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Archives for: August 2016

Cryptozoic Ghostbusters Mighty Meeples Preview / Stay Puft Apron Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 31, 2016 at 8:03 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Clothing, Toys
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Colin Robinson from Cryptozoic Entertainment sent me a package (no thanks to FedEx for nearly destroying it) containing some of their Ghostbusters goodies. The first thing I saw in the box was a few "2016 Event Exclusive" packs of their Ghostbusters Mighty Meeples. The beloved Meeple, an iconic board game icon shape in Europe, is a 1" wooden cut-out of classic characters from the original Ghostbusters films. These distinctive figures are highly collectible and can even be used in your favorite board games. I know I've seen something like this when I was a child, but I can't remember what of. These little guys are cute, and being that they're little "blocks" of wood - approx. half an inch thick - they stand up quite easily, making them perfect to display on a shelf or a desk.

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The "2016 Event Exclusive" packs, which have been distributed at the Cryptozoic booth at various conventions this year, contain the following three figures:

#7 - Slimed Peter Venkman
#8 - Slimed Ray Stantz
#9 - Exclusive Slimer

Unlike so many other things of this nature, they are not "blind bags". The figures depicted on the front of the bag are exactly what you'll find inside. You'll notice that these figures are numbered starting with #7. If you're wondering where figures #1 through #6 are, they'll be here soon enough. These event packs are meant to be a PREVIEW of what's to come...

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Coming in January/February 2017 is the Mighty Meeples Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Collection Tin. Stored inside a metal case designed after the Ecto-1 are Meeples of all four original Ghostbusters, Slimer, and an appropriately oversized Stay Puft. You can pre-order it now at Amazon

If you want the "2016 Event Exclusive" pack, you can either scope out the Cryptozoic website for any future conventions, or buy from one of the scalpers on eBay. The extras that I was sent to giveaway have already been claimed.

Whether there will be more Ghostbusters Mighty Meeples after these nine will depend on how well these sell. Currently, there are no plans for more.

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The other item in the box was the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Apron & Chef Hat, which is available for purchase right now at Amazon. Part practical item, part costume, the Stay Puft apron & hat combo is perfect for grilling, or rampaging through the streets of New York, and would make for a nifty "last minute" Halloween costume. Quick thought: If you're toasting marshmallows on the grill while wearing it, is it considered cannibalism? It's made of 100% cotton and is an adult "one size fits all" size. I certainly had no problems fitting into it. The only downside I could find to the apron is that it lacks a front pocket, which would come in handy when using it for practical purposes. If you want to see more photos of it being used, check out Fear's Confections and Tracey's Basement on Instagram (alt url).
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The Real Ghostbusters Volumes 1 to 5 Sony 2016 DVD Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 30, 2016 at 10:32 PM , Categories: Real Ghostbusters, Home Video
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You may recall that TimeLife released The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection DVD box set back in 2008. This is NOT a review of that set. The set that I am reviewing today does NOT contain the complete series, nor is it being advertised as such. In fact, this set is just a collection of the individual volumes that are also sold separately.

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Ghostbusters 2016 Adult Movie Novelization Book Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 29, 2016 at 9:47 PM , Categories: Books, 2016 Parody Remake
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Ghostbusters: Now A Major Motion Picture by Nancy Holder is an adult book, published by Tor, based on the new Ghostbusters movie. The 4"x7.5" paperback tome, consisting of 259 pages, is printed with the same sized font and paper stock typical for paperback novels. There is another movie novelization by Stacia Deutsch, which was published by Simon Spotlight. To avoid any confusion, that one will be referred to as the "junior novelization" and this one is the "adult novelization". This book carries a list price of $9.99 ($13.99 Canadian), but you can always find it a little cheaper at Amazon, where an eBook version is also available.

It should almost go without saying - but I need to say it anyway - THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD. Click through, or continue reading, only if you've already seen the movie. You have been warned...

