Ghostbusters: a 1984 supernatural comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as brave, wise-cracking men trying to rid New York City of its poltergeists one slimy green ghost at a time.

Ghostheads: what the super-deluxe fans of Ghostbusters call themselves. Not the fans who watch the movie every time it comes on TV, or the fans who collect all the Venkman bobbleheads. Ghostheads are fanatical. They dress up. untitled.pngThey own proton packs. They drive Ecto Ones. They horde merchandise to the extent that it threatens their marriages. Ghostheads is the 2016 documentary that takes a good hard look at these amped-up fans. Ghostheads is the new Trekkies.

The delightful thing about this documentary is how earnest it is. It’s easy and maybe even tempting to make fun of a grown man who believes he is “more himself” when dressed up as someone else, but this film never does. These fans may be extreme, but the documentary aims to humanize them. Some interesting things I picked up from watching the documentary:

  • Ghostheads are not the ones hating on the 2016 film. Their enthusiasm for the franchise is all-encompassing. Paul Feig reached out to the community and included them every step of the way. They seem to embrace it.
  • In fact, “Everybody can be a Ghostbuster” is not just a tagline for the new toy line, but a credo that Ghostheads seem to have been living by for the past 30 years. At Comic Con, you’ll see dozens of people dressed up as Wolverine, Ariel, Walter White, Sailor Moon and Doctor Who. You’ll see plenty of Ghostbusters too, but more often than not their name tags don’t read Ray Stantz, it’s their own names on the patch. Because every body can be a Ghostbuster.
  • While Leias and Leeloos tend to stand alone at conventions, Ghostheads are almost always found in packs. These cosplayers aren’t just connecting with a movie, they’re trying to connect to each other.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t really get cosplay. I’m a huge movie nerd but I’ve never loved any one film so much that I decided to make it my life. I’ve never, as an adult, dressed up as a fictional character. But people at comic cons are doing more than trick-or-treating, they’re doing performance art. medium_GHOSTHEADS_web_1Suddenly shy geeks who rarely interact with the human species don these alter-egos and strut around like heroes.  In Ghostheads you’ll encounter one painfully shy man who doesn’t hesitate to walk up to total strangers to spout any of dozens of lines of dialogue memorized from his favourite movie. He’s happy to pose for pictures and merrily draws attention by flipping on the siren on his Ghostbusters car (his only car. He drives his daughter to school in it). Fandom has really kicked into high gear these past few years (we discussed FANdementalists on a prior podcast) but I think the Ghostheads embody the very best of it: a sense of community. Just like-minded people sharing something they love, a movie that happens to be about camaraderie and helping others (and mutant marshmallows).

Ghostheads is nostalgic and sweet – maybe too sweet. It deftly sidesteps the whole “girl Ghostbusters” controversy and chooses not to look at a darker side at all. So this may not be a balanced view. But with interviews with Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, and plenty of real-life Ghostheads, it’s an awfully compelling one.

21 thoughts on “Ghostheads

  1. fragglerocking

    Cosplay seems weird to me, but great photo opportunities, am hoping to go to our film & comic con later in the year, though as it’s in November the weather will be foul and everyone will be wet lol. Cool review as always.


  2. Christopher

    I can understand cosplay at a convention where it’s a sign to like-minded fans, and for Halloween, although that may not technically be cosplay. I’ve gone to work in a dozen different costumes, but only on October 31st. But I don’t understand doing it full-time. That seems like self-inflicted typecasting without the advantage of actually getting to be in a movie in the first place.
    And it sounds like their hearts are in the right place with the motto of “Everybody can be a Ghostbuster”. It’s just too bad good intentions aren’t enough to counter the sexism directed at the new film.


  3. Birgit

    I have not heard of wither the documentary or these Ghostheads but I am not surprised. If people dress up in Star Wars stuff and people dress for Dungeons and Dragons then this seems the same to me. I would like to see this documentary…sounds interesting to say the least. I wonder how his daughter feels when he brings her to school

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kmSalvatore

    I’ve never gotten knot the concept of grownup dress up:) in funny characters.. It’s just to weird to me. But wow, yes!,,,, what great photo opps. Great review! Thanks


  5. Liz A.

    Well, if anyone can be a Ghostbuster, then why not girls, too?

    I’m fascinated by cosplay. If not for the traumatic Halloween costume incident of the 8th grade, I might be dressing up today.


  6. J.

    I think I’ll be looking out for this. Really fascinating folks – dedication and holding onto wonderment and suchlike that most of us let go of.


  7. reocochran

    I like that you liked this and found it to be “sweet” Jay! I tend to like quirky and unique movies, while documentaries are winter’s days holed up in the apartment kind of activities. That and playing cards or making puzzles. 🙂 I will check this out if I find it in the winter months at the library next year. Should be fun! 🙂


  8. frankie342

    I was very proud of contributing to the success of the documentary by being honoured
    in the end credits and when I seen it I cried due to be very proud of helping projects
    that I help funded during my time on kickstarter and all projects became an reality
    from magical wheel chairs for children with life threatening illnesses to fandom
    documentaries I am always passionate of helping those in crisis but with these causes
    I am very proud of what I have achieved.



    Liked by 1 person


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