I Have A Confession; You Know That Childhood Movie Favourite Ghostbusters? I Kinda Lied About It…

The trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie dropped last night while I was asleep… Damn you America, can’t you release it at a better time than between 1 and 2 in the morning? I guess not…

I watched it this morning after it was shared in the Dad Bloggers group and of course discussion was entered into which has pretty much reflected – or mirrored if you prefer – what the greater community had been discussing online since the news of the reboot was announced. But before I get into that, here’s the trailer for those who haven’t seen it…

The discussions all over the Internets has people asking these questions amongst others;

  1. Is the all female cast all gimmicky?
  2. Is it a sequel, remake or reboot?
  3. Is this movie supposed to impress us Eighties kids who saw and loved the original back in 1984?
  4. Is this movie made for us, or is it made as social commentary aimed at the kids of today?
  5. And now, having seen the trailer, what do think of it?

For this post, I’m just going to comment on the third thing. And it’s that which I’m going to write my confession about.

Ghostbusters was released mid-1984 in the US in time for the summer holidays and was released on the 15th November 1984 in Australia leading up to our own summer holidays. The eponymous theme song by Ray Parker Jr produced to promote the movie was released in May 1984, two months before the movie’s US release. As was the done thing back before the Internet existed and the world became connected, the single was held back in the Australian market to be released two months before the movie hit cinemas here, and as a result, the song peaked at its highest position of number 2 sometime between late September 1984 and early January 1985 after which it started slipping down the charts.

I loved the song when it first came out. I loved it when it came on the radio and I loved watching the video clip on the morning music television shows on the weekend. The film clip, like many for songs associated with a movie showed scenes from the movie along with interjections of Parker Jr acting out a storyline of him being a ghost chasing a woman around.

They ain't 'fraid of no ghosts #greatsong #poorgrammar
They ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts #greatsong #poorgrammar

At the time of the song and the movie being released, I was 10 years old. I was in the fifth grade and I was in an awkward stage of my life where I was trying to work out who I was and where I wanted to be within the social standings of my peers. Deep, I know, but I’ve always been like that.

Earlier that year a new family moved in three doors down and the eldest child was a boy my age and in my year at school. As was the done thing back before every kid started playing inside for some unknown reason, we would be outside riding our bikes or playing in the park across the street. As a result, it didn’t take long for this new kid on the block to make friends with us and by the end of that year, as summer approached, he was joining us for games of cricket, bike riding expeditions, and heaps of sessions of the Lego Castles that was released earlier that year.

Throughout that summer holidays in between the fifth and sixth grades, we started becoming best mates, bonding over our love of nerdy and geeky things. Everything was going great until… his mum took him to see Ghostbusters.

When I was 10 years old it was my own mother who took some time off work over the summer holidays and took me to see at least one of the PG blockbuster movies. My dad also took time off separately, but as he had a car, he’d take us to the beach or on day trips some place else. When my mum took the time off, we had to go places you could get to by public transport. Besides, my dad has never been a fan of movies for kids.

Just before the school holidays that year the movie Gremlins was released in Australia, and after a lot of begging, my mum agreed to take me to see it. For some unknown reason however, she didn’t want me to see Ghostbusters. Maybe it was because I was only allowed to see one movie and I had already asked to see Gremlins. Maybe it was because of the supernatural theme and she felt that ghosts are more real than gremlins are. Whatever the reason was, I wasn’t going to see it.

BUT…

I have a feeling that my mum saw this logo and read it as “Watching Ghostbusters is Prohibited”

Just after the new year begins, the City of Sydney has the Sydney Festival which runs for the first three weeks of the year. Before it moved out to include venues throughout the greater Sydney area, the Sydney Festival was held in locations within the confines of the city itself. This extended from the harbour foreshore including the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens just behind, up to Hyde Park smack bang in the middle of Sydney’s CBD.

It was within Hyde Park that the events held for children were located which included jumping castles and portable tunnel mazes, giant slip and slides, food stalls (selling all the “junkiest” food a kid could dream of), and the showbag stalls. In January 1985, like every year I can remember up to that date, my mum took me to spend a day in the city at the Sydney Festival. I was given some pocket money and was told I could spend it on anything that my heart desired, and for some reason, although I had not seen the movie, and didn’t look like I was going to be able to see it before the start of the new school year at the end of January, I just had to have the Ghostbusters showbag.

I can’t remember every item that was in that showbag, but I do remember the iron-on transfer and the black PVC wallet with the Ghostbusters logo on the front. I remember that like it was yesterday because I carried that wallet with me up until my early teen years. Even though she wouldn’t let me see the movie, my mother found a blank t-shirt and ironed the transfer on, and I wore it with pride.

Later that year my dad took my brother and I to a computer game store that we used to go to regularly. It was a bit of a drive from our house, but it had the biggest and best selection of games for the Amstrad computer, which, unlike the Commodore C64 or Atari consoles that many of my friends had, the Amstrad games were hard to find the major department stores. I don’t know why it was the case, but on this one Saturday that he took us there I begged him for a few extra dollars so that I could get the Ghostbusters computer game.

The Activision Ghostbusters game was really crap to be honest.
The Activision Ghostbusters game. I thought it was really crap to be honest.

Although I have found over the years that, at the time computer game critics ranked this as one of the best movie to computer game adaptations, I wasn’t a major fan of the game. Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen the film and I was missing out on the warm and fuzzy connection to the big screen characters that those critics obviously had.

As was the done thing (my new catchphrase) back in the Eighties, it took at least three years before movies would go from the cinemas to be shown on free-to-air television allowing the production company to try and sell as many VHS copies as they could. It was ten years before pay television would be available in Australia so the earliest that Ghostbusters was likely to be shown on Australian television was, in my estimation, after February 1988 when the new ratings period began.

Although I always tried to watch the Sunday or Monday night movies shown on any of the three free-to-air networks that competed for their viewers, possibly due to a more appealing movie being shown, I didn’t see Ghostbusters that year. Through my mid-to-late teen years I still had not seen the movie.

When I was 19 years old I moved from my original bedroom in the old part of our family home to the room that was originally built as my grandma’s room when the addition to our house was built. This later became my dad’s home office before I convinced my parents to let me move there for more privacy now that I had a steady girlfriend. It was after I moved to my new bedroom that I watched it for the first time on the television set that I acquired for my room.

Even though I had bought the merchandise almost a decade before, it was nine years on that I finally viewed the film for the first time, some time in 1993. And truth be told; although I’m writing this from memory, remembering things that happened over thirty years ago like they happened yesterday, I cannot honestly say that it was in that first year of moving to my new bedroom that I saw it. For all I know it could have been in 1994, or 1995 making it exactly a decade or more that it took before I saw it for myself.

Over the years before I finally viewed the movie, friends raved about it. Some would quote lines from the movie.

“Don’t cross the streams.”

Yeah, I knew that line.

I remember things from the theme song’s video clip, lines from the movie’s trailer, and those quotes that came up on the screen in the computer game, but I was basically fudging my way through life, pretending I knew everything about it, possibly just to fit in. But it was all a lie.

Sure, I had watched a few episodes of the made-for-television cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters, but this non-canon spin-off wasn’t the real thing, despite what the title may have suggested.

I cannot recall when I had the epiphany, but I do know this; I made a vow to make sure I was in touch with what my own kids would be into, to make sure that they could see, within reason, everything that was available to them so that they didn’t have to pretend to know something just to fit in. It’s what every modern father parent should do, don’t you think?

What did you miss out on seeing or doing that all your friends did? Can you relate to this story?

 

 

15 November 1984

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