An afternoon phone call finds Vincent Gallo — the rapturous, hilarious, and notoriously acerbic actor-writer-director-composer behind the art-house hit Buffalo ’66 — four-wheel driving through Florida. Disenchanted with New York City (”The Manhattan Mall,” he calls it), the 36-year-old Gallo is zigzagging toward his second home in congenial L.A., where he’s moving the bulk of an esoteric collection of 5,700 videotapes. And he’s eager to talk.
”Very ordinary, corny movies are ones that I seem to like the most,” Gallo says. ”My greatest collecting moment was a Robby Benson [TV movie] called The Death of Richie. Robby Benson was one of my favorite actors growing up and probably my biggest influence. Ben Gazzara was in the movie, which is how Ben wound up being in Buffalo ’66. I watch it about once a month.
”There are about 160 movies that I watch over and over. I watch films with Warren Beatty the most. He’s an underrated genius — I’ll tell you the three best: The Only Game in Town, Mickey One, and Lilith. I could watch those three films every day.”
Gallo goes on about The Gambler and Al Pacino in The Panic in Needle Park and Lucio Fulci’s splatter classic Don’t Torture a Duckling and paying $1,000 for Paolo Cavara’s The Ravine and…”Every time I go to [guitarist] Johnny Ramone’s house,” he says, ”I have to sit through one of his cult films. He only collects horror and gore, and to get a free meal, I have to sit through one. And eventually I want a copy of it. Even if it sucks, I have to have it. My collection has ballooned since I’ve been eating at Johnny’s place.
”Do you know who Deborah Winters is, the actress in The People Next Door? I collected all her films, too, and I want to put her in my next film, but I can’t find her. She’s not listed anywhere. I heard that [Scream star] Skeet Ulrich was dating her daughter, but I can’t bring myself to have to talk to him. So if anybody knows where Deborah Winters is, I’d like to meet her to be in my next film. She’s very, very — pretty.”
And what’s that next movie about? ”The last seven days of a long relationship.”
Neat. So what does Gallo think of laserdisc and DVD? ”I don’t own either of those formats,” he says, ”but I’m certainly not against them. I mean, videotapes suck.”