A still from alumnus Charles Pieper’s Malacostraca, a horror film he recently screened at the Witch City Horror Film Festival. Courtesy photo
By Molli DeRosa ’21
Two Emerson College alumni celebrated Halloween this year by screening their bone-chilling horror films at the Witch City Horror Film Festival in the haunting town of Salem, Massachusetts.
Charles Pieper ’09 and Ryan Cultrera’s (’11) films were presented on the big screen at Cinema Salem the weekend before Halloween to ring in the spooky festivities. But to Pieper, having his film, Malacostraca screened in a theater meant more than a trick or a treat.
“Making it took four and a half grueling years,” Pieper said. “[I] never gave up, even when I wanted to, and I am proud of that persistence.”
Malacostraca follows the story of a writer who ‘loses grip on reality’ as his wife is pregnant with his child, Pieper explained.
Each film is completely unique to the ideas and minds of each alumni.
Cultrera chose to adapt an Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” into his work, Tell Tale, because of how Poe “takes personal sadness and horrors of the real world and twists them into something beautiful.”
Cultura notes how although he has worked in genres like comedy and romantic drama, “I always tend to find my heart drifting back to the horror genre.”
Horror is the only time one can feel the sensation and adrenaline of being afraid and experience it in a safe environment, he noted.
The creators also thought Halloween was the ideal time to screen their horror films, and the bewitching town of Salem was just the place to do it.
Cultrera described the feeling of walking around Salem on a chilly fall day, and settling down in the seat of a theater to experience a fresh voice in the horror universe. “It’s the perfect place and time for a horror film festival,” he said.
The Emerson graduates are currently based out of Los Angeles and are working on various other projects.