I remember the first time I saw "Ghostbusters". As I sat in front of my TV, laughing at Rick Moranis' geeky pursuit of Sigourney Weaver, and at Bill Murray's interaction with an apparition with an enormous appetite ("He slimed me!"), I wondered why scary stuff always makes comedy that much funnier.
I was already a fan of the old Abbott and Costello comedy-horror films. Films like "Hold That Ghost" and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".
A modern-day equivalent of that type of "laughing in the dark" comedy team might very well be Dipper and Mabel from the delightful "Gravity Falls".
But "Ghostbusters" created a new kind of horror-comedy - one where the protagonists don't just scream and run when encountering a phantasm (a formula the venerable "Scooby-Doo" has done to perfection - or perdition, depending on how you look at it) - but aggressively seek it out and fight it, even if that phantasm turns out to be several stories tall and made of malicious marshmallow. It was a new kind of laughing in the dark. When we watch "Ghostbusters", we don't just laugh at the comic heroes - we want to BE the comic heroes, fighting rogue apparitions with heavy weaponry and thumbing our noses at humorless government bureaucracy (even if that includes politically-correct bureaucracies like the EPA). Laugh at what scares you; FIGHT with what scares you; amusing and empowering. In my case, "Ghostbusters" helped a kid who still had occasional nightmares deal with them. That, I daresay, is one reason why Harold Ramis' death has hit me so hard. That, and a deep appreciation for his comedy genius.
So the geekiest of the Ghostbusters is gone. But his work and his role as Egon Spengler will live on, keeping the ghosts at bay with bright laughter, and pushing away the dark with the flickering of a TV screen.
Rest in peace.