Note: This review was previously published on October 1, 2015, It has been updated to reflect information from its showing at the San Diego FANtastic Horror Film Festival.
I had the opportunity to attend San Diego’s FANtastic Horror Film Festival on Friday, October 29, 2015, where I was able to see Beloved Party Guest and Director Lynne Hansen’s film “Chomp.” Horror House Party extends sincere thanks to the FANtastic Horror Film Festival’s Directors, Beloved Party Guests JoAnn and Mike Thomas, for access to the Festival and its programming. (Read our complete review policy.)
Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk. A “spoiler-free” look at “Chomp” can be found in the news section.
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Somewhere, in a small town near you, there is still local public access television. And there, scheduled right between the local equivalent of “Wayne’s World” and the preacher who plays the organ and sings with off-key puppets, is Dr. Jon Croft’s show, the “Pit Bulls and Zombies Hour.” After all, there’s one thing we know about pit bulls: they really don’t like zombies.
Millie (played by the delightful Susan O’Gara) is a retiree who watches every episode of the “Pit Bulls and Zombies Hour.” She has devoted her retirement to finding a real zombie so she can appear on Dr. Croft’s show. She believes she’s won the jackpot when she manages to capture Kyle – dressed his zombie finery for a zombie walk – and chain him up in her garage. When she learns that he is really not a zombie, she has only one choice: she must make him a zombie.
In the end, Millie gets her fondest wish: she joints Kyle as a guest on Dr. Croft’s show – just not exactly as she anticipated.
“Chomp” is a delightful twelve-minute short film. It’s laugh-out-loud funny without resorting to the forced slapstick that passes for humor in so many horror comedies. Instead, the humor comes from the absurdity of the situation and the characters’ reactions to it. But this absurdity also causes a shiver every time the reality of Kyle’s situation is brought to the forefront, because, deep down, we are at all times uncomfortably aware that as ditzy as she may be, Millie is still Kyle’s captor. And there is no guarantee he will come out of this alive.
BPG Hansen manipulates the funny and the scary with a deft hand, earning her a Festival nomination for Best Director in a Short Film. “Chomp” was also nominated for Best Comedy. Quite an achievement for a novice director making her first film!
It’s impossible to watch this film without being captivated by Susan O’Gara’s performance as Millie. She effortlessly dances the fine line between being everybody’s delightful (if slightly off-kilter) grandmother and being a dangerous, deranged woman with a tupperware container of brains in her refrigerator. O’Gara’s ability to move seamlessly between these two aspects of her character is fascinating to watch.
Kyle Porter plays the hapless Kyle Frost with an air of genuine bewilderment, never quite understanding why this woman won’t just believe him and let him go. His clearly confused state garnered him a nomination for the Festival Best Actor in a Short Film award, and led to the nomination of his trademark line “I am NOT a zombie!” for the award for the Festival’s Best Line. Joel D. Wynkoop is simply a hoot as Dr. Jon Croft, the oh-so-serious host of the “Pit Bulls and Zombies Hour.” Not surprisingly, Wynkoop was nominated for the Festival award for Best Supporting Actor.
If you want to know more about San Diego’s FANtastic Horror Film Festival, you can check out the FANtastic Horror Film Festival website or follow the FANtastic Horror Film Festival.
Beloved Party Guest Lynne Hansen is also an author of horror fiction! East Coast Party Guests, are you snowed in? West Coast Party Guests, caught by (gasp) rain? Spend a spooky evening curled up with hot chocolate and one of her scary books – like “Death Divided,” about an energy vampire. Hey, any kind of vampire makes for my kind of book! And you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited. – McC
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