If one thing still holds true after 30 years, if one universal constant still remains, it’s that bustin’ makes us feel good.
Once upon a time, a quartet of unlikely heroes stopped – nay! – busted a battalion of ghouls and ghosts, preventing them from turning New York City into, well, to be honest, a much nicer and friendlier place.
Their first challenge was to defeat a shapeshifting, apocalyptic entity named Gozer. They got covered in goo. Then, a few years later, they vanquished a seemingly-immortal 16th century tyrant using a river of pink slime that had formed in the sewers. They got covered in goo again. Then… these champions vanished. When the gooing got tough, the tough got gooing.
But did you know that phantom menacers Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore were close to having one last ride about 20 years ago? Yes, Ghostbusters creator and star Dan Aykroyd wrote a full Ghostbusters III script, subtitled Hellbent, back in 1999. And the story put the Ghostbusters in the crosshairs of… Satan himself!
Usually, with these Time Capsules, there’s a fun little video component. Nothing like that exists for this particular slice of retrovertigo, but here’s a look at the screenplay in all its “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria” glory…
So then what was Hellbent all about? IGN actually made grabby hands at the screenplay back in 2002 with an exclusive script review. At the time, we didn’t give out too many spoilers, since the movie was only in the sixth concentric circle of Development Hell, but now, with Ghostbusters: Afterlife serving as a direct franchise sequel, we can dig into the Hellbent plot a bit more.
The place? New York City. The people? Still WALKIN HERE!
Hell, which is a darkened mirror version of NYC called “ManHELLton,” has become overstuffed and congested. So much so that, like actual heartless Big Apple landlords, it’s evicting people. Those cursed souls then make their way back into the world of the living. The Ghostbusters, now a few years removed from their museum showdown with Vigo the Carpathian, slip-slide into Hell and confront the Devil – who is presented as a smarmy business mogul named Mr. Sifler. Luke Sifler. Lu-cifer. I think you get it. Don’t get it? It’s Lucifer. Got it now? Good.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer Breakdown
Ghostbusters III isn’t wholly about the main squad however. The original characters only have supporting roles as the story, smartly, set out to set up a new generation of wrath wranglers. In the script we read, Ray and Egon cope with Venkman retiring from the team and leaving with Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett. In the film’s big twist, Venkman then appears as a ghost in the final scenes, having died off-screen (somehow), now existing in a form he once so eagerly busted. The reason Venkman was more marginalized in the Hellbent script was because Bill Murray repeatedly refused to participate in the project and the thought was he might come back if he only had to shoot for a day or two.
The new characters, according to our report, weren’t that impressive. The lead, Franky, is described as “a body-pierced, tough New Jersey punker.” In fact, given the era, the rest of the squad seems suited for background work in Crazy Town’s “Butterfly” video.Alas, this movie never came to pass. Instead, Ghostbusters was rebooted in 2016 by Paul Feig and now, though delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, from Jason Reitman, will serve as a decades-later follow-up to Ghostbusters II. The original surviving cast, except for Rick Moranis, will all appear in some capacity as the new cast — Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd — discover a crucial connection to the ’80s Ghostbusters team in a small Midwest town.
And if you’re clamoring for moving images and synced sound, here’s a trip back to 2009 for IGN’s review of the Ghostbusters video game. Why this project? Well, at the time — with Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson all onboard — this was Ghostbusters III. It’s a direct sequel to the two movies. And while the story isn’t Hellbent, some of the alternate dimension ideas that are featured in the game were based on concepts from that script…