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ALL ABOUT EVIL Brings Back the Midnight Movie

“This is a midnight movie before it’s released,” ALL ABOUT EVIL star Natasha Lyonne chuckled to me at the film’s premiere at downtown’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema, commenting on how quickly things happen nowadays.

See, once upon a time in the ‘70s, many films found themselves showing up at midnight only after the 9 PM crowds proved to be a little stymied by their in-your-face extremism. But ALL ABOUT EVIL—San Francisco auteur Josh Grannell’s blood-soaked grindhouse tribute—has come out of the gate touring the country at the stroke of 12, complete with a pre-show that references and gently mocks the movie before you even it. This movie knows its place!

The film has Lyonne inheriting her father’s broken-down movie theater and not wasting any time in killing her horrible mother in the lobby. (Well, Lyonne did costar in DIE MOMMIE DIE!). When the security film taken of that grisly event is somehow shown in the theater as a short, it becomes an instant hit, the audience cheering on the realistic looking violence and animalistically craving more. To save the theater, Lyonne makes a whole series of snuff films with customers as unwitting stars, the surviving patrons left to applaud the works, unaware that they’re next.

Add some other camp stars from the past (Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, Mink Stole) and up-and-comer Thomas Dekker as an idealistic male lead, plus Grannell’s drag alter ego Peaches Christ in full Divine eye makeup, and you have all the ingredients of a fine midnight film, complete with gore, comedy, and an ending that slays the audience.

Even when the goings-on become a tiny bit tedious, you think, “Well, it’s a tribute to exploitation films and all their excesses. A hint of a numbing quality sort of makes sense at this point.”

It’s also littered with little homages to the works of Times Square filmmakers like Herschell Gordon Lewis, though at the event, Peaches Christ dedicated the film to Doris Wishman, who brought girl power to the gore genre. Wishman was the best known female exploitation director of the ‘60s and ‘70s, specializing in films about nudist camps, and in the ‘80s, trying her hand at a slasher thriller, always with wonderfully appalling results. Lyonne said that when she was a young girl, she met Wishman and thought she was absolutely terrific. Why am I not surprised? I bet they even met at midnight.