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Album Cover Art
1990 Arista
1998 Bootleg
Album 2 Cover Art
2006 Arista
Album 3 Cover Art
2006 Varèse
Album 4 Cover Art
2019 Sony Classical
Album 5 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Peter Bernstein
David Spear

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony
Labels Icon
(October 25th, 1990)


(February 28th, 2006)

Varèse Sarabande
(March 16th, 2006)

Sony Classical
(May 15th, 2019)
Availability Icon
The song compilations are regular U.S. releases, with several various re-pressings of the original Arista album containing the same music with slightly different cover art. The 'Lincoln' bootleg was widely traded on the secondary market but holds little value after the 2006 release of the score by Varèse Sarabande in their Club series. 3,000 copies of the $20 Club CD were manufactured and were available only through soundtrack specialty outlets before selling out. The 2019 Sony score-only album is a regular commercial product, with a vinyl option available.
The song "Ghostbusters" won a BAFTA Award and was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. The score was nominated for a Grammy Award
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the 2006 Varèse Sarabande album for the most well-rounded, albeit incomplete presentation of Elmer Bernstein's quirky score.

Avoid it... on the score-only albums if you're among most mainstream listeners who want only the songs, in which case the 2006 Arista re-release is for you.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 3/31/06, REVISED 11/8/20
Ghostbusters: (Elmer Bernstein) Among the triumphs of director Ivan Reitman is the undeniably funny Ghostbusters, arguably the best that Harold Ramis and Saturday Night Live alums Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray ever put to screen. From its unforgettable logo to its title song by Ray Parker Jr., Ghostbusters ran circles around Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the box office in 1984, reaching earnings of over $200 million after initial studio panic over its bloated $32 million budget. For fans of paranormal comedies, Ghostbusters can't go wrong, with a plotline of 1980's New York serving as a focal point for the return of supernatural demons from another dimension. The city relies on a group of nerdy pseudo-scientists to save them from their chosen destruction at the hands of Zuul, Gozer the Gozerian, and, of course, the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. (The suggestion of J. Edgar Hoover as the form of the destructor must have been awfully tempting, too). Everyone wanted a piece of the Ghostbusters pie, and aside from the sequel a few years later (still a successful venture, but not astronomically so), the rights to the concept, the logo, and the title song were all embroiled in legal wrangling for a decade after the initial film's release. One aspect of the film that slipped by quietly without much notice was its underscore, and Reitman didn't have to call to a parallel dimension to find a composer. A somewhat unintentionally skilled comedy master of the early 1980's, Elmer Bernstein had already collaborated with Reitman half a dozen times, and he was assigned to Ghostbusters before any of the actors had been signed. Given his effectiveness in similar projects of the era and genre, the choice was never questioned, but as was an emerging case with many films of the 1980's, portions of the score were dumped in favor of pop songs. Ghostbusters went from being a score-only affair in Bernstein's original assignment to a film famous for its chart-topping songs and subsequent song album. With an Academy Award nomination for the title song and gold status for the pop album, Bernstein's score faded into obscurity.

Typically, such treatment of effective music from a veteran composer is reason for mutiny from film score collectors. But with Ghostbusters, despite the status of Bernstein, a rare situation occurred where the film was, in the end, better served with the songs in various places than it would have been with strictly the score. Bernstein disagreed, of course, conceding only that the title song by Parker was warranted. And indeed, there were a few questionable song usages in the film, especially in the latter half. The use of Mick Smiley's lethargic "Magic" in the scene during which the ghosts escape the protection grid and fly over New York to Gozer's arrival seems out of place to this day, completely sucking the sequence dry of its power and sense of impending doom. (The rejected score cue for this scene would have been suitable for a Godzilla film.) Interestingly, in cues during which we hear solid usage of songs, such as "Cleanin' Up the Town" at the outset and "Savin' the Day" during the heroes' triumphs, Bernstein's score called for a rock version of his quirky piano-based title theme. In fact, this disco-rock version was recorded for several scenes, but often became the casualty of song placements in the film. While Bernstein was understandably frustrated with this loss, his disco-inspired music really, in all honesty, wasn't as cool as the songs. The most thankful lifting of his music was during the opening title (after the first nasty little incident in the library), during which a rather tepid, instrumentally sparse performance of Bernstein's main theme was replaced with a rousing preview of Parker's song. In almost every case, Bernstein's score wasn't going to succeed when he attempted to play it cool with contemporary stylings, instead playing best in the film when either extending the comedy through his quirky main theme or providing straight horror crescendos later in the story. The lurching, care-free structure and orchestration of the main theme, though absolutely perfect for the nerdy element of the story, doesn't translate well into large-scale performances of gothic menace or outright action. After all was said and done, Bernstein would declare himself done with the comedy genre by the time the sequel was proposed, and he opted out of the franchise.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.47 Stars
***** 102 5 Stars
**** 109 4 Stars
*** 103 3 Stars
** 57 2 Stars
* 32 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1990 Arista Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 37:38
• 1. Ghostbusters - performed by Ray Parker Jr. (4:03)
• 2. Cleanin' Up the Town - performed by The Bus Boys (2:58)
• 3. Savin' the Day - performed by Alessi Brothers (3:21)
• 4. In the Name of Love - performed by The Thompson Twins (3:18)
• 5. I Can Wait Forever - performed by Air Supply (5:07)
• 6. Hot Night - performed by Laura Branigan (3:18)
• 7. Magic - performed by Mick Smiley (4:18)
• 8. Main Title Theme from "Ghostbusters"* (2:58)
• 9. Dana's Theme* (3:30)
• 10. Ghostbusters (Instrumental Version) - performed by Ray Parker Jr. (4:47)
* score track by Elmer Bernstein
1998 'Lincoln' Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 59:46
2006 Arista/Legacy Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 55:04
2006 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 68:55
2019 Sony Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 60:55

Notes Icon
The 2006 albums both include information about the score and film. The Arista/Legacy song compilation album features poor packaging, with the liner notes arranged backwards on adjacent pages and containing several uncharacteristic errors (perhaps typos) by veteran soundtrack writer Didier C. Deutsch. No information about the score exists in those notes. The Varèse Sarabande album contains the usual high-quality level of information about both the film and score, including excerpts from interviews with Bernstein himself. The 2019 Sony album's insert contains a list of performers and a note from the composer's son, Peter Bernstein, though the product also sadly makes use of doctored photos that remove recognizable brand logos, a continuing problem with more recent stills from this movie.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Ghostbusters are Copyright © 1990, 1998, 2006, 2019, Arista, Bootleg, Arista/Legacy, Varèse Sarabande, Sony Classical and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/31/06 and last updated 11/8/20.
I decided many years ago that if Gozer the Traveler were to come from the fourth dimension and ask me to choose the form of The Destructor, I'd go with a giant Slor or a large and moving Torg just out of mere curiosity.
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