Like many prescient minds before him, writer/director/awesome guy Harold Ramis foresaw a future where a website like Giant Freakin’ Robot could exist, as evidenced by Egon Spengler’s claim to Janine that “Print is dead.” His death yesterday, at age 69, was a huge blow to the psyches of anyone who lived through his heyday during the late 1970s and 1980s, when it seemed like he was the funniest person on the planet. It all culminated in 1993’s Groundhog Day, widely considered one of the smartest and most well-conceived comedies ever to exist. Obviously Ghostbusters is his greatest achievement within science fiction, but what of Ramis’ other forays into the genre?
Ramis got his big break on the hilarious Canadian sketch comedy series SCTV, where both his writing and on-screen talents were on display. Relive his stint as Dr. Bradley Omar, the science fact bringer who scoffs at the futuristic worlds of Jules Verne and questions why the telephones of the 1950s don’t even have push buttons yet. In the video below, he plays the host of sci-fi series Galaxy 66, which showcases the adventures of space travelers Micron and Antaur.
Before he even got Ghostbusters, which was made with director Ivan Reitman and co-writer/co-star Dan Aykroyd, Ramis lent his voice to two films in differing capacities. For Gerald Potterton’s over-the-top 1981 animated anthology Heavy Metal, Ramis played an alien named Zeke who really knows how to party. Don’t let this guy get near the flour after you watch the clip below.
Next up was 1983’s stinker Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, in which Ramis played the voice of the intercom system. Is it a coincidence that Ernie Hudson also happened to star in this one? Perhaps. Not quite as malicious as HAL 9000 and less sexually overt than Scarlett Johansson’s OS in Her, Ramis’ omniscient and uncredited voice is as authoritative as it needs to be to deliver this kind of information. The video below features a short scene where he can be heard.
And though Ramis didn’t star in it, who can forget Michael Keaton’s cloning shenanigans in the humorous but non-classic 1996 comedy Multiplicity, directed by Ramis and scripted in part by Animal House co-writer Chris Miller. I probably need to watch this again, as I remember Keaton’s exceedingly moronic clone made me laugh my ass off when I first saw it. One of the better gags in the movie can be seen below, as Dumb Doug tries to figure out pizza.
It’s unfortunate that Ramis stayed away from the genre for most of his later career, as his ripe mind appeared wasted on films like Analyze That and Year One, with which he could have reclaimed the comedic throne had it not been so goddamned stupid. Luckily, Ghostbusters fans who weren’t too keen on seeing a Ghostbusters 3 reunion got to experience Egon in a different light for 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game from Columbia and Terminal Reality. Not only did Ramis co-write the game with Aykroyd and others, but he returned to voice Egon (he other three Ghosbusters lent their voices to the game as well). In case you haven’t played the game, or never got around to finishing it, some wonderful YouTuber has edited together all of the game’s cut scenes into a full-length film. Plot holes may occur. [It’s not very long and totally worth playing, btw. – Ed.]
And with that, a legacy is left stagnating, never to be added to again. It’s entirely depressing and we at GFR can only hope that screenwriters and directors of the future look to Ramis’ work for inspiration, rather than as something they think they can better. Because they can’t. R.I.P. Harold Ramis. Here’s hoping your god is as funny as Bill Murray’s.
P.S. Much love and respect to the men and women at Ladder 8, the firehouse where part of the Ghostbuster films were made, for paying their respects in the greatest way possible. By hanging a sign and allowing a fan-built Twinkie memorial. (Update: Turns out the sign picture is old, not related to Ramis’ death. Fans are, however leaving flowers and tributes to Ramis in front of the firehouse.)
Header art by deviantARTist ninjaink.