Book Review | Ghostbusters: A Visual History

Book Review | Ghostbusters: A Visual History

Ghostbusters: A Visual History is a comprehensive guide to the original two films and beyond!

Written by Daniel Wallace and published just before the 2016 reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, this entry into the visual history series of books is a beautiful coffee table edition that delves into the history of the first two films.

Having recently watched the excellent documentary Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters, you’d think there wasn’t much more to learn about the original film.

However, this book goes into detail on how the film came together, the production process and the tight struggle in the end in trying to get the film together on time, especially regarding the special effects.

The visual history is packed with many photos from all aspects of filming including pieces of concept art and pencil sketches for ideas for various ghosts and creatures. Even as a Ghostbusters fan, many of these photos I don’t recall seeing before.

Although we all have a love for the original film (don’t we?), the really interesting section for me the coverage on the sequel. As the text comes across, the production on Ghostbusters II wasn’t rushed but had a really tight timeline to follow.

Many sequences were cut, some to director Ivan Reitman’s regret today. There are several photos that document these lost scenes and its a shame that they’ve never appeared as an extra on a DVD/Bluray to date.

For example, the special effects workshop built a technically more advanced Slimer animatronic for Ghostbusters II. This new and improved Slimer was optically combined into scenes with the Ghostbuster‘s lawyer Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). Several vignettes were filmed featuring Louis trying to capture Slimer, however, none of these sequences made the final cut.

Ghostbusters: A Visual History also covers the two animated series, The Real Ghostbusters and The Extreme Ghostbusters. It was interesting to read that even cartoon shows have their own problems to overcome when basing the show on a hugely successful film.

There was a disheartening tale concerning the merchandising of the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon. In creating the new Ghostbusting team, they wanted to be more diverse. One of the characters, Garrett Miller, was a wheelchair user. The toy company creating the figures decided not to create a figure of Garrett. The book gives two reasons, the second was of the extra cost on creating a wheelchair accessory.

The first reason I found more off-putting as the toy company refused to make a wheelchair-bound hero as kids wouldn’t look up to him. Perhaps more of a state of mind at the time.

As with all the visual history series of books, you’ll find replica items tucked into the pages as you read through. In this book, you’ll see reproductions of concept art, Peter Venkman’s business card and even an A5 Real Ghostbusters animation cell amongst several other items.

As a Ghostbusters fan, I highly recommend this book. Even those with an interest with the behind the scenes process will find this packed with enough information to satisfy.

There are several other books in the Visual History series including Back to the Future, Die Hard. Both of these I hope to review in the future.

John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.