When it comes to Ghostbusters lore, if you were to ask about their biggest villains, the list would begin with the likes of Stay Puft/Gozer, Slimer, and Vigo the Carpathian. Then maybe some of the more memorable monsters from the cartoon or someone might bring up that incel guy from the reboot. But then there’s Ivo Shandor, a footnote of the franchise who has gradually transformed from a deep cut to being the puppet master of everything ecto.
The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife hit recently and while it’s established as a sequel to the original two movies, they’re fairly light on the actual references so far. There’s a ghost trap, there’s old footage of the original team in the ’80s, we see Egon’s old jumpsuit, what appears to be a Gozer dog, and so on. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, characters are shown walking towards a sign saying, “SHANDOR MINING COMPANY.”
Yes, Shandor. As in Ivo Shandor. So who the hell is Ivo Shandor?
The original Ghostbusters movie namedropped Shandor once and only once as part of an exposition dump. When the crew were in their jail cell, Egon started to explain just why Gozer and its kind were targeting that one specific building and why it was so haunted.
“It’s not the girl, Peter, it’s the building. Something terrible is about to enter our world, and this building is obviously the door. The architect’s name was Ivo Shandor. I found it in Tobin’s Spirit Guide. He was also a doctor. Performed a lot of unnecessary surgery. And then in 1920, he started a secret society.”
Understanding the situation, Peter added, “Let me guess: Gozer woshippers?”
So all the marshmallow golems and demon dogs and so on were all traced back to one nutjob with a forgettable name. Now, with the minimal amount of stuff we know about Afterlife, part of the backstory appears to be that at some point after Ghostbusters 2, Egon Spenkler moved to Oklahoma for the sake of keeping an eye on something Shandor cooked up with his mining company. He definitely didn’t stop it (at least completely) and it’s up to his family to finish the job.
Ivo Shandor started the ghost uprising in the ’80s and his legacy is to bring it back in 2020.
Coincidentally, this lines up with Shandor’s position in the franchise. This man with a throwaway piece of dialogue to his name is constantly being farmed out into being something much bigger for the sake of follow-ups.
To be fair, he was originally going to be a bigger deal in the first movie. In an earlier version of the script, Shandor was supposed to appear as Gozer’s initial form during the climax, juxtaposing this apocalyptic, godly threat with a mundane guy in a suit. They even wanted Paul Reubens to play him, which is…wow, that’s excessively ’80s.
He’s a better vampire than a ghost, anyway.
In 2009, a big Ghostbusters video game was released on various platforms – and remastered a decade later – with emphasis on being the “official” version of Ghostbusters 3. It featured all the actors reprising their roles (excluding Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis) and a script that was partially worked on by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It took place in 1991 with the player being a silent rookie getting roped into a “greatest hits” storyline that involved the likes of taking on Slimer and Stay Puft all over again.
While the game set up the return of Gozer, the true mastermind was Ivo Shandor, who was hiding in plain sight by possessing the mayor. What better way to undermine the Ghostbusters from doing their job than screwing with them from the top of the bureaucratic ladder? With Gozer defeated a second time over, Shandor decided to overstep his boundaries by turning the plot into a scheme to turn himself into a god. Initially, that meant sacrificing Peter’s new love interest Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn, who – wouldn’t you know it – was Shandor’s descendant.
In the end, he achieved power and was able to choose his own form as the destructor. The Ghostbusters took him out by going back to the “cross the streams” well and moved on.
The IDW Ghostbusters series, while bringing in concepts from the animated continuity (ie. Kylie from the underrated Extreme Ghostbusters being the team’s researcher), only treated the two movies and the video game as canon. That meant that Shandor wasn’t really on the table as a nemesis, but there were references to him here and there.
The initial storyline revolved around a being named Idunas, who was hellbent on bringing back Gozer and forcing Ray to imagine him as something more threatening than a giant marshmallow man. While he had an otherworldly look to him, one of the original concepts was to have Idunas take Shandor’s form as a reference to the unused idea from the movie.
One of the comic runs ended with a big storyline involving Gozer’s war with his sister Tiamat. Gozer would show up in Ray’s subconscious to taunt him in various forms. One of those forms was presumably Shandor, looking very much like a slightly-off-model Pee Wee Herman. Nice that they finally got to scratch that itch.
Otherwise, outside of being namedropped, Shandor appeared in a short story called “The Origins of Slimer” by Erik Burnham and Rachael Stott, where the Ghostbusters went over their various theories on what Slimer is or who he was. While they suggested that he could have been a chef or a vagrant, Ray seemed pretty sure that Slimer was some kind of failed glutton-based entity conjured by Shandor and his cult.
While Shandor didn’t get too much lip service in the comics, Erik Burnham eventually decided to make Tobin’s Spirit Guide from Egon’s exposition into an actual book. Albeit, a book updated with specific ghosts from Ghostbusters itself. It was there that we got to see the very entry that Egon read many years ago, going into more detail about his horrible experiments, path to Gozer worship, and the suggestion that he died from trying to give himself goat legs.
I mean, if you’re going to be demonic, might as well go all the way.