Though the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was met with scorn and derision from the moment it was announced, and despite the fact that its trailer has been named the “most disliked” trailer ever on YouTube, audiences have been raving about the new Ghostbusters. Featuring some of the world’s funniest comedians, Ghostbusters tells the story of four nerdy women who band together to catch some ghosts and ultimately save Manhattan, all while telling off the bullied-turned-bullying villain and rescuing an unlikely damsel-in-distress. Starring dream-team Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, the film is a wild ride from start to finish and leaves audiences wanting to do it over and over again.
But while we were all on this wild ride and laughing our collective butts off, a few things were bound to slip past us. Small nods to the original 1984 Ghostbusters and to the actors in that film were abundant, and many of these small nods were “blink and you’ll miss it” moments. For example, while you probably noticed and were thrilled by the cameos of (spoiler alert) Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and even our old buddy Slimer, you probably didn’t realize that the pipe “Rowan-as-Abby” uses to smash Holtzmann’s equipment is actually a piece of the Delorean from Back to the Future, or that Slimer’s joyride with a blonde and female Slimer was meant to emulate the late John Belushi’s joyride with a hot blonde at the end of Animal House. Even for those of us who have seen the film more than once, there are a lot of things that we didn’t initially notice. So we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of the 16 little nods you probably didn’t pick up on; whether you’ve already seen the movie, are planning to see it, or both, these moments are sure to make you smile.
Fair warning that there are heavy spoilers in this article, so take caution when reading and sharing!
16. The Higgins Institute Is Named After Steve Higgins
The Higgins Institute where Abby and Holtzmann work is named after Steve Higgins, the actor who plays the very unprofessional Dean Thomas Shanks. In a brief but memorable appearance, Higgins fires Abby and Holtzmann by informing them that he forgot their department existed, telling them to suck it, and offering several versions of the middle finger until they get the message. On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where Higgins acts as MC, he says that they did 72 takes of him shooting the bird. Higgins is also a writer and producer for SNL, a connection shared by many of the cast, both from the original movie and this year’s remake. Higgins worked with Fallon on Late Night before moving along to the coveted Tonight Show slot with him.
15. Holtzmann’s First Name May Be An Homage
Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann, aside from being one of the coolest characters in cinematic history, stole the heart of almost every gay girl who went to see the movie. This is especially interesting as Kate McKinnon has described herself as “98.5% lesbian” and admitted that she first made the realization that she was attracted to women when watching The X-Files’ Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson. While this may be pure coincidence, it seems more likely that McKinnon’s character was specifically named for the woman who gave Kate her gay awakening; just as hundreds of girls in the ’90s had their own awakening over Dana Scully, hundreds more are having their own over Jillian Holtzmann.
14. Leslie Jones Hasn’t Always Worked For The MTA
Patty Tolan not only seems like a seasoned MTA veteran, but she genuinely enjoys her job; Patty compliments and attempts to make conversation with the passing commuters (even when they’re being creepy and warning her about the Fourth Cataclysm). Fans of Leslie Jones will know that this wasn’t always the case. In Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, there’s a scene where Schumer is stuck on the subway. She asks the woman standing next to her why the train is stalled and the woman, played by Leslie Jones of course, says, “Do I look like I work for the MTA?” Perhaps the woman was Patty Tolan before she became an MTA employee. In any case, it’s pretty funny stuff when you can catch these sorts of coincidences (or outright nods to each other) in films.
13. Books And Babies Really Can Fly
Early on in the film, Erin and Abby’s reunion devolves into a conversation that gets away from them. Getting too wrapped up in a metaphor, Erin says, “Books can’t fly, and neither can babies.” Fans of the 1984 Ghostbusters and also Ghostbusters II will know that in these movies, ghosts cause books and babies to fly–or at least levitate. While this is more than likely the result of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy improvising and riffing off each other, the line is still funny to anyone who remembers the library scene in the 1984 Ghostbusters, as well as the kidnapping of Oscar in Ghostbusters II. Ghostbusters II came out in 1989 and starred pretty much the entire original cast and was written by the same team as the first movie. It got pretty bad reviews at the time but was still a box office hit.
