The Ghostbusters: Afterlife Crew Created Secret eBay Accounts To Track Down Vintage Props

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Jason Reitman's 2021 film "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," the fourth Ghostbusters film and the third in the continuity of the 1984 original, was a playground for those audiences members keen on rolling around in a warm blanket of nostalgia. Not a since detail from Ivan Reitman's seminal blockbuster went unexploited, from large recognizable elements like the Ecto-1 car and the original model proton packs, to small details like the Nestlé Crunch bar Billy Murray idly slipped into Harold Ramis' pocket in an adlibbed scene. Names like Ivo Shandor and Gozer the Gozarian are repeated openly and frequently. "Afterlife" was a film built specifically for people who had watched the original film enough times to have memorized it. Some critics bristled at the nostalgic pandering (especially at the posthumous appearance of Ramis, recreated with CGI over actor Bob Gunton), but "Afterlife" was an enormous hit, making almost $200 million internationally.

Jason Reitman was meticulous in wanting to recreate "Ghostbusters" nostalgia with "Afterlife," and appears to have gone through its script with a fine-toothed comb looking for opportunities to insert as much recreated accuracy to and details from the original as he possibly could. As was described in Ozzy Inguanzo's book "Ghostbusters: Afterlife: The Art and Making of the Movie," a lot of these details were culled from collectors, investigated on fan forums, and even purchased on eBay using several secret accounts set up solely for this purpose. 

The Wolverson Angiographic Injector

In the book, "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" set decorator Pat Healy talks about needing to go "undercover" to track down a lot of details about the original "Ghostbusters," gleaning the names of widgets and gadgets that may not have been referred to onscreen. Luckily for Healy, a lot of those names could be found online among some of the world's more obsessive "Ghostbusters" fans. It turns out, a lot of the devices seen in the background were actual pieces of scientific equipment:

"I did whatever I could to maintain accuracy and acquire these obscure pieces. That meant sometimes purchasing them on eBay or replicating them, and keeping it true, one hundred percent, to the littlest detail. Many of the props and the set dressing in that first movie were actually real pieces of scientific equipment."

The book also describes Healy's journey in finding a piece of equipment discerned through a mere Google reverse-image search: the Wolverson Angiographic Injector. In "Ghostbusters," it was a machine being wheeled out of the university when the Ghostbusters were being kicked out of Columbia University. In 1984, it's likely they just needed a piece of random equipment. In 2021, that random object became weirdly sacrosanct. 

Healy, while happy to delve into detail, was pragmatic about the dramatic function of the props: 

"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what its actual purpose was, as long as it serves the story"

The sniffer

Other notable props from the 1984 film could not be located, however, and had to be built from scratch. Healy recalls tracking down details about the squeeze-bulb ghost "sniffer" that Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) used to "scan" Dana Barrett's (Sigourney Weaver's) apartment. Healy found that, too, was a tool used to detect combustible gas, used by workers in closed environments where gas leaks may be present. The device is called a Bacharach sniffer, model 300, and the company that made it was United Technologies. While one can still purchase Bacharach sniffers, a United Technologies Bacharach 300 was nowhere to be located at the time. Healy, then, had to construct one of his own, using the 1984 film and Google images as a guide. It wasn't merely screen accurate: 

"By reaching out to six different sources, I ended up getting all the real parts and I put one together myself."

The book also relates Healy's journey in reconstructing other notable Ghostbusters props. Egon Spengler (Ramis) was briefly seen using an IM-179 miniature gamma ratemeter, a vintage piece of radiation-measuring equipment. Healy rebuilt that one. Healy also had to recreate the bran-scanning cranial device worn by Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), a different challenge as that was a fictional piece of equipment. Healy was able to get it built correctly thanks to finding the precise colander the original was constructed from. 

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is currently available to stream on Starz