If you weren’t in the indie cinema exhibition industry in the 1980s, you probably haven’t heard of Showest. But this was *the* convention back then, a chance to travel to Las Vegas, shmooze with film distributors and Hollywood studios, smoke cigars, drink single malt Scotch, run up your company’s tab and have a dim memory in the morning of visiting a strip club. You know: Business, American Style!
And so what we have here is a promotional film for an up-and-coming 1984 movie called Ghostbusters. Not the trailer, you see, that’s for the general public. Instead, this is two of the film’s lead actors, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, directly addressing attendees, imploring them to check out what could be the sci-fi comedy of the summer. “It’s gonna make E.T. look like Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Murray quips.
There’s a few things apparent from this promo film: Ackroyd and Murray are completely winging it, and this probably took as long to shoot as it takes time to watch. Also, perhaps: they’ve been “celebrating” if you know what I mean. Maybe. Allegedly. Either way, you can tell these guys are goofing about and making each other laugh. And it also ends with a Ghostbusters theme that isn’t the Ray Parker, Jr. classic. It’s…well, it’s this, if you need to hear the whole thing.
And finally: there’s a few jokes that, if not totally “rapey” per se, do assume a woman-as-sexual-favor vibe. To that I would posit: Ackroyd and Murray knew their audience (unfortunately). (It was the Reagan era, and don’t forget, the main villain of Ghostbusters is the Environmental Protection Agency!)
But let’s not end on a down note. Instead, let’s just quickly add that as of this writing, the *other* Ghostbusters star, Rick Moranis, has just appeared after years in seclusion to appear with Ryan Reynolds in a cellphone commercial. Yes, it’s also advance promo for a Honey I Shrunk the Kids reboot, but I’ll take what we can get these days.
P.S. If you’re wondering what happened to Showest, the convention arm of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO, for short, go figure), you can read all about it here.
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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.