“John was a powerhouse of talent and intelligence like few in the business will ever encounter. His flawless artistry and driven dedication for perfection are why he garnered so many awards and recognition,” William Butler, Vulich’s business partner and best friend, told Deadline. “He was also a hilarious dear friend to anyone that truly got to know him and there will be a huge empty space now that he is gone.”
Born in 1961 and raised in Fresno, Vulich got his start in the 1980s with one of his earliest credits creating the zombie “Bub” in George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead. Other work from this period includes Troll, The Lost Boys, and Fright Night. Vulich also served as a makeup effects supervisor on the remake of Night Of the Living Dead in 1990 and in that decade became prolific on television, going on to create makeup effects for several now-classic genre series.
Among them, Vulich worked on seminal space opera series Babylon 5, and on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which recognized him as an essential part of the creature creation in a video you can watch online here, as well as the Buffy spinoff Angel. During this period, he also handled makeup effects on 30 episodes of The X-Files. He won an Emmy for his work on all three shows.
Vulich’s other credits include the The Dark Half, Being John Malkovich, Charmed, The Prestige, Ghoulies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and more. He was a founding member of VFX studio Optic Nerve, eventually selling the company to his colleague Glen Hattrick, and more recently had gone into business with Butler producing shows and bumpers for Disney Channel.
He’s survived by his longtime girlfriend, Nicole and her children, his mother and stepfather.