Ever since the release of the first Ghostbusters movie back in 1984, one question has remained unanswered among fans of paranormal investigation and extermination service: just what in the holy hell is Slimer?
That might sound a little dumb – plenty of theories have been put forward – but few have offered a definitive explanation as to why Slimer even exists.
Is he the ghost of a specific person? Is he just a floating head with arms? Was there a time when he was a living breathing person.
Whatever the case, 32 years on and with Slimer [spoiler alert] featuring in the most recent update, it’s high time someone examined the evidence and various theories surrounding this ghoulish and super-slimy big screen presence.
During pre-production on the movie the late Harold Ramis reportedly remarked that Slimer was supposed to like the “Bluto” character of Ghostbusters.
To the uninitiated, Bluto was the character played by the late John Belushi in comedy classic Animal House. With Dan Aykroyd also labelling the character as “the Ghost of John Belushi” there is plenty to back up this theory. The way he consumes food, for example, is uncannily similar.
He’s loads of people
One of the problems with believing the Bluto theory, however, is that Aykroyd has appeared to contradict it on several occasions, despite being the guy that actually wrote the film. To his way of thinking Slimer is a vapour, an accumulation of spirits, that haunt the Sedgewick Hotel rather than one individual ghost. Hmmm.
He’s a hungry ghost
According to Thelma Moss of the UCLA Parapsychology department, Slimer fits all the traits associated with a type of haunting also described as “hungry ghosts”. These apparitions reportedly consume large quantities of food in night-time periods. Sounds more like hungry people to us.
He’s a king
Interestingly, the Real Ghostbusters posits a very different version of events in which Slimer is actually the ghost of someone called King Remils, a monarch who spent much of his life sat on the throne…er…eating.
In the comic, Peter Venkman is sent back in time and encounters the King with the story seeing the lone Ghostbuster attempting to get King Remils to change his ways. He fails.
He’s just a fat bloke
The NOW Comics annual from 1992 suggests a simpler tale in which Slimer was once a man who was extremely greedy and obese. After dying he forgot his name, his life and pretty much everything he had ever known. Except the urge to eat. Depressing.
He’s Ned Beatty
Alright, there will be some who are skeptical about this but ever since hearing some bloke down the pub explaining it, it felt right to include it.
Have you ever seen a human being that looked like Slimer? The answer is yes: his name is Ned Beatty and he’s the star of such films as Superman and Deliverance. He’s also a dead ringer for Slimer – surely that can’t just be coincidence? Oh wait, it can.
He’s… an old Italian?
The most recent theory comes from the 2016 reboot of the franchise in which Slimer is purported to be some kind of deceased Italian gangster. In one draft of the script there was even a scene in which viewers learn why Slimer appears as he does, with the writer Katie Dippold telling Cinemablend: “There was even a scene once where they are battling an old Italian ghost, but they’re still figuring out the proton packs. So when they fire at it, he just becomes Slimer.”
Ultimately cut from the final movie, the explanation does at least account for Slimer’s strange body shape.
Slimer was someone who clearly lived life to excess, whatever origin story you care to believe.
A lover of food, he may also have been a criminal or, at the very least, a massive pain in the arse.
Given that he lacks the ability to communicate, the idea that he’s forgotten pretty much everything other than the ability to stuff his face kind of rings true. Oh and he totally looks like Ned Beatty.