Gunn known for his comedy, horror and ‘Scooby-Doo’

Director James Gunn began making movies at an early age. When he was 12, he created his first movie, which featured his brother being attacked by zombies. The Saint Louis University alumnus has come a long way since these days and is now known for his work in movies such as “Dawn of the Dead,” “Slither” and “Scooby-Doo.”

Gunn explained that he was interested in studying film at the beginning of his college career. However, he got distracted and became involved with various other activities, such as music, creative writing and drawing comic strips for publications including The University News. Later, Gunn attended graduate school at Colombia University in New York where he studied writing. However, his interest in film would soon be revived.

While in New York, he applied for a position at Troma Entertainment filing papers, but he ended up writing screenplay for “Tromeo and Juliet,” which became a hit in 1997.

“Something pulled me into it,” Gunn said.

Gunn would later leave Troma to write and act in “The Specials,” which is about a group of superheroes on their day off. He worked along with Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden-Church, Jamie Kennedy and his brother, Sean Gunn. “The Specials” was not Gunn’s first experience with acting. He said that he did performance monologues while living in St. Louis and New York.

When he first entered the film industry, he was involved with both acting and filmmaking.

“Little by little, I got more into the film-making side of things…I like having control,” Gunn said.

Since then, Gunn has written the screenplay for movies such as “Scooby-Doo” (2002), “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” (2004) and “Dawn of the Dead” (2004).

He explained that, when developing the screenplay for “Scooby-Doo,” he had to reinvent the already well-known characters.
“I had to play with them in a way that they hadn’t been before,” Gunn said.

“Scooby-Doo” was the first studio movie for Gunn. During the process, he said that he had to deal with a lot of different people.

“Everybody chimes in with their opinion on things…It is hard to have complete freedom,” Gunn said.

He described that working on “Dawn of The Dead” as being the opposite of “Scooby-Doo,” in that he had more freedom.

“The studio was always worried about bigger projects,” Gunn said. 

Gunn, who explained that he has always liked horror movies, released horror-film “Slither” in 2006. The film was named “The Best Horror film of 2006” by Rue Morgue Magazine.

His most recent endeavor is the dark comedy, “Super.” The film tells the story of cook-turned-vigilante Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) whose wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). He later meets Libby (Ellen Page) in a comic book store, and they team up to save his wife.
Gunn explained that he and Wilson had been friends for a long time and that he was his prime partner on the film.

“What I love about actors is bringing something out of them that the audience hasn’t seen before,” Gunn said.

He used Wilson as an example and explained that as Dwight in “The Office,” Wilson plays a character that is not very vulnerable. However, in “Super” the audience is able to see a much more vulnerable side of the actor.

Gunn will return to his native St. Louis on April 15 to introduce “Super” at the Tivoli.

“I love going back to the Tivoli because I saw a lot of movies there as a kid,” Gunn said.

Gunn said that he is excited to come back to St. Louis and see his family. He plans on going to Imo’s and Ted Drewes’ while in town.

“It’s been an arduous couple of months. I have been presenting the movie all around the world. I am excited to be back in St. Louis and celebrate with the people I love,” Gunn said.

Gunn will be doing a question and answer session after the 7 p.m. showing and will be introducing the 9:30 p.m. showing.