GHOSTBUSTERS was the first movie (and I think only) movie I ever asked to have bought for me, and it was the first story that made me see “structure” though I didn’t know the word; it made me suspicious that one could write a story as cool and satisfying as Ghostbusters by copying what happened …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - PATTERNS: Ghostbusters Beatsheet

PATTERNS: Ghostbusters Beatsheet

GHOSTBUSTERS was the first movie (and I think only) movie I ever asked to have bought for me, and it was the first story that made me see “structure” though I didn’t know the word; it made me suspicious that one could write a story as cool and satisfying as Ghostbusters by copying what happened in it — not the events per se, but “things go well” followed by “things go badly”, in varying degrees of force. Long before I ever saw Robert McKee, Ghostbusters really inspired me.

It was probably the first movie I rifled mentally through when I read Save The Cat. I had noticed that they only ever use proton streams in the Sedgewick before the final battle ; when I read Snyder’s ideas on Fun & Games’ a) hitting the Promise of the Premise, and b) relaxing tension and cruising on having fun before ramping it up again, it really hit me because of Ghostbusters. When I sat through Robert McKee’s 3 day weekend seminar, I walked away thinking of Ghostbusters as being about a protagonist who hangs with boyz only, and uses girls for gratification, who learns respect for one woman: a respect which will ultimately position him to lead his boy friends into battle to save her. It’s almost Jane Austen for boys.

Structurally I find it cool; it’s a “going into business” movie which accomplishes its goal halfway through (even before the Mid-Point). Then, the mysterious case of their half-remembered First Client whips into the main driving force of the rest of the movie. Every time some apologist excuses THOR or X-MEN as “not that bad, because it’s the first one and they have to set it up” to me, they get a challenge re: Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Ghostbusters.

(BONUS: A Ghostbusters BS2 handily also covers Ghostbusters II, which carbon copies the exact same story all over again…)

Opening Image (1): Tracking shot in on Lion outside NYPL

Theme Stated (5): Good movies have more than one good theme; I don’t always agree with Blake’s analysis of the Theme Stated moment.  But what the heck, here goes – I have two suggestions:

1. “Get her!” They follow Ray’s suggestion but the Library Ghost terrifies them away. Peter mocks Ray: “Get her!” Blake would say: “But that’s what this movie is about… a guy who overcomes his discomfort (fear) of women and has to ultimately GET HER: win the hand of the Princess” or something Blake-ish like that.

2. “We regard science as a service to mankind. You seem to regard science as a hussy, a dodge”. There would be no Ghostbusters (the business) without Peter. Ray & Egon would NEVER open up a Ghostbusters business… they would take their theories to another university and grovel for a second chance. Ray says after they’re booted that they’re finished in academia and will have to seek opportunity in the private sector – which terrifies him. Peter exploits Egon and Ray’s research and work and findings for profit, and tries to use their science to get into Dana’s pants. He turns them into celebrities with success and fortune and fame. He’s a con artist capitalist who is ultimately given, by Egon, the Mr. Spock science officer on his team, the doorway to use science to serve mankind – at risk of his own life. He gladly takes up the opportunity and is the first to fire through the gateway to Gozer’s domain. Blake might say “He’s learned to use science to serve mankind — and by confronting the flaw Dean Yeager bitterly points out to him, he achieves what he really truly wants: Dana Barrett.

*I don’t know either of these are the “theme” or the “Theme Stated” of Ghostbusters. It’s got more than one theme (which is part of it’s greatness imo).

Set-Up (1-10):
-A librarian encounters frightening paranormal activity in the cellar of the library
-Peter fakes research to cozy up to a naive and hot blonde student, maliciously using the male student (a combination of young Ray and young Egon) to butter her up into a date. “I was just about to say — 8 o’clock”. She’s vain and shallow and enjoys seeing the Other Student suffer. Enter Ray – excited, enthusiastic, energetic. Ray insists Peter come, drags him along.
– Peter doesn’t think highly of paranormal research. Doesn’t respect Egon, ie “I’m Dr. Venkman, Dr. Stantz, Egon.”
They enter the library cellar. Note disturbances. Meet ghost; run away in fear.
-But Egon believes with the encounter’s readings, they’re ready to physically capture and contain indefinitely a ghost. Peter has a respect for Egon.

