Ghostbusters: The Inside Story – Matt McAllister

If you want to wander around Spook Central for a while, this book is a fun introduction, showcasing why its magic hasn’t dulled in over thirty-five years. It boasts new interviews with some of the cast and crew, which sit alongside a number of quotes from the books that came before it.

You get to find out a little bit about everything you remember from Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. From the household names to the actors who are still recognised for the character they played during a single scene. The people who worked behind the scenes to bring the script to life: the artists,

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lighting department, special effects, sound. The ghosts. Ecto-1.

There are a few scattered mentions of the 2016 movie (no, it didn’t ruin my childhood. I really enjoyed it!), but the focus always remains on the first two movies. I would love to see some of the deleted scenes that were mentioned.

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Along the way you’ll learn some fun facts:

👻 The ghost on the logo is called Mooglie.
👻 Stay Puft was 112.5 feet tall.
👻 100,000 gallons of slime were produced for the second movie.
👻 The sound of Ecto-1’s siren was a modified leopard cry.

You’ll also find out which actor’s initial thought when they saw the movie for the first time was, “Eh, it’s alright.” and find the blooper in a Stay Puft scene. I was introduced to the frog ghost that didn’t make it into the second movie.

If you’ve known me longer than a few weeks, you’ll know that Ghostbusters is my favourite movie of all time. It has been one of the constants in my life. The library ghost terrified me during my first viewing at six years old and I continued to ‘watch’ that scene through my fingers during subsequent viewings until my brave grew in.

My first and favourite childhood video game was the Commodore 64 Ghostbusters game, where it was hit and miss whether I could time that final dash past Mr Stay Puft.

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Screenshot of the Commodore 64 game. Not pictured in this book.

Decades later, I still revisit the Ghostbusters every month, more often if I’m having a bad week. Whenever there was a storm when I was growing up I’d check out the sky and determine whether they were Ghostbuster clouds or not, and it’s quite possible I still do.

Then there’s the merchandise that’s managed to part me with my money: the t-shirt, the pyjamas, the Lego, the diecast model Ecto-1 with bonus Slimer, the books. So many books. Over the years I’ve owned the soundtrack on both cassette and CD, and the original movie on Beta, VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. I can still tell you which elements in each scene you are now able to see on widescreen that were missing on the VHS viewings of my childhood.

I may have been known to talk in Ghostbusters quotes at times the uninitiated deem inappropriate. There really is a quote for every occasion.

On hobbies. “I collect spores, moulds and fungus.”

When you’re starting your own business. “The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.”

Need directions? “Hey, where do these stairs go?” “They go up.”

How to make an important decision. “Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes!”

How to: customer service edition. “Whaddya want?”

On winning. “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!”

If you’ve been a Ghostbusters fan for any length of time you probably already know a lot of the fun facts you’ll read in this book. New fans will find plenty to love, as will readers who enjoy knowing a little bit about everything.

Some of the information is repetitive, especially the captions for the images, which basically restate what you’ve just read. The fire hydrant spurting sand instead of water when it’s kicked by Stay Puft was mentioned three separate times that I noticed. Several other tidbits were mentioned at least twice.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that everything was sunshine and roses on the set as so many interviews mention how wonderful everyone was to work with. There were a couple of interviews where someone would say that they had originally wanted things done differently or what they had spent so much time working on was suddenly changed at the last minute, but even these interviewees backtracked, saying that it all worked out even better than it would have if the plans hadn’t changed. It felt a bit disingenuous at times, although fangirl me maintains the hope that love, joy and peace flavoured the air during production.

There were plenty of stills from the movies and behind the scenes photos of the cast and crew, some of which I’d seen previously. The layout was quite consistent throughout the book and there were some really interesting pictures, especially those that showed the concept art

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and the way the ghosts were made. I found the process involved in making the painting come to life in the second movie particularly interesting.

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I doubt any Ghostbusters book will ever surpass Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History for me but I still enjoyed this read. It definitely made me want to see Dan Akroyd’s original Ghost Smashers script made into a movie and ‘research’ was a great excuse to rewatch the first two movies – again!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Hero Collector Books for the opportunity read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The essential guide to Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II! Exploring everything from the pioneering special effects to the set design and the unforgettable soundtrack. This authorised book tells the exhaustive behind-the-scenes story of how Dan Aykroyd’s original concept evolved into a movie phenomenon.