12. The Soundtrack Is Dope
Okay, you probably already noticed this, but the soundtrack is worth talking about. Not only does it feature awesome instrumentals by Theodore Shapiro, but a ton of musicians pitched in to make what promises to be an excellent party playlist. G-Eazy, Jeremih, Elle King, 5 Seconds of Summer, ZAYN, Wolf Alice, Mark Ronson, Passion Pit, and A$AP Ferg all show up in the soundtrack, as well as DMX’s “Party Up (Up In Here)” and Muddy Magnolias’ “American Women”. The Beasts of Mayhem even show up to perform “Want Some More” at the metal concert, and let’s not forget Holtzmann seducing Erin (and the audience) with “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge (not, as Holtzmann thought, Devo). The Ghostbusters theme is covered by Pentatonix, WALK THE MOON, and even Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott in a remix that will blow your mind.
11. The Hotel Is Very, Very Haunted
The Mercado Hotel, where the ghostbusters are summoned and eventually discover Rowan’s lab, is definitely full of ghosts from the fourth cataclysm, but that isn’t the only reason it’s haunted. Observant horror fans may recognize the hotel from another franchise; it is the same hotel used in American Horror Story: Hotel. New York City’s Mercado by day and Los Angeles’s The Cortez by night (or something like that), the hotel has seen its share of spooks.
10. Casper The Not-So-Friendly Ghost
Bill Murray’s cameo in this film is brilliant; his role in the 1984 Ghostbusters as a skeptic-turned-believer is paid due tribute in the character of Martin Heiss (or as Kevin calls him, “Smartin Christ”). Heiss is a famous “debunker”, someone who seeks to prove that the paranormal does not exist. After convincing Erin to show him the ghost they caught at the Stone Theater, Erin opens the containment unit and Heiss leans forward to snarkily ask, “Casper? Are you there?” Dan Aykroyd made a brief cameo in the 1995 Casper movie as his Ghostbusters character Ray Stantz in full jumpsuit and proton pack. Casper is one of the more well-known and generic ghosts, but we can’t help feeling that the reference was on purpose.
9. Dana Barrett and Vinz Clortho Have Cameos
No, it’s true! Though incredibly hard to find, maybe you can pick it out on your fifth or sixth viewing. The containment unit shown near the end of the film reads “D. Barrett” and “V. Clortho”. Dana Barrett was Sigourney Weaver’s character in the 1984 movie while Vinz Clortho is the Keymaster, an entity that possesses Rick Moranis’s character, Louis Tully, in the same film. As Sigourney Weaver makes a cameo as Holtzmann’s mentor, Rebecca Gorin, it seems unlikely that Dana Barrett is going to show up in any sequels. As for the Keymaster, well, just read point number 1! Ghostbusters helped make Rick Moranis a star as his performance was so memorable. He would go on to star in movies like Spaceballs and the “Honey, I Shrunk/Blew Up, etc. The Kids” franchise.
8. Holtzmann’s Proton Pack
You were probably too busy screaming over Holtzmann’s fight scene near the end of the film to notice, and let’s face it, you’re not going to pay close enough attention next time you watch it. On the off chance you don’t get distracted by Holtzmann’s sick moves, try to get a look at her proton pack. The number 1984 can be just barely seen–one of many homages to the 1984 Ghostbusters. Some fans have even noticed that her proton pack in promo pictures has the number 2206, the same number as Dana Barrett’s haunted apartment. There’s no way that’s just a coincidence, especially considering how haunted Dana’s building was!
7. Slimer Is Having The Time Of His Life
After watching Slimer and his girlfriend whizz by in the Ecto-1, Abby sourly comments, “Well, that thing is having the time of its life.” Earlier in the movie, Abby and the other ghostbusters have a lively discussion about their favorite Patrick Swayze movies, including Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing features the hit song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”, the song to which Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey dance and make the famous lift. Abby may have been intentionally referencing their love of Patrick Swayze’s body of work. Or it may just be that Slimer really is having the time of his (its) life.
