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All About Evil (2010) IMDB description: A mousy librarian inherits her father’s beloved but failing old movie house. In order to save the family business she discovers her inner serial killer – and a legion of rabid gore fans – when she starts turning out a series of grisly shorts. What her fans don’t realize yet is that the murders in the movies are all too real.
Antibirth (2016) IMDB description: In a desolate community full of drug-addled Marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a wild night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions as she struggles to get a grip on reality while stories of conspiracy spread.
Why I took them off the list: When compiling my list of underrated films of the 90s and writing about Slums of Beverly Hills (1988), I remembered I had a couple of movies also starring the awesome Natasha Lyonne that I had been meaning to get around to watching.
Soon after, I saw one of them, All About Evil, (2010) had just been re-released, so I thought it was the perfect time to check it off the list
Review of All About Evil (2010)
This ridiculously camp horror comedy goes for a major John Waters vibe and mostly pulls it off (Waters regular Mink Stole even appears in a small role).
Natasha Lyonne plays the shy and withdrawn Deb, who’s still traumatized by a bizarre childhood incident where she, dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, messes up a stage performance in dramatic style. Meanwhile, her stepmother (dressed as the wicked witch) watches on, cackling with manic glee.
In the present day, Deb is a shy librarian still struggling to keep her father’s midnight movie palace afloat out of a sense of duty. But one day she finally snaps, gorily offing her gold-digging stepmother….and the incriminating CCTV footage is accidentally live broadcast to a theater full of patrons.
Far from being a disaster though, the ‘short film’ is a surprise success, and Deb decides to keep the blood flowing and cameras rolling to get business back to booming. She gradually becomes increasingly unhinged and ruthless in her new career as a provocateur director, taking on a host of bizarre ‘staff’ to help her keep up her murderous enterprise.
Unpolished but Entertaining
Directed by drag performer Peaches Christ, All About Evil is clearly a massive homage to classic horror B-movies but also has the same kind of production values and acting quality you would probably expect of those films. The amazing opening credits scene, which introduces the actors and crew over classic horror posters, is probably the most polished part of the movie.
For better or worse, the whole thing has the vibe of an amateur production made by a group of friends, but the fun they are clearly having can’t help but be a little infectious. It clearly aims to be more stylish than the obviously limited budget allows, but still manages to pull off some visually pleasing scenes, especially the murders/film shoots.
Uneven Acting, but Lyonne Is a Blast
Some of the performances in All About Evil are just on the right side of campy kitsch. Veteran actor Jack Donner is great as projectionist Mr.Twigs, an unassuming old man who turns into a cackling henchman and the most willing participant in the murderous movie-making.
Thomas Dekker gets stuck with a bit of a naive straight-man role as Deb’s biggest fan, Steven, but is an appealing enough hero to root for. Julie Caitlin Brown, who plays Deb’s stepmom, is fabulous at playing a bitch, but sadly doesn’t get very much screen time.
Some other characters seem almost painfully out of synch and one-note. These include Steven’s best friend Julie, who has to spout some of the clunkiest lines in the film, and his mother Linda (Cassandra Peterson, disappointingly far from her wacky Elvira persona).
The star attraction of All About Evil, though, is Lyonne, even though she is majorly hamming it up. she doesn’t get much of a believable character arc to play out, but gamely vamps it up to the max regardless. As the film goes on, she becomes even more deliciously unhinged and also gets to wear some truly fabulous outfits.
Final Score: 6/10
All About Evil (2010): Worth Checking Out?
It depends. If you’re a fan of campy horror/comedies and love bad-taste fare like John Waters movies, then you will likely adore All About Evil.
All About Evil (2010)
Written and directed by Joshua Grannell
Review of Antibirth (2016)
This later horror-comedy starring Natasha Lyonne is a much more polished affair than All About Evil, both in its garishly stylized visuals and in the performances. Lyonne stars as Lou, a small-town waster whose non-stop party routine suddenly gets rudely interrupted by strange events, which she tries to figure out through a haze of booze and alcohol.
Lyonne, in somewhat of a precursor to her role in Russian Doll (2019-), gives another crazy, gonzo performance that plays to her strengths. She’s ably backed up by co-star Chloe Sevigny as her laid-back enabler of a best friend: the two make a convincing co-dependent pair.
Mark Webber also proves for a scary villain as the main drug dealer Lou gets wrapped up with. And perhaps best of all, Meg Tilly gives a striking comeback performance as Lorna, a tough but soft-spoken conspiracy theorist who acts as a kind of mentor to Lou.
Gorgeously Trippy Visuals
The plot of Antibirth is somewhat predictable, but it earns points for painting a vivid metaphor for the abuse that the disenfranchised poor have to deal with. It’s also frequently hilarious, and Lyonne gets a lot of opportunities to deliver her specialty: the dry, sarcastic one-liner.
The film also absolutely nails its grungy, trippy style and is a psychedelic nightmare of a movie, serving up one series of surprising imagery after another. The sequences involving creepy mascots from a children’s restaurant, which resemble mutated Teletubbies, are a particular highlight.
The finale gets a little too chaotic, goes more for shock value than a meaningful ending, and offers a rather unsatisfying conclusion for many of the characters. Nevertheless, Antibirth is still visually striking and incredibly inventive right up to its final shot.
Final Score: 7/10
Antibirth (2016): Worth Checking Out?
Yes. Antibirth is a strange confection that won’t be to everyone’s taste and is ultimately more style than substance. But the style is fantastic, Natasha Lyonne gives an ace comedic performance, and the rest of the cast is great too.
Written and directed by Danny Perez