Luke Owen counts down to Pacific Rim by looking back at some of his favourite giant monsters…
Kaiju: The Japanese word for “strange beast”. However, the word Kaiju has been universally translated and defined into English as “monster” or “giant monster”.
Where do giant monsters come from? From beneath the sea? From outer space? From a science lab created by a tortured mind? How about the thoughts of its intended victim?
That’s right, today’s monster came from the mind of Dr Raymond Stanz in the 1984 movie, Ghostbusters. When confronted by Gozer The Gozerian about choosing the form of the Destructor, Ray decided to go against fellow Ghostbuster Peter Venkman’s suggestion of ’emptying their heads’ and instead opted to think of the mascot from a marshmallow company.
He tried to think of the most harmless thing, something from his childhood, something couldn’t ever possibly destroy them – Mr. Stay Puft.
Nice thinking Ray.
What makes Stay Puft such a great giant monster is the fact that he is a childhood figure with a cute design – that also smashes stuff up. It would be like imagining Tony the Tiger or the monkey from Coco Pops being a giant murdering destroyer of worlds. He walks around New York with a wide eyed doughy smile as if he is enjoying the feeling of cars and roads cave beneath his giant feet. Unlike some giant monsters, Mr Stay Puft is more facially expressive with his enjoyment of the destruction caused. When he finally spies the Ghostbusters atop of the apartment block (aka Spook Central), his childlike happy face suddenly turns into that of an evil and determined look. A truly terrifying moment.
And what can stop him?
As he ascends the tower to get his victims, the Ghostbusters blast him with their proton packs to no avail. This flaming former vision of childhood happiness that Ray used to eat round the fire at Camp Wakonda can only be stopped by risking total protantic reversal (where every molecule in your body explodes at the speed of light) to shut the door that Gozer entered in from. Only by doing this, can the Ghostbusters turn Mr. Stay Puft into a shower of marshmallow goodness (warning: can make you feel like the floor of a taxi cab).
Fun fact: in the original script pitch for Ghostbusters (when it was just Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi), Mr. Stay Puft was featured in the early stages of the movie – with bigger things still to come. Thankfully, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman felt (rightly so) that Mr. Stay Puft should be saved until the end of the movie.
Aside from the white ghost in the Ghostbusters logo, Mr Stay Puft is the most recognisable symbol from the franchise. He had a few cameo appearances in the cartoon spin-off The Real Ghostbusters (featuring several containment unit escapes) and he was always used as a boss character in Ghostbusters related video games, except for the Master System game where he bizarrely acts as a guard to the apartment block.
Despite only being on screen for around 10 minutes of the film, Mr. Stay Puft has become not just a Ghotbusters icon, but a movie legend. His design is iconic and that moment when he first walks around the corner will never be forgotten. One of the all-time greats.