Tom Lemieux, left, Brian Austin, center, and Michael Marshall stand next to Ecto-1 in Lemieux’s driveway in Oakland earlier this month. The three are members of the Maine Ghostbusters. Lemieux’s Ecto-1, modeled after the iconic vehicle in the latest “Ghostbusters,” is the only movie-accurate car — made from a vintage 1985 Cadillac hearse — in Maine, according to Lemieux.

OAKLAND — Over the past 14 months, Tom Lemieux has spent thousands of dollars building Ecto-1 out of a 1985 Cadillac hearse, with screen-accurate details such as a carbonation tank and Rayovac lanterns on the roof racks.

He affixed the old walkie-talkie onto his belt to bust out movie quotes, wired a P.K.E. Meter to frantically blink, and owns not one but six Proton Packs he built himself, with intricate sound effects and brimming lights. They each have names — Pinto, D’Artagnan, Woodstock — and Lemieux likens it to picking out shoes in deciding which one to wear on a given day.

“Usually, it’s the one I built the latest,” said Lemieux, 32. “I go to show it off, but I try to mix it up.” 

He’s one-seventh of the Maine Ghostbusters. And this is their time of year.

The group’s been active since 2010, shortly after a chance meeting at a 25th anniversary screening of the original “Ghostbusters.” Members appear at parades, comic conventions, summer camps, public and private events, always donating appearance fees to charity, most often the Center for Grieving Children.

They’ve raised more than $8,000 in seven years.

“These kids come up and it’s like they’re running into their childhood hero,” said Brian Austin, 34, of Portland. “To them, we’re not guys dressed up as Ghostbusters; we’re Ghostbusters, so it’s pretty great.”

As a kid, Austin endlessly rented the 1984 movie at Shaw’s. Flash-forward to a 25th anniversary screening in Westbrook.

“I’m sitting there, I’m feeling like a cool guy, I’m wearing my Ghostbuster T-shirt, Ghostbuster hat, then this guy walks in with a Proton Pack,” Austin said. “‘Oh my god, I’ve got to talk to this guy.'”

That guy was Justin Hamner. Michael Marshall, Cory Henley-Nicholson, Heather Henley-Nicholson and Derek Saucier round out the group, which is recognized by Sony as an official Ghost Corps franchise.

They reached out to Lemieux because of his cosplay reputation as Iron Man of Maine.

“Ever since I was little, I was the one that would take apart the VCR, the hairdryer, to see how it works,” Lemieux said. “I always had projects growing up, and science fairs. I got into Iron Man in 2012-2013, then I met up with the Maine Ghostbusters. I put on my first Proton Pack and I said, ‘OK, new project.'”

He found the bones of his Ecto-1, a replica of the 2016 movie version, in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 2016 for $900 on Craigslist. It had been a working hearse, and it ran, but that’s about all it had going for it.

“The wings (on the body) had water that got into them and it was just green mold,” Lemieux said.

He invested $4,500 on engine work and paint. Then began the job of making the top movie-accurate, relying on screen shots of the film and fans who’d poked around taking measurements on set.

“There’s a whole community, gbfans.com, so other people like me from all across the world, if somebody finds, ‘OK, this is actually a Rayovac lantern,’ they’ll post it,” Lemieux said.

Sometimes other fans, after deconstructing a piece seen on the screen, make custom kits and sell them to members of Ghostbusters chapters around the world to finish and assemble.

“It’s pretty interesting the things they used to make these props,” Austin said. “For instance, the P.K.E. Meter that everyone loves so much, it’s actually a shoe polisher; that’s all that is.”

Each member wears a flight suit turned out with patches and belts ringed with gadgets. It’s an expensive passion — Lemieux recently added a 760-watt amplifier to Ecto-1 so he can switch music on during parades, and a deluxe Proton Pack can run $2,500. The group also covers its own gas and meals during events.

“As much as I wanted to do this, anyway, (initially) there was no way I could justify the cost,” Austin said. “When I found about (all of the funds going to charity), I was totally on board. Knowing that you can do something that you love, that’s very fun and puts smiles on people’s faces, but you’re also contributing to a very good cause? That’s why you do it.”

They do accept new members, after a trial period. Got a flight suit? Afraid of no ghosts? Drop them a line on Facebook.

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send ideas and photos to [email protected]

Proton Packs that Tom Lemieux built from scratch, some built with parts from his 3-D printer, hang on the wall of his basement.

Even Tom Lemieux’s bedroom is “Ghostbuster”-themed

Every inch of Tom Lemieux’s basement is filled with “Ghostbusters” or other movie-themed collectibles or custom-made items.

Tom Lemieux shows off one of dozens of custom replicas of equipment from the “Ghostbusters” movies he made in his home in Oakland.

Tom Lemieux holds the firehouse station box he made for donations. Donations and any money from appearances for the Maine Ghostbusters go entirely to charity, most often benefiting the Center for Grieving Children.

Tom Lemieux has modified an old walkie talkie to play popular audio clips from “Ghostbusters” movies.

A patch on the uniform of Tom LemieuxEven the valve stem on the tire of Ecto-1 is customized.

Maine Ghostbuster Brian Austin unstraps a Proton Pack from the back of Ecto-1

The Maine Ghostbusters logo adorns the back of Tom Lemieuxs’ Ecto-1.

Maine Ghostbusters’ upcoming appearances:

• Portland Comic Expo, Sunday, Oct. 29, Portland

• Rhode Island Comic Con, Nov. 10-12, Providence, Rhode Island

The custom ghost hood ornament on Tom Lemieux’s Ecto-1.


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