319 East 2nd Street, #103
Los Angeles, CA 90012
HOURS: Monday, Wednesday-Friday - 12:"00pm to 8:00pm; Saturday - 11:00am to 8:00pm; Sunday - 11:00am to 7:00pm (closed Tuesday)
FEATURES: This has about the best collection available anywhere in Los Angeles of new and used DVDs, laserdiscs, trading cards, posters, and other collectibles. Their specialty is anime and superhero characters, but they are loaded with kaiju stuff as well (Godzilla, Gamera, etc.) Many of their DVDs are domestic releases of Japanese films, so you will be able to watch them on your U.S.-purchased DVD players without any problems (and with English subtitles and/or dubbing). They also carry magazines devoted to anime and giant monster movies. The staff is very courteous, andthe store is very comfortable for English-speaking customers: if you're looking for something but don't quite know what it is, they will help you find it.
HIGHLIGHTS: The store contains numerous imported DVDs, so if you have a region-free player, you can obtain a copy of the original 1954 version of GODZILLA (before Raymond Burr was added) on disc -- if you're willing to pay the $75 sticker price (which may be worth it, when you consider that the film is not available on domestic DVD).
COLLECTIBLES: You will find lots of great Bandai toys here. The walls are lined with glass shelves filled with action figures, toys, small figurines, resin and PVC model kits: you will recognize characters from Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, and anime films andtelevision shows. If you want a complete set of all the monsters seen in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, you've come to the right place! Some of this stuff is expensive, but the prices are generally not unreasonable (considering that these are hard to find imports), and some of them are outright bargains.
DRAWBACKS: This is essentially a movie collectibles store, so you will not find many (if any) manga or books. Also the emphasis is on fantasy andscience-fiction rather than horror, but even so you will find a few DVD imports of horror titles. (Just don't expect any collectible figures of Kayako or Sadako!)
OTHER INFORMATION: This shop is located in the Little Tokyo Shopping Mall, almost next door to the J-Wave video rental store. So you can kill two birds with one stone in your search for Japanese imports.
11280 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
HOURS: Monday-Saturday, 10:00am to 12:00 midnight. Sunday, noon to midngiht.
FEATURES: an excellent selection of obscure, foreign, cult, and art house movies on video and DVD. Yes, they have mainstream Hollywood films, but this is the store to go to when you can't find what you're looking for anywhere else (e.g., this is the only video store in Los Angeles that will rent you a DVD copy of the second installment of Lars Von Triers strange and weird Danish TV miniseries The Kingdom II). The store rents lots of foreign DVDs that won't work on your Region 1 players, but they also sell region free DVD players at reasonable prices.
RENTALS: Newly released videos and DVDs are rented for two days. After two weeks, the rental period extends to a full week. The regular rental price is a little higher than at some other stores, but there are several good deals available for frequent renters.
DISCOUNTS: You can purchase rental cards that entitle you to 20 or 40 rentals at a greatly reduced price. Or, you can get unlimted rentals for $25 a month (limit two at one time, but for an extra $5 you can have three at once).
HOURS: Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 6pm; Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 7pm; closed Mondays
FEATURES: wonderfully gothic ambience in a large venue filled with a wide selection of horror and fantasy fiction, everything from best sellers to obscure cult authors. Also sells magazines, DVDs, CDs, jewelry, action figures, and other collectibles--all with a gothic slant, of course.
AUTHOR SIGNINGS: In-store guests sign their work almost every weekend, sometimes during the week, too. Because of Hollywood Gothique's focus on cinema, we only list appearances related to film subjects. For the complete list, check out the Dark Delicacies website.
2311 North Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505
FEATURES: Fry's Electronics is a chain of warehouse-sized stores where you can buy everything from appliances to stereos to cameras to computers to software, music, movies, and more. Besides electronics and appliances, there is a huge selection of CD and DVDs, including an impressive array of science-fiction and horror titles: box sets, anime, andobscure films you might not find anywhere else (outside of a specialty store, that is).
HIGHLIGHTS: The fun thing about Fry's stores (besides their big selection and and good prices) is that each one is decorated in a different theme (for example, an Amazon rain forest). For science-fiction fans, the Fry's store in Burbank, at the corner of Hollywood Way and Valhalla Blvd, near the Bob Hope Airport, comes close to being a must-see tourist attraction, thanks to decorations that combine elements from such sci-fi classics as MARS ATTACKS, DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, THEM, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, STAR WARS, INDEPENDENCE DAY, and GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. The props range from life-sized to miniatures to giant-sized, and all are arranged to give the impression that the Martians have landed and are in the process of taking over the store, mleting hapless army guys in the process.
ADVANTAGES: If you're not interested in shopping, but just want to check the place out, there is a small eatery called the Atomic Cafe, which is set up to look like a drive-in movie theatre from the 1950s, complete with old sci-fi flicks project up on a screen while you munch on a burger and a coke in the hollowed out shell of a convertible Chevy.
REVIEW: Get more details and lots of photos from our trip to Sci-Fi Fry's.
HOLLYWOOD BOOK & POSTER
6562 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90068
HOURS: 11:00am to 6:00pm Monday through Thursday; 11:00am to 7:00pm Saturday; 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday.
FEATURES: You want film books? You want movie posters? Hollywood Book & Poster has a huge selection, plus magazines, stills, slides, lobby cards, press kits, and other collectibles.
HIGHLIGHTS: Breadth and depth. The store owners seem to have a predilection for cult and horror movies, but you can also find stuff from mainstream films as well. If you're searching for a hard-to-find still from an obscure movie, this is the place to come. They will probably have what you want -- and lots more, too.
