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BBQ Films Ghostbusters Brooklyn Event Attendee Report #BBQGhostbusters

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Jun. 10, 2016 at 11:30 PM , Categories: Personal, Ghostbusters 1, Fans
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On Wednesday June 8, 2016, the United States and Belgium sent their best operatives to Brooklyn to save the world from impending paranormal phenomena. Actually, I think the word I'm looking for is "apocalypse". They came to kick ectoplasm and chew bubble gum...and they were all out of bubble gum. What follows is the report of their encounter.

I should warn you that it is image-intensive, and for the sake of simplicity, it will be posted as one long page, instead of as a multi-page article. The images seen here are only a fraction of what was taken. Check out the supplemental page elsewhere on Spook Central for the full gallery of 100+ images. All photos in this article were taken by me, Paul Rudoff, exclusively for Spook Central (except where otherwise noted). Please do not repost them elsewhere without permission. Thanks.

FYI: The event runs from June 8th through the 11th, so you still have two shows on the 11th you could attend if tickets are still available.

I'd like to start off by thanking my dear friend, and the cool cat who provides Spook Central with its place on the web, Raffaele Ruffaldi, for inviting me to this event as an early birthday present. It took us about 17 years to finally meet in person, but I couldn't think of a better opportunity in which to do it. That's Raffaele on the left and me (Paul Rudoff) on the right, wearing my favorite Ghostbusters t-shirt. Rather appropriate that my shirt gives a shout-out to New York City, which Brooklyn is technically a part of (for those who don't know).

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We got to Villain (the name of the warehouse-turned-event center where the event was staged) at 6:00pm, an hour before the event was to start. We were near the start of the line, so that was nice...especially since that line got REALLY long really quickly. The hour-wait (actually a little longer since they didn't start letting people in until 7:15pm, give or take) went by pretty quickly, helped by the fact that several of the fan franchises were there. I spotted the guys from the New Jersey and Massachusetts chapters. David Silva from the latter group was wearing the new movie uniform, with the new PKE Meter and a new-style proton pack signed by the new crew (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, etc). The photo below was the best I was able to get of his pack. By the way, I only know his name because I just looked it up right now. I know nothing of the who's who in the franchises, as I'm in the less-publicity-friendly "knowledge and information" sector of our franchise, so apologies to all whose names I don't know. One of those two crews were also handing out little glossy promo cards for the new movie, with the character poster image on one side, and the logo poster image on the other. We got the Erin and Patty cards. Just need to find the Abby and Jillian cards to complete the set.

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Then someone else came up while we were on line. I finally met the original Ghosthead, Peter Mosen. I was touched and floored that he remembered my last name when I introduced myself to him as "Paul from Spook Central" (gotta get business cards made one day). I did not expect for him to remember me. We corresponded in the past, and I have a signed photo of him in my Ghostbusters Autograph collection. It was a little sad to see him in not-so-great-shape after his car accident, but it was a joy to see him, period!

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Walter Peck Jr. and his brother, Walter Peck Jr. Jr., were heckling people standing on line, and passing out letters from the EPA. You can read a scan of it on the Paul's Ghostbusters Experiences: BBQ Films Ghostbusters page here on Spook Central. Rachel Handler from MTV.com interviewed a few of us, but no mention of anything Raffaele or I said (she never asked for our named) appears in her article. (A photo of us would appear somewhere else. More on that later.)

It was the first night of the four nights of the event, so it's understandable if the BBQ crew didn't have every little thing perfect. The idea was that the Villain space was going to be rechristened "Ghostbusters Headquarters" for the night, but they didn't actually make it look like the HQ we all know and love. There were no green-and-white-tiled walls or large green columns. It still looked like a former empty warehouse. It was only while we were waiting in line that they attempted to put up the Ghostbusters logo sign on the building. For whatever reason, they weren't able to get it screwed on, so they just ended up sitting the thing on a few boxes.

Upon turning in our tickets, we were given our Pocket Proton Pack, which was just a small green keychain with a red laser pointer on one end and a whistle on the other. The item was emblazoned with the logos for BBQ Films, Giphy, and Ghostbusters. It was encouraged to use this when they cross the streams in the film, but otherwise served no purpose at the event.

