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Ghostbusters Was Inspired By These Real-Life Paranormal Investigators

While arguments can be made, it might be hard to find a more universally adored comedy from the 1980s than "Ghostbusters." Released in summer 1984, the film finds Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson portraying a rag-tag group of paranormal researchers who go into business as a paranormal police squad. Boasting a unique blend of slapstick thrills, eerie chills, groundbreaking special effects, and almost wall-to-wall action, "Ghostbusters" went on to become not only one of the best-reviewed movies of the year (via Rotten Tomatoes) but also the second-highest-grossing film of 1984 (via Box Office Mojo).

These days, of course, "Ghostbusters" is seen as a generational event film that continues to be shared, sequel-ized, and rebooted for modern audiences. It's also the project many believe made legit movie stars of both Murray and Aykroyd. You may not realize it, but Aykroyd actually played a key role in bringing "Ghostbusters" to the big screen, co-writing the screenplay alongside Ramis. And as hard as it might be to believe, Aykroyd was inspired to pen "Ghostbusters" in part after hearing stories from real-life paranormal investigators.

Dan Aykroyd's family has a long history of paranormal investigation

You read that right — "Ghostbusters" is partially inspired by true stories from paranormal researchers. In an even more surprising twist of fate, the stories that planted the seeds for the iconic comedy in Dan Aykroyd's head came largely from his own family lore. The legendary comedian admitted as much in a 2010 interview on Canadian radio program "Q" while promoting the book "A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters" alongside his father, Peter Aykroyd, who co-wrote it with Angela Narth. Aykroyd, meanwhile, wrote the foreword.

And yes, the jumping-off point for the book is the Aykroyd family's own history with paranormal investigation, using Samuel Aykroyd's (Dan's great-grandfather) séance journals as one of its sources. Though the current generation of Aykroyds doesn't actively take part in such investigations, Dan Aykroyd makes it clear that he's still very much a believer and that belief in the supernatural was indeed a part of his upbringing, claiming, "The whole family was sort of steeped in this kind of just accepted fact that spirits do exist."

According to Aykroyd, that belief helped inspire early drafts of his paranormal blockbuster: "So that, combined with an article in the 'ASPR' journal about quantum physics and parapsychology and my love of old ghost movies ... sort of married together to produce the first draft of 'Ghostbusters.'" And that makes "Ghostbusters" one of the least likely "based on true events" hits of this, or any, era.