Ghostbusters: Afterlife‘s VFX team has revealed that the film’s mini-Stay Pufts sequence was inspired by the 1984 Joe Dante hit, Gremlins. It took over thirty years for a third installment of the beloved Ghostbusters franchise to finally arrive, and once it did, writer/director Jason Reitman made sure to include plenty of references to the first two films, while also connecting them to Afterlife in a way that felt grounded in the franchise’s legacy.
While the latest Ghostbusters film hasn’t necessarily found widespread acceptance among diehard fans of the franchise, there’s no denying that certain elements of it were hard to resist. Among these is the moment that audiences were able to see a return of one of the series’ most iconic villains, the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. The last time the sugary tyrant was seen facing off against the Ghostbusters was in the original 1984 film, as New York City quite became literally became Stay-Puft’s stomping grounds. Despite the fact that the character was undoubtedly a villain, fans took an immediate liking to him, and in the years since, the character became somewhat emblematic of the franchise – despite being blown to smithereens by multiple proton blasts from the Ghostbusters. In Afterlife, the character was reborn as a small army of tiny Stay-Pufts, who ran rampant in a local grocery store.
Recently, the VFX team from Ghostbusters: Afterlife spoke to Variety about their inspiration behind the mini Stay-Pufts’ rampage, revealing that the sequence took its cues from the chaotic nature of the choreography found in Gremlins. That film was released in the same year as the original Ghostbusters was, and the end goal with the mini Stay-Pufts was to imbue them with the same sort of “gruesome, evil, infantile, savage, unhinged and funny” qualities found in the troublesome green creatures that terrorized the small town of Kingston Falls. As Variety reports, VFX supervisor Pier Lefebvre explained the memorable Afterlife sequence, saying:
“In our dailies sessions with director Jason Reitman and production supervisor Alessandro Ongaro, our team was encouraged to bring their own ideas to the table. I think the choreography was the perfect combination of gruesome, evil, infantile, savage, unhinged and funny, all while bringing personality to each marshmallow. Our inspiration for the scene included the 1984 movie ‘Gremlins,’ released the same year as the original ‘Ghostbusters.’”
The VFX team was also very particular about not just creating an army of mini Stay-Pufts and then leaving it at that. The marshmallows were hand-animated, and much effort was put into the process to ensure that each marshmallow was given its own personality. In addition to using Gremlins as a point of reference for the Stay-Pufts’ behavior, the VFX team also looked at the movements and behavior of toddlers in order to borrow some of that for the movements of the marshmallows. The end result is something that very much does mirror toddler behavior, while also maintaining the uproarious personas of the Gremlins.
All in all, Ghostbusters: Afterlife may not be a perfect film, and there’s no possible way it could ever have been expected to outdo the original, but there’s still plenty of reason for fans to be satisfied with this official third entry in the series. Exactly what the future holds for possible Ghostbusters sequels is hard to say. But seeing how carefully certain aspects of Ghostbusters: Afterlife were handled and how genuinely pleasing it was to have so many elements return, should provide fans with confidence that the franchise is headed in the right direction.
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- Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)Release date: Nov 19, 2021
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