8 Facts About The Real Ghostbusters

Columbia Pictures/Sony
Columbia Pictures/Sony

In the five-year gap between 1984’s Ghostbusters and 1989’s Ghostbusters II, the supernatural comedy franchise found a new home in animation. The DiC production The Real Ghostbusters, which aired from 1986 to 1991, followed the continuing adventures of Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore, a quartet of ghost-trappers aided by their secretary, Janine, and a friendly green blob of protoplasm named Slimer. For more on the show—including why it needed that odd “real” adjective in the title and which original film cast member got turned down for a voiceover role—check out these proton facts.

1. A legal dispute put the “real” in The Real Ghostbusters.

When Ghostbusters debuted in 1984, some moviegoers may have thought it sounded a little familiar. In the 1970s, the animation company Filmation produced a live-action series called Ghost Busters about a squad of paranormal investigators and their gorilla sidekick. (It lasted for one season in 1975.) When Filmation president Lou Scheimer confronted Columbia Pictures about the title and premise similarities, the studio entered into an agreement that paid Filmation for use of the name.

Later, Filmation decided to produce an animated version of their Ghost Busters, which they were well within their legal rights to do. In order to maintain control of the audience’s perception of the feature franchise, Columbia pursued their own project with the DiC animation company. They titled it The Real Ghostbusters as a way to differentiate it from the Filmation version, a move that minimized—but probably never eliminated—audience confusion.

2. The show turned down Ernie Hudson.

It may sound like an urban legend, but it’s unfortunately true. Hudson, who played everyman Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore in both feature films, was willing to reprise his role for the animated series and was asked to audition for the show’s director as a formality. In 2012, Hudson told The A.V. Club that when he showed up for the reading, the director told him that the performance “was all wrong” because “that’s not how Ernie Hudson did it in the movie.” The man was apparently unaware he was speaking to Hudson. The producers never called him back and the role ended up going to Arsenio Hall.

3. Network executives were concerned Janine’s glasses might scare children.

According to writer J. Michael Straczynski, the creative team behind The Real Ghostbusters was largely left to pursue their own iteration of the story in the first season with only minimal network interference from ABC. But by season 2, executives started to worry over some seemingly trivial details, motivated in part by their working relationship with the research consulting firm Q5 Corporation: Q5 monitored children's programming and offered suggestions to make shows more appealing to juvenile audiences. Straczynski recalled that there was a fair amount of controversy over the design of Janine (played by Annie Potts in the films), whose eyeglasses appeared to be too pointy for their comfort.

"Well, Janine has these sharp glasses and kids are frightened by sharp objects, so let’s make them round," one executive said. They also wanted Janine to be less confrontational and more of a mother figure to the group. Fed up with the mandates, Straczynski left the series.

4. The show almost canned Ray Stantz.

In addition to expressing concern over Janine, ABC had other suggestions for changes in the series. Q5 recommended the show write out the character of Ray Stantz, played by Dan Aykroyd in the film, because he didn’t appear to serve any benefit to the program in their metrics. The showrunners laughed off the suggestion.

5. The Egon actor was told not to do a Harold Ramis impression but got the job anyway.

Veteran voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche was one of several performers to audition for the series. When he arrived, he was told by producer Michael C. Gross not to try and impersonate Harold Ramis, who played Spengler in the films. LaMarche couldn’t think of another approach and wound up approximating Ramis in his audition. He left, thinking he’d bombed. But he was hired for the role after Gross told him they probably needed at least one actor to sound like someone from the movies.

6. The voice of Peter Venkman got replaced for not sounding enough like Bill Murray.

Despite the game plan to keep the cartoon voices separate from the feature film actors, there were continued concerns that the show’s performers weren’t enough like their movie counterparts. Voiceover actor Lorenzo Music, best known as the voice of Garfield, was replaced halfway through the show’s run when Bill Murray commented to film director Ivan Reitman that Music didn’t sound anything like him. Murray wasn’t looking to get Music replaced, but the edict came down regardless: Full House star Dave Coulier stepped in as Venkman.

7. It was retitled Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters.

Owing to the popularity of sidekick Slimer, the green ghoul who roams the fire station that doubles as Ghostbusters headquarters, the show was renamed Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters in 1988. A Ralston cereal of the same name followed in 1990.

8. There was a spin-off.

The Real Ghostbusters stopped production in 1991, two years after Ghostbusters II left theaters. With a third movie seemingly grounded, Columbia decided to try and keep the franchise’s fortunes flowing with Extreme Ghostbusters, a 40-episode series that was a direct continuation of the first animated series. In Extreme Ghostbusters, Egon leads a new team of investigators—mostly early twentysomethings—with support from Janine and Slimer. The original Ghostbusters make appearances in the two-part finale.

The series is also notable for including a nod to the Hellraiser film franchise, a decidedly non-kid friendly creation, in the “Deadliners” episode. Some of the protagonists are designed in homage to the Cenobites seen in the 1987 Hellraiser film and its sequels.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.


Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”

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