As we approached the entrance, a glorious sight was to be seen: the Ecto-1 from the new movie. Sure, it still has that ugly-as-sin yellow "zit" light on the top, but it's much better looking in person than in all of those online photos and trailer clips. I've now had my photo taken with the original and new Ecto-1s. Damn, I have not aged at all in 16 years! (Photo with the original Ecto taken on October 21, 2000.)

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After entering past the car, we were greeted by Janine at her desk. She was one of several "characters" at the event, all of whom I believe were hired actors and not fans like the franchises. Here's a little collage showing Janine, Dana, Jillian, Miss Liberty, Janosz, Gozer, and Louis. It actually took me a few seconds to realize that the woman standing by the Vigo painting was Janosz. I gotta admit, I never thought there would be a "Janosz" there...much less one portrayed by a woman!

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It didn't take long for Raffaele and I to get separated. It wasn't a very large space - two long bays and two small upper loft areas, so I knew that we'd meet back up eventually. I stumbled upon the Report & Identify Ghosts area first. Behind this area was a large "Identify Ghosts" board, which looked like something out of a serial killer's hideout with all of the colored yarn strung across the various items.

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It was on this board that I spotted something very familiar on a few of the items. Now you know why I watermark select items on this site.

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In front of this board was an Joey Armao from Cultural Compulsive Disorder, who was doing sketches of any ghost you wanted. I chose Mr. Stay Puft, who he drew right in front of my eyes. Okay, he forgot to draw in his red ribbon necktie, and I forgot to point it out, though it was in the original image he based the drawing off of. There was an unclaimed Slimer sketch on the table, which I took home, too. Later, I would find it on his Instagram page and learn that it was a warm-up sketch that he did before the event began. Also on the table were two binders filled with drawings and bios of various ghosts and haunted places, both from the film and real-life.

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Next to that table was one where you could report your hauntings, complete with "Official Incident Report" forms to be filled out. I was a little unsure of the concept here, and what would be done with the information, so I didn't fill it out. I certainly don't need to be added to yet another mailing list. Right at this time, they were passing around Papa John's pizza. Everyone got a free slice with admission. It's no coincidence that Papa John's was served, as the company is doing a promotion with the new movie.

At the front of this bay was the seating for the movie to be screened in a few hours. I noticed a loft area above this bay, and asked one of the employees if there was anything going on up there. She said, "No", but I found out later from Raffaele that they were doing ESP testing up there. Oh, well, I missed getting shocked and pissed off. Onto the other bay area for more fun.

The first thing I noticed here was the realistically-sized Vigo painting, which was being curated by a female Janosz. To the left of that was a real refrigerator, which had dry ice and a video screen inside playing the "Terror Dog inside the fridge" clip on a loop. Very "inside the icebox" thinking going on here.

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Across from that was the "Ghostbusters Wall of Fame". The wall was filled with artwork (available for sale, according to a note on the table in front of it) and photos of various celebrities, most of whom have nothing to do with Ghostbusters. They claimed that these folks were "Secret Ghostbusters" or something like that. I really didn't get what they were going for, and it just felt out-of-place.

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The table in front of the wall was the "Ghost Artifact Archive", upon which sat a few toys and knick-knacks. Kenner Real Ghostbusters Firehouse playset; Real Ghostbusters lunchbox; packs of Topps Ghostbusters II trading cards; framed Atlantic, Tim, and Omni covers, toaster, terror dog head, Slimer statue, Neutrona Wand, and a few other things. The items I found most interesting were faux New York State driver's licenses for each of the four Ghostbusters. These "art pieces" were not available for sale.

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It was here that I met WWE wrestler (and fellow Long Islander), Zack Ryder. It's no secret that he's a big Ghosthead. I believe that he was here as a fan as he was not announced as a guest - though he was up on stage before the movie showing. Luckily, I had taken a few extra BBQ Films notecards from the artist sketch table, so while Zack was chatting away with "Dana" and a "Ghostbuster", I took one out (and the pen I always keep in my pocket), and when he was done chatting, I asked him for an autograph.

