After a 27-year absence, the Ghostbusters movie franchise is at last returning to the big screen on July 15 with a new, rebooted version, featuring a new all-female onscreen ghostbusting team plus some guest spots from original GB survivors Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. And in Knoxville, homegrown movie house titans Regal Entertainment Group will host the local premiere, and also serve as co-sponsors of Ghostbusters Day, a (slightly misnamed) two-day slate of ghostly events and activities surrounding the premiere at downtown’s Regal Riviera.
Taking a lead role, and also co-sponsoring the event is real-life local ghostbuster J-Adam Smith, who is also the proprietor of Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours. If you’re a downtown regular, you may recognize Smith with his shaven pate and exquisitely manicured goatee. Even more likely, you recognize his car, a lavish black-on-purple hearse, streaked with green and imprinted with the HKGT logo.
Dubbed by some “The Paranormal Historian,” Smith has made appearances on a variety of supernatural-themed national cable and network television programs, and been interviewed in various magazines. He’s also an unabashed Ghostbusters fan boy.
“I loved the Ghostbusters movies, and I’m so excited after waiting 27 years,” Smith says. “And I wanted to create something memorable around the premiere. I’d like people to talk about it some day: “Do you remember the time Ecto-1 was led by a phalanx of police cars down Gay Street?'”
The latter being a reference to one of the Ghostbusters Day events, involving a replica of the original Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, the 1959 Cadillac ambulance that original GBs Peter and Raymond and Egon and Winston used to haul their proton packs and ecto goggles (not to mention a roof-mounted proton cannon) around to sundry supernatural emergencies.
The Friday afternoon processional featuring Ecto-1 will be one of many highlights of the weekend, and superfans who want the full-monty Ghostbusters premiere experience can log onto ghostbustersday.com for ticket package information. Smith warns that many of the perks — such as VIP seating at the movie premiere, and a spot on the Saturday evening Paranormal Adventure Tour — are in short supply, so make your reservations early.
The weekend will include a variety of special events at our very own Scruffy City Hall, as well, including a movie after-party 11 p.m. Friday, and a nearly-full day of Saturday activities including a Ghostbusters trivia contest, a Harold Ramis tribute (Ramis being the late, lamented star who played Egon Spengler in the original films), a Ghost Hunting 101 lecture/panel discussion featuring a handful of visiting paranormal experts, and a special viewing of the Knoxville-based documentary film “Historic Haunting: A paranormal study of Ramsey House.”
Also available for those who purchase the premium-level Ghostbusters Day event packages (again, see the website for deets) is the Saturday evening paranormal adventure tour, a spook-filled sojourn through various local paranormal hot spots — of which, Smith says, Knoxville has more than its allotted share.
“Knoxville is one big Ground Zero for paranormal activity,” says Smith, whose daily Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours trips visit a variety of area graveyards, battle grounds, and other ghostly hangouts. “I mean, the city has dead soldiers walking around the streets. There’s an 80 to 85 percent chance of getting activity .”
Smith says his HKGT guests regularly experience first-hand the likes of EVPs (electronic voice phenomena — creepy, unexplained voices that turn up on audio recordings), orbs and floating EMFs (electromagnetic fields, believed to a be a sign of ghostly activity).
And for the skeptics among us, Smith says his tours are solidly rooted in real historic events; so even if you don’t believe in things that go bump in the night, you’ll find yourself learning a fascinating fact or three about Knoxville, and some of its more, shall-we-say unusual historical events.
“It makes you feel like you’re a Ghostbuster,” Smith chuckles. “It’s always a fun time.”
Ghostbusters Day events at Scruffy City Hall will include the movie after-party Friday night at 11 p.m., and a full slate of events, including the ghost hunters panel, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 16.