The 13th Floor

Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About The Original 1975 GHOST BUSTERS?

Who would’ve thought that a remake of a 1984 comedy about “a team of bumbling scientists who investigate ghostly occurrences” would cause such a ruckus amongst the movie loving online community? It’s gotten tremendously out of hand. Everything from boycotts to public Twitter wars to truly showing the uncompassionate, horrible nature that some human beings will stoop to. And for what? Opinions over a movie that isn’t even out yet? Guys, it’s just a movie!

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And that said, why are people getting worked up over a movie that isn’t exactly an original property to begin with? Back in 1975, there was a children’s TV show about, get this… “a team of bumbling detectives who investigate ghostly occurrences.” Guess what it’s called? GHOST BUSTERS. Where were all of you to boycott the 1984 comedy when this injustice of entertainment was happening?! Ridiculous, right? Exactly.

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The 1975 show starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch (reuniting from the late 60’s sitcom F TROOP) as paranormal investigators Kong and Spencer. Joining them on their exploits was a giant gorilla named Tracy. Kind of funny that of the 3 characters, Tucker ended up being named Kong when ideally, the gorilla should’ve sported that name and the other two characters were named after legendary actor Spencer Tracy.

In each episode, Kong and Spencer would get their assignment regarding the monster or ghost of the week from the unseen “Zero,” an automated message that they’d have to find and that would then self-destruct after uncovered, à la MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Their gorilla Tracy acted as the duo’s assistant and would drive them around. (Seriously!) The show pitted them against various known ghouls & pop icons including Count Dracula, Dr Frankenstein and his monster and even Billy The Kid!

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The series only ran for one season and clocked in 15 episodes, and despite being popular enough to warrant a 2nd season, production company Filmation – who were responsible for GHOST BUSTERS, opted to focus their money and attention towards their number 1 rated show at the time, rather than continuing the adventures of Kong, Spencer and Tracy. It remained mostly forgotten for a number of years, with only the occasional VHS tape gracing the stores of the local mom and pop shop, until 2007 when BCI Eclipse LLC released the entire series on DVD.

Granted, the 1984 comedy scripted by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis bares very little in common with the 70’s show besides the general concept of “busting ghosts,” but there was the issue of the name, which Columbia Pictures did in fact pay a licensing fee to Filmation to use. For those of us that grew up in the 80’s and were familiar with the cartoons, the above premise from the original show may sound familiar, because in 1986, Filmation produced an animated series meant to act as a sequel to their GHOST BUSTERS.

It featured Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spencer Jr., along with the gorilla Tracy, who once worked with their fathers, teaming up to rid the world of an evil ghost wizard named Prime Evil, who would use his magical powers to unleash ghosts from other dimensions onto the world.

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This version of GHOST BUSTERS aired at the same time that THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS (based upon the 1984 movie) also went into production, but they weren’t originally intended to be rivals. Filmation, who owned the GHOST BUSTERS name, attempted to work with Columbia to produce an animated series based on their movie & characters, but when Columbia decided to cut Filmation out and work with another production company instead, Filmation went forward producing a sequel to their live-action show, prompting Columbia to retitle their cartoon The “Real” Ghostbusters.

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The famous tagline for the movie and “Real” GHOSTBUSTERS cartoon was “Who you gonna call?” The Filmation version’s catch phrase was “Let’s go, Ghost Busters!” It gets a bit confusing, but for those of us that were kids in the late 80’s, most of us rather enjoyed both versions of the GHOST BUSTERS, even if we didn’t realize the one with the two detectives and gorilla technically came first. And hell, show of hands… how many people actually had some of the toys of the Filmation GHOST BUSTERS?

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While the original 1975 live-action GHOST BUSTERS series is pretty difficult to track down on DVD nowadays (ever since they went out of print), the animated version, later retitled FILMATION’S GHOST BUSTERS (to help alleviate the traditional confusion) is currently streaming on Hulu!

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Point being, there’s a version of GHOST BUSTERS for everyone. And nothing that came before or after is ever going to change your perception of that classic 1984 comedy you probably know every line of dialogue to. Not even GHOSTBUSTERS II can change that! So let’s be respectful and let people pick their version of the GHOST BUSTERS. Even if it’s the one with a gorilla named Tracy!

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