Film and TV

Who You Gonna Call? The Dallas Ghostbusters.

Some fans express love for their favorite entertainment franchise by endlessly watching, reading or buying the things that spawned their love for it. Ghostbusters fans go a step beyond, especially in Dallas.

Thirty years ago this Saturday, the blockbuster comedy became a phenomenon in spite of the fact that no studio executive would've predicted even modest success. Its mix of blue -ollar comedy with sci-fi laced sensibilities created legions of die-hard fans who rival the most dedicated Star Wars nerd or unapologetic Trekkie. The first film is so popular and admired that it still gets screened in theaters and spawns fan clubs, or "franchises" -- so called as a subtle nod to an invisible Peter Venkman, who is off somewhere enjoying the riches of the Ghostbusters franchising rights.

The Dallas Ghostbusters has become one of the more prolific franchises in the bunch. They've lasted almost a decade as a franchise and have amassed an impressive collection of homemade props. Some have turned their love of the series into a steady business and even contributed to the Ghostbusters universe in ways that a tiny kid could only dream about as he strapped on a proton pack made out of tinfoil and a shoe box.

Thiago Nascimento and Raine Moreno are responsible for founding Dallas' Ghostbusters chapter in 2006. It started like most fan groups with followers gravitating toward each other online before realizing that some lived in each other's backyards and that they could meet up and share their passions in person.

The Ghostbusters are known for building ridiculous looking hardware that leaves zero consideration for ergonomic comfort or aesthetic design. Nascimento wanted to build some props of his own and found impressive, detailed designs for something that looked like the work of a mad genius with a Radio Shack credit card.

"I found an online group of people who had very detailed schematics for building all the props from the movie," Nascimento says. "I had a passion and I found other people in Dallas who were huge Ghostbusters nerds and wanted to build prop replicas. So we all got together and morphed into The Dallas Ghostbusters."

Moreno said he fell in love with the technological side of the series.

"The toys were just so alluring and as I grew up, I still follow what kept me interested as a kid and got me to go down the road toward science: taking apart stuff and technology," Moreno says. "It got me to want to make stuff from these movies, specifically Ghostbusters, and that's where I met Thiago. After he showed me the ropes of how to build this stuff, I just ran with it."

Moreno's passion for building mixed with his love of the Ghostbusters concept have turned into a lucrative business. He set up his own prop building shop and he now makes a living building and selling proton packs and positron colliders for fellow fans and franchises. He also builds props and costumes such as full scale Iron Man suits and other superhero paraphernalia, but selling the Ghostbusters stuff represents 75 percent of his business. He predicts that "it's going to stay towards Ghostbusters for the remainder of my working years."

Moreno says they even have plans to build their own Ecto-1. Right now, they have the car, a 1961 Cadillac Superior ambulance/hearse, but it needs a little suspension work and shocks. Brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end. Also new rings, mufflers, a little wiring.

"Most people who tried to remake the car have to get some kind of off-model," Moreno says. [The movie] picked a really rare, low model production car. It's going to take a lot of work, but I know what's ahead of us and we have lot of people who really want to help."

One of the group's highest accomplishments was their contribution to the Ghostbusters video game written by stars Dan Ackroyd and the late Harold Ramis as a pseudo-third sequel. Dallas-based developer Terminal Reality brought Nascimento into their studios to give the designers a tangible set of props they could work from as they designed the graphics for the game. He even provided some of the sounds for the jumps and equipment of the player, a mute rookie who joins the Ghostbusters on another mission to save the world from being sucked into an ethereal plain of non-existence. He was only one of two people to get a "special thanks" credit at the end of the game. The other went to Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman.

"When I play the game, I completely forget that all these sounds I'm hearing are me," he says. "It's pretty trippy, man."

It might also seem trippy to think that a comedy like Ghostbusters could last as long as it has and still have such dedicated fan bases but Moreno and Nascimento have their own theories about what gives the movie and the characters such long lifespans, with now three decades full of fans.

"They all relate to the comedy," Moreno says. "It doesn't matter that it's old and the special effects are capitivating as well. I just think it's a really unique comedy. It's not in your face. It's subtle and relatable and even a kid can get one-liners that are in there and then you've got the thought of ghosts and guys who are using pieces of equipment to draw it in and that big Marshmallow Man at the end of it. It's just wacky and out there, and it's got a little bit of everything for everybody."

"I think it's just a classic," Nascimento says. "It's a combination of fantastically well done everything: acting, comedy, music. It's not even dated. Sure, it's so 1980s but it's the most beautiful 1980s weve ever seen."

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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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