Don't get me wrong: I appreciate every attempt (well, for the most part I do). My point has always been that humor is a difficult concept, that what's funny varies widely from person-to-person, and that sometimes jokes fall flat as audiences are already psychologically working a 'suspension of disbelief' in order to accept whatever premise the genre project deals with. I'd almost suggest that it's easier to leave the comedy aside and focus on what remains.
But, thankfully, some directors truly have a handle on the two themes working in unison; and I think Ivan Reitman was one of the greats. He was able to martial the talents of Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Murray to bring not one but two Ghostbusters projects to cinematic life (sorry, folks, but I gotta be honest and admit that I hated the second one), setting that veritable franchise on the path to greatness that its worldwide fans always knew it could achieve.
Perhaps some of the man's ease at combining material with humor is owed to the fact that he worked with Murray previously on two comic gems: Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981) were definitely crowd-pleasing films, so having those trips to the silver screen in one's tool bag certainly put the man in good stead. I can't tell you the number of times I've watched both of those -- especially back in the day -- and they're brilliant comedies.
Still, Reitman's contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy don't stop there.
As a producer, he helped no less than Horror master David Cronenberg bring his Shivers (1975) to chilling fruition. The two followed that curious project up with another, Rabid, in 1977. In 1981, he produced Heavy Metal, the big screen anthology-style adaptation of the popular comic book of the age, one that combined stories of Horror, SciFi, and Fantasy for audiences hungry for that kind of thing. In 1983, he turned his eyes toward getting Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone in front of audiences; and those of us who discovered the flick's B-Movie charm still love the tale today.
Last -- but certainly not least -- I think it bears mentioning that he joined forces with his son, Jason Reitman, to bring one of 2021's best silver screen surprises to life with Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The film -- unlike his previous work on the failed 2016 reboot -- returned the franchise to the place it always should've been. Fans of the franchise owe the man a debt of gratitude that will never be repaid. What a way to go out on an illustrious career.
Alas, none of us lasts forever; and word reached me this morning of his passing. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ivan Reitman. May they find a bit of peace knowing what great joy he brought to so many with his time on Earth.