Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All About Evil and the Peaches Christ Experience

I caught All About Evil at the Victoria Theater on the first day of a four day run.

All About Evil starring Natasha Lyonne and Thomas Dekker; with Cassandra Peterson and Mink Stole; directed by Joshua Grannell; (2010) - Official Website

All About Evil premiered at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theater. As I much I love the Castro Theater, it was a shame that the film premiered there because All About Evil was filmed and set at the Victoria Theater.

Director and screenwriter Joshua Grannell (aka Peaches Christ) to the film on the road after its premiere on the Tour de Fierce. It's played in a dozen cities since SFIFF with a stage show before each screening. It was extra special that the film was screening where it was filmed. Several of the characters in the film (different actors) were working the front of the house prior to the show. When the show started, they danced and sang on stage. This didn't make a lot of sense before the screening but afterwards, I realized they were performing songs which paralleled the film. Then Peaches came out and sang a song or two and told a few stories. The pre-film show was billed as "The Peaches Christ Experience in 4-D!" The best song was "Shh! Means Shut the Fuck Up Bitch!"

Then it was on to the film. Deborah Tennis (pronounced Deh-bore-rah Ten-niece) owns the Victoria Theater, a movie house previously and lovingly owned by her late father. As a young girl, Deb had a mishap on stage involving her urine and a faulty electrical connection. By the way, I think some of the seats in the Victoria were wired because when an electrocution occurred during the stage show, several people screamed extra loud. Back to the film, the electrical mishap has left Tennis (Natasha Lyonne) with a white shock of hair into her adulthood. Making ends meet as a librarian, Tennis spends her nights working the ticket booth and concession stand at the Victoria which has become a grindhouse. Attendance is down and things aren't looking good. Deb's evil stepmother arrives with a document she demands Deb sign. She wants to sell the Victoria to land developers and pocket the cash. After some insults about her father, Deb stabs her stepmother in a moment of rage. The murder is caught on the security camera and that tape is mistakenly projected onto the screen. The sparse audience loves the film which they think is a PSA before the film. The audience loves the realism of the short film.

Tapping into her creative energy (not to mention her inner rage), Deb goes about torturing and killing people on film and showing the encounters before feature films as "A Deborah Tennis Production." The audience and city go nuts for the films which have names such as The Maiming of the Shrew and I Know Why the Caged Woman Screams. Deb recruits her deranged projectionist, a pair of psychotic twins just released from an insane asylum and a sociopathic junkie to costar in her films and work at the Victoria.

Deb's #1 fan is Steven (Thomas Dekker), a high school student with a big thing for horror films and a smaller thing for older women like Deb and who can blame him since his mother is Cassandra Peterson (Elvira Mistress of the Dark whose poster adorns Steven's bedroom wall). Steven, whose popularity rises when his longstanding friendship with Deb becomes known, begins to suspect that the Tennis Production films are more vérité than cinéma. You can guess what happens.

Featuring black humor, Natasha Lyonne impersonating everyone from Bette Davis to Katharine Hepburn to Mae West and frequent cameos by Peaches, All About Evil is a lot of fun. The film is more campy than black comedy (I would have preferred the opposite) but what can you expect from a drag queen in San Francisco directing his first feature film?

After the film, some of the cast took questions from the audience. If I recall correctly, Peaches said she was already at work on another film. I'd pay to see his next film based on All About Evil. Also, Peaches announced that she will perform a Christmas show at her home base of the Bridge Theater in December.

Over the closing credits, they had posters for fictitious Deborah Tennis Productions. I really enjoyed the titles and posters - The Slasher in the Rye, The Satanic Nurses, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, MacDeath, Gore and Peace, etc.

Actually, last year or perhaps earlier this year, I saw a Gore and Peace poster at the Victoria. I thought that was a great name for a horror film. It turns out that was going to be Deborah Tennis' first feature length film where she poisons the audience on film à la Jonestown. The poster was up at the Victoria Theater for filming of All About Evil. I went to the Victoria Theater website to see the showtimes for Gore and Peace but of course, there were no showtimes. In a sense, I was punked by Peaches during the filming of All About Evil.

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