Since they're still not particularly common outside of superhero films, it's likely that a fair number of people ended up only seeing it because the closing credits -- the music, the animation, just everything -- were compelling in and of themselves, likely holding people in their seats for longer than they ordinarily might have stayed.
Following the end of the credits (and the "For Harold Ramis" tag that made me smile ear to ear), the movie headed back to Ghostbusters HQ, where the team was working on some new tech. Patty (Leslie Jones) sat at a table listening to a pair of headphones referenced earlier in the film as being hooked up to recordings of purported EVP.
EVP is electronic voice phenomenon, a controversial but widely-reported idea that paranormal activity can be picked up by some recording devices. About ten years ago, EVP seemed to hit its mainstream-media zenith with weekly use on the reality show Paranormal State and the Michael Keaton-led horror movie White Noise. Since most EVP was ostensibly found in background noise or static, the increased use of digital recording technology has reduced the popularity of EVP. You can see them using audiotape rather than digital recording devices in the film.
But, of course, it's what the voice on the EVP actually said that's more interesting.
If you want, feel free to watch me explain this on the Facebook page for the Emerald City Video podcast. Otherwise, a full explanation resumes below the video:
Patty asks the group "Who's 'Zuul?'" -- a question that the group doesn't have an answer to. It's likely meant to set up a prospective sequel or two, but even if that isn't the case, it's a name with big implications for Ghostbusters fans.
In the original Ghostbusters, the "big bad" was Gozer, described in Tobin's Spirit Guide as an "exiled Sumerian deity of destruction." Also worshiped by Mesopotamians and Hittites, Gozer was believed to be the deity that would eventually bring about the end of the world.
Gozer had a pair of emissaries, Vinz Clortho and Zuul, who would "pave the way for [Gozer] the Destructor's coming," per Tobin's. Sometimes called "terror dogs," the minions could travel between dimensions. When the time came for Gozer to come to Earth, first Zuul and then Vinz Clortho came to Earth and possessed human hosts.
Zuul possessed the form of Dana Barrett, the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1984 film; it was her call to the Ghostbusters that brought the foursome face to face with the world of Gozer.
(Vinz Clortho possessed Louis Tully, a man who lived in Dana's apartment building and who would later date the Ghostbusters' receptionist Janine.)
Zuul's first mention in the classic film was when Dana opened up her refrigerator after seeing mysterious light emanating from around it. She found a bizarre tableau which would be recreated in the film's final battle, and a tiny version of Zuul looked at her and spoke its own name.
While that's not technically an EVP, it isn't too far removed from it, being that Zuul was reaching out to Dana through technology.
Of course, the likely reason that Zuul's name was used rather than Gozer's is the incredibly quotable "there is no Dana, only Zuul" line that Sigourney Weaver's character growls out when Ghostbuster Peter Venkmann tries to get the possessed Dana's attention during a date.0comments
You can get a copy of Tobin's Spirit Guide, written by longtime Ghostbusters comic scribe Erik Burnham, here.
Ghostbusters is in theaters now.