*”Get her!” and they’re terrified and bolt. Gozer takes the form of a woman and they must “get her”, but climactically, must not be afraid this time.

Catalyst (12): 13:34 They’re thrown off the university campus. Venkman regards science as a hustle, the Dean views science as a service to mankind.
*(Venkman must apply Egon and Ray’s science to serve mankind)

Debate (12-25):
Ray’s afraid. Major disgrace. Humiliated. But Peter is sure there’s a business opportunity… because he views science as a hustle.
– Peter gets a second mortgage on Ray’s parents house. Peter positions Ray into a crippling mortgage. But sees massive $ potential.
– View firehouse. It’s crap. Ray loves it. It’s unspoken, but Ray holds the pursestrings.

B-Story 1 (pg 17) (arrives in Act 1)
– Meanwhile, on Central Park Avenue West, Dana Barrett gets out of a cab with celery in a paper bag (movie groceries).
– She has a B-Story of her own, Louis Tully. Big mistake to not fight harder for John Candy; Moranis doesn’t have the courageous sadness of Candy, he just plays up geek. DANA LEFT HER TV ON (but doesn’t recall doing so (ie. she didn’t leave it on)
– A cheesy commercial for the nascent Ghostbusters business is on the tv. Dana unpacks her groceries and the eggs (next to the Stay-Puft Marshmallows) start to crack and fry on the counter. A terrifying DEMON is in her refrigerator. Dana encounters it and shrieks.

Break Into Two (25):
This is page 20 and I suppose it’s debatable if this is now Act 2. The movie’s about the business, and the business is now Open, and that’s my reasoning here.
-Peter’s insecure about the prominence of the text-based sign. Ray pulls up with a Plymouth ambulance which is obviously in terrible shape.

Fun and Games (30-55):
– Jeanine has nothing to report. Peter insults her and walks off. But, he apologizes before disappearing. Jeanine and Egon talk — she has a crush on Egon.
– Dana enters the firehouse. Ray’s working on the car. Dana asks for help. Peter spots the Pretty Lady and comes running.
– They interview Dana. Hiding from Dana’s POV, Peter suggests “certain procedures”, hinting “save me” to Ray & Egon. They have research ideas (Tobin’s Spirit Guide, etc) while Peter seizes the opportunity to go back to Miss Barrett’s and “check her out”

Peter checks Dana’s apartment. She’s suspicious immediately — he makes sexual references to her. She challenges him — he gets brave and enters the kitchen. Nada.

He sits on the couch and he tries to seduce her “Let me tell you about me” “Let me go for broke”. He claims to be in love with her. She throws him out. But he vows to solve her little problem and impress her. (This is pre-Moment of Grace, he’s just playing a line)

-They’re out of cash. Peter’s trying to use the business (their science) for seduction: petty cash for dinner with Dana. But they’re broke.
Downstairs, Jeanine gets a call and activates the alarm. (pg 29)
They slide down pole, get into uniform, and unveil the Ecto-Mobile. First time you see the Ghostbusters logo (barring opening title)

-When they arrive at the Sedgewick, you see the proton packs for the first time. Debrief a history of 12th floor disturbances. They head upstairs, people find them bizarre (that’s gotta be some cockroach). They haven’t ever tested the equipment (a plot hole: they could have visited the basement of the Main Branch of the New York Public Library)

– They search hotel. Fire on maid; Ray spots Gluttonous Ghost (I’ll just say Slimer), sets fire to hall; Egon touches man to test reality; Venkman sees Slimer, slimed; they lock themselves in ballroom. DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS: Egon explains that it means potential instant death (total protonic reversal). They catch the ghost successfully!

– Montage with music and Headlines and broadcast media. *Jeanine is now fully on board, she speaks the lingo and knows what to do. They are FAMOUS, established, and SUCCESSFUL: note the new 3D logo sign replacing the one Peter was insecure about. They hire Winston Zeddemore. Now, it’s a whole new world, or stage. A gamer would say, “It’s a whole new level.”

