Ghostbusters (1984) – Commentary

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From the moment that you saw that teaser poster you just knew that you had to see the film. It was clearly a blockbuster poster but it was somehow different as it didn’t say the name of the film it was just a logo and strapline. OK, the strapline was fairly familiar from the posters of a long line of hero films, from Supermanto Bond, but having just a logo preceding it was something curious and something very modern.

Looking back now it seems hard to imagine a time pre-No Ghost, when its unique finely rendered form wasn’t visual short-hand for some brand of vanquishment. As a symbol it has become known just as much externally to the film through seemingly endless bastardisations and low-rent appropriations. We will doubtless all have seen it on the door of the average pest control company or maybe the local pizza joint…Hungerbusters anyone?

As the key art for a teaser campaign it was perfect. It said everything it needed to say in a simple and easy to understand manner with a refreshing lack of fluff and nonsense. In many ways this minimal approach to film marketing paved the way for the paired back but clever brand of advertising that we see everywhere nowadays. It’s still there to some degree in big blockbuster movies but is now more evident throughout consumer culture via advertising for sports, fashion and technology marketing.

No Ghost is at once irreverent, obtuse and straight-talking. We talk a lot about ‘tone of voice’ in design these days and this logo speaks in broad pre-Giuliani New York filtered through the counter-cultural savvy of Saturday Night Live. It captures the insouciant mood of the film and it’s characters perfectly. The Ghostbusters were a new brand of movie superhero and they had the logo to prove it.

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n.b. “Will you guys relax? We are on the threshold of establishing the indispensable defense science of the next decade. Professional paranormal investigations and eliminations. The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.” – Dr. Peter Venkman