Everything You Need to Know Before Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Everything You Need to Know Before Ghostbusters: Afterlife
The ending of Ghostbusters. (Image: Sony Pictures)

Are you troubled by strange blinking lights in trailers? Do you experience feelings of dread at the mention of key masters or gate keepers? Have you or your family actually seen Ghostbusters part one or two? If the answer is yes (or no) then don’t wait another minute. Just look below and read the professionals — io9. Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your Ghostbusters: Afterlife needs.

It’s true. On January 1, the highly anticipated, long-awaited, direct sequel to the first two Ghostbusters movies will finally be in theatres (even though viewers in the U.S. will get it next week). And as you may have heard, the film leans heavily into a deep knowledge of the original 1984 film, directed by Ivan Reitman. This time, his son Jason is behind the camera and the movie picks up the story about 30 years after audiences last heard from Peter Venkman, Ray Stanz, Winston Zeddemore, and Egon Spengler.

The best way to prepare for Ghostbusters: Afterlife would be to rent or buy Ghostbusters and rewatch it. Ghostbusters 2 couldn’t hurt either but is much less crucial to understanding the new story. If you don’t have the time, we’re gonna go back and hit the big points that will make sure you are ready for all the big twists and turns of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Note: There won’t be any direct mention of Afterlife spoilers in this article but there will be mentions of things that illuminate big spoilers in the movie. So if you want to go in completely clean, it’s probably best to avoid.

Who are the Ghostbusters?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

In 1984’s New York City, two scientists — Ray Stanz (played by Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis) — created a technology that allowed them to trap and store ghosts. Together with their friend and fellow scientist Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray), the trio used that technology as the basis of a business called “Ghostbusters.” The Ghostbusters were basically firefighters but instead of putting out flames they captured ghosts. Business was booming and so the group added a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (played by Ernie Hudson) to help out. Eventually, the rise in ghost activity lead to a God-like creature named Gozer arriving in New York hoping to take over the world. But the Ghostbusters defeated her and her chosen destructor, a massive realisation of a mascot for a marshmallow company named Stay Puft. New York City, and the world, was saved.

Is there a larger mythology to Ghostbusters?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

On the surface, Ghostbusters is a pretty straightforward movie about people creating a business in the 1980s and saving the world. But yes, Ramis and Aykroyd, who wrote the film as well as starred in it, added in a few extra layers of mythology. Mainly, the reason given for the rise in ghosts activity is that an architect named Ivo Shandor built an apartment complex in New York which acted as a conductor for supernatural activity. Shandor hoped his work would help bring back Gozer, an ancient, powerful being who has been around since 6,000 BC. The only way to bring back Gozer, however, is to first get two humans to perform a ritual while being possessed by the spirits of powerful Gozer allies, Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster, and Zuul, the Gatekeeper. Evil beings known as Terror Dogs (think large bulls mixed with dogs) arrive in the real world, hunt down humans — in this case, Dana Barrett (played by Sigourney Weaver) and Louis Tully (played by Rick Moranis) — and pass the essence of the Keymaster and Gatekeeper to them. Once those two perform a ritual, Gozer can return, which is exactly what happens.

What happened to the Ghostbusters?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

After defeating Gozer, the Ghostbusters faced hard times in the form of huge debts caused by their exploits saving the city. They separated for a while but were brought back together when another evil being, Vigo the Carpathian, tried to rise to power. The Ghostbusters, of course, defeated him as well. See also the largely unrelated (for now) plot of Ghostbusters 2. After that, however, we don’t know what was next. What we do know from the Afterlife trailers is that Ray Stanz is back at the occult book store he owned at the beginning of Ghostbusters 2 and, for some reason, Egon Spengler was in the small town of Summerville, Oklahoma. It’s here we’ll meet the main characters of Afterlife and the bulk of its story will take place. Also, the question “What happened to the Ghostbusters?” will be revealed in more detail.

What did the Ghostbusters use to bust ghosts?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

Now we’re talking. The Ghostbusters have a few key pieces of technology that help them bust ghosts. The first is the Proton Pack, the main weapon of a ghostbuster. It’s a giant backpack/portable nuclear reactor that generates a powerful stream of protons that surrounds and stops a ghost. The protons come out in a stream via a device called a neutrona wand, which is attached to the reactor. (Side note: Egon and Ray always said crossing a proton stream with another could be disastrous but, in the end, crossing them was the only way to do something powerful enough to defeat Gozer.)

Once a ghost is trapped by the proton pack, the Ghostbusters roll in a Ghost Trap which is just what it sounds like. It’s a yellow and black device that looks like a shoebox on wheels and sucks in the ghosts to trap them. The Ghostbusters can also detect ghosts by using a PKE Metre; it looks like a large remote control that has light-up ears that rise up on its sides the closer you get to a spectral entity. After a being is detected, captured, and trapped, they’re brought back to the Ghostbusters headquarters (an old firehouse in Tribeca) and put into a Containment Unit located in the basement. A green light means the unit is ready to be used, a red one gives a warning. The unit was powered down in Ghostbusters one, releasing ghosts all over the city.

Finally, the Ghostbusters get around in a vehicle called the Ecto-1. It’s an old ambulance/hearse which was upgraded to be able to store all the Ghostbusters gear.

What other important characters are in Ghostbusters?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

There are three other major characters that are good to know for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. First is Janine Melnitz (played by Annie Potts) who was the Ghostbusters’ receptionist and a good friend and colleague. Later she became involved with Louis Tully, an accountant who ended up becoming the Keymaster in Gozer’s 1984 attack on New York. He also was the neighbour of Dana Barrett. Dana was the Ghostbusters’ first client because she lived in the Central Park building Ivo Shandor built decades earlier. It was her apartment where Gozer’s minions first began to show themselves. She was briefly romantically involved with Venkman before being possessed by the Gatekeeper. Later she had a son named Oscar, who found himself in the middle of the whole Vigo business.

What else should I know about Ghostbusters?

Image: Sony Pictures Image: Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is filled with references and nods to many of the things above, both big and small, but there are a lot of curious Easter eggs too. For example, it might be good to remember what candy Egon liked or what Louis wore on his head and definitely the brand of marshmallows. There’s much, much, more too, but you’ll have to wait until Ghostbusters: Afterlife is released on January 1, 2022, to find out.


We will of course update you if anything changes. But in the meantime, why not check out all the sci-fi, horror and fantasy films coming our way.