6. Harold Ramis’s Bust
It was hard not to notice the cameos of Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver, but they weren’t the only members of the 1984 cast to make an appearance. Harold Ramis, who played the infamous Egon in the original, has a brief appearance too. When Charles Dance leaves Erin’s office at Columbia, you can see a bronze bust. That bust is of Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014 and for whom the film is dedicated. So in a way, Ramis did get to be in the new movie. And it makes sense that the bust would be at Columbia as Egon was the “brainiac” of the original movie. It’s a nice touch that honors the original film while creating a continuity between characters.
5. Daniel Ramis
Not only did Harold Ramis get to be in the new movie, but his son, Daniel, also did. Not an actor himself, Daniel has a brief cameo as one of the patrons of the heavy metal concert at the Stone Theater. His exact appearance is not yet known, but we are told he can be seen when Rowan is entering the theater. Ramis himself made quite a name for himself as a director, helming many hit films and classics like Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Analyze This and more. He was also a prolific screenwriter whose credits include the original Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.
4. Rowan’s Award
The film easily establishes that Rowan is at least as smart as the ghostbusters, but set designers went the extra mile. Hanging on the wall of Rowan’s creepy little basement-dwelling is a Hughes Medal, which is a real award! The Hughes Medal is given out biennially by the Royal Society of London “in recognition of an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly electricity and magnetism or their applications.” With this accomplishment under his belt, we have to wonder why Rowan ended up as a janitor–a cover, perhaps? Or the only job his slimy personality would get him? Or a job that was the perfect cover? The answer is out there somewhere.
3. Kevin Is Smarter Than You Think
Well, okay, not really–Kevin is still as dumb as a pile of rocks. Dumber, perhaps. But, as Abby admitted, his work is very cerebral. When interviewing for the receptionist position, Kevin displays a series of suggested logos, all of which are terrible. A fan favorite is the floating hot dog, which is, Kevin says, because a ghost is holding it. The women gaze at him in astonishment, but Kevin is not too far off the mark. When the ghostbusters first encounter Slimer, he is…eating hot dogs. So Kevin’s got that going for him.
2. Martin Heiss Is…Alive
The Ghostbusters seem surprisingly calm after watching a ghost throw Martin Heiss out the window; one would expect them to be freaking out, but instead they are fixated on Patrick Swayze (I mean, who isn’t?). This makes a lot more sense when you realize that Heiss was not killed. How do we know this? Because he “writes” the new foreword in the revised edition of Ghosts From Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal. The book is actually available for purchase–in addition to Heiss’s foreword, you can read the book written by Abby and Erin when they were twenty-two, Patty’s historical notes, Holtzmann’s scientific notes, and an “epitaph” by Kevin. Plus there is a really rad sketch of Special Agent Fox Mulder of X-Files fame.
1. The Post-Credits Scene
Most people don’t know that there’s a scene after the credits, though how you could walk out during Chris Hemsworth’s dance is astounding. After a series of scenes detailing life after the fourth cataclysm, the audience (should they choose to stay) is treated to Rowan-as-Kevin leading the bewitched legion in a dance. Presumably, this is what has been happening while the Ghostbusters were kicking ghost butt–at least, we like to think so. When the credits finish rolling, there’s a scene of the Ghostbusters hanging out at their new headquarters. Holtzmann shows Erin her nutcracker–which is not for ghosts, as Erin believes, but for crushing walnuts. There’s a sexual pun in there somewhere… Patty is listening to the EVP tape and says she hears something. When the other women ask what she hears, she takes off her headphones and asks, “Who’s Zuul?”
Fans of the 1984 Ghostbusters will of course remember that Zuul is the evil entity that possesses Dana Barrett. Also known as the Gatekeeper, Zuul was closely allied with the Keymaster, Vinz Clortho. This would be a great lead-in to a sequel, one in which the ghostbusters have to deal with Zuul and her overlord, Gozer the Destructor.