These are the corner stones of the story behind Lunch Ladies, the hilarious horror-comedy gem of the Women in Horror Film Festival. A duo of Johnny Depp obsessed school cafeteria workers win a contest based on a hamburger creation and get a chance to meet their idol in L.A. It's all a part of their master plan to become the personal chefs of the Hollywood icon. Their initial reaction is to celebrate, quit their jobs, and tell the ungrateful staff and student body to kiss their butts as they walk out the door. But they quickly realize that hanging on to their jobs is the only way to get the money for airfare. Things rarely remain simple and, after devoting themselves back to the lunchroom to get their travel money, their jobs come under fire from the school principal and angry students.
Lunch Ladies is wonderfully written and engaging with characters that are full of life and personality right from the start. That's no small feat for a short form work of fiction to introduce you not only to a storyline but characters you can identify with an become attached to. Seretta (Donna Pieroni) and LouAnne (Mary Manofsky) are obsessive Johnny Depp fan girls and would be gourmet chefs trapped in the cafeteria from hell. From their portrayal you see a pair of best friends bonded together by their passion for Johnny Depp and their dream of becoming his personal chefs. Each woman has a unique personality and traits. Seretta is passionate, the heart of the duo, but doesn't think things through. LouAnne is the more meticulous and thoughtful, planning out and serving as a voice of reason. When Seretta' emotions and overreaction put them in a predicament, it's LouAnne's quick, gruesome thinking that leads us to the meat of the story.
The effects work is great, graphic and realistic enough to turn stomachs. While the film is by no means gory, at least in my opinion, it has enough blood, carnage, and severed limbs to keep any gore hound happy. Trying to tell you about this film without ruining plot points and specific scenes is a challenge considering its short run time but the nature of the story itself coupled with the character portrayals, music, and cinematography could easily be made into a murder filled feature. There's suspense, surprise, and sardonic humor enough to leave audiences wanting a second helping.
The lighting, camera angles, and shot choices of Lunch Ladies is lovingly reminiscent of classic 80's slashers and B movies. With bright colors splashed against dark, drab settings the characters themselves pop off the screen. Each one takes on a certain wild eyed, murderous mania that makes their temporary and desperate insanity all the more real and relatable. There are emotional and social undercurrents silently remarked on in background trappings and the behavior of students in the lunchroom that makes the ultimate climax of the film so much more satisfying.
If you haven't had a chance to check out Lunch Ladies on the film festival circuit then you're in luck. The short film is available now on Amazon and is free to watch with Prime.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.