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Ghostbusters 2016 Junior Movie Novelization Book Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 9, 2016 at 7:11 PM , Categories: Books, 2016 Parody Remake
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Ghostbusters: Movie Novelization by Stacia Deutsch is a young adult book based on the new Ghostbusters movie. The 5"x7.5" paperback tome, consisting of 139 pages, is printed with the same sized font and paper stock typical for paperback novels. There is another movie novelization by Nancy Holder, which was published by Tor. To avoid any confusion, this one will be referred to as the "junior novelization", and that one is the "adult novelization". Of all of the Simon Spotlight books, this one is the most text-heavy and image-light, making it suitable for an older child/tween than Proud To Be A Ghostbuster, Who You Gonna Call?, and Ghostbuster's Handbook. Released by the Simon and Schuster imprint, Simon Spotlight, this book carries a list price of $6.99, but you can always find it a little cheaper at Amazon, where an eBook version is also available.

Over 18 chapters and a prologue, Ghostbusters: Movie Novelization adapts the movie script written by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold into a more straightforward telling of the story. That means that, if you didn't like the movie (which I didn't), you may like this novelization because, due to the nature of the different formats, it eliminates a lot of the problems that the movie suffers from. Of course, author Stacia Deutsch must still adhere to Feig's and Dippold's story. It's not like she can tell her own tale.

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The novel is based on the script, not the final film, so it's not 100% the same as the movie. This becomes apparent when we are introduced to Erin at the start of Chapter 1. She is in her apartment, getting dressed for work, while watching the Ghost Jumpers TV show. In the movie, she's already on campus when we first see her and the TV show is only seen a little later on in the lab. Erin had a boyfriend named Phil Hudson, who also worked at Columbia University, and a mentor named Phyllis Adler, who was a bit of a jerk.

Due to the nature of the different formats, the novel eliminates the pacing issues and stupidity of the movie, so the story flows better. You'll find that Kevin isn't quite as stupid in the book. He's still dumb as a bag of rocks (he still tries to put his hand through the fish tank), but stuff like the "bang gong, put fingers over eyes" gag, and the lens-less glasses, are gone. Kevin's big-boobed ghost logo is replaced with a "silly looking cartoon ghost". A lot of his gags in the film are visual, and that does not translate well to the printed word. +1 for the novel.

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As I was reading the book, I kinda felt like I was seeing an alternate cut of the film because there was enough new material and enough material removed that it felt different. On page 53, Rowan meets a hotel guest who, due to having ectoplasm dripped on her, has a ghost living inside her back. That would have been a really cool visual effect, if it were in the film. Later on, after the climax of the story (on page 132) is a reference to the original film, when a reporter interviews a man who said that he "got into a cab being driven by a skeleton". Also, the post-credits scene is not in the book.

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A lot of the really inappropriate and dumb stuff from the film is not present in the book, such as the Dean's endless middle finger gag. Patty still slaps Abby in the possession scene, but the "Power of Patty compels you" line is MIA. We still have the lame stage dive, but Patty's "race or lady thing" line is replaced with, "How dare you let a lady hit the floor? Pick me up now!" The mayor's aide, Jennifer Lynch, shows a video on her laptop of what exactly "Mass Hysteria" is.

There are a few scenes that were deleted from the film, which still appear in the novel, that I wish were deleted from the novel as well. The "Kevin makes military and police dance" sequence (reused alongside the end credits) pops up on page 113, and just reading it made me feel dumber. When the Ghostbusters are relaxing at the headquarters eating pizza, Abby and Erin tell how they bonded as kids over a science fair project about the ghost barrier, and then pull out their old demonstration and act it out with a rap song. This would have stopped the movie dead (as if Feig didn't do that already with other bits). The rap was painful to read, so I know it would have been painful to see and hear. I wonder if they even filmed that scene. Oh, and the juvenile fart EVP joke is still present, too.

Some of the original Ghostbusters-actor cameos are different in the novel. Annie Potts' hotel clerk is now a man. Dan Aykroyd's cab driver cameo is extremely brief and lacks its "Ain't afraid of no ghosts" punchline. Lady Slimer (voiced by Ghostbusters II's Slimer, Robin Shelby) is nowhere to be found. And then there's a character deleted from the film that would have made for a great cameo. On pages 119 and 120, a "confused tenant" wanders into the Mercado lobby and is assumed by Rowan to be a fifth ghostbuster. If Rick Moranis were to have ever appeared in the film, I could totally see him playing this role.

