by Nur Hussein, contributing writer
A great comedy genius in cinema passed away today: Harold Ramis, whose body of work as writer, director and actor include classic hits like Animal House, Groundhog Day, Stripes and Ghostbusters. It’s a big loss for the film industry, and while I love his work, one particular shining gem of a movie stands out for me on a very personal level, and that film is Ghostbusters.
When I was a kid, about 11 years old, I had a schoolteacher who insisted on telling us the most horrifying ghost stories. She didn’t tell us they were made-up stories, she said her stories were 100% true. Stories about creatures with dangling entrails that floated above your bed, demons in the mirror, and all kinds of messed-up stuff that horrified me as a child. It gave me nightmares, to the point that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t look in the mirror in the wee hours of the night. My rational brain knew they were just stories, and yet I was a naive kid who didn’t think a teacher would lie to us, and thus there was the doubt at the back of my mind: was it true?
Then came Ghostbusters. That, also, was just a story. But it was the most comforting story ever told for a child who was terrified of ghost stories. You see, ghosts were phenomena which could be studied, detected, measured and neutralized with the help of science. The Ghostbusters did just that in the film, and the character who explains it all like he knows what he’s talking about was Egon Spengler, played by none other than Mr. Harold Ramis himself (incidentally also the co-scriptwriter for the film). The nightmares went away. Ghosts were not some inexplicable thing you were helpless against, they could be fought with science, if someone who was as smart and capable as Egon came along to devise how. Peter was the lovable conman, Ray was the smart but bumbling scientist, Winston was the everyman but Egon was the guy who knew what he was doing. And that was comforting for an 11-year-old kid.
Thank you Mr. Harold Ramis, for the laughs, the brilliant films and most of all, personally, for ending the nightmares so many years ago.
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein