YUMA, Ariz. — Yuma resident Mark Plante ain't afraid of no ghosts. An enthusiast of the movie "Ghostbusters," he has created a working replica of the iconic Ecto-1.
In the 1984 blockbuster, the Ecto-1 is a tricked-out ambulance covered in paranormal fighting gear that was used to transport the four Ghostbusters — Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston — to capture poltergeists.
"I am a pretty big fan. It is one of my favorite movies," Plante said.
Plante, who owns Main Street Physical Therapy, decided several years ago that he wanted to create a replica of the Ecto-1.
After spending a considerable amount of time searching for an ambulance similar to the 1959 Cadillac in the film, Plante finally found a suitable lookalike in Tucson that was still running, although "poorly, just like in the movie," he said.
He purchased the elongated 1972 hearse-style ambulance for $2,000 about four years ago and brought it to the Yuma area to begin retrofitting it.
"Then I found the '59 fins on eBay, and one of my patients welded my fins on there and painted it to be movie accurate."
Plante's replica is white with a red stripe on the side emulating the original. After painting the car, he began searching for movie-accurate ghost-fighting gear to put on it.
"Another patient of mine, who had become a friend, started working on the roof rack to attach all the gadgets. During that time, I was spending about five hours a night for about five months scouring eBay and Craigslist for all the screen-accurate gadgets to go on it."
He made a commitment to keep the replica as true to the original as possible and spent about $3,000 on gadgets. "We took a lot of photos from the screen shots and got it accurate."
The replica also sports the Ghostbusters logo on the doors, a working siren and functioning emergency lights.
Plante owns a store-bought Ghostbusters uniform but is making four screen-accurate uniforms and proton packs.
In the film, proton packs are nuclear-powered backpacks attached to a rod that fires a proton stream that in turn holds a ghost in place until it can be trapped in a special device.
Plante enjoys driving his Ecto-1 replica around Yuma and recently drove it during the Dorothy Young Centennial Electric Light Parade in the Historic North End.
"It is just exhilaration. It is a lot of fun. You are on top of the world when you are driving in a car like that."
The Ecto-1 is on display at Plante's property and is the centerpiece of the "'Twas the Fright Before Christmas." The interactive haunted holiday walk-through display opened to the public Friday as a fundraiser for the Habitat for Humanity of Yuma.
The haunted walk-through is filled with spooky props and gizmos decorated with a holiday theme based on the "Nightmare Before Christmas" movie.
The walk-through, which winds through one acre of land, is staffed by costumed volunteers who pop up unexpectedly to frighten the guests as they journey through a fake cemetery and haunted house.
"It is an appropriate Ghostbusters cemetery," said Frank Carrillo, Yuma-area Habitat executive director. "We run the people through there and we try to keep all the lights going on (Ecto-1)."
The night-time haunted walk-through is open through Dec. 23. Then, after closing for a few days in observance of Christmas, the walk-through will reopen Dec. 27-31.
All of the money made from the sale of $5 tickets will be donated to Yuma Habitat for Humanity.
"This is one of our bigger fundraisers, and we want to make it the best one," Carrillo said.
Although the interactive display is holiday-themed, young children under the age of 6 might be too frightened to endure the walk, Plante warned.
"I am guessing 6 and above should not have a problem but you know your kids better than we do, so if they like the spooky, scary movies they'll probably get a kick out of it. But if that gives them nightmares, this might not be the best thing."
Even Plante, who is a Ghostbuster at heart, admitted that he gets creeped out by his own creation at times.
"There have been a few nights that I've been out there working and I hear a weird noise and, even though I know it's my backyard, I have to go in because it gets a little too much."
Information from: The Sun, http://www.yumasun.com