Several weeks ago, we attended the first Midnight Mass screening in years at our very own Clay Theater. It was there that we got a chance talk to the horror hostess herself Peaches Christ. One thing lead to another, and KillDozer got to talk to the filmmaker behind the makeup, Joshua Grannell, about his first feature length film, All About Evil.
KillDozer: Let's start with an intro of who you are and what your roles were in making All About Evil come to life.
Joshua: I'm Joshua Grannell, the writer and director of All About Evil as well as "Peaches Christ", midnight movie hostess and cult leader.
KillDozer: Was All About Evil your first full length film idea? If so how long did you carry this idea with you before starting to make it a reality?
Joshua: This was my first feature film, yes. Originally I'd made a short film called Grindhouse (before the other film by the same name was made) and the short film was basically the idea of what All About Evil became, it was a sorta character study on the "Deborah" character. After the short film, I decided I wanted to develop the story of Deborah more and began working on writing the feature film.
KillDozer: What was your film making background before All About Evil? Had you taken classes or read books about the process?
Joshua: I grew up a kid obsessed with movies and studied them by obsessing over them and I read film journals and subscribed to magazines like Fangoria. Eventually I went to film school at Penn State where I made a bunch of student films in college.
KillDozer: Was your choice to be both writer and director made so that you could have artistic control over the final product? You have experience in putting on live stage productions, did this experience help with your directing?
Joshua: I guess I had always just written and directed my stage-shows and short films so I never really thought about doing it any other way. I'm also a producer of most of my own stuff and I recommend independent filmmakers and performers learn how to produce because it's really the best way to get your stories out there the way you want them to.
KillDozer: What was fundraising like for this film? Did you have a lot of interest from the start because of your stage persona?
Joshua: I had a relationship with Mark Cuban the billionaire because he'd been a fan of Peaches and produced a TV show about my Midnight Mass event so I really believed that Mark would finance my feature film. He didn't. But it was great that I believed he would because it gave me the faith to keep writing, and asking, and putting the project together. Eventually we found an investor who ended up being a friend's father.
KillDozer: The star power in your film is incredible. You have so much talent from household names like Natasha Lyonne and Noah Segan to cult superstars like Mink Stole and Cassandra Peterson. How did you acquire this talented group for your film? Were they easy to work with?
Joshua: Both Mink and Cassandra were friends of mine who had performed with me as Peaches and so I just asked them if they'd do it. Cassandra was a bit reluctant at first because she hadn't a done a movie out of Elvira drag since Pee Wee's Big Adventure back in 1984. I'm so glad she did it because she's great in the movie. It was a dream come true having Mink Stole in the movie. Noah was a friend of producer Darren Stein's and so we sent him the script and then I met with him and he came on board and Natasha was actually one of the very last people cast in the film because it was such an important part and we needed the perfect actress. Our cinematographer Tom Richmond had shot her in The Slums Of Beverly Hills and when he heard she was on my wish-list, he put us in touch with each other and we began talking. She really "got" the script and we hit it off.
KillDozer: The rest of the characters in the film are extremely memorable and could easily be the entire focus in their own films. What was it like casting the rest of the parts?
Joshua: It was a blast. I sometimes think that one of my better strengths as a director is that I'm super anal and considerate about casting- both with films and with my plays. Good casting is crucial to the success of any project. Most of the other parts were cast through auditions and I remember when each actor came in and did their thing. For the most part I'd know immediately if it was a good fit.
KillDozer: In writing and directing a Horror/Comedy, which is easier to translate on screen, the horror or the comedy?
Joshua: I'd say that this film is more of a dark comedy gore film that lives inside the world of a horror film, but it really isn't very scary. I created it in the spirit of Herschel Gordon Lewis and Doris Wishman so it was less about being scary and more about being weird. I think both comedy and horror are challenging, but I'm probably more comfortable creating comedy. For my next film I'd like it to be a bit scarier and more perverse.
KillDozer: What was the editing process like? Did you sacrifice anything to the cutting room floor that you loved?
