Exclusive: James Gunn Loves His Scream Queens


Casting for season 2 of VH1's hit reality show Scream Queens is well under way, and while we're looking forward to more possession, cockroaches and pools of blood and gore, host James Gunn is really just looking for a few good actresses. James took some time out of his blood-soaked schedule to chat with us about casting Scream Queens, the state of horror today and what it actually means to be a scream queen.

FEARnet: Where are you now on prep for Scream Queens Season 2?

James Gunn: Right now it’s all about the casting.  We’ve just started and already we’ve had four times as many applicants as we did for the first season.  This is awesome, as my personal casting goal for this season is to have more good actresses.  I loved the girls on the first show, but I think I knew from too early on that Tanedra was going to win.  I’d love to see an amazing competition and help to unearth a few talented actresses who wouldn’t otherwise have that chance... Simultaneous to all of this, I understand that we need to have the interesting “personalities” that a reality show needs... But still, I keep yelling at the casting folks, “WE NEED GOOD ACTRESSES!!”
Is there a timeline for shooting to airdate?

We’re finalizing which movie will be the prize — Last season, Tanedra won a great role in SAW 6.  It really is one of the best and most real prizes given away on any reality show.  I think we want to do something just as special, if not better, this time around. So, no, we don’t know when we’re shooting just yet. Close though.
Have you started to think about the tasks and challenges the girls will be put through?

I think about it all the time.  Last season I think the writers came up with some great challenges — having 10,000 cockroaches poured on the girls while acting, having to be demonically possessed in a pool of blood, and perhaps the most horrific challenge – acting with my buddy Michael Rooker.  I’m getting chills just thinking about Rooker now!  People have asked me, “What in the Hell does having cockroaches poured on you have to do with acting?”  But, the truth is, focus is such a tremendous part of being an actor, that the girls who were able to focus and overcome all that were generally the better actresses.  Of course, I also love watching girls being covered in cockroaches, so my rationalizing mind may be in full effect right now.
Please tell us you'll do something during the second season that will truly shock us.

Last year they had to grind on Michael Rooker.  This year I’m thinking about a full on make out scene.  I can’t imagine anything more shocking than that.  It’s almost sort of bestiality, isn’t it? 
How do you feel about the state of horror today?

Can I pass?  No?  I don’t know.  There isn’t much out there that’s exciting me.  With a few exceptions – Let the Right One In and The Orphanage, for instance – I think the last couple years have perhaps been the worst in the history of horror movies.  I know because of Dawn of the Dead I’m partially to blame for the deluge of remakes, but, man, it’s getting old.  I have nothing against remakes in theory, but at least have some respect for the concept and TRY to do something interesting and different from the original film.  Also – note to everyone - just making a movie in 3D doesn’t automatically make it interesting.  The audiences aren’t going to fall for that shit for much longer.  
Do you feel that the idea of what a Scream Queen represents has changed over the years?

There’s generally two ideas of what a Scream Queen is.  There’s the idea that I grew up with — that a Scream Queen is an actress who is pretty much solely in horror and cult films and isn’t well-known outside of that — Linnea Quigley or Debbie Rochon, for example.  Then there’s the bigger definition of Scream Queen – that she’s a star who also acted in or got her start in horror movies – like Mia Farrow, or Naomi Watts.  People like Jamie Lee Curtis or Fay Wray– who are usually considered the preeminent Scream Queens – kind of straddle both camps.  I think most people who used the term originally thought of it as the former definition but today many more people are using it to describe the second, more mainstream group of actresses.  I think part of this is because of the show.  We only mention the famous actresses, because most VH1 audience members don’t know who the hell Linnea Quigley is.  But I do try to throw in PJ Soles – my personal boyhood crush – as often as possible.

You've been attached to the flick The Belcoo Experiment for a while now, what's happening with it?

Nothing is happening with The Belcoo Experiment.  It’s a very, very dark script about people trapped in an office building forced into killing each other.  It was set up and we were getting ready to shoot in Brazil right around the time I got divorced and I was like, “Do I really want to spend six months in another country away from my family and friends filming dozens of people shooting each other in the head?”  I decided for my own sanity that it wasn’t what I needed at that point in my life.  So I went and wrote the Ben Stiller project Pets instead.  Now I’m working on this project SUPER with Rainn Wilson.  It’s my favorite script I’ve ever written – dark, and funny, and violent, and unlike anything I’ve done.  We’re putting a dream cast together.  I think we’re going to be able to announce a lot more about that in the next couple of weeks.

What’s your biggest fear?

Going to Hell.  Which is looking increasingly possible with every passing year.