Ghostbusters Wiki
Advertisement
Ghostbusters Wiki


The Electro-Shock Generator was a device that can give anywhere from a minor to major electric shock and was used by Peter Venkman.

History

Primary Canon History

Ghostbusters (1984)

In 1984, in Weaver Hall Room 205 A, Peter started gathering data for his study on the effect of negative reinforcement on ESP ability. Jennifer and a Male Student volunteered for $5 each. Peter explained to them he would take turns with each, turn over a Zener card, and wanted them to concentrate, then tell him what he thought it was. Incorrect guesses would yield an electric shock. They would do this 80 times total. Peter sat on one side of a table. The Male Student and Jennifer sat on the other side. They were wired to electrodes of an electro-shock generator that laid in the middle of the table. He held up the back of the card to them. The card was a star. The male student pressed his left ring and middle finger to the side of his head and guessed it was a square. Peter revealed the card to them and shocked him. Jennifer was squeamish. Peter turned to Jennifer and smiled. Peter told her to clear her head. She smiled. He held up the next card. It was a circle. Peter asked her what she thought it was. The male student watched her. Jennifer asked if it was a star. Peter lied and pretended to be amazed she was correct. She was ecstatic. He held up a card for the male student. He instructed him to think hard. The male student guessed it was a circle. Peter revealed a square then shocked him. Pink gum shot out of his mouth. He grabbed it off the table, put it back in his mouth, and continued chewing. Peter jotted down a note, asked Jennifer is she was ready, and held up the next card for Jennifer. It was a plus sign. He pressed the eraser end of a pencil on the side of his head, smiled, and asked what it was. Jennifer stared at the back of the card. She guessed figure eight. Peter pretended to be surprised again. He remarked she was five for five. He asked if she could see the card. Peter moved the card around and squinted. The male student tried looking from her vantage point. Jennifer smiled and swore she wasn't cheating, the answers were coming to her.

Peter turned to the male student. The male student grabbed at his collar. Peter asked if he was nervous. The male student admitted he was. Peter reminded them they only had 75 more to go. He held up the next card. It had three wavy lines. The male student guessed it was a couple of wavy lines but Peter lied and told him it was wrong. Peter reached for the lever. The male student stuttered. Jennifer looked amused by the tension. Peter winked at her. Peter electrocuted him. The male student got agitated. Peter countered he volunteered and would be paid. The male student pointed out he didn't know Peter was giving the volunteers electric shocks. He asked Peter what he was trying to prove. Peter pressed his hands together and revealed he was studying the effect of negative reinforcement on ESP ability. The male student became irate and screamed the effect was the shocks were pissing him off. Peter stood and countered maybe his theory was correct. The male student ripped the electrodes off his hands, told Peter to keep the five bucks, then he stormed out of the room and slammed the door. Peter yelled he would.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

In June 2021, Dana Barrett subjected Peter to the Electro-Shock Generator in their home in upstate New York.[Note 1] Dana held up the three vertical wavy lines Zener card and asked him what the card was. Peter closed his eyes and concentrated. He saw two then firmly stated he saw three wavy lines. She revealed the card to him and found it amazing. Peter contended she was amazing with her ability to flood his psychic powers. Dana held up another card then brought up how she could not believe he used to shock his students. Peter admitted he only zapped the guys. Dana switched on the generator and Peter got zapped. He admitted he now knew it was flawed science. Dana asked him him if he was ready for the next card. Peter guessed it was the hollow five-pointed star. She placed the card down in amazement and asked how he was doing it. Peter brought up the belief that true love imbues a subject with abilities. She zapped him again and asked him if he marked the cards. He denied it. She repeated the question. He nodded and admitted he did. She zapped him again. He recoiled in pain. Dana tapped the box on both sides and smiled. She declared the machine worked well.

Trivia

  • The electric shocks were inspired by the Milgram experiment.[1][2]
  • Harold Ramis commented the shocks scene spoke volumes about Peter Venkman and set him up as the skeptic of the group.[3]

Notes

  1. According to Eric Reich, of Ghost Corps, during private email correspondence with Ghostbusters Wiki Administrator Mrmichaelt on the day of December 19, 2021, the mid-credit tag takes place in a "new home in upstate NY" occupied by Peter and Dana.

References

  1. Joe Medjuck (2005). Ghostbusters- Commentary (2005) (DVD ts. 02:57-03:00). Columbia TriStar Home Video. Joe Medjuck says: "And this was based on a real experiment, wasn't it, Harold? "
  2. Harold Ramis (2005). Ghostbusters- Commentary (2005) (DVD ts. 03:01-03:17). Columbia TriStar Home Video. Harold Ramis says: "We based it on the Milgram Experiment which was to psych--subjects in a psychological study were instructed to give electrical shocks to people trying to learn a list of words but what they were really testing were the peoples' willingness to give electrical shocks to other people. "
  3. Shay, Don (November 1985). Making Ghostbusters, p. 20 annotation. New York Zoetrope, New York NY USA, ISBN 0918432685. Harold Ramis says: "Our original concept for the scene was to have the ESP test and Venkman reinforcing the girl by telling her she's getting them all right, even when she's not. Then I came up with the added dimension of having him give shocks to the poor nerd -- an idea that was based on a real experiment, were people had to give electric shocks to test people; but the people giving the shocks didn't know that they were the test subjects. The idea was to see how far people would go in giving shocks to other people. I thought that was a very interesting psychological problem, and I loved the notion of the hero of the film giving electric shocks. It has an interesting moral edge for people, and it just seemed like a delightful setup."

Appearances

Primary Canon

Gallery

Primary Canon Images

Behind the Scenes Images

Advertisement