All About Evil (2010)

January 9, 2011 - 7:48am | Johnny D
  Tags: all about evil, campy, Cassandra, cheesy, comedic, Jack Donner, Joshua Grannell, Julie-Caitlin Brown, Mink Stole, Natasha Lyonne, Noah Segan, Peaches Christ, Thomas Dekker

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Joshua Grannell
Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekker, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, Mink Stole, Noah Segan, Jack Donner, Julie-Caitlin Brown, Peaches Christ

Campy, horror-comedy is quite possibly the most difficult subgenre to make a successful entry for.  And for that reason I usually stay far, far away from things with titles like “Hillbilly Zombies” or “Sexy College Co-eds Must Die!”.  To each their own if movies like that excite you, but my corneas have been raped and money wasted a time too many.  I was ready to all but dismiss All About Evil as such a film.  But with a slight air of positive buzz generating, and the fact that it was produced by Darren Stein (who directed one of THE seminal mean spirited films of my teen generation, Jawbreaker), I gave in to the blind buy and thankfully didn’t regret it.

Quiet, introverted librarian, Deborah Tennis (Welcome back to your edgy, indie roots, Natasha Lyonne.  We’ve missed you.), inherits her father’s dying theater, only to kill off her wicked witch of a step-mother in a fit of pent up rage.  When the security camera footage of the murder is accidentally projected before that night‘s cult horror film, word spreads quickly of Deborah’s realistic, gritty short film and resuscitates the theater’s pulse.  With fans clamoring for more, Deb enlists the help of her aging projectionist (Jack Donner), a drifter in serious need of a tooth brush (Noah Segan), and a set of stone faced, sanity challenged twins (Nikita and Jade Ramsey) to help her create such popular classic literature adaptations as “A Tale of Two Severed Titties”, “The Maming of the Shrew”, and “Gore and Peace.”  Before long, Deborah’s #1 fan, Steven (Thomas Dekker), begins to delve into the truth of why her films are so realistic.

While not completely burnt out, the plot is not a groundbreaking, redefining horror tale.  Where Evil stands out, however, is within the sheer adoration for the genre and the effort that can be seen on the screen.  I can only take guesses at what the budget for this film was, but I’m sure it's safe to assume that no one made a big payday from this project because I got a strong labor of love vibe.  Writer/Director Joshua Grannell clearly grew up on the films he’s paying respect to and, while other filmmakers try to replicate or remake these movies, Grannell chose to make a stand alone project that also serves as a giant love letter.  It’s Blood Feast by way of John Waters’ Cecil B. Demented, yet manages to work as its own entity.  It didn’t hurt that it features a group of talented actors who all slid into their roles like a well lubricated phallus.

Natasha Lyonne has done everything from no-budget indie gems to huge Hollywood franchises, always standing out.  With an absence from the screen for quite some time now, it was great to see her return with a vengeance as she chewed every piece of scenery in her way and looked like she had a blast doing it.  Thomas Dekker had the daunting task of playing the straight man in a world populated by eccentric psychopaths and drag queens and he pulled it off in a likeable manner.  Who of us horror nerds can’t relate to the semi-outsider who spent the majority of his free time exploring the glory of horror films gone past?  The kid’s got some talent, and if anything, his performance here is even more proof that the Nightmare on Elm Street remake wasted every good actor they had.  But the real show stealer here is the man quickly making a name for himself in the genre, Noah Segan, as the murderous bum with a rotting smile and a possible same sex affection.  From Cabin Fever 2, to DeadGirl, and now All About Evil, he truly is a gifted chameleon of an actor.

Now, before you go running out to buy this movie, I will confess that it is not for everyone.  Some people aren’t going to find the humor funny or fall for the quirkiness of the whole thing.  All About Evil wears its low budget heart on its sleeve so if you can’t forgive technical aspects that don’t always rise to mainstream standards then search somewhere else for your horror.  And while Dekker is our hero, the villains do steal the show and you end up rooting for them towards the end to some extent, which a lot of people aren’t exactly comfortable with.  Maybe it’s because I went in not expecting much or just that you can see the effort and care that went into every frame of the movie.  For whatever reason it completely won me over. 

With its perfectly over the top performances and sheer bloody quirkiness, All About Evil delivered a sick and twisted little bright spot to the hot and cold year of horror that was 2010.  If you were one of those kids that spent their childhood in a dark, dying theater, between the shelves of your local mom and pop video store, or in front of late night cable TV, then you are the built in audience for All About Evil.

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Johnny D




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