Ghostbusters novelization

Review by C.J. Bunce

The most eagerly awaited movie of 2021 is also the most eagerly awaited movie of 2020.  That’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct sequel to Ghostbusters I and 2, slated for release in theaters November 11, 2021, after multiple delays.  Will it actually happen?  Who knows.  But while you’re waiting, you can get your fix of those days of Ghostbusters past while you’re at the beach, soaking in the sun with the original novelizations thanks to a new reprint combo from Titan Books, Ghostbusters: The Original Novelizations of Ghostbusters 1 and 2.  For anyone who has only watched the movies, you can gain a little more insight to the characters, many who will be back in the new movie.

The novelization for the first film was written by Richard Mueller with the second by Ed Naha.  The first novelization is a better read, in part because it contains the development of the characters and a better plot, but it’s primarily because Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had their best dialogue in the first script.  The acting-writing-producing duo wrote the scripts behind each film, and fans of these celebrities can tell with little effort which creator was responsible for which component parts of these stories.

The best of the both books come from the late comedy mastermind Harold Ramis’s dialogue and jokes.  The 1980s were Ramis at his best, having already written the scripts for Meatballs and blockbusters Caddyshack and Stripes, and he’d follow that up with Back to School and another giant hit, Groundhog Day.  Aykroyd’s contributions were the bones of the story, having created the original project and story–Aykroyd came from a family of ghost researchers and believers in the supernatural.  Ghostbusters always was intended to be a pest control company for ghosts, which carried through to the final story.

Mueller’s novel of the first film doesn’t expand much from the original story, although the fourth Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddemore was written younger.  Some of the more detailed side references may be lost on current audiences, but ultimately the novelization holds up against the film.  IF you liked the film, you’ll like the novelization.  That’s less likely for Naha’s novelization of the second film, which takes liberties more than the first book.

The tie-in writers used the underlying screenplay–before editing down into the final cut of the film–as their source material.  So expect to find efforts to expand the characters, especially in Book 2.  It’s a good illustration of why editing is always a good thing (just as we found comparing Peter Benchley’s novel for Jaws with its better execution as a movie here) and, like watching a pile of deleted scenes in a set of Blu-ray extras, it’s clear the final cut was the better cut, for both films.

The novelizations are exactly what fans of reading movie tie-ins want.  They want to revisit the films and grab a little extra.  It’s a good fix while you wait for the next film.  Ghostbusters: The Original Novelizations of Ghostbusters 1 and 2 is available now in a combination paperback from Titan Books here at Amazon.