The guide is packed with hundreds of fascinating production photos, concept art and rare behind-the-scenes images, while new interviews with the cast and crew, including Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman, Annie Potts, Richard Edlund and many more, reveal how they overcame numerous challenges to create one of the best-loved movie franchises of the 1980’s.

Book Haul – 19 to 25 June 2020

This week I reviewed:

Word of the Week: Weltschmerz, a German word literally meaning ‘world pain’. “Sadness or melancholy at the evils of the world; world-weariness.” (Collins English Dictionary)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: After dragging myself through a highly anticipated read last week, I managed to get my reading joy back this week. I smiled my way through Gabby Hutchinson Crouch’s second book in the Darkwood series, Such Big Teeth.

Until next time, happy reading!


Edelweiss

The essential guide to Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II! Exploring everything from the pioneering special effects to the set design and the unforgettable soundtrack. This authorised book tells the exhaustive behind-the-scenes story of how Dan Aykroyd’s original concept evolved into a movie phenomenon.

The guide is packed with hundreds of fascinating production photos, concept art and rare behind-the-scenes images, while new interviews with the cast and crew, including Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman, Annie Potts, Richard Edlund and many more, reveal how they overcame numerous challenges to create one of the best-loved movie franchises of the 1980s.


NetGalley

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed – viciously attacked by an infected neighbour – and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares – terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages … and shake them to their core.


The Cabin at the End of the World – Paul Tremblay

This is one of those books where you’re certain going into it that you know what you’re getting yourself into, but then you learn you had no idea. An isolated cabin in the woods inhabited by a family whose respite is interrupted by a group of strangers with possible mayhem in mind. That’s been done before, right? I’ve seen the movies.

What if the strangers tell the family that the choices they make in that cabin have the power to press pause on the apocalypse or set it in motion?! Now you’re talking!

In this book you’ll learn who the family are as individuals and how their family dynamics work both before and during the invasion. Invited inside their heads, you’ll hear their thoughts as their lives are turned upside down and you’ll be given access to some of their most treasured and painful memories.

This is a loving and loveable family consisting of two doting dads and their adorable adopted daughter. I loved them all. It would have been so much easier if just one of them were the slightest bit irritating … but they’re not.

So, what about the invaders? Sorry, but all things considered I liked them too. I tried my hardest to demonise them but failed miserably. Whether you believe what they say or not, I believed that they believed it. From that perspective, scary as it sounds, it made sense to me where they were coming from. Much like our gorgeous couple, I went back and forth between not believing the people who had disrupted their peaceful lives and wondering if maybe they were actually telling the truth.

This is not a casual read and if you’re going through a stressful time in your life you may want to put this book on hold until your stress event has faded somewhat. It’s a testament to Paul Tremblay that his writing stressed me out so much. I kept getting this image of my life being this red stress ball at the time and reading this book felt like adding sharp metal spikes to it.

The Cabin at the End of the World may not have had as big an impact if my life had been floating on a calm lake while reading but I still think the constant tension, suspense and paranoia was always going to raise my blood pressure. I read some of this book in a doctor’s waiting room and at the beginning of my appointment my blood pressure was 132/100. Coincidence? You can decide for yourself after you read it!

I adore the way that Paul writes. I connected to his characters and felt like I was immersed in what was happening inside that cabin. I felt engaged the whole time and I was invested in the outcome of every character. I’m not quite sure how Paul did this but there were scenes where I had to pause and marvel at the beauty of sentences describing brutality. It doesn’t seem like the two should go together but they did here.

The pacing feels practically frenetic at times and I can’t see the story working as well any other way. You get to catch your breath when the characters do. Overall though, the stress of the situation doesn’t ease for the characters so it doesn’t ease for the reader either.

I expect some readers will be uneasy and maybe even cranky about some unanswered questions. While I would certainly read with interest a Q&A with the author I thought the book finished exactly where it should have and I’m okay with the unanswered questions. Throughout the book you’re only privy to information as it’s explained to the characters so it felt perfect to me how it ended.