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At the other end of the second bay was the "Slime Lab", where you could dip your hands in tubs of black, pink, and green slime. I didn't notice that they had rubber gloves to put on, so I dipped my index finger in the black slime without "protection", and was left with a blue-stained finger for the rest of the evening :-) I don't know if they didn't have the correct recipe, but the slime was hard and not gooey. It was more like trying to put your hands in nearly-hardened cement. I want to describe it better, but I can't think of a better thing to liken it to.

To the left of the Slime Lab was the "Paranormal Studies Lectures" area. At regular intervals, a scientist would explain the "technical stuff", backed by a chalkboard with a myriad of equations on it. I didn't stick around to hear the lecture, but someone filmed it, so I'm sure it's out there on the web somewhere.

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On the wall across from the Slime Lab and lecture area was a Ghost Containment Unit with a "live" viewer showing the inhabitants inside. Those of you who nerdy enough to study Ghostbusters will remember that the "viewer" is an abandoned concept for the first film. I didn't notice it when I snapped my photos, but on the wall to the upper right of the unit were the red and green light bulbs seen in the film. You know, "When the light is green, the trap is clean". You actually see them in the background of my Jillian Holtzmann photo later in this article.

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The loft upstairs from the second bay was where the hands-on demos were taking place. Immediately at the top of the stairs was the Trap Target Practice activity. This consisted of rolling a trap down a small lane, ala bowling, but with no pins at the end. I was a little too aggressive when I "threw" the trap, and it rolled up the caution-taped ramp at the end and tipped over, but landed upright. I guess the ghost would have gotten out.

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As cool as the trap was, nothing, and I mean NOTHING compared to finally strapping on a Proton Pack and firing away. Had it been a real test, I would have decimated the "expendable" ghostbuster taking my photo. I gotta say, that thing is quite heavy. How the hell the guys can run with it on and not be out of breath afterward is beyond me. It was up on the loft where I met back up with Raffaele, who was already wearing a different pack.

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We checked out some of the other props lying around. I spied a Proton Pack signed by Ernie Hudson, a spare Neutrona Wand, and a pair of Ecto Goggles. I asked if we could try them on, and Mr. Ghostbuster was okay with it. So, Raffaele and I did our best auditions for the role of Timmy in the Jurassic Park reboot.

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After playing around with the equipment, we played around with the video games. Several generations of games were available for those daring enough to try them. A couple of retro televisions (CRT, FTW!) had the NES and Genesis games connected to them. To their right were small modern HDTVs sporting the 2009 game. The large TVs were saved for the new, and not yet released, video game from Activision. To the right of them were two small stands holding tablets on which you could play the, also upcoming, Ghostbusters: Slime City mobile game.

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I tried my hand at Slime City (the upcoming mobile game), but didn't find it very interesting. All I kept seeing were menu screens. From what little I actually got to "play" of it, it's pretty much like the abandoned Beeline mobile game. Raffaele and I spent 10 minutes or so on a PlayStation 4 with the new console game from Activision. Without having a manual or going through any tutorials, we didn't immediately understand it, but after a while, I was getting the hang of it. Not so much for Raffaele, but that's because he's more of a PC gamer, and I'm a console guy.

It plays a little like Sanctum of Slime, but you actually have to throw out traps. We went from room-to-room, several of which were empty, before we'd get to a larger room filled with ghosts. You have two different weapons; a standard proton pack, and a weapon special to your character. I'm not sure if one character's weapon is more suitable to particular ghosts than the others. I found that the standard pack did more damage than my character's special weapon. After a while, an icon appeared on-screen cueing me to press L1 or L2 (I forget which), which initiated a "wrangling/slamming" feature, much like the 2009 game. More icons popped up indicating a direction to move the analog stick, which slammed the ghost in that direction. Once it was sufficiently worn down, a trap icon appeared telling me to press the X button. That brought up a meter that tasked me with spamming X to fill it up for a trapping bonus. We could never get it past 2x.

While playing, I noticed a professional photographer taking our photo. Being a (sometimes) quick-thinking person, I quickly asked him what website he was from. He told me Gothamist, and sure enough, our photo appears on their site. That's me closest to the camera, and Raffaele to my left.

