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Kung Fu Zombies? The Wasp Woman? Bridgeport's The Archive's Got 'Em

There's something for every rare film buff at The Archive in Bridgeport, says co-owner James Neurath.
There's something for every rare film buff at The Archive in Bridgeport, says co-owner James Neurath. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Sure, you’ve lined up to see “Wonder Woman,” “War for the Planet of the Apes” and all the other big-name blockbusters this summer.

But chances are you’ve never even heard of some of the flicks James Neurath is peddling from The Archive, an unassuming downtown storefront that opened for business last month.

“There’s ‘Raw Force,’” he said picking up one of hundreds of DVD cases lining one wall. “That’s a kung fu/cannibal/zombies film. It’s shot in the Philippines.

“We also have a lot of blaxploitation. Here’s ‘Supersoul Brother.’ That’s a play on ‘The Six Million Dollar Man.’ It’s the kind of things you would have seen in Times Square in the ‘70s.”

Obscure to be sure, but Neurath and his three co-owners — Brandon Upson, Ryan Emerson and Ralph Stevens — are finding a market among niche film fanatics who will travel distances to get their hands on rare finds.

“The collector industry is rabid,” he said. “We have customers from New Jersey and Vermont.”

The reason is simple. Many of the low-budget movies the shop stocks are cult hits that never made much money at the box office. As a result, some had a short VHS life — if they were transferred to VHS at all.

But The Archive can get a steady stream of new flicks from the film distribution companies operating just next door to their Congress Street digs. There, staffers transfer film directly from the original reels to more accessible DVD and Blu-ray.

In fact, that’s where Neurath has been working for the past few years. Having had varied stints working in a mayonnaise factory, on a farm and doing grip work for films, he said he jumped at the chance to open the new shop.

The Archive carries a little something for everyone. Are you pining for the familiar strains of “Me and My Rhythm Box” from the midnight movie classic “Liquid Sky?” They’ve got it — on vinyl, no less.

How about a mint-in-the-box action figure from the original “Mad Max?”

Just want to stop in and play a CarnEvil or Primal Rage arcade game? You can do that, too.

Right now, The Archive is only open on weekends, but If it takes off the team plans to open a space for live music and possibly a small movie theater on the two upper floors.

While the shop’s immediate environs seem a little desolate now, Neurath said he’s hopeful the planned development of the former Majestic and Palace theaters and some new residential spaces nearby could be a game-changer for northern downtown.

“Hopefully, Bridgeport can continue to grow,” he said looking at an empty lot across the street. “We’re trying to help change the narrative of Bridgeport.”

The Archive, 118 Congress Street, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Visit the website, thearchivect.com .

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