My Nerd is Showing: I really appreciated the synchronicity between the number of grasshoppers Wen catches at the beginning of the book and the number of people that wind up in the cabin. I also picked up on some really interesting (to me) correlations between that and other numbers that pop up in the book and what those numbers are said to represent from a Biblical perspective. [Yes, I have a bazillion years of Bible College behind me. No, I won’t go all ooky spooky super spiritual on you and bore you with the Bible number meaning thing. You’re welcome!]

I wondered throughout the book if the specific numbers were intentional or not and wavered between thinking they had to be deliberate and thinking I was reading too much into something that meant nothing. Naturally after finishing the book I read the author’s bio. Upon discovering that Paul has a master’s degree in mathematics a nerdy smile may have escaped. Now I really want to believe the numbers were deliberate. 🤓

Favourite Phrase: “brain-bashed proto-zombie” … Seriously, how awesome is that word combo?!

The Bottom Line: I need to read every single thing Paul has or will ever write. I want to ramble on and on about all of the parts of this book that either surprised me, had me wanting to bite my nails or melted chunks off my icy heart but I won’t because I’m mean like that I don’t want to ruin your reading experience by getting into spoiler territory.

Content warnings include gory violence, home invasion, flashbacks and discussion of a homophobic hate crime, and scenes that may cause your blood pressure to rise.

Thank you so much to Edelweiss and William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for the opportunity to read this book and discover a new favourite author in the process.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbours are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologises and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay. 

The Devils You Know – M.C. Atwood

PRESS START

In honour of the fast approach of Halloween month, I present to you your 👻 Halloween Harbinger 👻 book, and what a harbinger it is! I’m not sure anything I read in October will come close to being this much fun, this deliciously creepy or have so many words I will now be incorporating into everyday conversations. I’m pretty sure my Kindle feels very special right now because I’ve been smiling at it the whole time I was reading. I am so in love with this book!!!

The Devils You Know, or The Adorkables vs Labyrinth House as I have affectionately renamed it, follows a group of contestants unwittingly participating in the game of a lifetime. Our five River Red School seniors are from small town Wisconsin where the social scene consists of attending bonfires or staying at home.

Given the difficult choice of attending a field trip to Boulder House and not having to take finals or sitting in Study Hall all day and having to take finals, our five adorkables unsurprisingly wind up at Boulder House. (By the way, I say ‘adorkables’ with the greatest affection. I adored every single one of them!)

Built by Maxwell Cartwright Jr. after he became super crazy, incredibly evil and the apparent owner of some serious cranky pants, Boulder House is an architectural enigma filled with collections of oddities, curiosities and all things creepy from all over the world. May the game begin!

The Contestants

Player 1: Violet – The good girl. Her mother is a psychology professor, her father is a practicing psychologist, and she is an A student who spends her time avoiding conflict and crushing on Paul from afar. She hates her boring Forever 21 clothes and greatly admires Gretchen’s fashion sense. This all round good girl has a big secret.

Player 2: Paul – The popular jock. A basketball player who fairly recently moved to Wisconsin with his mother, Paul appears to be the only black kid in school. He’s still reeling from his father’s death eight years ago. He has a secret crush on Violet and an even more secret interest in all things Shakespeare.

Player 3: Dylan – The bullied goth/emo/freak. Sporting black eyeliner and black fingernails, Dylan has been dating Gretchen for four years and worships her. A skinny kid, he spends a fair amount of his school days being pushed into lockers. Unbeknownst to the kids at school, Dylan plays a different role at home.

Player 4: Ashley – The mean girl. Most comfortable sashaying down the hallway at school followed by her squad, Ashley is the undisputed queen bee of the school and has the bitchiness to prove it. Her father is soon to be a senator and Ashley sprouts her father’s beliefs with no regard to whether she agrees with them or not. Gretchen is her arch nemesis.

Player 5: Gretchen – The outcast. This girl has attitude! Abandoned by her father, Gretchen lives with her mother who despite her illness works as hard as she can to try to keep their small family afloat. Gretchen wants to be a fashion designer and shops at Goodwill, repurposing clothes to suit her taste. She has a monster bag with eyes which I desperately want so she’d better keep an eye on me because, just between you and I, I’ve got a plan to steal it from her. Shh!

