Sunday, June 08, 2014

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago today, the classic paranormal comedy "Ghostbusters" was unleashed on the public. It starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as three NYC parapsychologists who battle the evil ghostly forces attempting to take over the city. Originally intended as a project for Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, and Eddie Murphy, it eventually morphed into a blockbuster that grossed more than $291 million worldwide, while garnering two Oscar nominations (Best Visual Effects and Original Song) along the way. The Ghostbusters' slime-fighting vehicle, aka The Ectomobile, was originally intended to be black, but the film crew realized it would show up much better in night shots if it was painted white.

Today's post is a sterling example of the many great opportunities that my blog and website have opened up for me. A while back, I was contacted by Bryan Fear, who thanked me for the work I did in posting my vintage Disneyland photo collection and sharing it with others. In getting to know each other through cyberspace, he also happened to mention that he and his friend Eric Eseke owned a replica Ectomobile. With the impending 30th Anniversary of the film on the horizon, Bryan and I thought it was the perfect time to do a tribute to the film and the tireless efforts he and Eric have put into making their Ectomobile as authentic as possible.

Not wanting to merely take a few photographs of the vehicle, I thought hiring a model to pose as a retro-looking Ghostbuster next to it might add a little life to my shots. Putting out a casting call, actor Daniel Sobieray enthusiastically said "yes" to the project and drove down from Hollywood for the shoot. Little did I know that Bryan also had uniforms, gear, and other props to turn my initial "plus" into a full-blown spectacular! It was a photo shoot that I will remember for many years to come!

And now I turn the story over to Bryan, who gives us the background of his personal Ectomobile.

Eric and I met at work. We both became roommates and about a year into that the topic of building an Ectomobile came up. It was one of those "Man, I always wished I had the Ecto-1!" followed by a "Yeah, me too. We should build it." and of course a "Wait, I'm serious about this. Are you?" In 2006 we bought a 1960 Cadillac Miller Meteor. It was nigh impossible to find a 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor since only 88 were made, but a 1960 was easier. We tinkered on that car for 4 years but the car had spent 18 months in the low end of a field and was up to mid-door in water some parts of the year. The wood and metal below the knee was shot. Our friend Sean (with Dreamworks at that time, currently with Pixar) already owned an Ectomobile but had purchased a second one and was in the process of moving his equipment from the old to the new. He took pity on us and agreed to sell us his former car because there was no way we were going anywhere with the 1960 rustbucket we currently had. He was right.

A shot of the underside

Sean's old car was a 1959 Cadillac Superior Hearse (1 of 124 made) and he had found a more accurate 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor Combo (1 of 88). He had loaned the car out for a music video where the rappers ignored the agreement of trailering the car and instead choose to hop up and down on the open doors as it actually drove down the street.

Needless to say it damaged the hell out of the car. Collapsed hood, roof, broken windows, bent door hinges, etc. To this day if I see "Mistah Fab" I feel queasy. Sean would have loved to sue Fab but Sony beat him to it. Fab never had the rights to sample the Ray Parker Jr. song so Fab's production company was sued out of existence. Meanwhile Eric and I bought the remains of the car and started anew.

I only mention this part of the story because on occasion I'll hear someone tell me "Oh, you didn't build that, you just bought Sean's car." Well, not quite. His car was a stripped out hulk of a car when we got it. This is my favorite pic because Eric's body language tells it all. You can feel the remorse before we've even cut the check, but you know we've both come too far to turn back now.

We rented a house in 2008 with an RV pad on the side for the sole purpose of having a residence to work on the car. As soon as we bought Sean's old Superior and got it home the bomb dropped. Our landlord called and informed us he just lost the house to the bank. We had 90 days to move out. This meant we had 90 days to do 2 years worth of work. We rushed the body & paint through MAACO because at only $5,000 they were quick and affordable. One other quote was $18,000 for paint and body but of course they were perfectionists and we didn't have that kind of time or money. We never got to rebuild the engine or transmission but by July 2010 our Ecto rolled out in some suitable incarnation in time for Comic-Con and our eventual move back to an apartment. The car was stored at a private facility from that day forward. They wouldn't let us work on the car, but at least we could store it.

We spent the next 3 years replacing everything as it broke, and man, did it break. We got towed so often that they knew us by voice when we called. You name it, it happened. Tires blown out, struts snapped while in motion, engine block cracked, glass spontaneously breaks, etc. I can safely say that I personally have been everywhere over, under, and in the car and have touched absolutely every bolt, screw, and fastener at some point. I'm not proud of that; I wish it weren't so. During repairs this car has tried to outright kill me twice. Not misunderstandings; I mean it rolled off of jacks when no one was touching it and fell on my arm as I got out. The exhaust pipe under the car sprouted a hole that was coincidentally lined up with a hole in the floorboard. The interior filled with carbon monoxide as I turned blue with poisoning. Although fixed, you may have noticed the CO2 detector we now have on the deck of the bulkhead inside. I want to hear it before I die from it.

We've taken the car to see Dan Aykroyd several times at his roving tours promoting Crystal Head Vodka, as well as picked up Ernie Hudson at his house to bring him to a gallery dedicated to Ghostbusters art where he was the guest of honor. We've also hosted a 2-day trip with Ernie Cline who's famous for writing the movie "Fanboys" and recently sold Warner Brothers the rights to his book "Ready Player One" which was a best-seller and soon to be a movie. This video here really does tell it concisely, although there's so much more that I could be here all night writing about all the events we've done and the great moments we've experienced thanks to this car.

One of my more favorite memories was getting to attend the Club 33 event for the 50th anniversary of the Tiki Room. Steve and I met Richard Sherman whose birthday is one day off of my own. Afterwards, we had this amazing event inside the Tiki room:

When we were done there, we picked up a friend of his with TDA management and drove around Disneyland with her in the Ectomobile. Disney and Ghostbusters in one day; that was hard to top!

We can't take a dime for what we do, not even gas money. At 9mpg that hurts sometimes. Nonetheless it's a copyrighted logo and car whose likeness belongs to Sony and we have to honor that. As such the car is never used for any "for hire" event, not even for free. If it's something that would normally be a paid gig (birthday party, wedding, etc.) then we shouldn't even try because it's a sure trip to lawsuit land and the loss of our car. On the other hand, we can do all the charity events we want as long as there's a valid 501-c-3 charity tied to it.

With the 30th anniversary of "Ghostbusters" approaching on June 8th, we had to think long and hard about how we're going to celebrate this day. After careful consideration we're pretty sure we'll spend the whole day at Disneyland. Heresy to some, but "getting your money's worth" if you're an AP holder. Besides, come July we'll be so busy at Comic-Con that we'll forget all about those times we missed it. Here's a shot of us at Comic-Con 2013 hanging out inside Hook and Ladder #4 in downtown San Diego next to Petco Park.

Here's one exclusive story I could share with Daveland readers that doesn't really get out. Back in 2011 at Comic-Con someone took a pic of us and blogged that he just saw Patton Oswalt in the Ectomobile cruising around Comic-Con. I realized at once that they had seen me, not Patton. Then at ComicCon 2013 I pull up at a stoplight and guess who's next to me? Patton Oswalt. I relay the story to him and he laughs, but then he stops cold and looks at me for a second considering the resemblance. He raised his phone and takes a picture before riding off. Some passerby was fortunate enough to grab a snapshot of the moment otherwise I'd never have any proof that it happened.

I can't thank Bryan and Eric enough for not only sharing their story but for bringing out their beloved Ectomobile for a shoot that was a total blast (pun intended) and caused a number of gawkers to pull up and take their own photos.

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