[Review] Lunch Ladies (FilmQuest 2018): Death Can’t Dash the Dreams of Two Sisters Obsessed with Johnny Depp

Nothing can get in the way of two sisters who have dreams of becoming Johnny Depp’s personal chefs – not even a crime of passion – in the hilarious, glop-ridden horror comedy short Lunch Ladies. This colorful, energetic romp is a fun blast of feel-good horror comedy.

Seretta (Donna Pieroni) and LouAnne (Mary Manofsky) are cooks at a high school, slaving away at their underappreciated jobs and turning out the best food that they can with what they are given. Unfortunately for them and the student body, that food is disgustingly unappealing to the eye, and can’t be any better for the palate. When Johnny Depp chooses their Cheesy Burger Bites recipe as the grand prize winner of a culinary contest, the sisters – who are big fans of his, to put it mildly – have the opportunity to attend an awards ceremony where Depp’s band will play. Alas, the school principal delivers some bad news that could affect their ability to afford plane tickets to the event – if the two do not produce a quality lunch the following day, they will be replaced by vending machines. An unfortunate incident with a foul-mouthed cheerleader (Daisy Kershaw as Alexis) may complicate matters even further.

Director J.M. Logan directs Clarissa Jacobson’s witty, wicked screenplay with panache, and keeps things going at a fast clip. One of this reviewer’s favorite touches is the use of green in a cafeteria scene, starting with the titular character’s uniforms, and also seen in the kitchen area and throughout the cafeteria, and not least noticeable in the liquid mystery slop served to the students. Cinematographer Chris Ekstein does a marvelous job with this short. Antoni M. March’s strings-and-brass score boldly accents the proceedings, adding greatly to the fun atmosphere.

Pieroni and Manofsky are a fabulous comic duo, with Pieroni’s Seretta being the brasher, broader role, and Manofsky playing things in a more understated, grounding manner as LouAnne. The actors’ verve and timing together is flawless, and they are a joy to watch.

Dark humor and comic gore are both doled out in great amounts. From the aforementioned crime of passion to how the sisters handle the aftermath of the incident, there’s plenty of red stuff – with an occasional bit of brown, for good comedy measure – to appease gorehounds.

Lunch Ladies won the Best Comedy Short award at FilmQuest, held at the Covey Center for the Arts and Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo, Utah, from September 8—16. The short is now available to watch on Prime Video, Kanopy, and Canal +. For more information, visit https://www.lunchladiesmovie.com/.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Lunch Ladies
  • Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.