One of my very first memories takes place in Birmingham, Alabama around 1987. I would have been three or four years ago, and I found myseld flipping through the Sunday ads when I noticed an advertisement for some toys that interested me. I don’t recall the exact toys featured in the ad, but it was from The Real Ghostbusters line.
I wasn’t the type of kid to go beg my parents for something, nor was I really old enough to think that I could have those neat toys in the photo in person, but a few hours later my grandfather showed up to visit and he asked me if there was anything I wanted. I immediately ran and grabbed the sales ad out of the paper and showed him The Real Ghostbusters and with that gesture my Ghostbusters fandom was born.
My grandfather went right out and bought me some Ghostbusters toys and over the next several years I’d ride the Ghostbusters wave of watching the cartoon, finally seeing the first movie, heading to Hardees to buy Ghostbusters II gear in anticipation for the second film, and so forth. For many kids of the 80’s, Transformers and GI Joes defined their first loves, but for me it was Ghostbusters.
My fandom never died for the series. I’d revisit it every so often and kept up with comics, Extreme Ghostbusters, and early internet fan sites. I mourned the loss of Ecto-Cooler and grew frustrated when I found out that people on the internet generally consider Ghostbusters II to be a bad sequel. I celebrated the fantastic video game in 2009 and then the return of Ecto-Cooler in 2016, mourned the terrible script and handling of the 2016 movie, and I began collecting the reissued toys last year. There has only been two celebrity deaths that have shook me one was Robin Williams, the other was Harold Ramis. I love the Ghostbusters.
I believe that sometimes our fandoms help define us as human beings. They are so ingrained in our DNA that they just become part of us. For me, Ghostbusters is exactly that. My sense of humor, interest in horror, and dislike for self-indulgent politicians all originated with the Ghostbusters. When I discovered that one of my favorite writers J. Michael Straczynski worked on The Real Ghostbusters, I wasn’t surprised. It seems like his words have been around inspiring me my entire life.
I felt compelled to share all of this because I want you to know how much I love this franchise. It’s one of the beacons of positivity in my life that has been there for thirty-five years. I was reminded of that quite a bit this week as the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife occurred right before my thirty-eighth birthday this coming Wednesday. Nostalgia, existential dread, sadness for missing family members around the holidays are all present in my mind lately and well… Ghostbusters: Afterlife decided to show up and counsel me through it all.
Yesterday, I attended the 11 AM showing of Ghostbusters: Afterlife at the Alamo Drafthouse. I went in with little to no expectations. The trailers didn’t do ton for me and I wasn’t sure if I wanted a Ghostbusters story not featured in New York City. I wasn’t sure the involvement of the original cast or if the movie really had much humor. From the trailer, I got a more Super 8 vibe, which is fine, because I really like that movie but its not something I’d say reminds me of Ghostbusters.
I’m so glad I went in open to whatever the experience would be. It was the best movie I’ve seen this year. It was an experience for me that I’ll never forget. The movie is hilarious, brilliantly written, and truly touching. Grace McKenna turns in a star-making performance and Jason Reitman deserves all the credit for putting together a beautiful world that ties into the per-existing universe. It will be a shame if we see nothing more out of this franchise, but if this truly is the end of the series, then I’m okay with that. I honestly don’t know how you could top it.
My wife, who did not grow up on all the Ghostbusters fandom like me, equally loved it. She said it was the best movie in years, and she, like myself and everyone else in the theater, cried several times throughout the film. I’m biased but I would go as far as saying its a masterpiece in filmmaking it. It perfectly blends nostalgia along with a new story with new characters. Ghostbusters: Afterlife a movie I will cherish for years to come.