Midpoint (55)
Dana Barrett leaves the symphony and is actually pleased to see Peter, or “Dr. Venkman”. He listened in on the rehearsal. He’s a big celebrity now – he tries to hustle her into dinner but she wants the info now. He can’t read the info (what’s that word?) but she can. They still have no answers. He wants to exchange info on Thurs at 9ish. Peter ponies up and this I think is his
Peter confesses that he respects Dana. She’s shunned him and put him in his place and thrown him out but he still likes her and he has a serious moment: “I respect you.” He immediately gets jokey and drops the seriousness, charm-compliments her attire and style and makes her laugh, but the serious moment has been deployed. HE GETS HIS DATE WITH DANA AND HE SPINS ALONE IN THE SQUARE.

(I’ve always held this is the mid-point and I still do; I see it’s 44mins, with 1 full hour left to go. I notice more and more that what I peg as the mid-point is often not really halfway)

Bad Guys Close In (55-75):
Winston is trained. Jeanine demands a raise – she’s overworked and underpaid. Peter insults her. Walter Peck (you could say he’s A Second B-Story) of the EPA wants to talk; he’s hostile and officious. He’s suspicious. Peter parries Peck’s interrogation and they conflict more. Peck threatens and Peter threatens back. Peck assures he’s not bluffing.

Egon has odd news. The PKE readings of the city are going crazy (that’s a big Twinkie) Peter announces EPA visit and asks how grid is holding up: “Not good”. He wants to hear about the Twinkie.

– Atop Dana’s condo, during a brewing storm, you see there are statues of Terror Dogs like the one in Dana’s fridge. One starts to fracture… there’s a REAL demon Terror Dog inside the statue, emerging.

– Louis is distraught Dana made a date tonite (John Candy should have played this). Dana returns home. Suffers a “Bad Guys Close In” talk with her mother, and announces she’s going on “a date”, with a Ghostbuster – those guys on TV. Dana relaxes and doesn’t notice the horrible light from the kitchen until it’s too late. “Oh shit”. She’s dragged into kitchen to a horrible unseen terrifying fate.

– Louis’s party. John Candy should have done this part. He has a desperation that evokes sympathy, Moranis is good but in this part he’s just “desperate”. This party is like another F&G. Louis has a Terror Dog in his bedroom, and just narrowly escapes. He runs across the street and into Central Park. He’s locked out of Tavern On The Green and Vinz Clortho gets him.

– Peter arrives at Dana’s. Curious at crowd, but it was just “a cougar went nuts at a party”. Dana is possessed; he’s not the Keymaster. He knocks again and claims he is. Enters. She is Zuul. He notes ectoplasm coating apartment. Zuul tries to seduce him; he wisely decides she’s “too crowded”. She levitates (and, how did they do that?, rotates).

– Vinz Clortho runs through Central Park seeking the Gatekeeper. Louis is played for total laughs in movie and lacks the depth of the other characters. Too bad John Candy was busy.

– Police knock on GB HQ with Louis/Vinz Clortho. Jeanine cozies up to Egon: “You’re a kind humanitarian.” “I don’t think he’s human.”

– Jeanine claims to be psychic; she senses terror and Death.

Peter calls and confers with Egon. Dana’s the Gatekeeper and Egon has the Keymaster. Peter will be right there. Egon needs Ray immediately.

– Winston and Ray return to HQ in Ecto-mobile as Ray looks over structural ironwork for Dana Barrett’s apartment building. Winston wants to talk about the End of The World, Judgment Day. “Myth? We’ve been so busy lately because the Dead HAVE been rising from the grave.” A shiver runs down Ray’s spine.

– EPA and Con-Ed and Police show up at HQ, bustle past Jeanine. Peter returns on foot. Peck has shut down containment grid and everyone must clear the building as the grid explodes and thousands of ghosts escape in a paranormal surge of psychokinetic energy.
Ray and Winston return. Walter J Peck has them all arrested. THE KEYMASTER HAS ESCAPED.

