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Ivan Reitman Talks “CANNIBAL GIRLS,” Cinépix, Cronenberg and “GHOSTBUSTERS”

Last week, right in the middle of the Toronto International Film Festival, veteran producer and director Ivan Reitman (STRIPES, MEATBALLS, CANNIBAL GIRLS) breezed through town. The same town which, as a boy, his family found a new home and life after fleeing then Czechoslovakia, forgingthe blueprint for the wild path his creative life would take, roads that would lead him to become Hollywood royalty.

The reason for Reitman’s homecoming was to both support his son Jason’s new film MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN and to promote the digitally re-mastered re-release of his 1984 supernatural comedy masterpiece GHOSTBUSTERS on limited edition Blu-ray and run in theatres across the continent. GHOSTBUSTERS is a landmark special effects cult favorite and it looks outstanding in its new, sharply upgraded edition, inserted in a double disc-package which also includes the underrated Reitman-directed GHOSTBUSTERS II. It’s a must-have release for fans…

Of course, being FANGORIA we were more interested in discussing his first film, CANNIBAL GIRLS and recalling his earliest pioneering work with Canadian exploitation distributor Cinépix, especially considering that this week marks the release of late CINEPIX co-founder John Dunning’s posthumously published autobiography (see news item here).

But we did manage to get some juice on one of GHOSTBUSTERS’ most famous spooks too…

On his years with Cinépix:

I loved John and Andre [Link, Cinépix co-founder]. I’d done CANNIBAL GIRLS myself and they were very impressed and so I started producing with them. CANNIBAL GIRLS was an improvised film. We shot it in nine days and then went back an additional four or five more times to finish it.

We had no money and in fact I was $150,000 in debt when it was over, mainly because we shot it in 35mm. So I managed to get a print struck and I sold it to American International Pictures during Cannes. At around the same time, I started my relationship with John and Andre and decided I should probably be a producer now, not a director, which was probably a mistake and it’s something I’ve talked to Jason about a lot. See, I was an effective producer but what I really wanted to do was direct and CANNIBAL GIRLS was such a painful experience and I did so many stupid things that I think It scared me off directing. But CINEPIX is where I became what I would become, you know.

On David Cronenberg and their first film SHIVERS:

I knew David from Toronto, but it was when he sent John and Andre his script for ORGY OF THE BLOOD PARASITES, which I loved, I really encouraged them to make it and we got it financed and did make it, and the rest is history. I was having dinner with David the other night and we were reminiscing about those days and in particular the one big scene in the pool and all these infected people bobbing around [laughs] …Good times.

On the real identity of GHOSTBUSTERS’ “Slimer”:

Now, John Belushi was originally going to be with Danny [Aykroyd] in his original version of GHOSTBUSTERS, a much bigger, crazier film (with the working title GHOST SMASHERS). Which is not to say it wasn’t a visionary film, but it was too much to produce. Anyway, we all missed him and we all went back to the beginning with him.

He had quite an appetite. The first time I had sushi was with Belushi at this place in Hollywood and I could not believe how he could put this stuff away! You know, when you eat sushi you get this little thing, this box put in front of you, but he would just reach over into my dish and take what he wanted [laughs]. So anyway, when we were making GHOSTBUSTERS, we had created this ghost that we would later call “Slimer” and he had a very large mouth in the renditions we had, so we thought of him as Belushi, but we never really said it officially until the movie’s release…

Will SLIMER come back as a larger presence in the impending GHOSTBUSTERS 3?:

I’m quite certain he will…

GHOSTBUSTERS Limited Edition 2 Disc Blu-ray will be out September 16th, everywhere. Photo: Columbia Pictures, Cineplex

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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