As I mentioned last week, this Cinematic Chiasmus is not my own. A reader of mine named Jay not only suggested it, but he mapped it out for me. All I had to do was write the descriptions. I’m happy to do it because Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies. And I have a secret to share at the end of this article that probably no one will believe. But I promise it’s true!
So stay tuned as we discover the astonishingly symmetrical nature of the original Ghostbusters.
I kept this true to what Jay sent me. Here is his summary of the chiasmus:
A. Unseen Library Ghost scares the socks off some poor librarian
B. Peter Venkman conducts the Milligram Experiment on a nerd
C. Venkman tries going after the Co-Ed
D. “I can feel it. We’re very, very close”
E. Confronting the Library Ghost
F. Running away
G. “Spengs, you serious about this ghost business?”
H. Dean Yeager kicks them off of campus
I. Venkman convinces Ray Stanz to start a business
J. Three mortgages
K. Getting the firehouse
L. Introduction of Dana Barrett
N. “Well that’s all right. I don’t either”
O. “Yeah, I’ll solve your little problem for you”
P. “We got one!”
Q. Their first bust
R. Business is booming! (“Ghostbusters” montage)
S. Ray gets head from a ghost
T. Winston Zeddemore looks for a job
U. Venkman gets a date with Dana
V. Ray shows Winston the Ecto-Containment Unit
W. Venkman meets and confronts Walter Peck
X. “That’s a big twinkie”
X. Terror Dogs burst through their statues
W. Zuul captures Dana
V. Terror Dog bursts through Louis Tully’s apartment
U. Venkman’s date with Dana, possessed by Zuul
T. “I want to talk to Dana”
S. Vinz thinks the horse is the Gatekeeper
R. “I think that would be extraordinarily dangerous”
Q. Ray and Winston return after a bust
P. Peck puts them out of business
O. Peck orders the opening of the Ecto-Containment Vault
N. The ghosts are released (“Magic” montage)
M. The Keymaster meets the Gatekeeper
L. Introduction of Mayor Lenny
K. Getting an armored escort
J. Showing up at Dana’s apartment building
I. “When we get to 20, tell me…I’m gonna throw up”
H. “Hey, where do these stairs go?”
G. “I thought Gozer was a man!”
F. “All right, this chick is toast!”
E. Confronting the Traveller as Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man
D. “I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! Let’s do it!”
C. Venkman saves Dana
B. “We’d like to get a sample of your brain tissue”
A. Slimer rushes towards the screen
And now we will expand on each of these points so they’ll be even clearer.
A. First and Last Scares
A librarian pushes a book cart around the New York Public Library and puts books away, unaware of the strange paranormal activity going on around her. But she finally gets spooked and runs away, only to get scared out of her wits by an offscreen ghost roaring at her.
The Ghostbusters escort Dana Barrett out of her apartment building to the Ecto-1, fully aware of the paranormal activity happening all around New York City. They pack up their gear and drive away, only for the film to end with one more scare as a ghost named Slimer screams and rushes at the camera.
B. Testing Nerds
A nerd keeps getting shocked by Dr. Peter Venkman during the Milligram Experiment, even when he gets the right answer. He storms off after he’s had enough, saying that Venkman can keep the five dollars he was promised.
Louis Tully gets a shock when he sees the Ghostbusters covered in marshmallow, asking who does their taxes. He dazedly walks with the Ghostbusters, and he agrees to give them a sample of his brain tissue.
C. Venkman’s Girls
Venkman clutches the arm of a college student named Jennifer and hits on her. She asks if she’s got the gift of telepathy, and Venkman assures her she does. But then he gets interrupted by the arrival of Ray Stantz, and he tells her he has to go. But they agree to meet up later.
Venkman takes Dana’s hand as he and the other Ghostbusters hit the pieces of the charred beast covering her. She asks where she is, and she’s pleased to see Venkman. Louis also comes to, and Venkman tells Ray and the others to help him. Then he keeps helping Dana.
D. Venkman’s Enthusiasm
Venkman is obviously very unenthusiastic about Ray’s plan to finally see a ghost where she resides at the library. He asks Ray to come back later after he’s done with Jennifer, but Ray insists he come along with him and Egon Spengler. Venkman reluctantly agrees.
Venkman is obviously nervous about Egon’s plan to send Gozer back where he came from by crossing the streams. He notes that this will endanger them and Dana, but Egon insists there’s a slim chance they’ll survive. Venkman enthusiastically agrees.
E. Ghostbusters in Action
Venkman makes spooky noises and then drops a book on the table above Egon to make him think he’s hearing a ghost. He asks the librarian inappropriate questions and then the three scientists go walking through the library in search of the ghost. A bookcase falls over, putting all three of them on edge since this is their first time. They’re at a loss of what to do when they see the ghost, and she just shushes Venkman when he tries to talk to it.
