Like many people that grew up in the 80’s/early 90’s, I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of the Ghostbusters. When I was a kid, my mother rented me the VHS tape so many times that she eventually decided to buy the damned thing for me (and VHS tapes were expensive back in the day!). My mom took me to see Ghostbusters II in the theater (my first theater experience that I can remember), and I’d go on to frequently watch The Real Ghostbusters cartoon as much as I was allowed. I had the toys, too, including the proton pack with the foam laser and the pump action trap, as well as a few action figures.
Yeah, I was/am a pretty big fan of the franchise, but nowhere near as big a fan as a group of folks that I recently met. They call themselves The Louisville Ghostbusters, and despite me not knowing about them, they’ve been around for quite a while now. My first run in with these folks was at the most recent Days of the Dead horror nerd convention back in August. After sharing a drink with a few of these fine folks at the hotel bar, they let me hold one of their badass proton packs (suck it, Bobby Brown), and since then I’ve been dying to get more info on what they are all about.
Thankfully, founding member Nick Schueren agreed to answer a few questions for an interview; here’s what we talked about…
Never Nervous: When did the Louisville Ghostbusters originate, and how has the organization grown over the years?
Nick Schueren: Officially we started way back in 2001. That makes us the third oldest “franchise” ever. Our Facebook page says we have been doing this for 16 years, but most of us were building Ghostbusters props in our garages by the time we were old enough to use a drill. About 30 or so members have come and gone over the years. Our team count is currently at 8.
Our team started up when a four guys dressed as Ghostbusters just happen to run into each other at a night club’s costume contest. Turns out we actually knew each other through online prop building forums. From there we started getting requests to come out for haunted house tours, then parades, birthdays, charity events, conventions, VIP events, grand openings, weddings, bachelorette parties, and so on. Some of the random situations we walk into can get pretty interesting.
NN: What would you say the purpose of the Louisville Ghostbusters is? Is there a particular goal in mind?
NS: I don’t know if we have a single purpose. People we encounter often love seeing something from their childhood and they have fun with it. We love getting to talk to thousands of people whom we would never get a chance to talk to if we weren’t hauling proton packs around. We tend to be one of the more outgoing GB fan groups. Around Louisville it isn’t uncommon to see a Ghostbuster skydiving, dancing on a bar doing karaoke, or just walking down some random street trying to bring a smile to someone’s face.
“We love getting to talk to thousands of people whom we would never get a chance to talk to if we weren’t hauling proton packs around.”
NN: What got you so into Ghostbusters initially, and what would you say continues to drive your fandom?
NS: Each individual has their own introduction to Ghostbusters story. But for me personally I was 5 when the movie was first released on VHS. Upon my first renting/viewing I could tell this movie was different from the other movies a typical 5-year-old watches. The writing, directing and acting was pretty much flawless. Toss in memorable characters, an interesting story, and eye-catching special effects and you have a movie that stuck with me instantly.
We often say “Wow, if 5-year-old me running around in a Kenner proton pack could see this he would go crazy”. Trying new events, pushing the envelope and seeing what other random things we can do as Ghostbusters really keeps things interesting.
NN: Over the years, I’m sure you’ve gotten quite a few strange requests from like-minded fans. Is there anything in particular that someone asked you to do that was especially over the top?
NS: Attending weddings was a little strange at first. We have learned to be prepared for outlandish situations. I honestly don’t think any request could surprise us at this point.
“We have learned to be prepared for outlandish situations.”
NN: How do Ghostbusters superfans compare to other groups dedicated to their favorite movie series. How do you match up with Trekkies and Star Wars fans?
NS: Ghostbusters will never be as big as Star Trek or Star Wars, but I really like the niche we have carved out, and kind of prefer it. Ghostbusters doesn’t have the geeky stigma that comes with some other fan bases. And at least for the time being the supply and demand is in our favor. You go to a convention and there are dozens of storm troopers, 3 Boba Fetts, and 6 Vaders.
