It was the mid-80s. I couldn’t have been older than seven or eight… three feet of trouble in constant search of quality entertainment. It didn’t matter if it was unearthed outdoors or discovered on a couch in Los Angeles at my Uncle Frank’s house.
I recall being on edge as the VHS player sucked the tape into its mysterious mechanical bowels. When the screen came to life, I remember the butterflies. And that’s not bullshit. I recollect the somersaults my stomach executed that creepy but amazingly memorable – maybe even life-changing – night.
In retrospect I can say that watching Ghostbusters for the first time could be likened to the first time I glimpsed a pair of bare breasts, in the flesh, displayed before my own eyes. The heart pounds, and beads of sweat, heavy with anxiety, stream down the forehead. Hopes are high and can’t possibly be met. Then the credits roll, and the understanding that hopes were not only met but exceeded starts sink in. And a smile stretches across the face, immovable, powerful in its disclosure of gratitude.
That’s a special movie. And Harold Ramis was a special man, born of comedic nature, groomed into one of the finest figures Hollywood has ever known. I can’t do much, personally, to honor the man’s memory, but I can say a few words. Given the fact that this is a horror-themed site, it seems appropriate to speak a bit on the Ghostbusters franchise specifically, in which Ramis portrayed the unglamorous but absolutely vital and oddly lovable Egon Spengler.
In his honor, here are nine memorable moments featuring Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters films.
Ghostbusters 2 – Yo: Arguably one of the true brainless moments of the Ghostbusters sequel, this quick scene sees the guys digging a hole in the pavement in order to deposit Ray into the depths with the evil slime coursing beneath the city. But the guys run into some problems topside. It’s a good thing Pete’s there to smooth things over with the cops; it’s even better that Egon’s completely got his back. “Yo!”
Ghostbusters - Egon Fronts the Charge:
Egon doesn’t get quite the introduction that Peter Venkman is treated to, but he makes up for it in this rather delicate assertion of power. As Egon marches down crowded library aisles, you can practically see the nerdy badassdom reflecting off his corrective lenses. This shot segues into the pic’s first big scare, and when you wrap it all up into one tidy scene, you’ve got greatness to behold.
Ghostbusters - Who is Louis?:
Sequences like this really serve as a strong reminder that Harold Ramis was a true genius. This is one of those moments in the film in which nothing profound occurs, but as viewers we feel some impact all the same. What’s up with this Key Master/Gatekeeper business? The meeting between Louis and Spengler summons major intrigue, and as is often the case, Egon’s sitting right at the heart of the new plot twist, getting his hands dirty as he attempts to get to the bottom of things.
Ghostbusters 2 - Egon Gets a Little Sadistic:
Egon’s place amongst the Ghostbusters has always been that of the low-key genius. He’s not the outspoken comedian, he’s not brash in any way, he’s mellow, and when asked to be anything else, he seems totally out of his element. Anything other than exhibit a little sadism and torture a married couple on the rocks, that is. Egon seemed to get a big kick out of ruffling these poor fools’ feathers, and we
got the big Egon intro moment we missed from the first film. (It was dedicated to Bill Murray and his character, Peter Venkman, which is just fine with me.)
Ghostbusters - The Speech: Any time a group monologue jumps off with a line like, “Since I joined these men, I have seen shit that’ll turn you white,” you know you’re about to experience a really awesome sliver of dialogue. Winston sets it off, but the unity shines through in brilliant fashion as all four Ghostbusters chime in with apocalyptic declarations. Egon’s fantastic in this brief but highly memorable scene. Even if you do ultimately side with Mr. Pecker.
Ghostbusters - Desk Work:
Forget about that moment in which Ray Stantz receives a nice midnight BJ from a floating apparition. The sexual implications of this moment feel far cleverer, given the fact that we never once realize there’s a man beneath Janine’s desk, in between her legs, hard at work – until he emerges in nonchalant fashion. Mission accomplished, job well done. The best part of this shot? It’s actually entirely innocent. No oral for Janine (until the sequel?)!
Ghostbusters - Cross the Streams:
So Egon contradicted himself, once. It happens. Not even the brainiac of the Ghostbusters was pitch-perfect 100 percent of the time. However, when the man was indeed right, it traditionally proved pivotal. Such was certainly the case for this terrific moment that sees Egon Spengler save his own, as well as his co-workers and buddies’ asses, by thinking in reverse. Everyone seems to remember the hazards that can befall those who cross the streams, but few recall that crossing the streams proves the key to ultimately toppling uber-baddie Gozer, all huffed up in Stay Puft Marshmallow Man form.
Ghostbusters - Don’t Cross the Streams:
Unquestionably the most famed one-liner from Ivan Reitman’s classic, everyone from newly lingual tikes to senior citizens have likely used this one at some point in life. And why not? It’s a perfect stand-in for FUBAR. It’s also, in this case, a potentially life-saving piece of advice. What would the ‘Busters do without old Spengler? Amazing, amazing moment in American cinema right here.
Bonus – Ghostbusters 2 – Egon Immortalized:
This is something of a cheat choice, as it isn’t hyper-relative to anything, and it’s not even Egon we’re eying, but rather a portrait. That said, it feels strangely fitting now, in the wake of Harold Ramis’ passing. He deserves to be immortalized, and he is, through films like The Ghostbusters
and its first and thus far only sequel. The fact that Egon, rather than Harold, earns immortalization in the pic is just a sad but interesting meta meets destiny moment.
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