The recent movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife, directed by Jason Reitman, is a direct sequel to the two original Ghostbusters films from the 1980s. Fantasy author Christopher M. Cevasco found Afterlife to be an enjoyable return to the Ghostbusters universe.
“The story itself was kind of threadbare, but I was willing to forgive that because I was having so much fun just spending time with the characters,” Cevasco says in Episode 502 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It’s nothing that’s going to win any Academy Awards or anything, but it was a fun popcorn film, which is what the originals were only ever intended to be.”
Writer Sara Lynn Michener enjoyed Afterlife, but says that Ghostbusters really needs to find a fresh approach if the franchise is going to continue. “I feel like there’s so much potential to take Ghostbusters to a new place entirely,” she says. “They could make a scary Ghostbusters—one that’s genuinely scary, where the stakes are actually high, where people are actually killed. They could do all kinds of things.”
Afterlife moves the action away from New York City to a small town in Oklahoma. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley loves the idea of a town founded by Gozer-worshippers, and thinks it would make a great setting for a horror film. “I enjoyed this movie just fine, but I’m not at all excited about a sequel to this movie if it’s just kind of more of the same,” he says. “But if they were to make a sequel that’s more of a genuine horror movie, something like Evil Dead, where it’s funny and genuinely disturbing or frightening, that would be really interesting.”
Science fiction author Robert Repino agrees that a more horror-focused approach may be just what the franchise needs. “There’s got to be a script floating around at Blumhouse for a scary Ghostbusters,” he says. “They’re the people to do it, right? Get it to Jordan Peele.”
Listen to the complete interview with Sara Lynn Michener, Christopher M. Cevasco, and Robert Repino in Episode 502 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Sara Lynn Michener on Ghostbusters (2016):
The 2016 Ghostbusters movie is my favorite for very specific reasons. I love Paul Feig. He did A Simple Favor, which is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever watched in my life. He really understands “gender politics” humor. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a very specific thing, but it is hilarious when it is done right. But yeah, I definitely picked up on a lot of the cynical stuff that was going on, and it was incredibly groan-worthy, especially given how much I loved the film, and again, I am “the fans” just as much as the average dude who is Gen X is “the fans,” and every time I hear they’re “giving it back to the fans,” it’s like, “Hello? Who do you think I am? I grew up on this stuff too.”
David Barr Kirtley on nostalgia:
The kids start busting ghosts, and then after they bust their first ghost they get sent to jail. And everything up until then I was pretty much into. And then Phoebe, the teenage daughter, says, “I want my one phone call.” And the police chief says, “Who you gonna call?” Which was the catchphrase for the original movie. So it’s this very obvious meta-joke. And at that point I was kind of like, “Oh no, here we go.” And from that point it just got more and more self-referential, and just shoveling all this stuff that you remember at you, just piling it higher and higher, so that by the end of the movie I felt like just the weight of all the in-jokes and references and call-backs and nostalgia had just completely buried any kind of story or characters underneath it.”
Christopher M. Cevasco on ghosts:
To me the single biggest missed opportunity was “we have a Ghostbuster who becomes a ghost,” and that fact went almost unremarked. I mean, these are people who spent their entire lives studying ghosts and ghostly phenomenon, and then when the other three Ghostbusters show up at the end, not one of them is [curious]. I wanted to see Ray Stantz go over and be like, “Dude! What’s it actually like? How does it feel? Oh my god, this is so cool! We actually have an inside man now. We can find out what’s happening.” Or even to get some sense that Spengler, who becomes the ghost, how is his spirit reacting to that? There are any number of ways that could have been explored.”
Robert Repino on plot:
I wonder how different the movie would be if, instead of characters stumbling upon this secret, it’s instead characters who, from the very beginning, are going to Oklahoma specifically to find out what happened to Egon. So it’s Ghostbusters 3: The Search for Egon. That might have gotten things off to a better start. Now the problem of course is that you lose some of that wonder that you have where Phoebe realizes, “Oh wow, my grandfather’s ghost is talking to me.” … But maybe by having the characters have a specific goal from the beginning, instead of just stumbling into this situation and being like, “OK, I guess we’re busting ghosts now,” maybe that could have worked better.