Gozer drops chunks of a building on the Ghostbusters and crowd below and then announces the arrival of the Traveller. Ray makes an inappropriate choice of the form Gozer will take, and then they see the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walking through the street in search of them. They’re all terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought until Gozer steps on a church. They hit Gozer with a blast from their proton packs, but that just makes it angry and on fire.
F. Plan B
After their first plan to get the Library Ghost’s attention fails, Venkman, Ray, and Egon decide to take a more-aggressive course of action. They walk up to the ghost and shout, “Get her!” But the Library Ghost reacts by taking on a monstrous form and scaring the three scientists away.
After their first attempt at dealing with Gozer fails, the Ghostbusters decide to take a more-aggressive course of action. They walk up to it and try to shoot it with blasts from their proton packs. But Gozer reacts by jumping over them and then disappearing.
G. Catch and Release
Venkman teases Ray over his whole plan revolving around the words, “Get her!” Ray takes it in stride and excitedly declares that they touched the etheric plane. Egon notes that they have a real chance of actually catching and holding ghosts. Venkman says he’s going to take back some of the things he’s said about Egon, and Ray smiles as Venkman gives Egon a Crunch bar.
Venkman sees Dana getting electrified and cries out her name in real concern for her. But he takes it in stride when she transforms into a terror dog and gets petted by Gozer. A cosmic door opens, freeing Gozer to enter their world. The Ghostbusters are surprised to see that Gozer has taken the form of a woman when they thought he was a man, and Ray blanches when Venkman throws him under the bus.
H. Surprising Changes
Venkman, Ray, and Egon are surprised to find their equipment being taken away by their university’s dean. Venkman asks if they’re being moved to better quarters on the campus, and Dean Yeager says they’re being moved off campus. He tells Venkman he is a poor scientist.
The Ghostbusters are surprised to find Dana’s apartment completely decimated by Gozer’s minions. Ray asks where some previously hidden stairs go, and Venkman says they go up. Venkman proves to be a poor action hero when he gets spooked easily.
I. Thrown Out and Up
Forced to struggle to make ends meet, Ray tells Venkman he’s never had to survive in the private sector. Venkman responds with a motivational speech about getting “thrown out of this dump” to go into business for themselves.
Forced to climb seemingly endless stairs, Ray tells an exhausted Venkman they’re somewhere in the teens. Venkman responds that he’s going to throw up soon before they get down to business.
J. Leaving and Entering a Building
Ray walks out of a bank up to his eyeballs in debt, having taken out a third mortgage on his parents’ house. However, Venkman assures him that everything is going to be just fine as they go in search of a building.
The Ghostbusters walk up to Dana’s apartment building and are soon engulfed beneath the street, almost getting taken out by an angry god. However, they make it out just fine and go into the building.
K. Overcoming Objections
Despite major concerns about a firehouse, Venkman and Egon are forced to buy it to make Ray happy. His childlike innocence overcomes all of their rational objections, and they move forward with plans to move into the building.
Despite major concerns about the Ghostbusters, Mayor Lenny is forced to buy into their offer to make voters happy. Venkman’s practical argument overcomes all of the mayor’s rational objections, and they move forward with an armed escort to Dana’s apartment building.
L. Two Introductions
We get to meet Dana as she heads to her apartment in a skyscraper. Her neighbor Louis informs her that strange things have been happening in her apartment while she was away at work. She goes inside and gets introduced to the Ghostbusters, who say, in a commercial, that they’re ready to believe her.
We get to meet Mayor Lenny as the Ghostbusters head to his office. Several people tell him that strange things have been happening all through the city while the Ghostbusters have been locked up. He gets introduced to the Ghostbusters, who say that they know what’s going on and how to stop it. They just need him to believe them.
M. Zuul Makes Contact
Dana is shocked when eggs start cooking on the kitchen counter in her apartment. She hears growling and opens her refrigerator door to see a large space with a pyramid and a terror dog that shouts “ZUUL!” at her.
Dana, possessed by Zuul, is unsurprised when the Keymaster arrives at her apartment. They kiss, and suddenly a passageway opens to reveal a staircase, which leads to the same scene she saw in her fridge.
N. Dana and the Ghosts
Dana leaves her apartment and goes to the new Ghostbusters headquarters to tell them about her frightening encounter with Zuul. They ask questions, and Venkman agrees to go back to her apartment and help her. Meanwhile, Egon and Ray decide to research her apartment building.
The newly freed ghosts leave the Ghostbusters headquarters and go to Dana’s apartment where Dana is possessed by Zuul. They get the Keymaster’s attention, showing him where to go to get to her. Meanwhile, Egon and Ray explain what they learned about Dana’s apartment building.
O. Venkman Fails
Venkman searches Dana’s apartment and doesn’t find any signs of ghosts in it. Venkman tries to get her to fall in love with him, but his efforts utterly fail as she pushes him out of her apartment.
