Monday, June 18, 2007

DVDs WE LOVE: Ghostbusters (Collector's Series)

[About this series]

Release: 1999

Status: Out of print

Legacy: In the days when DVD was still finding its legs, this Ghostbusters disc was one of the first few must-haves even for people who were still on the fence about whether to give up their VCR. Even though magazines and techies had been trumpeting the infinite amount of features DVDs could offer, many releases simply had a movie and maybe some "interactive menus" or "subtitles" under the Special Features section. The Ghostbusters DVD featured a slew of valuable extras that were far from any "behind the scenes" feature you could find on HBO. There was finally a use for that "angle" button on the DVD remote (SFX Before and After), exclusive DVD-ROM content ("it goes in my 'puter too?") and loads of conceptual drawings, production photos and storyboards. But the centerpiece of the extras was its "live" video commentary, featuring Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and producer Joe Menchick as Mystery Science Theater-style silhouettes at the bottom of the screen. This seemed revolutionary at the time, but in reality it's just like a regular commentary except with three dark shapes on your screen that occasionally move. Unsurprisingly, this kind of commentary was never again seen on DVD to my knowledge and it was left out of the 2006 re-release DVD of Ghostbusters. Of course, the extra that got the most "wow" factor were the ambitious animated menus that now look like something out of a bad PlayStation game -- the menu is a "model" of Manhattan and different buildings are associated with different aspects of the DVD (for instance, clicking on the "commentary" building will zoom you to that location, where the options are represented as neon signs). The more recent Ghostbusters release (often sold as a double feature with Ghostbusters 2) also features a less-desirable transfer, with a needless overall "lightening" of the colors.

Personal: Beyond what the special features were with Ghostbusters, one of the greatest aspects of it was the 5.1 digital sound that introduced a generation of fans to what the movie was really like. On the VHS that many fans my age grew up with, Elmer Bernstein's eerie opening score sounds good, but on a good digital receiver those initial horns hit you smack in the head as the camera reveals the lion statues in front of the New York Public Library. And the wonderful title card reveal is even more invigorating when a subwoofer helps the opening drum beats of Ray Parker, Jr.'s familiar theme song.

Availability: After selling for $10 for most of the end of its retail lifespan, Ghostbusters: Collector's Series is easy to find on eBay for around $5.


TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
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Adam Ross said...

I didn't realize Huey Lewis actually won that lawsuit -- never really saw much resemblence between the two songs myself.

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