In a year where real life is scarier than any horror movie, the descent into the world of the spooky and macabre may be the necessary remedy to cure the COVID blues.
Enter Weirdo Wonderland in Milford, a small shop tucked away on Bridgeport Avenue that specializes in everything horror.
“I’ve been doing pop-up markets and conventions for quite a few years and it just grew to a point where I needed a more solid base of operations,” said owner Eric Bruce. “Having a physical location allows me to bring on more stuff that I couldn’t necessarily bring on the road with me.”
Bruce opened the store in April 2019 and has provided fans of the horror genre with a refuge, complete with a hodge-podge of collectibles. Walking into the shop, one can find anything from one-of-a-kind art prints of some of the most iconic horror slashers like Freddy Kreuger to film-quality masks from retro horrors movies like “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “The Wolf Man.” Adding to the decor is the black-light motif of the store, which creates a vibrant-yet-vintage nature.
“We skew more towards vintage horror but we have some modern slashers in there as well,” Bruce said. “The best compliment that I have ever received was that (the store) is a mixup of ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse’ meets ‘House of 1000 Corpses.’ ”
“Prepare to be overstimulated,” Bruce added.
The Milford resident has been a fan of the genre since he can remember, recalling that he was only 5-years-old when he watched his first horror movie. From that point, Bruce said, he was hooked.
“The first horror movie I ever saw was ‘The Amityville Horror’ that my step-grandmother exposed me to while babysitting me. At that point, I didn’t even know there were horror movies,” Bruce said. “It terrified-yet-fascinated me.”
Bruce has been spearheading the horror scene in Connecticut, which he says has grown in recent years. Weirdo Wonderland sponsors Connecticut Cult Classics, which has shown movies at the Ansonia Drive-In such as “Ten Minutes to Minute” and on October 17, “The Gate.” Before the pandemic, Weirdo Wonderland sponsored the “Sci-Fi at the Strand” movie series at the Strand Theater in Seymour.
Weirdo Wonderland closed in March due to the pandemic and remained closed for four months. After reopening in June, Bruce said he is raring to go after the “COVID curveball” put a stop to the momentum the shop was building with its successful artist events and print releases.
“You really (can’t) compare (the past year) with a normal year,” Bruce said. “The fact that we are still staying afloat through all of this is a testament that we will be doing great if and when things get back to normal.”
Bruce said he’s looking forward to the future of his spooky store, even detailing a split promotional flyer that he’s looking at producing with The Archive in Bridgeport, a video and music store that specializes in all things horror and exploitation.
“Our shops are 10 minutes down the road from each other and we see each other more on the road,” Bruce quipped.
If you're looking for something strange in this Milford neighborhood, now you know who to call: Weirdo Wonderland.