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(photo credit: Scott Heins for Gothamist)

Stepping down from the loft back to the first floor, I was immediately greeted by a beautiful sight: a Proton Pack from the new movie. Sure, it doesn't looks like much in online photos, but in-person, it's quite a sight. The pack was being worn by an actress playing Jillian Holtzmann, Kate McKinnon's character in the new movie. I'm pretty sure that she's an actress and not one of the franchise members. I saw the pack first, because her back was facing the stairs. After I asked her to stand still so I could photograph the pack, Raffaele pointed out to me that it would be rude to not get a photo of her better side. He was quite right. She's WAY more beautiful than the pack. I think I found the new Mrs. Rudoff. "Jillian", call me.

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At this point, I noticed a bar serving drinks to the left of the containment unit. (Apparently there was a second bar in the other bay.) They were charging $2.00 for an Ecto Cooler juice box; $8.00 if you wanted Ecto Cooler with a shot of alcohol in it. I bought two juice boxes - several people did; I saw them all around the place - to have later with my sister.

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(photo credit: Sachyn Mital for the Village Voice)

I noticed a new movie logo magnet sitting on the bar in front of some cute girls. I asked if the magnet was theirs, and they said I could have it, so I took it. Too bad it didn't come with their phone number :-) Anyway, the glow-in-the-dark magnet is a promotional item from the UK produced by RDP Creative UK. I'm not sure how it ended up here. There were no others around the place that I could see.

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The time was now a bit past 9:00pm, and everyone was gathering around the "World of the Psychic" set in the first bay to view the film. The film screened in both bays simultaneously, but only the first bay had seating...IF YOU PAID FOR IT! Yeah, there were two adult ticket levels, which were advertised as such on the BBQ Films website:

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You'll notice that it says "Friend of Slimer" ticket-holders will get "reserved seating", which implies that "New Recruit" ticket-holders have to get their seats on a "first come, first served" basis. What it should have said was that "New Recruit" ticket-holders have to sit on the hard cement floor or stand for the entire duration of the movie, which is what Raffaele and I ended up doing. I was not happy about that.

"Friend of Slimer" ticket-holders also got a "commemorative gift". I have no clue what it was, but I'm guessing that it was in the paper bags I saw earlier sitting on the table by the sketch artist. I knew that I should have swiped one off the table. If there are any "Friend of Slimer" ticket-holders reading this, please tell us what your "gift" was and share a photo of it.

They started by showing a brief trailer for the fan-made Ghostheads documentary directed by Brendan Mertens. It features interviews with actors from the films and some of the prop-building fans. Those of us who work on Ghostbusters websites and keep our history documented for 20 years rarely get the honor of being in stuff like this.

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This was followed by host "Oscar Venkman" on the World of the Psychic set thanking everyone for coming and saying a few other things that I don't remember. Maybe Raffaele caught it on video. If not, maybe someone else did. Post a comment below if you find ANY video from this event; especially from June 8th. "Oscar" was joined by wrestler Zack Ryder, Tom Gebhardt from GBNJ, and two other people whom I did not know.

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Once the talking was done, the film rolled...but not before Ivan Reitman popped up with a special introduction. He took a page out of the Mick Foley playbook by giving a cheap pop to "Brooklyn". Raffaele may have gotten part of it recorded, but since neither of us was expecting it, there was no way we could have been prepared for that. Maybe video is out there online. If you find it, please post a comment with a link. Thanks.

From the looks of it, the movie was not an actual film print, but a digital print projected onto the screen from a projector hanging from the ceiling. I was really hoping for a film print, as this was the first time I ever saw the first movie on the big screen, and I wanted the "authentic" experience. The projection of the film in either bay was not perfect, but it could have been "first night" kinks that they still needed to work out. It was a tad too dark in bay #1 and a tad too light in bay #2. Also, it was not aligned properly in bay #1, so the right side of the image was cut off. Almost made it seem like I was watching pan & scan again.

It was fun to watch the film with other people, and to hear them laughing and joking along. Everyone cheered for the Ghostbusters, booed Walter Peck (which annoyed the "real" Water Peck Jr.), and just had a great time. Personally, I was just reciting the movie along with itself, which may have annoyed a few of the seated guests I was standing near. When Ray mentioned "Spook Central" in the jail scene, I wanted to scream something out, but I held my tongue. I did shout, "I LOVE THIS TOWN!", when Winston did at the end.

