Ghostbusters reboot used animatronic Slimer puppets that were never meant to be seen

Given the amount of controversy that somehow still surrounds Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, one aspect that rarely ever is discussed is the film’s special effects, which offer a blend of both practical and CGI to bring to life the colorful, ghost-filled New York City.

Given the three-decade gap between the original film and the reboot, a lot changed, with CGI eventually becoming the most common and easiest way of attaining a needed special effect shot in big-budget Hollywood films.

Slimer puppeteer Mark Bryan Wilson (Ghostbusters – 1984)

Looking at the original Ghostbusters, it’s pretty astonishing what was achieved, which saw the creations of iconic characters, such as The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Gozer’s Terror Dogs, along with the eventual series mascot, Slimer, all coming to life on film through the use of puppeteers, a style that would return in the ’89 sequel.

Puppeteer Robin Shelby inside the Slimer costume (Ghostbusters II – 1989)

When Paul Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold sat down to plan the reboot, they made a list of things you need in a Ghostbusters film. These included things like Proton Packs, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Ecto-1, and of course, Slimer.

Credit: Columbia Pictures Ghost Corps

Unlike the first two films, Slimer’s appearance in the reboot is entirely CGI, and while the effect does look good, in fact, he’s likely one of the most eye-catching ghost characters, ditching the puppet loses some of the spud’s charm.

What you might find surprising is a Slimer puppet was made for Ghostbusters 2016, which was never meant to be seen, instead used simply as a stand-in, giving the cast something to react to and as a movement reference.

Prop studio, The Character Shop, headed by Rick Lazzarini, who had worked on Ghostbusters II, was hired to take on the task, with their incarnation of Slimer featuring a highly detailed design, along with animatronics that controlled the key features found on the face, and his tongue.

Given the decision to go CGI, it’s a bit surprising to learn how good this Slimer puppet looks, with some even preferring him over what was eventually seen in the film.

If you’ve watched the reboot, you’ll know that Slimer wasn’t alone, being joined by Mrs. Slimer, who, once again, had a physical puppet counter-part made, complete with trademark bow and red lipstick!

The partnership between Sony and The Character Shop did end on a sour note. Sony failed to credit the team for their work, leaving them off the credits of the theatrical release, which prompted Lazzarini to call out the omission and thank his team.

As pointed out by Ghostbusters News Facebook follower Dan Thomas, a VERY similar-looking Slimer can be seen in Quickbooks Ghostbusters-themed ad campaign from 2019. The commercials included Annie Potts playing the role of Janine Melnitz alongside the disgusting green blob.

Given Slimer’s appearance in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, we want to know which one you prefer? Be sure to swing by the Ghostbusters News Facebook page and let us know!

Jason Fitzsimmons

Jason Fitzsimmons

Writer, editor and YouTube personality. Feel free to reach out if you have news or would just like to drop me a line.

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"Ghostbusters" and "Ghost-Design" are registered Trademarks of Columbia Pictures Ghost Corps (Sony Pictures)