GORE IN THE STORE
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTHONY AND CLAIRE BUENO
CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: REMEMBERING GHOSTBUSTERS, a retrospective deep-dive into the making of this 80s classic features never before seen archival material, and interviews with director Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson.
In conversation with FRIGHTFEST, director and producers Anthony and Claire Bueno discussed the power of nostalgia in film and our need to know the story behind the classic film.
FRIGHTFEST: When we think back on discovering a film, that first memory is not necessarily the first literal moment. Are you able to recall when you first discovered GHOSTBUSTERS?
Claire Bueno: The first thing that I can definitely remember, and I don’t remember the first literal moment, was going to the cinema with my friends from school. It was the first film I was allowed to go and see without parental supervision, and I can’t remember how old I was now - thirteen or fourteen. We must have spoken about going to see it, but I don’t actually recall the conversation. So it was a right of passage film for me, because it was the first film I was able to go and see as a young teenager.
Anthony Bueno: I would imagine that it must have been Ray Parker Jr’s GHOSTBUSTERS playing on TOP OF THE POPS. I remember seeing it and watching the clips, and not liking it that much, but it grew on me. I was ten-years-old and horror films would have freaked me out. The taxi cab ghost was definitely one of those shots shown in the video, and I thought, ‘This doesn’t look for me.’ So I wasn’t necessarily keen on going to see it, but I went once Claire had seen it and she told me, “Oh no, it’s really funny. But there’s this one bit with a library ghost and that’s really scary.” Normally if I had seen that library ghost, it would have freaked me out.
FF: GHOSTBUSTERS remains a unique film for how it effectively strikes that balance between comedy and horror, and I still recall how tangible the scares and the horror were to my younger self.
Claire Bueno: First and foremost it all starts with the writing. If you’ve got a good script then you’re onto a winner, and then you add the genius of Richard Edlund and Boss Films for the special effects, who are the guys that worked on the STAR WARS movies. You have such a rich palette of acting talent: stand up comedians that are all very improv, supported by a cast of theatre actors that have a gravitas and strength to act against the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis. And you also have all of these themes that are universal. We all like to be scared, we all like to fall in love, and we all like to have a good laugh, so it has those qualities that we can all relate to as human beings.
FF: What the documentary impressed upon me was how we still view those seminal films from our youth through a nostalgic gaze. This is what makes not only film, but music special, in that it can transport us into our past.
Anthony Bueno: The interesting thing is like you say the nostalgia, because you can very easily look at things through rose tinted glasses. There are a lot of films that you watched as a kid that you thought, ‘Wow, that was amazing’, and you put it on now and you think, ‘Oh God, it’s not the film I remember.’ You don’t get that with GHOSTBUSTERS and that is the testament to the filmmakers.
Nostalgia is very powerful and a film represents a moment in your history that you transport straight back to. I started watching THE GOONIES the other night and it’s a strange film. It’s very quirky and because it has these weird oddities in it, I don’t know how much it would work these days, to get to the level of success it had then. But it’s a great film and straightaway you’re there, and STRANGER THINGS completely hits that beat. You may not have watched STRANGER THINGS when you were ten-years-old, but you’re watching it and thinking it’s exactly what you would have loved to have been doing when you were ten-years-old, or it’s the type of thing you’d have watched. STRANGER THINGS and GHOSTBUSTERS hit those beats, and the fact is they’re just good films, and if they weren’t good films you wouldn’t have them still trying to create franchises and sequels.
By the time they got around to GHOSTBUSTERS 2 they had to fit in with the times, because there was a lot more social consciousness about how films were made. They’re smoking in the first movie, and they didn’t think kids would be going to see the film, and then kids did see the film and it became a huge success because of that. So you have all those elements that are thrown in, and when you come to the next film there were all of these aspects that they had to adhere to, whether consciously or subconsciously. Whereas with GHOSTBUSTERS they didn’t have any of that, it was, “We just need to make a good film. Is this funny?” And that was basically it - job done.
Claire Bueno: When you say the documentary transported you back, that was something we definitely wanted to try and achieve. The packaging of the poster that Anthony’s aunt created for us, was again going back to nostalgia and this idea of a conversation with the person we were interviewing. It’s almost like they got out their shoebox of photographs and was very much a reminisce of their experience, rather than it all being fact based. Obviously it does contain a lot of facts about how certain elements of the film was made, but it’s actually about us journeying back and them reminiscing with us.
FF: What has always struck me is our desire to want more than what the film gives us - this need to know the story behind the film.
Anthony Bueno: Well this is it, we’re a curious species and we’re always trying to find rhymes and reasons to things. When you have a film that hits the mark and is a part of popular culture to the degree that GHOSTBUSTERS is, you always want more, whether it’s sequels or a series, and for us it was just about that. We’d seen a lot of making-of documentaries - Blu-Rays and DVDs have come out with special features, and they’ve told the story. But it was working [as editor] on the AMERICAN WEREWOLF documentary [BEWARE THE MOON] and realising there is a lot more story to these things. And we, as is our nature, we like to hear stories. As Claire always says, it was our nan telling us stories about life during the war as we grew up. You’d sit on the end of the bed and hear these tales, and so it’s just peeping under the covers and finding out how something is done. It isn’t about demystifying things, and for me, education is a large part of it.
I was rewatching an interview with Steven Spielberg that Barry Norman did in 1990, and it just reminded me that I could sit and listen to Spielberg and Lucas talk, and I’d think, ‘I couldn’t do that at all.’ I’d hear them talking about filmmakers I absolutely had no idea who they were, and I still don’t. But then you get to a stage where it doesn’t really matter, and it’s much more prevalent these days, especially at FrightFest and seeing all these filmmakers, and realising there isn’t one course you can take – it really does come down to the talent and the people behind it.
At the beginning of the documentary Mike Smith says that you’d be surprised to find out Steven Spielberg had nothing to do with it, and that’s the thing with GHOSTBUSTERS – it wasn’t made by the big players back then; it was made by Ivan Reitman. While he’d produced a lot of films and become successful that way, this was his first big film and it put everyone on another platform, and we’re just trying to show what that process was.
Claire Bueno: I think John Bruno [visual effects art director] caps it off as well, that more often than not the story behind making any film is more interesting than the film itself.
CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN; REMEMBERING GHOSTBUSTERS is available on Blu-Ray in the UK from Screenbound on 22 June 2020.