Last weekend, Marvel’s latest production destroyed critics and the box office alike with Guardians of the Galaxy. A perfectly entertaining summer movie made with undeniable passion and genuine weirdness, much of the credit for it’s success is due to hard-working writer/director James Gunn.
For many mainstream movie-goers, his name may not ring many bells. But for us astute students of horror, he has been on the radar for a long time and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
This madman marvel got his humble start at the legendary Troma studios nearly twenty years ago, writing the low-budget classic Tromeo and Juliet for the studio. Serving as an associate director on that film as well, Gunn’s roots at Troma run deep as you can see from Lloyd Kaufman’s quick cameo in the new film.
Learning the trade of low budget film-making from Mr. Kaufman (and even co-writing the book All I Need To Know About FILMMAKING I Learned From THE TOXIC AVENGER) Gunn began making his name in Hollywood as the screenwriter of the two live-action Scooby Doo films. He followed those up with the excellent script for 2004’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead“, one of the most widely accepted remakes of classic horror films.
After that surprising success, he was given the freedom to direct, and brought us one of the most truly unique, bizarre, and completely awesome horror flicks in recent memory, 2006’s “Slither“.
In the time between Slither and Guardians, Mr. Gunn was attached to many projects in a wide variety of mediums, but I always kept tabs on him at his outstanding Youtube channel, where he consistently uploaded some of the most bat-shit insane short films ever.
His PG Porn series is a highlight, a great series of shorts “for people who love everything about porn, except the sex.”
In 2009, he produced the pilot episode for the web sitcom, “Humanzee”, which was actually banned from Xbox Live and Spike, where it was originally intended to be an ongoing series. The premise of the show was this : James sends his sperm to a secret laboratory in Bratislava and receives his human-chimp hybrid son in the mail.
You can see the insanely awesome pilot below!
Another proposed series of shorts was titled “Sparky and Mikaela”, and concerned a young lady and a raccoon fighting crime together and having other offbeat adventures. The single produced episode can be seen right here :
More recently, Gunn directed a post-credits segment for the parody film “Movie 43″ and managed to win Golden Raspberry Awards for “Worst Director” and “Worst Screenplay” for his short about a very possessive cat. Check out “It’s Beezel”, so you don’t have to watch the rest of the movie!
To me, these are the highlights of an offbeat career from a unique visionary, and it is beyond exciting to see this creative maniac on the loose, wreaking high-budget havoc at Marvel. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
Go see Guardians of the Galaxy for a great time at the movies, and stay tuned to James Gunn on Facebook and his official site to see what kind of degenerate developments he comes up with next!
It is really great to have a director at the helm of these giant films that really gets what it is all about! He is definitely one of the good ones.
Check out his thank you letter to the audiences who came out in droves to see the new film this past weekend :
Thanks to all of you who saw (and are seeing) ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ this weekend, from the bottom of my heart. The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you. And, today, I think we’re doing okay.
I am of course happy with all the film has accomplished box-office-wise. But what touches me the most is that the film I told the folks at Marvel I wanted to make two years ago is the film that you’re seeing in theaters today – it’s that so many of you seem to be directly EXPERIENCING the film I INTENDED. The cast, the producers, the crew, and I felt like we were making something special while we were making it. But it is very rare that a director’s INTENTIONS in creating a film, or a scene, or a character, or a line of dialogue are, seemingly, specifically what is experienced by an audience (not to mention critics!), and that seems to be what has happened here. You have allowed a talking raccoon – for a moment, a minute, or a day – to make you a little more human. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.
If I relied on myself to implement these intentions, the film would be a shambling mess. But instead, I had a wonderful cast, genius producers, an incredibly brave studio, sublimely talented visual effects artists, great editors, and the best damn crew of mostly-British bastards to actually implement these intentions for me. Where I had a good idea they would, through alchemy, transform it into a great one. Many of you involved are friends of mine on Facebook. Many of you will read this somewhere else. I love you all.
You may remember me posting here a couple weeks ago how sad I was to be finishing up the film, that I was having trouble letting go of Rocket, and that I was going to miss him. But seeing him (and Groot, and the rest of the team) embraced by the world like they have been, to be UNDERSTOOD, makes it a wonderful letting go. It’s like giving a foster pet up for adoption to the most wonderful parents in the world.
And, of course, I’m not really saying goodbye as, while many of you have been enjoying the film, I’ve spent this weekend hard at work on the sequel. I couldn’t help myself! The results are nice but it’s really the creative process I love and that keeps me going. I’m on fire with this thing! The Guardians have so many hardships and heartaches and triumphs ahead of them, and I can’t wait to share them with all of you.
Onto week two…