Who you gonna call? Call these Jersey guys!
Proton packs, slime-blowers, a fully customized ecto-mobile, and a pop tune that's haunted humankind since 1984. Looks as if somebody called the Ghostbusters of New Jersey.
Proton packs, slime-blowers, a fully customized ecto-mobile, and a pop tune that's haunted humankind since 1984.
Looks as if somebody called the Ghostbusters of New Jersey.
The volunteer band of fans who wear custom-built Ghostbusters regalia to public events statewide "used to be just me and a couple of friends dressed up for Halloween," says GBNJ founder Bill Malkin, a customer service supervisor from Hamilton, Mercer County.
The grassroots ghostbuster phenomenon was inspired by film promoter and costumed superfan Peter Mosen, and got started shortly after the movie's release.
Three decades later, Malkin and thousands of other enthusiasts devote themselves to the minutiae, the spirit, and, especially, the fanciful pseudoscientific gear associated with the agreeably goofy Hollywood megahit.
"We did 42 events last year," Malkin, 37, says during a benefit for the Haddon Heights Library on Sunday. The event was sponsored by the Comic Station store on Station Avenue.
"Everywhere we go," Malkin observes from behind a pair of neon-yellow goggles, "we bring smiles."
The original Ghostbusters has spawned a 1989 sequel, two TV cartoon series, and an all-female cinematic "reboot" (featuring the fabulous Kristen Wiig) that opens in multiplexes nationwide Friday.
Also debuting Friday, on Netflix: Ghostheads, a 74-minute documentary produced by Derrick Kunzer, who hails from Barrington, and Tommy Avallone, who grew up in Haddon Heights.
The film about the fan phenomenon was partly shot in New Jersey and was selected for screening at New York's buzz-a-licious Tribeca Film Festival in April.
"The TV cartoon was a real good gateway for kids of my generation to start collecting toys, and becoming little ghostbusters," explains Avallone, 33, who became one himself - and got a tattoo of the film's logo when he was 18.
The original film's three main ghostbusters, indelibly played by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and the late Harold Ramis, are "everymen," Avallone notes. "They're not superheroes with superpowers."
Says Audubon resident Andrew Gant, 29, an electrician who designed a formidable-looking slime-blower: "They're just everyday guys who save the world. Who wouldn't want to do that?"
However ordinary they are when not wearing their signature flight suits, ghostbusters do carry superpowerful gear - the imaginative re-creation of which is a major pastime for some fans.
At the Haddon Heights event, which attracted 500 people and raised $1,000 for the library, a spectacular, 22-foot-long ectomobile attracted lots of attention.
The vehicle began life as a 1971 Oldsmobile ambulance and has been beautifully restored and ghostbustified.
"Sometimes I use it to go food shopping," says owner Adam Botley, 30, an automotive technician who lives in Blackwood and grew up on Ghostbusters, the cartoon, in Mount Ephraim.
"When I come back to the car there's usually about 15 or 20 minutes of people wanting to have their picture taken."
Besides gear-building, Botley enjoys the camaraderie of the club ("It's pretty cool - I'm not the only one out there") and the reaction of the public.
But what if someone were to suggest that all this ghostbusting and proton-packing is a bit, you know, geeky?
"They need to let go," says Botley, whose hobbies include motorcycles and pumping iron. "Have a little fun!"
No worries. Feedback from library patrons Sunday was positive, director Christopher Walters says.
"Who doesn't like Ghostbusters? I know I do."
Says Greg McHugh, 28, a safety specialist from Gibbstown with a custom-built proton pack weighing 50 pounds: "I love the expression the kids and even the adults get when they see us. We were in the July Fourth parade in Audubon Park, and there's lots of cheering, and people quoting the movie, and the song."
I know, I know: I can't get it out of my head either.
"Who you gonna call?"