ALL ABOUT EVIL!
SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES No. 10
MODERN MEMORIES No. 1: “ALL ABOUT EVIL”
By Nick Cato
In 1984, Deborah Tennis’s father ran The Victoria Theatre, a revival house that also featured vaudeville-like mini-shows, especially at the kiddie matinees. One day he made Deborah sing for the kids and she was so nervous she ended up peeing herself onstage and was nearly electrocuted when the stream hit a frayed electrical line.
Flash forward to present day: Deborah is now a librarian. She keeps the Victoria Theatre alive at night out of love for all her father had taught her about show business. Then her witch of a mother comes by one night to tell her she’s putting the theatre up for sale. Having enough of her mother’s abuse (which has been going on since childhood) Deborah Tennis (pronounced, Deb-bore-AH Ten-Niece) takes a pen and jabs it into mom’s neck. As rage takes over, she jumps on her body and begins stabbing her multiple times until the lobby floor is covered in blood.
Meanwhile, the audience is chanting for the film to start (a revival of BLOOD FEAST). The Victoria’s projectionist is out getting something to eat, so Deborah runs upstairs (covered in her mother’s blood) and attempts to put the film on. She accidentally hits the security camera button, and the audience is treated to an unusually realistic film: the footage of Deborah killing her mother.
With growing insanity and a father-taught love for entertainment, Deborah (along with her trusty projectionist, Mr. Twigs) begins to shoot short films that they show every Friday night before the main feature; the films also serve as Public Service Announcements. A highlight is when one unlucky patron is forced to star in a little ditty they title A TALE OF TWO TITTIES (Deborah bases all her films on literary classics she spends most of the daytime reading).
The gruesome twosome eventually recruit a derelict cameraman named Adrian (after watching him beat down an old woman in the street) and sexy Goth-looking twins named Veda and Vera (on the day they’re let out of prison). After several shorts the crew plans their first full-length film, GORE AND PEACE, and what they have planned for the audience itself is, in the words of one theatre patron, “So Jonestown!”
Thomas Dekker plays Steven, a young film fanatic who is infatuated with Deborah’s films until one of his friends (the non-horror fan Judy) goes missing and he believes she’s being held hostage at the Theatre. Cassandra Peterson (yes, the legendary Elvira) plays Steve’s clueless mother, and cult film icon Mink “Pink Flamingos” Stole plays Deborah’s librarian boss (and what happens to her body during the ending is the stuff gore-film fans live for).
ALL ABOUT EVIL (2010) is the product of Peaches Christ (a.k.a. director Joshua Grannell), a cult-film fan who has finally delivered his own full-length feature; but unlike the countless films out there that TRY to be something special, this one actually is. Sure, it’s a tribute to the films of H.G. Lewis and Ted V. Mikels, bit it doesn’t stop there. Grannell has taken what inspired him, and by adding a fantastic cast (especially the hysterical Natasha Lyonne as Deborah) has created what could potentially become a genuine cult hit. The characters are all memorable, the gore scenes are over the top but not done tastelessly, and most surprising, being a horror comedy, the film works quite well. The audience I saw this with laughed when they were supposed to and gasped during the more serious kill scenes. While there are posters of the director’s favorite films seen in the background during most of the film, cult-film fans will have a ball when they notice on-screen tributes to everything from BLOOD FEAST (1963) to BLOODSUCKING FREAKS (1976) to CHAINED HEAT’s (1983) toilet-stall kill sequence all the way down to the finale’s ode to KING KONG (1933).
In a nutshell, ALL ABOUT EVIL is a pure blast of comedic cult-horror fun.
I was among the lucky few who saw this complete with the “Peaches Christ Experience in 4-D!” which is a Rocky Horror-like pre-show featuring Peaches and a theatre full of monsters and drag queens who sing, dance, and introduce the film (and being Natasha Lyonne is a New Yorker, the NY screening had a wonderful introduction to Natasha’s work, right before she came out in character as Deborah Tennis and rocked the place to the ground).
But opening stage show aside, ALL ABOUT EVIL (the film itself) is highly recommended if you like horror comedies that are actually funny and if you want to see how a “tribute/homage” film can still go on to become its own thing (hey Rob Zombie…take notes!).
With a first feature so well done, Joshua/Peaches has surely set the bar quite high for himself…here’s hoping he has another one this cool hiding up his dress…or in his super-bouffant hairdo.
© Copyright 2010 by Nick Cato