Joshua: I had edited the script so much that by the time we cut the actual movie it followed the script pretty closely. I think there was maybe one scene that got cut from the movie, but really nothing very big. The really big stuff was actually cut from the script before we started shooting. In one draft of the film there was a rat story-line and a king rat that sat on Mr. Twigs' shoulder but I didn't want a cheezy CGI rat, so the producers came to me and explained the cost of shooting rats and we ended up cutting the rats. Originally Mink's face was eaten alive by rats after she ripped through her stitches.
KillDozer: The practical effects in All About Evil are incredibly fun and sure to bring smiles to every horror kid. Did you make a conscious choice to go practical? Who did you go to for effects? Were you able to accomplish everything you wanted?
Joshua: Yes, very much so. I wanted it all to be practical and it almost was. We went to some fantastic local makeup and effects people like Aurora Bergere and Terry Sandin who created masterpieces with very little.
KillDozer: All About Evil has a lot of sincerity in regards to how it treats its subject matter. There also seems to be a great deal of honesty when depicting "monster kids," "horror nerds," and "the horror community." Was this a conscious choice or was it natural due to the fact that you are a noteworthy member of this community?
Joshua: It was because the Steven character is really based on myself when I was his age. I really identify with him and his passion for the creativity of horror and the wild fantastic world it can exist in.
KillDozer: You toured with this film for quite some time, what was your travel time like? What were the audience reactions across the country? Were you ever protested (I wondered this when you were in Salt Lake City)?
Joshua: We did tour with it for a long time! It's crazy to think about how many cities we took our All About Evil stage-show to, including places like Salt Lake City. Surprisingly, we were never protested that I know about, although I did stage fake protests some places. In Manchester England we staged a protest by librarians who were outraged by the portrayal of a murderess librarian. They had signs that said stuff like "The only thing we murder is illiteracy!" They were so convincing that the police showed up and we had to explain that it was theatre.
KillDozer: You were able to have a grand "Hollywood style" premiere in San Francisco for the opening of All About Evil. What was that night like? What was it like to have a full house at the Castro Theatre laughing, screaming, and loving your work?
Joshua: It was like a dream, really. I mean I literally dreamt as a kid that I'd someday have a night like that. Death-bed memory.
KillDozer: I'm not sure if you have heard this before but I had a hard time buying a copy of this film. I actually ended up going directly through your web site. Was the distribution process hard?
Joshua: It was strange in that our investor really didn't like any of the North American distribution deals and opted to self distribute. It's on cable television, but it never really got a proper American distribution. However, it's distributed widely in Japan and Europe and parts of South America. There's a German BluRay that someone asked me to sign and I was like "I didn't even know it was on BluRay!"
KillDozer: Do you have any plans to make another film? I know a lot of us have been eager to see what's next.
Joshua: Yes, I've even made some shorts since All About Evil but I"m currently writing some feature film scripts and I'm hoping one of them will just grab me and scream "I MUST BE MADE!!!"
KillDozer: Okay these are my quick fun questions- What is your favorite piece of movie memorabilia?
Joshua: That I own is probably a necklace Ginger Quest wears in the film Vegas In Space.
KillDozer: What did you keep from the production of All About Evil?
Joshua: I kept Natasha's gory neck wound and knife from when Cassandra stabs her with it. Spoiler alert!
KillDozer: What is the last old film the you viewed for the first time and couldn't believe you hadn't seen it before?
Joshua: Mark Of The Devil.
KillDozer: Who is on your bucket list of people you must meet some day?
Joshua: Elizabeth Berkley
KillDozer: With all your famous friends, do you still get star struck? And with who?
Joshua: Of course! I'm still star struck around all those friends I grew up worshiping like Elvira, John Waters, and Mink Stole.
KillDozer: As a child which VHS horror art scared/intrigued you most?
Joshua: Motel Hell.
KillDozer: What would the title of your autobiography be?
Peaches: Child of the Popcorn
If you happen to be in the Seattle area next week, you can catch Peaches Christ, as well as Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) at Crypticon. Check out details at their site!
You can also find upcoming appearances, events, and merch at PeachesChrist.com