After an insurmountable wait, 2010’s out-of-print cult classic All About Evil has finally arrived in a beautiful, blood-soaked HD restoration! Written and directed by Joshua Grannell (aka drag queen Peaches Christ, “queen of the midnight movie scene”), this horror/comedy features an impressive ensemble cast and outrageous, campy fun from start to finish. In part, the film is unique in that it raises questions about the glee we get from seeing people ripped apart on the big screen. Mostly though, All About Evil is focused on hamming it up with one of the best ever onscreen evil-bitch performances from Natasha Lyonne, and gifting viewers with glorious dark-humor kills.
We open at the Victoria Theatre in 1984. A very young Debbie (Mikayla Rosario) is set to perform a ballad dressed as Dorothy for the Kiddie Matinee of The Wizard of Oz. Her father insists that Debbie has real “star power,” but she pisses herself onstage during the performance, and then electrocutes herself on the mic! This hysterical opener sets the stage for a tumultuous life that will follow. It establishes that Debbie’s father is the proud owner of the Victoria Theatre, that she has an evil stepmother catcalling who seems utterly despicable, but most importantly, it places emphasis on how much Debbie’s love for her father charges her with confidence and meaning.
Flash forward to present day, wherein Deborah (now played by Lyonne) is now the co-owner of the Victoria Theatre shortly after the passing of her father. She works part-time at the San Francisco Public Library, and has no children or husband to speak of. Insistent that her father invested everything in “the business of show,” Deborah refuses to live a dreary existence as an aimless librarian with her head in the clouds. Business isn’t exactly booming over at the Victoria, but Deborah tries to stay in good spirits with the help of kindly projectionist Mr. Twigs (Jack Donner) and horror-obsessed theatre regular Steven (Thomas Dekker).
Greedy stepmother Tammy (Julie Caitlin Brown) wants to sell the Victoria, as the land is worth an exorbitant amount that Bed, Bath, & Beyond will quickly swoop up. Tammy insists that Deborah sign the papers over, and go cash in a “government check for retardation.” Confronting Deborah in the theatre lobby, things get ugly between the pair. Tammy presses Deborah’s hand up against the popper, but Deborah has has it, officially. She fights back, brutally killing her stepmom in the process. With the screening delayed, Deborah tries to think fast—she runs up as a projectionist, accidentally playing the surveillance camera footage of the murder for the small audience to see. Under the guise of it being a short film, Mr. Twigs swoops to Deborah’s rescue, and cleans up her mess in the process.
This gory interlude is just the beginning, as All About Evil is host to a number of brilliantly violent sequences. Killing Tammy appears to have awakened a serial killer-like instinct in Deborah. Furthermore, she realizes that the bloodthirsty kills and realistic feel of the murder could be exactly the hot ticket for the Victoria to boom with business. Deborah explores every avenue to make further short films, all of which result in the deaths of people she has lured in. Each film has an often hilarious, movie-inspired title, such as “A Tale of Two Severed Titties” and “The Maiming of the Shrew.” Twigs joins Deborah on her quest for worldwide fame, and the two of them recruit creepy twins Veda (Jade Ramsey) and Vera (Nikita Ramsey) from an insane asylum and crazy homeless crackhead Adrian (Noah Segan) to aid in their nefarious plot.
This film has cult classic written all over it, and rightfully so. I instantly fell in love with its zany tone and dry humor. There is a certain genius in having Cassandra Peters aka Elvira playing the mother to a horror-loving son and not quite being able to grasp his love for the genre; armed with the knowledge that Elvira herself typically hosts horror marathons, it becomes transcendent. Steven gets pulled into the mix when a popular girl he brings as a date goes missing. A batshit teacher who views Steven as unstable based on his personality traits is quick to point the finger his way. Dekker does a great job as playing one of the few sane characters.
Natasha is having a blast here, as is the rest of the ensemble. Hearing what new accent she would pull out next is one of the purest forms of entertainment I have seen in a very long time. Conceptually, a soup kitchen matinee does appear a hilariously perfect way to cherry-pick new victims. A slasher set exclusively in a movie theatre is like a dream come true, and that Peaches Christ really sells the meta movie references is the cherry on top. All About Evil is sure to close out the show with a massive theatre-set finale that goes totally off-the-wall crazy. Be sure to stick around during the credits for a selection of poster artwork for some of those short films. Honestly, I cannot wait to show All About Evil to some of my friends, as it is the perfect queer horror treat for pride month. Do not miss this restoration, whether a new fan or old!
All About Evil is available to stream exclusively on Shudder, and is also on Special Edition Blu-Ray from Severin Films.