In an alternate universe, we’d be getting ready for the Ghostbusters reboot round about now; instead, Anthony and Clare Bueno’s documentary is the closest we’re going to get to busting ghosts circa 2020. That we have any Ghostbusters at all is reason to celebrate; Cleanin’ Up The Town is an exhaustive undertaking, interviewing all of the key creative team and cast members (apart from noteable absentees Rick Moranis and Bill Murray) and featuring a trove of drawings, on-set photographs and video; pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the making of Ghostbusters but were afraid to ask.
To be clear; this doc is about remembering the making of Ghostbusters; there’s very little analysis or consideration of the final film and it’s cultural impact, outside of Sigourney Weaver’s suggestion that it’s a love story to the ordinary person and to NYC in particular. It’s certainly interesting to see how the project evolves (originally set in 2012) and how the central characters change; from space janitors to academics, and with most of Ernie Hudson’s key lines eventually finding their way to Bill Murray. But the low-fi but impressive nature of the special effects is the big draw here, with terrific detail of how the terror dogs, various apparitions and Slimer were created.
There is an untold story here as well; several crew members attest to Slimer being modelled on John Belushi, while Murray is characterised by his unwillingness to learn lines; the star had just got off a plane from shooting his underrated passion project The Razor’s Edge, which features a heartfelt lament for his co-star and friend. Murray’s general sang froid is a key part of the success; there’s some relevant discussion here about how the audience had to retain cynicism about the fantasy world described, and that grit in the oyster is what makes the final product tick.
From the film’s roots in Dan Ackroyd’s family history to Ray Parker Jr’s inspiration for the celebrated song, there’s well over two hours of material that will delight fans here, and that’s just the main film; the disc also features fan art, extra interviews, plus a film-makers intro, important because the film was created by funding from fans, as well as fund-raising support via Kickstarter to get the film out there. With actual Ghostbust-ing temporarily on hold due to a raising pandemic death toll, Cleanin’ Up The Town is a welcome reminder of the incredible team effeort that goes into a truly great movie; when there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who else are you going to call?
CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN; REMEMBERING GHOSTBUSTERS blu-ray is released in UK by Screenbound (RRP £14.99)