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Eight pages of color photos appear in middle of book, between pages 76 and 77. They are arranged with more style than the photos used in the score album, which just proves, like I said in my review, that the art design on the score album was lazy and uninspired.

Up to this point, I've had nothing but good things to say about the novel. To be fair, I need to point out that the novel isn't perfect. There are spots where the author writes something that makes no sense if you had not seen the film. On page 63, she writes that "Patty's uncle's hearse [is] now called Ecto-1", but fails to state why is it now called Ecto-1. Sure, Feig and Dippold probably didn't include an explanation in the script, and the original film didn't either (we're never told why Ray chose that name for the vanity plate), but that's why this is a novelization and not a reprint of the script itself. FYI: In Richard Mueller's novelization of the original film, this isn't an issue because Ray has a line of dialogue (on page 94) in which he tells Peter that "it's not a car, it's an Ectomobile", and the car is always referred to as such. The same with the Larry Milne novelization. (Both novels are available on the Ghostbusters Books page here on Spook Central.)

On page 136, Stacia Deutsch writes that "Erin and Abby tried the Abby-and-Holtzmann elaborate handshake". Since this handshake was never mentioned before in the novel - unlike the movie, where Abby and Jillian Holtzmann do the handshake in their lab in front of Erin early in the film - I have to wonder why the author thought it should be mentioned at all. It's a visual gag that wouldn't even make sense in the printed form, especially to someone who didn't see the film first.

What I just mentioned are the only problems I found with the story in the book. Any other problems have to do with the story by Feig and Dippold, and not Deutsch's adaptation of it. This would include the amateur-level dialogue present in some sections that reads like bad fan fiction. I should know, as I've written bad fan fiction. For example, here's an except from pages 59 and 60 right after Erin and Abby perform their old science fair presentation and rap song:
Abby and Erin laughed, hugging and celebrating. "We remembered it!"

Holtzmann joined them in the hugs. "I am so happy you two are together again. So happy," she said.

Erin and Abby then looked at Patty.

"I was all set to make fun of you, but that was actually beautiful," Patty admitted. "It was good you had each other."
Later on, on pages 75 and 76, Erin kissing the ghost trap is made into more of a thing than in the movie. Not only does she kiss it at the theater after the bust, but she does so again back at headquarters:
"Guys. It's time to celebrate. This is what 'legit' feels like." She grabbed the trap and gave it another kiss.

"Okay, you gotta stop kissing the trap," Abby warned.

"I know. But it's like, the more you guys say 'Don't kiss the trap', the more I want to kiss the trap." Erin raised the trap to Holtzmann. "Get in on this!"
This just makes Erin look really stupid, or like she has some kind of brain damage. What kind of college-educated person does something like that, and multiple times, no less? Clearly, this behavior is in Feig's and Dippold's script, and is not a product of Deutsch's imagination, as Erin kisses the trap in the movie, too.

Okay, time to wrap this up...

If I knew nothing of the film before reading the book - and I mean absolutely nothing; no reading the production ins and outs, or viewing any trailers, or anything else - and this book was my first and only exposure to the story, I would have loved it. Stacia Deutsch does a better job of telling the story than Paul Feig does in the movie. Print is not only NOT dead, in this case, it far surpasses the motion picture.
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Spook Central 20th Anniversary

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 1, 2016 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Spook Central
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Where the Hell does the time go?

It was 20 years ago this month, way back in August 1996, that I created Spook Central. Yes, TWO WHOLE DECADES and still going! That means that Spook Central is the longest-running Ghostbusters website on the internet. Some would also say that it's the only good Ghostbusters thing a "Paul" has ever created :-)

I've ruminated many times before on Spook Central's creation - blog posts from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2004 are still online - so I don't really know what I can say at this point that I haven't already said before. I guess I'll make this really personal, and a little cathartic, and run down what I've been through since the site's 15th anniversary. Mind you, this only covers the past five years. It would make you weep if I told you my childhood and teenage traumas.

