For movie buff Jim Gearries, images of flying saucers from 1953"s Invaders from Mars are seared into his brain.
"It had the flying saucers and the Martians. To me, when I saw it as a kid, THAT was exciting!" This was the beginning of a life-long love of science-fiction, cult and horror films, an obsession that culminated in the creation of the Little Shoppe of Horrors, a tiny shop on 4022 South Shelby Street, specializing in horror, science-fiction and cult movies on vhs and dvds. "I always liked the name "Little Shoppe of Horrors" and I was a Jack Nicholson fan. I thought it would be good to have a store that catered to sci-fi and horror tastes. I still want someone to make me a plant like those in a Little Shoppe of Horrors for the shop! I would put it in the window right there." Gearries" unique movie selection is divided into categories like "A" movies, "B" movies, "Chick Flick Clicks," music videos and Disney films. ""A" movies normally have some big names and star quality people, big budgets and well known directors. "B" movies are done with upcoming stars on low budgets with no advertising at all. Those include directors like Ed Wood and Russ Myers." In these racks of strange movies with sometimes laughable titles, one finds horror classics like Day of the Triffids, War of the Colossal Beast, Frankenhooker and Fiend Without a Face. "I remember watching The Fiend Without a Face when I was a kid. I couldn"t sleep for a couple of days," says Gearries. He leans back in his chair and waxes on about the attraction of horror films, "If a person acquires a taste for horror, they usually get it at a young age. When you"re young, you like the feeling of being scared, but as you get older it"s harder to do." A whole row is devoted to Godzilla with more than 30 titles, surely the most extensive collection in the city. "Godzilla has done about 250 movies. Godzilla is to Japan like Superman is to America. He"s their God!" exclaims Gearries. "He even outdoes John Wayne and he did about 150 movies!" His magazine racks boast titles like HorrorFan, Cult Movies, Monster! International and Cinefantastique. He also carries a supply of masks that often sell well during Halloween. Don"t be surprised to see the Metaluna Mutant Mask made by professional mask maker Don Post. A replica of the one used in This Island Earth, many patrons recognize the green face from their childhood. "People come in all the time and take photos of it!" Gearries says with pride. Whirling around, he points to a document posted by the door. "Look at that!" It"s Timothy McVeigh"s death certificate. You never know what you"ll find in Gearries" store. He points to a small stack of VHS tapes. "Television serials," he cries. Who could pass up titles like U.S. Navy Versus the Evil Scorpion or The Mysterious Doctor Satan and Zombies of the Stratosphere. "I even had Blackenstein in here last week," he notes. Running a horror shop has had its fair share of scare for Gearries. In October of 2000, only months after he first opened shop, he was robbed at gunpoint by three masked assailants sporting Scream masks. The very same mask that"s now displayed in the corner of his store. Undaunted by the theft, Gearries chased down one of the would-be robbers in a nearby alley. He caught the thief, but never did recover his wallet. Pulling an old copy of the Spotlight from his desk drawer, Gearries unfolds it to show me a headline: "Running a horror shop is just a scream for Gearries." He laughs heartily. Horror is a funny business. Little Shoppe of Horrors Top Ten 1. Invaders from Mars 2. Forbidden Planet 3. The Day the Earth Stool Still 4. King Kong 5. Bride of Frankenstein 6. Wolfman 7. Them 8. The Thing 9. Incredible Shrinking Man 10. The Fiend Without a Face Little Shoppe of Horrors modern top five 1. Alien 2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. Halloween 4. Hellraiser 5. Exorcist