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Home > Movies > 31 Monsters #8: Gozer the Gozerian

31 Monsters #8: Gozer the Gozerian

October 8th, 2009

Movie fans and creative types often decry the “suits” in Hollywood that water down the original concept of a project, but when it came to Ghostbusters, a little interference was a good thing. Dan Ackroyd’s original script was a futuristic tale which took its ghost exterminators on a whirlwind tour of time, space and other dimensions. Producer/director liked the basic idea, but felt the script was essentially unfilmable as written. He and Harold Ramis helped bring the story down to earth and, in my view, were largely responsible for its huge critical and financial success. Of course, an ad-libbing Bill Murray didn’t hurt at all.

Reconceptualizing the ‘Busters as down-on-their-luck professors starting their own business made them much more relatable. Yet it also allowed Ackroyd to fill their mouths with quasi-scientific babble and bizarre references to paranormal phenomena. Consider Murray’s classic retort, “Maybe now you’ll never slime a guy with a positron collider, huh?” Or Ramis’ claim, “I was present at an undersea, unexplained mass sponge migration.” How about this whopper of a speech by a demon-possessed Rick Moranis:

(Gozer) will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldronaii, the traveler came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Sloar! Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you!

One thing that I enjoy about Ghostbusters is that even though the characters (especially Murray’s Peter Venkman) are flippant, the threat itself is serious. I remember that on my first viewing, I saw the otherworldly temple hidden atop a Manhattan skyscraper open up and thought, “This is actually kinda scary.”

The spooky plot was straight out of the H.P. Lovecraft playbook: a confluence of mystic forces threatened to open a gateway to the dimension in which lurked an ancient and terrible god.

The original conception of Gozer was a kindly-looking man (to be played by Paul Reubens) in a nondescript suit, but in the end they went with a somewhat androgynous ┬áSlavic actress with burning red eyes and a bubble-wrap catsuit. This change gave Bill Murray the chance to deadpan “Nimble little minx, isn’t she?”

Just when the boys thought they’d “neutronized” the Sumerian deity, a booming, disembodied voice filled the air:

Subcreatures! Gozer the Gozerian, Gozer the Destructor, Volguus Zildrohar the Traveller has come! Choose and perish!

Gozer wanted them to choose its final, world-destroying form. The ‘Busters tried to clear their heads of random images, but too late: something “harmless” popped into the head of Ackroyd’s character, Ray Stantz.

Which, of course, set up one of the all-time greatest sight gags.

If you’ve only seen Ghostbusters on home video, you were cheated of the HUGE laughter that erupted from a fully-packed movie house when Stantz’ vision came stomping up the street.

It’s the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Death was to come in the form of a jolly corporate mascot. And ancient, cosmic entities of evil would never be the same.

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