DRAWBACKS: Not many, unless you find the traffic and parking situation in Hollywood just too much to stomach.
EVENTS: The store occasionally hosts autograph events with celebrities signing copies of their latest book or stills from their latest movie (for example, most of the cast and crew for THE DEVIL'S REJECTS showed up prior to the film's release).
319 East 2nd Street, #122
Los Angeles, CA 90012
HOURS: Monday-Saturday 10am to 1:00am; Sunday-10:00am to midnight
FEATURES: This video rental store is loaded with an extensive selection of Japanese imports. You can find tons of stuff long before it becomes available anywhere else (if ever). There are mainstream movies, dramas, anime, science-fiction, and even lots of audio CDs of Japanese pop music (for rent). There is a large section of adult titles: most of this is just pornography; however, if you search diligently, you might find some X-rated horror titles (live-action flms that appear to have been inspired by anime like UROTSUKI-DOJI, with helpless school girls sexually assaulted by tentacled monsters).
HIGHLIGHTS: Located in the Little Tokyo Shopping Mall, this is a great place to visit, as it is surrounded by other shops and restaurants worth checking out in the area.
DRAWBACKS: Keep in mind that this is essentially a video rental store; this is not a place to shop if you are looking to purchase. The majority of the stock is VHS tape; there are some DVDs, but they are Region coded imports, so they will not play on your U.S.-purchased DVD player (unless it's region free). Also remember that this store caters to the local Japanese-speaking population: most of the video box art is in Japanese, so English-only speakers may have trouble finding the title they are looking for; also, the tapes are usually without subtitles.
329 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
HOURS: 11:00am to 7:00pm Daily
FEATURES: This small shop features a modest but worthwhile selection of manga, DVDs, and audio CD imports, plus some souvenirs and clothing (t-shirts emblazoned with your names of your favorite anime characters, etc). The small selection of DVDs is almost totally devoted to anime, and most of the store space seems to be taken up by music CDs and manga (in Japanese, of course). There is a small section of adult titles (only 21 and over allowed).
HIGHLIGHTS: Located in the Little Tokyo Shopping Mall, this is a great place to visit, as it is surrounded by other shops andrestaurants worth checking out in the area. If you can't find what you're looking for here, you can always step over to Anime Jungle, which has a much larger selection.
NOTABLE: For some reason, this store now sells those Japanese school girl uniforms you see characters wearing in films like JU-ON: THE GRUDGE. Since there does not seem to be a big demandfor that kind of uniform in Los Angeles, one assumes this clothing is being sold for costumes. (Considering the fate [often worse that death] that befalls the girls wearing these uniforms in adult-anime films, one imagines that these costumes are the equivalent of the French maid outfits one sees in adult love boutiques!)
DRAWBACKS: The selection is small, andif you're looking for live-action horror or science-fiction you are pretty much out of luck. This is not really a store you visit to finda rarity unavailable elsewhere; it's more a bargain-hunter type place, where you stop in andhope to find a good deal on some used merchandise.
KINOKUNIYA BOOK STORE
123 Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street, #205
Los Angeles, CA 90012
HOURS: 10:00am to 8:00pm Daily
FEATURES: This is the biggest Japanese book store in the Los Angeles area. It is filled with books and magazines about Japan and Japanese culture, Japanese books translated into English, and Japanese books and manga in Japanese. There are also DVDs and some collectible figures.
HIGHLIGHTS: The breadth of selection is pretty impressive. Although a mainstream store (not sci-fispecialist), you will be able to find lots of manga, along with books about how to draw manga and books about your favorite anime franchises.
DVDS: Kinokuniyapretty much stocks domestically released discs of Japanese imported films (along with a few titles related to Japan, like THE LAST SAMURAI). That means you're not likely to find some rare imported disc not availableanywhere else, but you will findjust about every film released on DVD by the labels the specialize in Asian imports (Media Blasters, Tartan, etc). Mixed in with the ubiquitous Kurosawa titles, you will find numerous horror titles like MATANGO and NIGHTMARE. There is also a complete separate section devoted to anime films, where you fill find not only STEAMBOY (which is easily available elsewhere) but also a two-pack of STEAMBOY and Katsuhiro Otomo's previous film MEMORIES.
DRAWBACKS: There is not a lot in the way of collectibles, but a recent visit revealed a large Godzilla figure from GODZILLA VS. DESTROYER (priced at $99) and a "scene realization" from Katsuhiro Otomo's STEAMBOY.
SURROUNDINGS: Kinokuniya is located upstairs in the Weller Court, off of a small pedestrian-traffic-only street named after astronaut Ellison S. Onisuke, one of the crew of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle. The court has outdoor seating, and there are nearby stores where you can buy food and drinks. The parking situation is not great, but this is a pleasant area to take a stroll, so it doesn't hurt to park somewhere nearby and walk to the store.
10587 W. pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
HOURS: Tuesday-Saturday 10am to 10pm; Sunday-Monday 12pm to 8pm
FEATURES: extensive list of DVDs and laserdiscs for sale or rent; occasional in-store appearances by filmmakers.
FEATURES: Books, comics, clothing, and collectibles for the sci-fi fanatic. Located at Universal Studios' CityWalk, so there are lots of other things to see and do besides buying your favorite comic books.
DRAWBACKS: Parking and crowds mitigate against making the make the trip just to buy the newest comic book, but if you want to spend a day doing other things, too, then this is worth the inconvenience.