Handy Dandy Tips Should You Ever Play the Boulder House Game

  1. Wear sensible shoes.
  2. Take note of the locations of all of the first aid kits.
  3. Bring a few expendable people that can be used as human shields.
  4. Whatever happens, STAY. TOGETHER. You studied Horror 101, didn’t you?
  5. Weapons. Bring them. Many of them. All kinds.

Small Selection of Phrases that Need to be Used – Always!

  • She’s got ova!
  • Fuck-a-doodle-doo
  • Holy fuck-grenades
  • Bitchwad
  • Douchetroll
  • Fuckity fuck fuck
  • Oh shitball fuck
  • Holy schmolies
  • You cad!

It felt like I was trapped in the Thir13en Ghosts house with Jigsaw saying, “I want to play a game”. Each time our contestants entered another room I could have sworn I almost heard someone rolling Jumanji dice.

The whole time I was reading I desperately wanted to tour Boulder House and still do. This is my kind of house!!! I half wanted everyone to die gruesome deaths and half wanted everyone to survive because I loved every single adorkable and after all, they were all underdogs in their own way and who doesn’t love an underdog.

At the beginning of each part there is an excerpt from The Collections of Maxwell Cartwright Jr. and given how interesting these snippets are, I’d buy a companion book if one became available. I adored the design of the crow that shows up between each part in the book. I need a sticker of that crow to put on my car. I loved the story being told from five points of view and how the same detail was perceived differently by various characters. Case in point – Paul’s sexy look.

And, OH. MY. GOODNESS. A couple of the characters go to the toilet during this book!!! That should not be this thrilling but if you think about how rare it is for book and TV characters to use the bathroom, you’ll understand my excitement at discovering a book where it actually happens! You know that weird thing that toddlers do when they’re excited and their bodies kind of bounce up and down but they’re not at the jumping stage yet? Well, I made it to the toilet scene about 3am so imagine me doing the bouncing up and down thingy but sitting down. That’s how excited I was.

This book is essentially about fear, the fear of showing our true selves to the world. Each character has secrets that they’re terrified will surface and change the perception everyone has about them. Their insecurities stop them from living their lives as the person they truly are and so they wander around play acting as shadows, caricatures and sometimes downright opposites of themselves.

The writing style hooked me straight away and I really enjoyed the pacing in this book. Our contestants ran, fought and bled, but they also rested and talked, usually because they were using a first aid kit … but still. There are plenty of wounds with the appropriate level of blood spatter, swords, Shakespeare quotes, the theme from Jaws, knights, tigers, snot bubbles, so many dolls running around, a creepy clown (of course), a cheerful little wizard, and in keeping with 🦄 Unicorn Month 🦄 there’s even a brave carousel unicorn named Sparkles in this book!

Just in case you were wondering, yes, I’ve got the movie adaptation all figured out. Tim Burton is going to get on board and bring his good friend Johnny Depp, who is going to star as Maxwell Cartwright Jr., naturally. It’s going to be awesome, even if the official screening only ever runs in my head. Of course, you’re all invited but make sure you bring me a choc-top.

Content warning for a creepywad sexual predator. This is dealt with respectfully, with insight into the feelings of the victim/survivor and the reactions of their peers.

Thank you so much to Edelweiss and Soho Teen for the opportunity to read this book. This book deserves all the stars!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GAME OVER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Plenty of legends surround the infamous Boulder House in Whispering Bluffs, Wisconsin, but nobody takes them seriously. Certainly nobody believes that the original owner, Maxwell Cartwright Jr., cursed its construction — or that a murder of crows died upon its completion, their carcasses turning the land black. If anyone did believe it all, there’s no way River Red High would offer a field trip there for the senior class.

Five very different seniors on the trip — Violet, Paul, Ashley, Dylan, and Gretchen — have reasons beyond school spirit for not ditching the trip. When they’re separated from the group, they discover that what lies within Boulder House is far more horrifying than any local folklore. To survive, they’ll have to band together in ways they never could have imagined and ultimately confront the truths of their darkest selves.