It was relatively easy to convince Hollywood writer/director James Gunn to sign on to his first video game project. All he had to do was watch a short video clip of a game in which a high school cheerleader chops up zombies with a chainsaw.
"It was like the coolest aesthetic I'd ever seen," said Gunn, whose eccentric resume includes the sci-fi horror comedy "Slither" and the dark superhero comedy "Super." "I asked them what do you want me to do? I'll do whatever."
In the end, Gunn signed on to write the story and dialogue for "Lollipop Chainsaw," which dropped this week for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. RedEye recently talked with him about the project.
Please explain the plot of this game because it sounds pretty crazy.
"Lollipop Chainsaw" is about a chainsaw-wielding high school cheerleader named Juliet Starling who is from a family of supernatural-slaying killers. And her boyfriend is this disembodied head who hangs from her hip. They have a sort of Abbott and Costello friendship.
One of the game's creators compared the story to "Romeo and Juliet." Could you explain that?
Yeah, I guess that the love story was kind of inspired by "Romeo and Juliet," which is pretty strange because my first film was "Tromeo and Juliet." I don't 100 percent get it outside of Juliet's name, and the fact that it's a love story. Maybe it's a tragedy because her boyfriend has no body and is just a head, but that happens at the very beginning of the game.
Sounds like a pretty twisted love story.
Yeah, it's your basic boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, girl attacks boy to stop the zombie virus from infecting his brain, girl cuts off boy's head and carries it around on her hip for the rest of his life while he bitches about not having a penis. Yeah, that kind of story. It's just like "My Best Friend's Wedding."
There have been a lot of zombie games that have come out recently, but it sounds like this might stand out from the rest.
Yeah, this is so much different from other zombie games. Our zombies are very funny and they talk. We have a bunch of rock ‘n' roll zombies, a hippie zombie, a rockabilly zombie, a Viking metal zombie. Our zombies are a little different.
What was it like writing the dialogue?
It was awesome. A regular screenplay for a movie is like half-an-inch thick. The script for this game was about a foot thick. It really was a matter of when you have to write one line in a screenplay, you have to write like 60 lines in this situation. When they hired me I was just going to write cut scenes with other writers. But I kind of get obsessed with things so I was like, "I'm going to write everything." So I did, and I had a great time doing it. You can throw a lot of stupid jokes in there, jokes for the fans. And you have room for all sorts of crazy humor that you can't do in a movie.
Is there one line or little catchphrase that you used that you really enjoyed?
I think that once the game comes out, everyone in the world is going to be saying, "What the dick?" which is Juliet's sort of catchphrase that she says a lot throughout the game. I actually hung out with this girl one night, and she said, "What the dick?" And I was like, that's ridiculous. And then the very next day I put it in the game like 30 times. Also at one point, Nick tells these criminals that they need a "manpon" for their "mangina." You know, little bits of Shakespearean dialogue sprinkled in very much like "Romeo and Juliet."
Does actual cheerleading choreography appear in the game?
Yeah, we have a lot of cheerleading moves you can do that you can use to help kill zombies. We also have a stripper pole on which you can do stripper moves to chop up some zombies.
Do you have a favorite zombie kill in the game?
I like all the ones in which we kill Michael Rooker's character [from "The Walking Dead"] because I secretly want to kill Michael Rooker in real life. So anything with Michael Rooker getting his head chopped off is good for me.
I enjoyed your "PG Porn" videos for Spike TV and I'm wondering why you think there's not porn in video games.
I think the porn in video games that work is the stuff the Japanese guys have where you try to get laid in a game and you get laid. Here's the thing: What is porn for? Porn is for masturbating. That's what it's for, it's not for anything else. To play a game and masturbate at the same time is sort of awkward. So I don't think they go together too well.
So maybe the Kinect can help fix that.
But at that point it just becomes porn, not really a game. Yeah, there's going to be new forms of porn with like robots or whatever but it's not a video game. The idea of a game is to win something.
Do you see yourself doing more video games in the future?
Yeah, it's a lot of fun. I'm a huge gamer myself. I just did a bit for G4 network about the top 100 games of all time and I was able to talk about all my favorites. It was one of my favorite interviews ever because I got to just geek out on video games.
Xbox 360, PS3
3 stars out of 4
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" meets "Night of the Living Dead" in "Lollipop Chainsaw," an over-the-top comic parody of low budget grindhouse horror and lowbrow anime-style sleaze. In "Chainsaw," you play as a sexy high school cheerleader who fends off zombies with a chainsaw and a variety of choreographed "Bring It On"-style dance moves with pom-poms. While the bloody hack-and-slash gameplay entertains and James Gunn's script brings the laughs often, the dark humor isn't for everyone and the story mode ends a bit too quickly. Despite its flaws, "Lollipop Chainsaw" stands out as an unique alternative to the billion other "kill-the-zombie" titles on the market.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times