Friday, May 30, 2014

Midnight Cinephile's Favorite Scenes - Episode I - Ghostbusters!

Favorite scenes.  We all have them.  Whether it's a favorite kill in a slasher film, a favorite bit of funniness in a comedy or your favorite line in a classic film, there are always scenes that speak to you.  Sometimes they are epic, sometimes they're quiet, sometimes they're intense and sometimes they are subtle.  There have been times that I find a scene that I absolutely love inside a movie that I do not like.  What I hope to accomplish in this (more than likely ongoing) segment is to explore scenes that I love and not only share them with you, but perhaps try and dissect them and try and figure out what makes them so effective for me.  So sit back and relax....heat up some pizza rolls, grab a Dr. Pepper and get ready for Midnight Cinephile's Favorite Scenes!

Tonight let's discuss......

The Dead Have Been Rising From The Grave

One of my all time favorite films, Ghostbusters has everything that I love all rolled into 105 minutes of paranormal laughs and mayhem.  There are many scenes in Ghostbusters that I could count among my favorites but tonight I want to start with quite possibly the creepiest scene in the entire film.  Ray and Winston are driving in the Ecto1....who knows where they're going or coming from.  I like to think that they had a late-late night call and then stopped at some All-Nite Chinese Food place before heading back to Ghostbusters HQ.  Anyway, Winston is driving and Ray is in the passenger seat looking over the blueprints for the structural iron work in  Dana Barrett's building.  

Winston brings up the Bible and references to the last days and the dead rising from the grave.  Ray begins to quote The Book of Revelations:  "I remember Revelation 7:12. And I looked, as he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black as sackcloth. And the moon became as blood."  Winston finishes the verse:  "And the seas boiled and the skies fell."  They both look a bit spooked and Ray somberly says: "Judgement Day" which Winston echoes in agreement. The look of fear on Ray's face in palpable as he looks at Winston and then in an effort to take their minds off of the potential looming Apocalypse, he suggests "How 'bout a little music?" 

Everything about this scene is perfect.  It evokes what I call The Campfire Story Feel* to it.  The score by Elmer Burnstein is absolutely essential to the scene, which is titled (appropriately enough) Judgement Day.  During their talk the music is low and menacing, always lurking just behind their words like some Lovecraftian horror waiting patiently in the darkness.  After Ray turns on the radio we are treated to this bizarre electro-funk beat that has it's own creep factor to it.  This may be because it's actually a funktified version of the track entitled Zool that we had heard only a little while earlier in the film.  The scene ends with a wide shot of the Ecto-1 driving  across the Brooklyn Bridge while the dawn slowly breaks over the cityscape.  

The scene is incredibly well placed in the film.  As the action begins to ramp up, this scene serves to shift the tone of the film a bit to set up for the finale.  Perhaps it's because there is no humor to be found for those 90 seconds.  Just the stark realization that the world may actually come to an end and that they were the only thing that may be standing in the way of total annihilation.  

*The Campfire Story Feelis what I've come to call a certain feeling that some scenes evoke:  You're sitting around a campfire and someone is telling a rather disturbing ghost story (as people will do on camping trips!).  You start to look around the circle of your friends and family gathered around the campfire and you start to get the sensation that there may be something lurking just out of sight in the darkness.  Perhaps you feel like the light offers a small amount of sanctuary, but by and large you feel as though the air itself is changed.  You can almost smell the fear.  You know it's only a story.  You know you're safe.  You're roasting marshmellows and hotdogs around the fire while drinking soda and beer.....but the second you have to excuse yourself to the bathroom and you're walking alone through the woods on the outskirt of camp or to that deserted and run down bathroom (you know...the one with the light that perpetually blinks?) that's a quarter-mile from your lot in the state forest, you can't help but think about that story.  Your heart beats a little faster.  Every little noise in the brush makes you jump.  THAT is The Campfire Story Feeling™ !

Well, you've made it this far and you're still reading, so as a reward I will save you the trouble of breaking out your DVD or Blu Ray or searching YouTube for the scene in question.  Give the scene a watch and then....when it's late at night and you're alone....perhaps Ray quoting The Book of Revelations will pop into your head and and you'll feel the ice start to climb up your spine.......


  1. Great post. Wonderful explanation of the Campfire Story Feel. Where is that trademark key on my keyboard? I want to start using that when I use the term Pre-Ween.

  2. Thanks man! I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to properly articulate The Campfire Story Feel™! To make the trademark symbol, hold down ALT and then type 0153 on the keypad (won't work with the upper row of numbers on top of the keyboard). BLAMMO! Instant ™! Also to make a © Copywrite symbol do the same and use the code 0169. For a ® Registered mark, it's 0174!

    Who says Midnight Cinephile ain't educational!