Peck finds where the ghosts are held at Ghostbusters HQ, and orders it to be shut off. Venkman tries to get the city engineer to stop, but his efforts utterly fail as everyone has to run for their lives out of the building.
P. Calling Their Bluff
While the Ghostbusters spend the last of their money, a call comes in to save the day. Janine answers the phone and makes it seem like she does this all the time. It works, and the Ghostbusters go down the pole to go to their first job.
While Egon runs a few more tests on the Keymaster, Peck comes in with a warrant to ruin his day. Janine tries to stop them by doing what she’s seen on television. But it doesn’t work, and Peck descends to make sure they don’t get another job.
Q. Ghostbusters on the Job
On their way to their first job, the Ghostbusters discuss their proton packs and receive serious safety guidelines on how to use them. Venkman gets “baptized” with slime by a green ghost named Slimer. The Ghostbusters work together to catch the ghost in a trap.
On their way back from a job, Ray and Winston discuss the crazy design of Dana’s apartment building. They also talk about God, Jesus Christ, and Biblical prophecy coming true. Winston stumps Ray when he notes the dead are rising from the grave.
R. A Big Job
The Ghostbusters go out into the city to catch ghosts. They make a name for themselves and become quite famous for dealing with paranormal situations. Venkman notes that no job is too big for them.
The police bring the Keymaster to the Ghostbusters. The police didn’t know what to do with him, and they knew the Ghostbusters’ reputation for dealing with situations like this. Egon worries that it would be dangerous to bring the Keymaster and Gatekeeper together.
S. Too Close for Comfort
For this one, let’s just say that some mistaken identity happens, and a ghost gets a little up close and personal in a way that makes people uncomfortable. I’ll just leave it at that. My kids are going to read this, after all.
T. Right Man for the Job
Winston goes to Ghostbusters HQ seeking a job. Janine lists a whole bunch of paranormal terms he’s unfamiliar with and asks if he believes in them. He responds that he’ll believe whatever she wants if it’ll get his foot in the door. He’s hired almost immediately. His first job involves taking smoking traps from a slime-covered Ray.
Venkman goes to Dana’s apartment for a date. Dana, possessed by Zuul, asks if he’s the Keymaster, which he’s never heard of. He says no at first, but then he says yes to get his foot in the door. She immediately wants to make love to him, but he has to say no. He notes that her apartment is covered in slime, and she’s acting strangely.
U. Venkman’s Date with Dana
Venkman shares some information with Dana about her problem with a ghost named Zuul. And she agrees to let him come over for a date later.
When he arrives at her apartment building for their date, he learns that the ghost problem has gotten out of hand. And she is now possessed by Zuul.
Ray introduces Winston to the technology the Ghostbusters use. He confidently shows him how to safely transfer ghosts from a trap to the Ecto-Containment Unit. There’s nothing scary about the process. Venkman learns that a man from the EPA has sought him out and is waiting in his office.
Louis introduces some newcomers to the rest of his partygoers. He ignorantly throws their coats onto a terror dog in his bedroom, which promptly bursts out of that room. Louis is absolutely terrified as he’s chased by the beast. It chases him down and possesses him.
W. Threatening Encounters
Venkman upsets Janine by not making good on his promises, and she snaps angrily at a caller. He begins an amiable conversation with Peck, a representative of the EPA. But Peck starts asking about the storage facility and making wild accusations against the Ghostbusters. So Venkman shuts him down, and Peck threatens to come back with a court order.
Dana pleases Louis by promising to come to his party, and he wails desperately to the people behind his locked door. She gets a call from her mother, who asks her some questions. But she gets antsy when she admits she has a date with a Ghostbuster. When she hangs up, she sees a threatening terror dog in her apartment and gets dragged into its clutches.
X. The Twinkie and the Twin Keys
The turning point comes when Egon tells Ray and Winston that there’s a dangerous amount of psychokinetic energy in the city. He compares it to a big twinkie. It signifies the coming of Gozer in the near future.
Then we see what he’s talking about as lightning strikes Dana’s apartment building over and over. And inside a statue on that building, we see a clawed foot and red eye emerge, signifying a large beast is hiding in it. It’s one of two keys that will open the door for Gozer.
We’re Ready to Believe You
This is the first of four Cinematic Chiasmus articles Jay sent me. I plan on writing them all soon. Maybe not four weeks in a row. That would be quite a challenge. But I’ll get to them all.
Oh, and remember the secret I promised earlier? I was looking through my document where I write down all of my ideas for Cinematic Chiasmus articles, and I found Ghostbusters on it! I must have written it down five years ago, and I just hadn’t gotten around to doing it yet. But it was on there. There’s no good way for me to prove it.
Anyway, I still give all the credit to Jay for this one. It might have taken me forever to write this without his help. So thank you, Jay! I hope you like your very first Cinematic Chiasmus article.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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