by D.W. Lundberg

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


In celebration of last weekend's 30th-anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters (not, thankfully, in 3D), we take a deeper dive into one of the movie's biggest and most memorable gags...

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. You know the name. You know the face. You know the portly, pillowy body. From the moment he stepped onscreen, walking out onto that New York City street to battle the 'busters, Mr. Stay Puft became an instant part of our pop culture lexicon, like a cross between the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Michelin Tire Man. The genius of his conception, though, is how it perfectly captured the spirit of the movie in one glorious iconic image - the promise of the supernatural mixed with gut-busting belly laughs brought to life by larger-than-life special effects. (Even today, three decades later, I can still hear the peals of laughter rippling through the theater when the audience first caught a glimpse of him.)

Part of the fun, of course, is how the gag seems to come out of practically nowhere. But look earlier in the movie and you'll find that the filmmakers had been prepping us for his appearance from the very beginning. Our first visit to Dana Barrett's apartment, for example, shows us that Dana is definitely a fan of the Stay Puft brand, though you may be too distracted by the eggs cracking and cooking on her kitchen counter to notice:

Later, a billboard for Stay Puft Marshmallows can be spotted on a building adjacent to the Ghostbusters' headquarters, after the ghosts have been freed from their containment grid and let loose upon the city:

Sounds like a case of The Rule of Threes, does it not? And the beauty part is, the makers of the movie hardly needed to put themselves through the trouble. The Big Guy's big reveal works well enough on its own that all the subliminal foreshadowing seems almost beside the point. And yet the clues are clearly there, as if a harbinger for the city's imminent doom. I think even Gozer herself would approve.

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