A hilarious and gory treat for the midnight movie crowd, “Eating Miss Campbell” delivers wickedly fun satire alongside stellar performances.
Eating Miss Campbell is the second feature film from subversive, Yorkshire-born director Liam Regan.
Regan already made quite an impact in the Indie Horror community with his debut feature My Bloody Banjo, which was unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences at Cannes in 2017. If you have seen Banjo, you know Regan is a director who feels extremely comfortable making people feel uncomfortable.
Eating Miss Campbell opens on Beth Conner, a seventeen-year-old Vegan Goth who is doomed to relive high school as she embarks on the next stage of her Purgatory following a previous suicide.
You see, Beth is trapped living out her existence as the main character in an Indie Horror movie — *wink wink* — and her opening monologue confirms the meta self-awareness which the movie weaponizes to full effect.
Beth addresses the camera during her monologue and remarks, ‘’Let’s shoot this straight-to-DVD piece of shit, already!’’ and Regan responds offscreen with, ‘’Physical media is dead!’’
This segment genuinely made me ugly-laugh, and it also explicitly sets the tone: this is satire, and it does not care if you are offended.
Eating Miss Campbell deals with some ‘heavy’ themes: school shootings, self-harm, teenage suicide, cannibalism, the grooming of children in our school systems, and even the Weinstein’s and the #MeToo movement.
These themes are fair game for a Troma production, and they double as gag devices and as a searing social commentary on how Hollywood uses, consumes, and spits out people in the movie business.
Our social media and news feeds are filled with real-world horrors flooding our screens every day, and the desire to discuss these sensitive issues is often stifled by the fear of being canceled.
These themes mock the idolization which we often assign to high school shooters, mass murderers, and garden-variety sex pests.
Regan is hyper-aware of this; watching his movies is an invitation to stop taking ourselves so seriously and to laugh at the absurdity of everything life has thrown at us.
The way in which Eating Miss Campbell portrays these risqué themes is pure schlock, and the tone, exaggerated dialogue, and midnight-black humor reflect this.
In Beth’s most recent incarnation, she must navigate the pitfalls of school life, which include avoiding date-raping Frat Boys and the elite group of popular girls whose behavior would make the teens of Heathers and Mean Girls blush.
Beth’s guardians aren’t any more supportive of her.
They are too preoccupied with eating each other’s faces to notice the abuses that their daughter is being subjected to.
This is another clever dig at absentee parents and the effect this can have on the mental health of children and young adults.
There is a nice synchronicity here between the themes of cannibalism and sex; the urge to consume what we most covet acts as a nice parallel to the idea of cannibalism.
All is not hopeless for our ever-suffering Beth because she learns to fall in love…albeit with her English teacher.
Beth’s teacher Miss Campbell is portrayed by Lala Barlow, who infuses the role with her audacious, kinetic energy. Barlow is an utter force of nature: her theatre background shines through as she imbues every scene with her fiery presence.
Her voice rises and dips with the delivery of an operatic singer; her body contorts as she leaps from the furniture with feline precision, and her ability to act using facial expressions alone makes her a rising star to watch out for.
Lyndsey Craine absolutely slays as Beth Conner.
Craine’s venomous delivery of dialogue is believable and funny; her exaggerated eye rolls, sarcastic head tilts, and repulsed facial expressions belong to an actor who can convey emotions using her entire body.
Alongside Beth and Miss Campbell are many other bizarre characters straight outta Tromaville, including a few notable cameos from Lloyd Kaufman, Laurence R. Harvey, Blade Braxton, Symren Gharial, Paris Rivers, Ria Fend, Unquiet Dead, and Dani Thompson.
Every single actor gives a standout performance as Troma caricatures. Everyone has their own unique style, which adds to the cartoonish charm of Eating Miss Campbell.
A good friend of mine has a hilarious cameo during a dinner scene in which he delivers a one-liner in his thick Scottish accent.
Regan’s decision to add subtitles solidifies the joke from the perspective of an Englishman trying to navigate just what the hell we Scottish folk are actually saying.
A performance that stood out to me was of Blade Braxton, who played The Midnight Rose.
Braxton’s booming voice and showbiz presence elevate the penultimate final scenes of the movie.
Blade commands your attention with his larger-than-life personality.
His vocation as a professional wrestler is lovingly written into the script, and his Ringleader energy cements him as a scene-stealing star.
Tragically, Blade passed away in March of 2021. His passing left a massive hole in the hearts of everyone he touched, including his Troma family and his brother in crime Liam Regan.
I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to continue this production following such a monumental loss. But somehow, Regan pulled it off, and Eating Miss Campbell is a beautiful tribute to Blade, of which he would be so proud.
In terms of production, the stylization of the movie also begs to be discussed. The garish palette is reminiscent of a Cartoon Network animation; the pastels of the mean girl gang beautifully clash with the buckets of claret that splatter across the screen. The wardrobe department deserves a mention also. Beth’s black and white Goth wardrobe contrasts Miss Campbell’s mustard and red outfit (I see what you did there, Liam).
These clashing wardrobes are the perfect symbolism of how we view Vegan food (drab, grey) versus the fast food consumption culture (Miss Campbell is literally wearing Ronald McDonald’s colors).
The sound production is also fantastic: the revolting squelching noises during the gory cannibal scenes add to the hyper-real vibe of the movie. There is also some fun world-building which includes characters from Regan’s debut, My Bloody Banjo, for audiences to spot.
Eating Miss Campbell showcases a special FX team at its peak.
Everything is practical with absolutely minimal CG, and the gore prosthetics are convincing whilst still adhering to that Troma look.
Laden with late ’90s/early 00’s dialogue, kitschy characters, Splatter Punk aesthetics, and meta-awareness, EATING MISS CAMPBELL cements Liam Regan as a unique rising voice in the Horror genre.
With the Godfather of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman, in the Producer’s chair, you may think you know what to expect. However, Regan’s whiplash-fast script, coupled with his ability to find the humor in Horror, elevates the production above its Indie sensibilities.
Hilarious, gory, and featuring powerhouse performances with an utterly unpredictable script, Eating Miss Campbell asks you to leave your good taste behind as you gorge upon the visual feasts which lie in wait.
If you find yourself in Horror movie purgatory of late, why not check out this powder keg of a movie? It will make you smile quicker than you can shriek, ‘’OOPSY-FUCKING-DAISY!’’