DVD REVIEW: ALL ABOUT EVIL (2010)
Joshua Grannell, better known as Peaches Christ–the drag queen of San Francisco’s midnight horror film screenings–has a handful of short films under his…err…I mean HER belt. The genesis of ALL ABOUT EVIL was the result of a mixture of many of them, many with budgets around $50. ALL ABOUT EVIL is a b-horror film with an all-star cast including Natasha Lyonne (SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS), Thomas Dekker (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake), Cassandra Peterson (ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK), Mink Stole (PINK FLAMINGOS), Noah Segan (DEADGIRL), and Jack Donner (STAR TREK t.v. series) in some of the funnest and oddly wonderful roles. In fact, the whole film was quirky and beyond entertaining.
Our story starts out with a very young girl who is trying to make her father proud and live out her dream of being a big star in Hollywood. The little girl wants to be a star in films. Her father, Walter Tennis (Robin Calvert) has put together a stage performance of THE WIZARD OF OZ at the historic Victoria Theater in San Francisco. After the young lady, Little Debbie (Mikayla Rosario), pisses herself while singing because she was so damned nervous and in doing so electrocutes herself, I knew the film was going to be some very special indeed. The film then goes into the credit sequence, a montage of original movie posters from the ’50s and ’60s of public domain horror and sci-fi flicks. I really was hoping that a film that started out so damn awesome was not going to rapidly slide downhill and turn into a pile of stinking shit! My hopes were answered as the film continued to amuse and entertain with a wickedly humorous and deliciously evil slice of horror and cult-like appeal that made up one winning recipe.
A majority of the film takes place in the Victoria Theater, a movie theater that Debbie’s father owned and after he passed away, Debbie (now grown up and played by Natasha Lyonne) wants to honor her father’s love and wishes by keeping the movie theater open and operating. Debbie’s evil stepmother, Tammy Tennis (portrayed by Julie Caitlin Brown), wants to sell the movie theater and make a bundle off the theater’s location and its prime real estate. With true conviction, Debbie (Lyonne) acts with fervor and hate as she brutally stabs to death her bitchy stepmother with a pen. Blood starts flying and a handful of stabbings later, her stepmother lay dead amidst a pool of blood.
One sort of has to have a bit of an imagination and stretch it a bit more if viewers are going to have some fun with this film and let a few technical absurdities slide by. Oddly enough, the movie theater has its security surveillance cameras rigged up to the theaters projector in the projectionist booth and Debbie mistakenly replays the murder footage for the whole theater and all the patrons in it. Passing the murder off as a short film created by Debbie and the theater’s usher, Mr. Twigs (Jack Donner). The plot of the film has been set up at this point, written by Joshua Grannell, and it revolves around Debbie and her delusional notion that she can really become a star in films by murdering off patrons and annoying individuals that she happens to come across.
Some aspects of the film I really enjoyed were the movie’s campy approach to the dialogue, the murders, and the characters throughout the film. The movie is not trying to be something more than it is. The film was filled with fun and it was so enjoyable to see some of the great actresses well-known for their larger than life roles in various cult and horror films within the genre. The film has some great and memorable scenes within it, my favorite being the only scene of nudity where a cute Goth chick becomes the new murder movie theater’s first victim and after getting her shirt ripped off in a majorly gratuitous scene involving her shirt being torn off and running around the basement of the theater topless. Yeah, bouncing boobs in a slasher film are always a welcomed event to this viewer.
After the scene turns from topless to titless, with some of the most goofy and cheesy dialogue delivered in a film, I was hoping the rest of the film continued to up the ante in blood, humor-laden dialogue of a campy nature, and a fast-paced movie that kept me entertained throughout. ALL ABOUT EVIL did just that. It kept me entertained with its use of vulgar humor and gore. The performances given by Thomas Dekker, Natasha Lyonne, and Ariel Hart (as Judy, Steven’s (Dekker) friend) stood out to me, even if Lyonne’s character and portrayal of a whacked-out woman whose delusions of glamor and becoming a star seemed a bit over the top. I did not really believe in her character before she killed her step-mom, but once Deborah (Lyonne) started turning into a megalomaniac like real-life Joan Crawford did (as portrayed in the film MOMMIE DEAREST), I was totally hooked.
The music for the film, created by Vinsantos, was very catchy and complemented the movie perfectly, and had a pair of the creepiest and most evil looking twins found in actresses Jade (Veda) and Nikita (Vera) Ramsey. The two British actresses dropped their accents for the roles, partly because director Grannell felt that the similarities between the two British twins and their likeness to the two twins in THE SHINING would be just too much of a homage. I, for one, felt that the Ramsey twins were just as frightening (if even more so) than Lisa and Louise Burns as the Grady Daughter in the hallway of the hotel in Kubrick’s classic.
If the film was not awesome enough on its own as a very solid indie horror flick, filled with smart references and dark humor, the dvd is LOADED with tons of extra goodies and features on it. The dvd has a theatrical trailer, EVIL LIVE: a documentary of the ALL ABOUT EVIL World premiere, GRINDHOUSE: the short film inspiration for ALL ABOUT EVIL, the PEACHES CHRIST full length Director’s Commentary, BEHIND THE EVIL: making-of documentary, the short film CHILDREN OF THE POPCORN, a poster gallery, and production stills and notes. The director’s commentary was very well done, filled with tidbits of information and back story on specific scenes, actors, and insight into the making of the film.
After viewing this film, I now had yet ANOTHER reason for making a trip to San Francisco because the movie theater is one of a dying breed of historic movie theaters (built in 1908 in the Mission District as a vaudeville theater) is now a city landmark and the oldest operating theater in San Francisco. It is films like these that huge movie fans appreciate for introducing viewers to another aspect of film culture and movie theater history while enjoying one hell of a good indie horror film. I recommend checking out this movie, keeping in mind that it is full of extreme campiness (some may even say cheesy) that is fun, bloody, and filled some absurd scenes of gore and comical memorable moments.
ALL ABOUT EVIL is now playing on the Chiller Network, but I really recommend picking it up on DVD at PeachesChrist.com and getting the UNRATED SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION, which was the version I reviewed.