Starting exactly five years ago, at the end of August 2011, Hurricane Irene hit New York. My home was flooded with 1-foot of water, forcing my parents and I to be evacuated by rowboat! We were able to return a few hours later, and although we lost a lot of our belongings, the damage was minimal. It would get worse the following year. As is well-documented on Spook Central, my family fell victim to Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. Below is the last photo I ever took at my old home, at 8:50 AM Eastern on the morning of Monday October 29, 2012, linked to the last Facebook post I would ever make at that house on that computer (which was destroyed when the water rose above the height of the desk top). As you can see, at this point, the water was already over the second step of the front porch. That is my father standing there on the left, wearing his iconic red winter coat, which I now wear in his honor. About an hour later, we would leave that house, for the final time after 23 years.

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My parents and I lived in a Red Cross emergency shelter for 6 weeks, before finding a new place to live, because our old home was inhabitable. This time, the house was flooded with SIX-FEET of water, which also destroyed irreplaceable photo albums and yearbooks. With very limited resources in the shelter, I managed to find two complete "strangers" in the fandom (Hi Alim & Bob), whom I never knew before this incident, who aided my family in ways that the "proper authorities" had no interest in doing.

We moved into this new place in December 2012. My father passed away 13 months later in January 2014, and my dear friend (and fellow Ghostbusters webmaster and fan) Doreen Mulman followed two months later. The following year, in September 2015, my mother fell ill. After two and a half months, during which she was actually getting better, she passed away shortly after Thanksgiving, leaving me all by myself by the time our three-year anniversary of living here rolled around in December 2015.

My handicapped sister is the only living immediate family member I have left, and is working on moving in with me, but that process has been bogged down in bureaucratic "red tape" for the past six months. Since the passing of both parents, I have been under extreme financial hardship. It is thanks to a very understanding and patient landlord that I am not homeless right now. As if enough wasn't already taken from me, last year I was diagnosed with diabetes, so now all of my favorite foods have been taken from me, as well.

Needless to say, Ghostbusters and Spook Central, has helped me to keep going. Working on the site; reviewing new merch; chatting it up with Raffaele, Matt, and Michael about Ghostbusters (and sometimes other shit); provides a nice distraction from my troubles (not the cool ones Audrey Parker gives you). I was actually looking forward to Spook Central's 20th anniversary. I wanted to do something really special, just as I did for the 15th anniversary, when I had Spook Central embroidered patches produced.

My plan was to have Spook Central t-shirts made, similar to the one artist Dan Schoening drew me wearing in a Ghostbusters comic book.

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My idea would have had the Spook Central logo on a black shirt, as I think the contrast works better. The first issue, which I have not been able to overcome, is to get a high-res recreation of the original Spook Central logo (image at the top of this page), which Bill Emkow created for me back in March of 1997. It has to be a re-creation because that little 289x106 gif ain't gonna cut it for shirt-printing purposes. I don't have the skills to do it, but I'm thinking that it would not be too difficult for someone who does. It's a common font (Courier New), with some kind of glow and drop shadow effects, and a small cut-out of Slimer from this common Ghostbusters still image.

The second issue would be to find a place that can handle the production of the shirts, plus order processing and shipping. I see a few options online, but don't have a clear choice because I need further information. With everything that's happened in June and July, I have been too inundated with other stuff to give this research the time it requires. And without the high-res logo, there hasn't been much incentive because I can't proceed without that.

I also have to wonder: Would any of the Ghostheads out there buy a Spook Central t-shirt?

So, here I am, celebrating two decades of Spook Central without having anything special to commemorate the occasion with. It feels a bit weird to post this, because I don't like posting a "what could have been". On the other hand, I couldn't let the 20th anniversary pass without any mention whatsoever.
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Established August 1996
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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

In Loving Memory of Linda Joyce Rudoff (July 12, 1948 - November 29, 2015)

Doreen Mulman (May 22, 1961 - March 14, 2014)

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