A scantily clad, extremely buxom blonde cheerleader stands in front of a row of lockers, a bloody chainsaw in her hands, a freshly killed zombie looking out from an open locker. While this could easily be the poster for a Zack Snyder movie (at least before he got all poetic), for now it's the cover for Lollipop Chainsaw, a video game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and filmmaker James Gunn.
Headed by Goichi Suda, also known as Suda 51, Grasshopper Manufacture is known for creating video games with a distinct style and sense of humor, with major inspiration from anime and manga. Suda gained popularity and notoriety in the U.S. in 2005 with the North American debut of the first person shooter Killer7, about a wheelchair-bound hitman who performs his job using the physical manifestations of his multiple personalities. The game received mixed reviews from video game magazines and websites, with some praising the game’s distinctive plot, style and controls, while others felt that the concept was limiting. Anti-video game activist Jack Thompson railed against the game, citing a “full blown sex sequence” that turned out not to exist.
Suda’s work has continued in a similar vein to Killer7, creating distinctive games with unusual gameplay and storytelling structure, typically with a dark, surreal sense of humor.
Lollipop Chainsaw, which was released last month, tells the story of a perky blonde cheerleader who must fight off a zombie invasion, and was made in collaboration with cult filmmaker James Gunn (Slither, Super). The game has received positive reviews, with Mike Spletcha of GameZone.com saying that the game “ends up being one of the most unique experiences I've ever got my hands on."
Video game movies are notoriously dicey propositions. With few exceptions, they just don't work, but that doesn't stop Hollywood from trying. Who knows - maybe they'll get it right some day. With the search for more and more properties to adapt to TV and film, a great place to start could be Suda 51’s (currently unrepresented) titles. Killer7 could make a great cable series (think The United States of Tara meets John Woo’s The Killer). The game No More Heroes, about a stereotypical nerd who tries to become the world’s greatest assassin, would make a great feature film.