Nostalgia and fandom have quickly sprouted in our culture. We have several conventions every year that pertain to different fandoms. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It allows people to connect with each other, for people to make new friends, to belong somewhere. There is so much positively that revolves around belonging to a fandom that only a churl would find fault.
I figured "Ghostheads" would just be an overly-joyous account of what the "Ghostbusters" movies and its place in popular culture means to different people. But boy, I was wrong. I was way wrong. I figured this would just be a fun documentary. Yes, there is plenty of fun in "Ghostheads," but I wasn't quite prepared for just how charming the film is. There are so many documentaries out there that are about something negative or dark. There are so many documentaries that show us misery and despair and beg us to change in order to make the world better. While there is always light at the end of the tunnel, the subject matter can be unbearable at times. Its nice when a documentary documents something positive, something that is wholeheartedly trying to make you feel good. I wasn't prepared for that with "Ghostheads."
"Ghostheads" documents the lives of several people who call themselves Ghostheads. They have loved everything remotely involved with "Ghostbusters" that they have immersed themselves in the culture and society of those movies. People have built their own ecto cars, they have created their own proton packs. They have also created Ghostbuster chapters all over the country, and have moved all over the world. I figured at this point, we'd meet Ghostbuster fans all over the world and learn what the movie means to them. While some of that happens, there is so much more to these Ghostbuster chapters. You see, they aren't really trying to catch ghosts. They don't dress up just to go comic-con like events. They are trying to make a difference in their communities. They do community work, they do charity work and they do it all with their proton packs wrapped safely on their backs.
Whats endearing when hearing these stories is that these movies may not have inspired these men and women to believe in ghosts, but they made them heroes. Some of them may not have touched many lives, but sometimes they save themselves. A woman in the documentary discusses at length about how she reached a self-destructing low when she was an alcoholic. It became even worse when she tried to quit and AA meetings just weren't giving her the guidance she needed to end the drinking. But what did save her was "Ghostbusters." Instead of attending AA meetings, she stayed and home and watched the franchise. That became her new drug, and she is a brand new person today. "Ghostheads" isn't just over an hour of people preaching about how awesome these movies are. Its about hundreds of people coming together through fandom and the positive change they brought to the world. Its also about how media can be positive, something that gets swept under the rug too many times.
I have had a rich history with these movies myself. My late grandma used to have the movie in a retro-VHS case. The first thing I always wanted to do when visiting my grandma was watch "Ghostbusters." Eventually, she knew how much I loved it that she gave me the retro VHS movie she had for so long. This VHS tape probably played in my home VCR more times than I can count and it still is safe in my family's home today. "Ghostheads" reminds me of those good old days, and how much of an impact they had on my life. As we see stock footage of future Ghostheads opening up Christmas presents and finding the firehouse that became the Ghostbusters base in the first film, I can't help but get excited. I had that firehouse growing up. I had my own toy Ecto car that was parked outside, along with my other toy cars and even my Millennium Falcon. My Ghostbuster action figures would be propped in their toy home along with my superheroes, plastic army men, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and anybody else in the ranks of action figure army I had growing up. As well as any beanie babies I could fit in the hideout. Its easy to look at the nostalgia on display in "Ghostheads" and be pleasantly happy by it.
"Ghostheads" is a charming little bottle of lightning, something I wasn't expecting to be moved by tonight. When an entire community of people can come together under the banner of brotherhood in order to do random acts of kindness for strangers. That's awesome. That's wonderful and its something we should be endorsing in the world today. Hats off to these guys, and hopefully they keep up the good work.
FINAL GRADE: A