They added some smoke/fog and light effects during the temple scenes at the climax of the film. The fog made it harder to see the film, and even harder to get good photos (as you'll soon see). Hung above the seats in bay #1 were "clouds" that lit up purple during this portion of the film, and they flashed green whenever there was lighting.

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Just as the guys were ready to cross their streams, we were all instructed to pull out our Pocket Proton Packs and flash them on the screen. It didn't really do much for the visual experience, though they also had a red/green/blue beam projected from the back of the room onto the screen which seemed like it was trying to spell something out on the screen. I found a photo on the Den of Geek website that shows the moment. If you look closely, you can see me and Raffaele on the right side. I circled us for easy spotting :-)

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(photo credit: Christopher Gregory for Den of Geek)

As the credits were rolling, "Oscar" came back on the smoke-filled stage for some closing remarks. He brought Peter Mosen up to say a few words. He recalled how he was the first one to register the "Ecto-1" license plate with the State of New York. After the replica plates were released a few years ago, some jokers thought it would be a great idea to put them on their cars in place of their real plates; thinking they could get away with speeding and such frivolity because their real plates would not be seen. As Peter told us, this resulted in him getting several letters from the police in various states wanting him to pay fines for crimes he didn't commit. He got a little annoyed having to explain that he's never even been to Washington state!

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Afterward, they showed a brief featurette for the new movie, complete with a specially-recorded intro by director Paul Feig. He didn't name-check "Brooklyn", and his intro was rather generic in nature. Actually, I thought it was a little condescending when he pointed out that what we were about to see was "behind the scenes" like we were five-year-olds who couldn't grasp the concept without it being pointed out to us.

The featurette ran for a minute or two, and was comprised of cast interviews, mixed with film clips, and on-set B-Roll (such as from that dreaded "stage dive" scene). We were instructed not to record video, but I'm sure that someone did. Again, if you find video of it (or Feig's intro), post a comment below. The featurette didn't look like any piece we've already seen before, but that doesn't mean that Sony won't release it online later.

I should point out that EVERYONE CHEERED when it was over. Not a single person booed the new movie, or the folks dressed up like characters from the new movie. In fact, as pointed out by Rachel Handler from MTV.com, there were no vocal haters there. Sure, we may not be hand-over-heels in love with the new movie like we are of the original, but everyone was very welcoming of it into our fandom. I guess all of the "haters" are relegated to the dark basements of the internet.

After the festivities were over, they invited everyone to stay for a "dance party", but by this time it was a quarter past 11:00pm, and it was getting a little too late to stick around to shake my groove thing to Whodini's "The Freaks Come Out At Night". Raffaele and I had trains to catch, which involved island hopping into Manhattan just to go back to Long Island. Before we left, we snapped our photos with Prince Vigo. Raffaele matched his pose and angry snarl; I just stood there like a dope. Again, the smoke-filled room didn't allow for the best photos.

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As we were leaving, they handed out our "limited-edition poster". Measuring 11"x17", it's a silhouette of the guys with cartoon Stay Puft looming over them, and the proclamation "WE WANT YOU!" below. Stay Puft is a common image from the Sony style guide that I've now seen WAY too many times on various merchandise. So, while not the most exciting poster, it's nice to have it. I grabbed two, so maybe I'll sell one later on.

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Peter Mosen was at the exit posing with his publicity signboard by the new Ecto-1. Of course, I asked to take his photo, and then we shook hands and said our niceties. Right outside was his "Ecto-Impala" with New York "Ecto-1A" license plates, No Ghost logo on the hood, and "Ghostbusters 3" logo (if only) on the side.

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With that, our evening came to an end. We hoofed it to the Bedford Avenue station, took two subway trains back to Penn Station, and grabbed a bite to eat while we waited for my Long Island Railroad train home. We sorted through our goodies, and then before we knew it, it was time to part ways. At 12:45am, we said our goodbyes, hoping that it would not be another 17 years before we would see each other again. Five minutes later, I was on the way home to Long Island, with fond memories of a monumental night in my life.

-- Paul
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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

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