Zombie flesh, a shark jaw and Godzilla slippers are just a few of horror fans favourite things-and now they can conveniently find them in a horror-themed store in the Burnaby Heights neighbourhood.
A giant statue of a vampire marks the spot on Hastings Street where long-time Burnaby local Darryl Gasbarri has opened up his little shop of horrors, Netherworld Collectibles.
"For me, Halloween is all year-round," Gasbarri said, amongst his shelves filled with zombie memorabilia, horror filmmaking books and rare scary movies. "It's not just once a year. The horror genre is ongoing. People liked to be scared everyday."
Gasbarri, 36, opened the store in the Heights on Feb. 21 after a few renovation snags and opening day snafus pushed it back from Feb. 15.
With a history in the retail business and an inclination towards being his own boss, Gasbarri says opening the store was through a combination of his skill and history in retail and customer service, as well as his love for the horror genre.
"I've always been entrepreneurial," he said. "I took something I was good at, like retail, and paired it with my passion for horror movies that I've loved my whole life, since I was a little kid."
A former employee of Tazmanian Comic Connection from 1994 to 2000, Gasbarri said he learned a lot about product placement and shelving from the comic book store that was in Burnaby for almost 25 years before moving further down Hastings into East Vancouver.
After getting the idea in November to open up a shop, it didn't take long for Gasbarri to get the ball rolling-it was a matter of scouring the globe for different types of horror-affiliated products that would appeal to his market and also interest the independent and student horror filmmakers.
"I had to diversify as much as possible," he added. "I got all the different stuff I could find of the genre, all over the world. I found the coolest stuff outside of North America."
He says he's particularly fond of his skull and bone pendants made out of real bone that came in from Tibet, and he's looking forward to getting in a fresh-water crocodile skull.
"That's a high-end item," he noted, while standing behind his glass counter display filled with statues from famous movies such as Friday the 13th, Magic: The Gathering cards and zombie playing cards. "I will not be upset if it doesn't sell because it'll look so cool on display."
Some of his favourite items in the store include the zombie head cookie jar, a kitchen knife set holder going through a statue of a red-coloured human figure, and his rare zombie and horror flicks that are hard to find-such as the famous 1979 Italian movie Zombie, with its renowned scene of a zombie fighting a shark in the ocean and taking a bite out of it.
He says the store basically looks like his bedroom, but not with as many DVDs.
"I avoid Hollywood movies like the plague because you can get them anywhere," he said. "The big box stores won't carry these."
He also carries the popular yet hard to find Troma's series, Toxic Avengers, among others.
Film is an area of interest for Gasbarri especially, since he had a brief stint making his own zombie-horror flick, The Fairway Gnome, where he used a book to help him shoot it, which is what inspired him to carry horror filmmaking books and products in his store.
"That movie will never see the light of day though, because the acting was so bad," Gasbarri joked.
As well as carrying filmmaking how-to books, Netherworld Collectibles also has higher-end zombie flesh, zombie spray blood, spirit gum (an adhesive and remover to attach prosthetics to someone willing) and will soon be getting in tubs of fake blood.
"I had film students come in last week and they were impressed with the store," Gasbarri said. "One of the girls said, 'Where were you when I needed fake rocks?'"
Gasbarri says he goes to movie set sales to pick up fun things, such as his fake foam rocks that can be used to shoot a scene where a zombie gets bludgeoned with one to the head.
"Everybody benefits from movies in B.C.," he said. "Retailers, wholesalers and people who can rent out their space. I fully support the film industry in B.C., especially the independents and students, who are the next generation of filmmakers."
Originally, the name of his store was going to be Black Lagoon, after his all-time favourite horror fiction movie (and its monster) the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
"But my girlfriend said the younger crowd won't know what it is because it's a movie from the '50s," Gasbarri explained. "So I got a list of every word associated with horror and we sat down and I went, 'No, no, no, no, no' until I got one third of the way down the list and hit netherworld.
"By the time I got to the end of the list, it was firmly implanted in my head that, that would be the name of my store. It just clicked. It's perfect."
Gasbarri said he's looking forward to having a booth set up at the upcoming Fan Expo Vancouver on April 20 and 21.
"My target market will be there all under one roof," he said. "All my advertising dollars I have saved are for that show."
As for the giant vampire sitting outside his door, Gasbarri will be featured on the locally shot show The Liquidator haggling for it in the show's next season.
If you're in the market for a book about the history of cannibalism, or Fortean Times magazine filled with strange stories, or a Ka-Bar zombie knife (from the makers of the standard issue U.S. Army combat knife), a hand-folded katana, or The Walking Dead memorabilia, or graphic novels and novelty posters, then head over to 4251 Hastings St., or hit "like" on the Netherworld's Collectibles Facebook page.
"There wasn't a horror store in Burnaby," Gasbarri said. "Because of the popularity of the genre I believed there needed to be one.
"The city needs it, and I might be tooting my own horn saying that it's a need. It's a want. It's stuff I want. And there's a lot of people out there like me."
© Copyright 2013