From Horrors to Galaxy Guarding: A James Gunn Retrospective

We’re still waiting for Caturday: The Movie.

The Belko Experiment is coming out soon! Buy your tickets here!

Whether you started watching James Gunn’s work after Guardians of the Galaxy or have been with him from the very beginning of his career with titles like Tromeo and Juliet or The Tromaville Café, you have a pretty good idea of the eclectic and quirky style he strives for. With a love for horror and the overtly odd, Gunn’s filmography is filled with stories of the terrifying and of the outcasts. He’s certainly not the first director to lean in that direction, but the unique brand of humor he brings into his writing and directing sets him apart.

Gunn’s most known for his directing, despite the fact that his writing credits double those in the directorial category. His writing isn’t just in film, either. The aforementioned The Tromaville Café was a television series and the only one on his resume. Included with that is the series of shorts PG Porn, as well as episodes for Humanzee, Sparky & Mikaela, and Troma’s Edge TV. He’s also taken on several shorts, like Hampster PSA, Tube, Dolphinman Battles the Sex Lobsters and The Swidge. Lollipop Chainsaw, a video game, also graces his portfolio.

Then there is, of course, all of the films he’s written. Gunn’s the type of writer that can go from Scooby-Doo to Dawn of the Dead with ease, and is never one to shy away from films that some folks just might not get. Super is a pretty solid example of that. Though the statute of limitations on spoilers is likely over for a film that debuted in 2010, we’ll avoid going into too much detail. Suffice it to say: this one was divisive. Though it was a small-budget film, it manages to deliver a star-studded cast and some solid cinematography choices, but obviously neither are what drove a wedge between Gunn’s fans. Slither also rests in the divisive category, but not for the same moral reasons as Super. Gunn’s alien parasite thriller is just one of those you dig or you don’t, but it’s become a cult favorite in the last decade without question.

James Gunn’s career isn’t without huge successes, either. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Scooby-Doo movies aren’t without their good points, and raked in the cash for the studio. It’s also worth mentioning that the first Scooby movie didn’t quite go the way he’d planned. The first version actually got an R-rating. Obviously, the studio wanted it directed more towards children than Gunn’s idea of having it focused on the teens who were there for the nostalgia of growing up with Scooby and the gang, so the tone was changed and we got what we got.

There’s also the obvious addition to the “huge success” list: Guardians of the Galaxy. Where many of the other Marvel films have star power of the heroes they’re depicting in their corner, the Guardians have never been as well-known. When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced, it was unknown as to whether this would be an asset or a detriment to the film’s success. Turns out it was far and away the former. The fact that many of the folks going into the film didn’t know a ton about the characters they were about to see, coupled with being able to leave a Marvel film without some sort of emotional damage raised the film to soaring success.

His love for horror is evident in his filmography. Dawn of the Dead celebrated its thirteenth anniversary this weekend. Gunn took some time to talk about it on Instagram, noting that the timing for its release and his newest project The Belko Experiment are pretty close to birthday twins. In that same post he notes that he’s doing his best to keep horror alive. It’s safe to say he’s still contributing to its life after twenty years in the industry.

Gunn’s mentioned in his live streams that he prefers to direct things that he’s also written. This is fortunate, because that’s the case for all twelve films in his directorial reel. Every artist makes sacrifices both monetarily and creatively, but it’s nice to see that he’s stood firmly by this preference throughout his career. With the well-earned success he’s acquired throughout the years, this is likely one he has to worry about less and less.

With twenty-six writing, twelve directorial and sixteen producer credits under his belt, James Gunn’s career is far from over. If we’re lucky, and if he has his way, we’ll see more and more of his projects in the years to come. As it stands, there are currently two films in the pipeline that have fans all abuzz.

The Belko Experiment will make its way to theaters next week, and the early reviews are solidly in its favor. The workers of Belko are locked in their office building and told to kill their coworkers by an unseen entity over the com system. Things start off nice, but obviously unravel quickly. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will also be making its way to theaters later in the year, and has Marvel fans as excited as one would expect. Galaxy protecting, daddy-issues, and now-toddler Groot have kept everyone talking about the film since the first-look footage dropped at SDCC in 2016.

Don’t worry, die hard Gunn fans. Rooker’s in both.

Get your tickets here!