Also, we are able to walk around “armed” with a proton pack and full gear. Other fandom groups (IE Walking Dead, Aliens, Gears of War) might not be able to do that without getting police attention.
NN: Do you have anything special planned in the near future? Anything going on for Halloween?
NS: Our Octobers are usually packed. We love doing it but after 4 weeks straight we are ready for a break. Parades, parties, special Halloween events, etc. There are times where we have to divide the team to hit two events at the same time.
Honestly our favorite times are those random days far from Halloween when people aren’t expecting to see a group of Ghostbusters walking past them.
NN: What are your thoughts on the 2015 Ghostbusters reboot? Do you think the franchise has potential for sequels, or was this episode a flop?
NS: This is a touchy subject in the Ghostbusters fan world. I don’t think we have seen anything so divisive. Personally I don’t think any movie should have a reboot, especially for a classic that is loved by millions. To me that just shows a lack of commitment by Sony Pictures, a lack of creativity by the writers, and it ends up looking like a quick cash-grab.
We don’t think Sony is crazy enough to go through that debacle again. But apparently they still love making reboots like Jumanji, Flatliners, etc. I can see them making spinoffs or maybe an animated film.
We actually have our own picks for a legitimate pair of sequels:
NN: How do you feel about the Real Ghostbusters cartoon? I feel that while it hasn’t aged particularly well, it’s still a good time.
NS: There is a huge downward trend with the quality of that show. The first few seasons were perfectly written by J. Michael Straczynski (Thor, Babylon 5, Twilight Zone, He-man) who was spectacular. If they hadn’t seen the movie these seasons are usually where kids really latched onto the Ghostbusters franchise.
Then ABC thought they should fix what isn’t broken and completely changed their award winning cartoon. Obviously that came back to bite them. Some of their talent left and the quality took a huge nosedive… And a few years later we get “SLIMER and the Real Ghostbusters”.
NN: Do you have a personal favorite Ghostbuster?
NS: I have always liked the Venkman character. He has the most flaws of anyone in the group. Flawless heroes like Superman or Rey (Star Wars) just don’t appeal to me as much. Venkman almost verges on being an anti-hero. He is on the team for the fame and money, and doesn’t have a problem showboating.
NN: When I met a few of you at Days of the Dead earlier this year, you mentioned that you weren’t happy with the portrayal of Ghostbusters fanatics in the Ghostheads documentary. Care to elaborate on this?
NS: If I was going to do that documentary I would have had an insightful look into the fans, the history, and detailing those crucial first steps this small community took together back in the late 90s. Instead, we have a collection of a half-dozen sob stories that pigeon-holed Ghostbusters fans into one sad, small group. If I saw that documentary without prior knowledge I would assume Ghostbusters fans had no friends, suffered from severe anxiety, were alcoholics, and lived in their mom’s basement.
NN: So if Gozer and Vigo got into a fight, who would win, and why?
NS: Everything about Ghostbusters II seemed like a weaker take on the original film. Sure, Vigo was a powerful magician, but Gozer was an inter-dimensional travelling demi-god hell-bent on destroying worlds. Vigo needed a baby just to be reborn, and he was taken out by joyful singing. Gozer’s highlight was conjuring up the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Vigo’s biggest inconvenience was covering New York with a thin layer of slime, which effected day-to-day life there as much as a mild snow storm.
NN: Lastly, what would you say your favorite song from each of the first two soundtracks would be?
NS: We just can’t get enough of “Dana’s Theme”. Kidding. It’s hard to beat the original theme song and instrumental version from the first soundtrack.
As for the second movie, Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own” drips with that 80s/90s mix that was so popular then. It’s old enough now that you can play it and not get weird looks. Close second would be Run DMC’s “Ghostbusters”.
Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or any of your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost? If the answer is yes, then don’t wait another minute. Pick up your phone and follow the professionals on Facebook and Instagram!