The Crazies' Danielle Panabaker loves being a scream queen

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Friday the 13's Danielle Panabaker, who will appear in the remake of George A. Romero's The Crazies, says she doesn't mind her budding scream-queen status. "Where does this negative connotation of a scream queen come from?" the actress asked reporters recently on the set of The Crazies in Fort Valley, Ga. "Who's ever gotten pigeonholed? I mean, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis ... ?"

"I would love to be a scream queen!" Panabaker added. "I think it's fun. I think you get to go so many places with something like this. You get to hit so many different notes as an actor, because my character [of Becca in The Crazies], you see her before everything starts going wrong in the town, so she's innocent and young and fun, and then there's a really dark journey this character has to take that you don't necessarily see in a romantic comedy. That's fun for me. Maybe I have a very warped reality."

In The Crazies, the idyllic town of Ogden Marsh undergoes a startling transformation when a chemical weapon infects the town's water supply, causing the inhabitants to go stark raving mad. The town is soon invaded by a massive military presence hoping to contain and cover up the outbreak.

Panabaker's character joins her boss and surrogate mother figure, Dr. Judy Dutton (Radha Mitchell), to go on the run from the crazies along with Judy's husband, Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), and his deputy, Russell Clank (Joe Anderson). "My character, Becca, works for Radha Mitchell's character at her doctor's office," says Panabaker. "Judy teases Becca about all her extracurricular activities. She's involved in her life, which is cool."

But the two don't have much time for warm and fuzzies. The disease starts to spread almost from the opening moments of the film, forcing Panabaker and fellow survivors to do their bonding on the go. "It starts moving right away," Panabaker tells reporters. "There are no secrets. There's something wrong in this town. It just goes, which I like." The Crazies is eyeing a Sept. 25 release.