The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, we’re looking at the early genre work of a current A-list filmmaker…
Once upon a time, James Gunn was known for his work in low budget horror. Specifically, Gunn got his start working as a writer at Troma Entertainment. Now, if you don’t know Troma, they specialize in a very niche kind of filmmaking. It’s low on money, high on gore, and often very funny as well. Hallmarks of where Gunn would go in his career could be found here. Screenwriting gigs on Tromeo and Juliet, as well as The Specials, got him a foot in the door with Hollywood. That led to uncredited work on Thir13en Ghosts, as well as writing both live action Scooby Doo movies. However, it was one specific writing gig that launched him towards where he is today.
Gunn wrote the Dawn of the Dead remake helmed by Zack Snyder, which was incredibly well-received. That allowed him to go forth and make his directorial debut with Slither. That one-two punch are the main horror efforts of his that folks appreciate, and also where I’m focusing the column today.
Dawn of the Dead is a stylish effort from Snyder, though one with a really lean and mean script from Gunn. Their styles are very different, but compliment one another here. It’s arguably Snyder’s most complete work, and I’d argue that it’s Gunn’s love of zombie movies that allows this to feel like far more than just another remake. It’s one of the best horror remakes of all-time, with much of the credit going to him.
Slither was his reward in a way, which you can see in the gleeful gore on display. The effects are largely practical and often gnarly (just look below), but there’s a fun to be had. Gunn knows his way around the genre and isn’t shy to show you his influences. As a calling card film, it’s a blood-soaked riot, to be sure. Myles actually wrote more about that here in a previous Sunday Scaries piece, so check that out as well.
Since then, we’ve obviously seen Gunn get much bigger in scale, though his love for gore didn’t go away in The Suicide Squad. Even when working with the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, you can see his genre influences. While Gunn’s Superman film isn’t likely to have horror vibes, just go back and look at his early flick Super and you’ll see how he can do just about anything, in terms of mixing genres.
Overall, Gunn is a horror success story who now is at the top of the industry. Horror fans, whether you love his current movies or not, should appreciate how he went from Troma to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to now running DC Films. Good on him, and good on the cinema we’re sure to receive. If the Swamp Thing adaptation has horror vibes, it will likely be due at least in part to Gunn. Huzzah.
Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next week!