WHAT MAKES JAMES GUNN SLITHER?

What was the inspiration for “SLiTHER”? ^ My inspiration were the in-your-face, fun, over-the-top, gory horror films of the 1980’s. “Re-Animator”, “The Fly”, “The Thing”, “Return of the Living Dead”, “Basketcase”, “Evil Dead 2”. With the exception of a couple terrific filmmakers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie, horror has become so boring and by-the-numbers as of late. We needed some fucked-up color in the marketplace: thus, “SLiTHER”.

While no stranger to working with top, A-List talent, what was it like being in charge of this particular group of top, A-List talent? ^ Well, Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker were easy, because they both wanted me in a sexual way. I wouldn’t give in with Fillion, but Rooker—you have to admit, he’s a sexy guy. Other than that, the cast was easy. I picked out people who had good reputations and were easy to work with. I didn’t want any divas complaining about being covered in goo, phlegm and blood in the forest at 3 a.m. with below-freezing weather. We needed troupers, and we got them.

How was the production of “SLiTHER” overall? ^ Wonderful, because the people were wonderful; terrible, because it was a grindingly difficult shoot. Going back to prosthetic effects seems like a great idea in pre-production, but on set they take a lot of time. Puppets are a bunch of shit. They think they have one up on you, because they won’t do anything you want. But, in the end, they are just shit and should go to Hell. Call me prejudiced if you will, but I’m all for a puppet holocaust.

What was your goal in writing “SLiTHER”? ^ My initial goal was to write a fun horror film that I could sell in the wake of “Dawn of the Dead”. I was attached to direct another film at the time. However, I fell in love with “SLiTHER” as I wrote it, and decided to jump ship and direct it instead. The movie is pretty much like I imagined it. Except I didn’t expect Bill Pardy, played by Nathan Fillion, to come off quite so gay.

Nathan Fillion: genius actor? Or did his well run dry with “Two Guys and a Girl?” ^ I think it’s wonderful that a retarded young man can make it so far in the film industry. But I kid Nathan. He’s the best actor I’ve ever worked with.

What were the best parts of working with Troma? Are you aware that you’re considered one of the key elements in the late ‘90s being referred to as Troma’s “Golden Years”? ^ Undoubtedly, having sex with Tromettes was the best part of working for Troma. Either that or the complete creative freedom Lloyd gave me. No, it was definitely the Tromettes.

I didn’t know they were called the Golden Years, but, if so, it is probably a shaded reference to golden showers. As readers of “All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger” are aware, Lloyd thought I had way too much pissing in the first draft of “Tromeo & Juliet”. He told me it was vulgar. This from Lloyd Kaufman, the director of “Squeeze Play”. I knew at that moment, somewhere along the line, my parents had gone horribly wrong.

What were some of the lessons you learned from Troma (no fair quoting Lloyd’s book back at us)? ^ I learned shame and the film industry have nothing to do with each other.

How do you see the current climate for horror movies? What kind of impact do you hope “SLiTHER” has on the marketplace—aside from being ridiculously-financially lucrative? ^ I hope “SLiTHER” opens up the marketplace for other types of horror films. Not other films like “SLiTHER”, but a wider variety of themes and tones.

All kidding aside, when the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” was released, the hardcore Romero fans were pretty cruel towards you. What were your reasons for taking the job and how did you approach the script, knowing how delicate a situation it was (or had to have been)? Has there been any backlash since its release, considering it was actually a really good zombie movie and most people actually liked it? ^ Actually, the hardcore Romero fans were only cruel when they heard we were remaking the film. Once they saw the movie, they were, for the most part, pretty cool. My fan mail changed from “Please put a gun in your mouth and shoot yourself” to “I’m a fourteen-year-old boy who has an orgasm every time I see a zombie eating human flesh. Do you feel this way too, Mr. Gunn? I love you and I know where you live.” I took the job because I thought it would be fun writing the script, which it was.

Could you tell us a little bit about “The Swidge”—made in 48 Hours for the Instant Film Festival? ^ “Tube” was the same sort of deal. The Instant Film Festival randomly hooks up actors, writers, and directors, and you have to make a film in 48 hours. On Sunday nights there’s a big screening. It’s a lot of fun, and it helped to remind me why I’m doing this: not for money or accolades, but, first and foremost, because I love making movies.

In “Lollilove”, you act with your wife, Jenna (“The Office”) Fischer, who also directed. How was that production? Do you prefer to be in the director’s chair these days? I’ve heard Jenna is a task-master! (Actually, I haven’t, but it makes for a controversial question.) ^ “Lollilove” was made for two thousand bucks and it was extremely invigorating. My friend Stephen Blackehart produced it, and my friend Pete Alton shot and edited it. Jenna was a great director. She knows what she wants. The other day she was on Carson Daly talking about how I was a diva, however. In revenge, I decided to withhold sex from her for 40 whole minutes. She won’t be pulling that shit again.

What’s next for you, now that you’ve conquered most of the known world? ^ I would have to say this sentence.

Michael Rooker molested my wife in front of you and Debbie at Fangoria New York and nobody said a word. This isn’t a question; she didn’t mind and I was just feeling left out. Nobody ever molests me at these things… ^ Don’t worry, you’ll get molested too if you’re around Rooker enough.

Doesn’t it bother you that the same member of your family who played the sexually deviant Sammy Capulet in “Tromeo and Juliet” is now a regular as ‘Kirk’ on a wholesome show like “The Gilmore Girls”? For that matter, doesn’t it bother you that the man who once played an ‘Insane Masturbator’ wrote the screenplay for two “Scooby-Doo” movies? ^ I don’t watch “The Gilmore Girls”. I watch what I call “The Kirk Show”. I Tivo it every week and fast-forward to scenes which feature my brother, who plays Kirk. It’s a hilarious and wonderful show. The only thing that would make it better is if he started fucking his sister, like he does in “Tromeo”.

Not only do I play an Insane Masturbator in a movie, I play one in my daily life as well.

Speaking of “Scooby-Doo”, when the first film was in post-production, there were rumors abounding of a more “mature” cut, filled with drug in-jokes and even nudity. Care to confirm or deny any of this? (Go ahead, give me the dirt – nobody’s here but me!) If true, what are your feelings about the final, very fun, but largely unironic, version of the film? ^ There was never any nudity, besides mine at the wrap party, but we had to CGI the fucking cleavage shots because the parents in the test screenings were outraged. Over cleavage. America sucks. A lot of the drug references in both movies survive. But almost all of the sexual stuff between Fred and Daphne (and Daphne and Velma), was cut. I actually enjoy the second movie more because we knew what kind of movie we were making from the beginning. A movie for little kids, who love it.

Anything you’d care to add? (Aside from a restraining order?) ^ I am certain that “SLiTHER” is going to win the Academy Award for best picture in 2006. I don’t mean this in an egomaniacal way, but it’s better than “Citizen Kane” and “Schindler’s List” put together. Why? Because neither of those films has an 11 foot tall blob of a woman exploding with 27,000 worms coming out of her. Unless I missed that scene when I went to the bathroom. If we don’t win, we have been robbed. But I’m pretty sure the Academy is going to see it my way.




Posted on March 11, 2006 in Interviews by
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