“Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History” Book Review

If you don’t know the answer to “Who ya’ gonna’ call?”, we can’t be friends anymore. Seriously, “Ghostbusters” is my life. It is the alpha and the omega of movies to me. One of the ultimate New York movies before New York became a tired cliche, Ghostbusters took theaters by storm in 1984 and its logo remains one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, as well as Ray Parker Jr.’s theme song still being sung to this day. The comedy still brings laughs to fans to this day, and amazingly continues to remain relevant, especially on the heels of the upcoming all-female reboot by Paul Feig.

Not long after the film was released, “Making Ghostbusters” by Don Shay came out, the first book chronicling the story behind the story of this spooky comedy. Unfortunately, the book was not in print very long and spent decades inflating in value. For most fans, it was nearly impossible to find, and if you could find a copy, good luck affording it (think of the price as a twinkie…). Not long after the 30th anniversary of the original movie, Insight Editions has answered the call for a new book to fill that void, and “Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History” does more than just cover the 1984 classic.


Written by Daniel Wallace, who has written tons of books on Star Wars mythos as well as Marvel and DC comics, “Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History” is loaded with over 220 pages of GB info, including never-before-seen artwork and production photos. The book features a foreward written by Dan Aykroyd AKA Ray Stantz, and an introduction by the director, Ivan Reitman. Printed in glorious color, hued with a tint of ectoplasmic green here and there, the best word to describe this book is “dense.”


The book goes over not only the first film, but discusses the sequel, the cartoons, the video games, the comics, and even the toys. I was surprised to see such a huge section devoted to the oft-forgotten 1997 cartoon, “Extreme Ghostbusters”, which finally gets the laurels it deserves. I was very surprised to even see a section on fan art, including many pieces that we saw during the 30th anniversary gallery show in Manhattan.

Similar to the “Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film” book, this one holds many treasures within the pages. An animation cel from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, blueprints for various ghostbusting gadgets, concept art, and even a mini-book of one of the original storyboards from Dan Aykroyd’s initial version of the GB film before Harold Ramis did his treatment of it. This book truly has it all and then some, and holds an impressive amount of data, drawings, and photos that adds new depth to the franchise.

One of my favorite parts were the sections that discussed the physical effects used in the first movie. The budget for the first movie was good, but not the best for everything that they were looking to accomplish. It took creative film-making techniques and an even more clever team of techs to devise cost-effective ways to give the movie the special effects that it needed. I also loved seeing all of the concept art and storyboards, but especially the art for what could have been – the items or ghosts that never made it on screen, and this is our first and only look at those things.


To this day, even the blu-ray and DVD releases of the movies includes barely any info on the second film, which is depressing. I was so excited to read about Ghostbusters 2 finally and learn more about that film that I could not contain myself (insert whatever containment unit joke that you want to make here). Reading about that and hearing from all of the creative people that designed the movies were amazing. This is the Ghostbusters book that we have been waiting for, and my only gripe is that it should be at least a hundred pages longer to fit more photos and stories in it.

As a sidenote, the book does actually mention the Paul Feig reboot in the back, since the news came out just before the book went to print. Let’s hope that this book and the new movie both do well enough to keep the series alive with a new generation, and that we keep getting more GB books, cartoons, and everything else in the future. This is the fanboy in me, but who does not want their kids to know that bustin’ will make them feel good? In a spiritual sense, of course.

You can order “Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History” on Amazon.com for around $35, and you would be a fool not to if you were a true Ghosthead. This makes a great gift for any fan of the movies, or someone that grew up with the cartoons or an 80’s kid. Basically, everyone should own this book and that includes you, so grab this today!

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