Peter Vullo – Cultivator Profile

Buffalo is full of people helping to cultivate cinema and we want to celebrate those involved.
The Cultivators is a new monthly feature in which we highlight individuals who are integral
to the presentation, promotion and production of film here in the queen city.

THE CULTIVATORS #008
PETER VULLO
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Program Director/Host of Thursday Night Terrors
Twitter: @ScarecrowPete / @ThursdayTerrors

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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What got you interested in movies?

I’d say having my own income was probably the biggest catalyst for my interest in movies. Having my first steady job as a teenager meant I could buy a DVD player, DVDs, and a TV. I could also afford to go the movies more regularly. From there it was a rabbit hole. I have hundreds of movies at home. I haven’t watched them all just yet, but I’m working on it. Whenever I have free time I put a movie on. It’s an especially great time to be a movie lover and of genre stuff specifically thanks to all the boutique labels—Criterion, Scream Factory, Arrow Video, Synapse Films, among others—releasing deluxe editions of some undiscovered gems.

Also, meeting fellow movie lovers was crucial to my interest in movies. Sometimes it was a friend who let me borrow a DVD or a teacher who screened a movie in class. People who love movies communicate in their own language. It’s full of the names of directors, actors, movie titles, and quotes. It’s always a thrill to meet someone who shares a passion for movies. It means I’ll come away from the conversation with a new recommendation to check out.

What is your favorite movie related memory?

When I was younger, my family and I would go to second-run theaters—or “cheap shows”—often. That’s something I remember fondly. I don’t recall the specific movies or anything, but the overall experience was something special to me. Just doing something together as a family. There was a movie theater on Elmwood Ave across from the Tops Plaza. I believe it was a second-run theater, but I’m not positive. We used to go there. Then it was demolished to make way for an Aldi store or whatever’s there now. There was also the Apple Tree theater we’d go to quite a bit. It was always a treat to go to the movies as a kid, especially if my sister and I could get popcorn and drinks.

A more recent and specific movie-related memory is from the Thursday Night Terrors screening of The Thing (1982) on December 15. I was keeping the announcement of Terrors continuing into a second season pretty hush-hush. I was hoping to make it a more memorable experience than just posting about it on social media. I wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted it to be special.

In preparation for The Thing, I had a trailer made with clips from the movies I’d be playing for the second season of the series. After each clip was a title card with the name of the film and its screening date. So, just when The Thing was supposed to start, this trailer starts playing. Roddy Piper is delivering his famous bubblegum line from They Live and so on. When the audience realizes what’s going on, they start cheering and clapping after every clip—louder and louder each time. I’m standing at the very back of the theater watching this unfold. I hear all this excitement from the crowd and start to choke up a little. It was just a beautiful moment and a highlight of my life. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work. Work that I love.

We had a packed house that night. We fought against the weather and the opening of Rogue One, and still somehow managed to have the biggest crowd yet for a Thursday Night Terrors screening. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that night or how everything ended up working out perfectly. It was all thanks to the horror fans out there. They are the most dedicated, passionate, and supportive group of people I have ever come across. It’s been an honor to be able to share these screenings with them.

How did you end up in Buffalo?

I was born and raised in Buffalo. It’s my home and I love it here. The food’s good, the people are cool, and there’s always something to do.

What do you want to see more of in Buffalo?

I think Buffalo is a wonderful and fruitful cultural center. It’s full of movies, music, literature, art, dance, photography, plays, and much more. I’d like to see more exploration of all those beautiful things here. There are a ton of creative people in this city and we should promote and foster that creativity here.

Of course, I’d like to see more movie screenings in Buffalo. I have some ideas of my own that I hope to explore in the new year.

What are your essential film books?

One film book I go back to often is the book of interviews with director David Lynch. It’s called Lynch on Lynch by Chris Rodley. Every time I rewatch one of Lynch’s movies I end up re-reading the chapter for that movie in the book. Lynch is my favorite director. His interviews can often be as cryptic as his films, but there’s some insight to be found there.

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero is essential reading for every film lover. The book is about one of the best worst movies ever made: The Room directed by the infamous Tommy Wiseau. Sestero co-starred in the film and is good friends with Wiseau. In the book Sestero shares stories from the set of the film and from his friendship with Wiseau. It’s absolutely ridiculous and hilarious. It’s one of my favorite books. It turns out James Franco is adapting the book into a film with him starring as Wiseau and his younger brother Dave Franco as Sestero. I can’t wait to see it.

I also love books about movies that feature some kind of list or number in their title. I have one called 500 Essential Cult Movies that I page through regularly. There’s another one called 200 Alternative Horror Films You Need to See. Rue Morgue magazine put that one out. I recently picked up a book Fangoria put out years ago called 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen. As cheesy as these books sound, I love ‘em. It gives me a chance to discover titles I may have never heard of before or to learn more about movies I already love.

I like a lot of movie magazines as well from sort of highbrow stuff like Film Comment and Sight & Sound to more genre-specific magazines like Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and HorrorHound.

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TOP TEN FILMS
I’ll give you ten of my favorite horror films. They’re always influx, but here’s just some of the horror films I love:
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website-headerEraserhead [1977], directed by David Lynch
website-headerDawn of the Dead [1978], directed by George A. Romero
website-headerDay of the Dead [1985], directed by George A. Romero
website-headerThe Fly [1988], directed by David Cronenberg
website-headerDead Alive [Braindead] [1992], directed by Peter Jackson
website-headerDèmoni [Demons] [1985], directed by Lamberto Bava
website-headerThe Stuff [1985], directed by Larry Cohen
website-headerNight of the Creeps [1986], directed by Fred Dekker
website-headerTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me [1992], directed by David Lynch
website-headerThe Thing [1982], directed by John Carpenter


Photo of Peter Vullo by Joed Viera.
Film stills from left to right, top to bottom are The Thing, They Live,
and the Thursday Night Terrors logo designed by Josh Flanigan.

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