Ghosts return to NYC and possess the city. (Another example of Fun & Games inside BGCI imho)

Possessed Dana wakes up. Possessed Louis is walking around the city free.

All Is Lost (75): The Ghostbusters are in jail. Peter is briefed on Dana’s building and Ivan Shandor (BTW Ivan Shandor was the original “Gozer” in the script before they made it a woman). Dana lives in the corner penthouse of spook central.

Dark Night Of The Soul (75-85): Same scene: Egon intones that the end of the world is at hand, and Ray realizes the dread seriousness of the situation: “We have to get out of here”. The team may split up: Winston needs his own lawyer.

Break Into Three (85): The Mayor wants them out of lock-up for a meeting, and Louis Tully/Vinz Clortho returns home to the Ivo Shandor’s haunted apartment building on Central Park West where Zuul awaits. Moranis is really the weakest link in this movie. Zuul leads Vinz to the secret stairs hidden in her kitchen.

Mayor’s office – city is falling apart and no one has answers.
Peter and Peck face-off in front of the Mayor. Peter’s con artist powers are too tempting and Peck loses.

Finale (85-110): Aka STORMING THE CASTLE
1 Gathering The Team – the National Guard/Army rallies, while NYPD provide an escort for the Ecto Mobile, Army escorting them. Black clouds gather around Dana’s building (the Castle) while ordinary people (Villagers) surround the Castle. There’s even 2 Dragons and an Evil Sorceress up top waiting…

2 Storming the Castle:
They arrive.
People cheer.
Egon looks up in fear. AN earthquake strikes. The Ghostbusters disappear, swallowed pin a chasm as the streets rip apart. A police cruiser disappears next.


“There they are!”. The Villagers CHEER as the Ghostbusters crawl back to safety. Chants of “Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters” and the team join hands and Enter the Castle.

3 Hightower Surprise

They enter Dana’s suite and discover it empty, with a secret staircase now revealed.
“Where do they go?”
“They go up!”

They arrive in time to see Zuul and Vinz Clortho manifested as the Gate to Gozer’s dimension opens up before them.
Peter cares now: (“DANA!”) but he’s too late. (HIGHTOWER SURPRISE — They’re too late; the Princess is now a Dragon)

They meet Gozer. It’s a girl (recalling “Get her!”) (Hightower Surprise – it’s a girl)

Peter sends Ray. Ray tries the legal approach. Gozer tries to kill them, they cling to life.

(Villagers at Castle foot cry in fear)

Peter now leads the charge. Rallies his troops and attacks.

Gozer disappears.

They’ve won. But Egon has a bad feeling about these readings.

Tremors and rubble and destruction ensue. Gozer challenges them to Choose.

Peter figures her ploy and orders all to clear their minds. You can see Ray accidentally choose.

It’s the StayPuft Marshmallow man.

They attack but are helpless and inutile.

Mr. StayPuft begins to climb the building, a la King Kong. Countdown to Destruction has arrived.

Egon poses Peter with the climactic question: if they cross the streams through the inter-dimensional door, there’s a slim chance of survival. Everyone hesitates – Peter happily accepts and leads his friends into battle to save the world. (That’s 4 – DIG DOWN DEEP)

They activate proton streams and cross them JUST as Gozer in the form of Mr. StayPuft arrives to destroy them.

Gozer is destroyed.

Ray made it through alive.

He discovers Winston is also alive.

He next discovers Spengler has survived.

So has Peter. He’s the only one without marshmallow.

However the victory is a Pyrrhic one; Dana is dead.

Peter is hurt and Ray must apologize – Dana is gone. However there is hope and Dana is alive inside the statue; they pick it apart and release her. Peter sends his buds to go check on that little guy while he carries Dana to sure footing.

She’s surprised to see Peter. He leads her away.


Before the adoring and cheering Villagers, Peter seeks a kiss from the Princess and she grants it. Dana gets into the Ecto-1 with the Ghostbusters, and they drive away.

Finale Image (110): The first ghost they caught, now loose and free, flies into the camera.