Monday, 25 July 2016


Title:  Ghostheads
Director: Brendan Mertens
Released: 2016

Plot: Documentary exploring the fandom of “Ghostbusters” who refer to themselves as “Ghostheads” while dressing up as Ghostbuster team members.

Review: As of late two topics seemingly have been firm favourites with documentary film makers. The first being the “unmaking of a movie” as seen with the likes of “Jodorowsky'sDune” or “Lost Soul the Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau”. The other subject being “Fanbases” a subject which a quick scan of Netflix will reveal a healthy collection of these films opening up a whole world of fanbases for things you never knew had such a following such as “Bronies” (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) or “Star Woids” (Star Wars) with the quality of said films with their easy to make format varying greatly for such as anyone whose seen the abysmal “Jedi Junkies” will no doubt attest to especially when it seemed like more of a showcase for Star Wars fan films than the fans themselves.

Needless to say the timing for this film couldn’t really be better what with the recent release of the “Ghostbusters” reboot (of sorts) whose gender swap format has been greeted with much venom by certain groups who believe that their beloved original trilogy (the video game being Aykroyd’s attempt to give the world his long mooted “Ghostbusters Go To Hell”) be somehow tainted by this latest film despite its existing very much as its own entity. Still for those twelve fans outside of my local cinema its been quite amazing to see people still so passionate about these films, much less the fact he found another eleven people to protest with him.

The debut film for director Brendan Mertens, its an impressive list of interview subjects which he has assembled for this film with key players such as Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman and Ernie Hudson all weighing in with their thoughts on the original films while Paul Feig is on hand to solely represent the new film. The main focus here though is on the various chapters of “Ghostheads”, fans who while they might dress up as Ghostbusters making their own jumpsuits and Proton packs, they still use their own names rather than cosplaying as a favourite character from the films.

Sadly the depth of his fans barely scrapes the surface of this sub-culture as we meet members from only a handful of these chapters who while they are unquestionably fans don’t exactly provide anything different between their testimonies outside of the customisations they’ve made to their own Ghostbuster equipment or pieces in their collection. Only occasionally amongst these sections spent with the Ghostheads represented here do we get something particularly interesting such as the girl who beat Alcoholism by watching Ghostbusters 1 + 2 back to back each day and whose excitement at being proposed to by fake trailer for the new film is touching to watch.

Due to keeping the focus solely on the Ghostheads the documentary feels like it limits itself compared to similar Fandom documentaries with the subjects being interviewed often feeling like they are just recycling the same stories of childhood nostalgia and viewings shared with loved family members.  The required convention gathering scenes for these documentaries feeling like missed opportunities as we stay with the same subjects who don’t really interact with any other members of the fandom outside of friendly greetings. This of course feels like a wasted opportunity to branch out from his chosen subjects and potentially find out what it is about these films which has keep them still so relevant and beloved all these year later, a question which still feels  very much unanswered by the end of the film.

Sure this documentary has its share of moments which will raise a smile or two as it taps into your own fanboy side, but I can’t help but feel that this would have been more effective as a DVD extra than attempted to be launched as its own film, especially when it doesn’t dig deep enough into the fandom to be effective. Instead what we get is more of an introduction to this lesser known fandom while perhaps at the same time leaving you wanting to don your own photon pack and hunt down a local Ghostheads chapter. At the least now we can say we know what Ray Parker Jr. has as his ringtone.

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