31st Aug2022

Frightfest 2022: ‘Eating Miss Campbell’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Lyndsey Craine, Lala Barlow, Vito Trigo, James Hamer-Morton, Charlie Bond, Emily Haigh, Michaela Longden, Sierra Summers, Alexander J Skinner, Justin A. Martell, Annabella Rich, Dani Thompson, Laurence R. Harvey | Written and Directed by Liam Regan

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, despite the obvious age difference, I share writer-director Liam Regan’s fondness for satellite TV channel Bravo – especially during the “horned devil” logo years, where late nights were made up of cult TV shows, weird obscure films and a TON of Troma movies. So much so that I too consider that period of the channel as a now legendary time in UK broadcasting. It was the channel that introduced me to a wider range of Troma movies outside of The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke’Em High (which were stalwarts of my local video shop AND that guy that used to rent tapes out of the boot of his car). That late-night line-up is where I fell in love with a film I still consider one of my all-time Troma faves, Chillers.

Eating Miss Campbell is Regan’s follow-up to My Bloody Banjo, his amazing debut feature that suffered from terrible distribution issues and hasn’t even been officially released to physical retail here in the UK (thankfully Regan has the rights back to Banjo and is self-distributing). The film opens with Beth Conner, a career-making performance for actress Lyndsey Craine, talking directly to the camera about films, and horror films in particular before screaming to those behind the camera in fourth wall breaking brilliance that sets the stage for what to expect from Eating Miss Campbell. Well, I say sets the stage but that’s not actually the case. That fun opening features none of the dark; very, VERY dark, non-PC comedy that follows. But it takes all of 9 minutes to realise that Regan and co. are aiming for something a lot bleaker, a lot more meta and somewhat more controversial than My Bloody Banjo ever was. It’s also a lot more Troma. And I f*cking loved every second of it!

Eating Miss Campbell follows vegan-goth student Beth Conner, who falls into a relationship with her new English teacher, Miss Campbell, and at the same time develops taste for human flesh. As she tells the audience in the opening, Beth is unable to commit suicide and escape her horror film life, without the help of a loaded handgun, Luckily for her the new headmaster of Henenlotter High, Mr. Sawyer (Vito Trigo) – yes THAT Mr. Sawyer from My Bloody Banjo – announces the school’s inaugural “All You Can Eat Massacre” contest, where the prize is a loaded handgun… Which means, should Beth win, she can finally escape her life once and for all!

What follows is a wry meta-parody of 90s high-school movies, horror movies cliches and a whole heap of in-jokes and references. Yes, for the film nerds out there Eating Miss Campbell is PACKED with nods to other films, references to a myriad of other pop culture and more – from the very first scene in which Beth takes pills prescribed by Samuel Weil (a pseudonym of Lloyd Kaufman) to the Nickelodeon inspired opening credits and the film being set in Henenlotter High with a student that looks just like DJ Qualls (who rose to prominence in teen comedies like Road Trip and The New Guy)… And the references just keep coming. This means Eating Miss Campbell is 100% right up my street, it honestly speaks to me on a level that I don’t typically feel outside of Kevin Smith’s oeuvre. It’s GLORIOUS!

In the space of two films has captured everything that’s not only great about Troma movies but also British tradition of “camp comedy” cinema a la the Carry On films – if it wasn’t for all the blood and guts of course – all by way of Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist humour! Honestly, if Lloyd Kaufman ever wanted to retire he would do well to hand the reins of Troma to Regan…

***** 5/5

Eating Miss Campbell screened as part of this year’s Arrow Video London Frightfest.


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