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Last month I had the pleasure of reviewing Christopher R. Mihm’s latest retro b-movie, House of Ghosts. This was a bit of a departure for Christopher, as previously he had been focusing on creating classic style b-movies in the mutant and sci-fi genres. His latest film pays homage to the William Castle style ghost story, complete with its own theater gimmick. I always look forward to Christopher’s films, because he’s one of a VERY few people out there right now making this style of films, and he’s one of an even smaller number of film makers who are actually really good at it.
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DLM – Let’s start out by having you tell us a little about yourself and your background as a film maker.
CRM – After a lifetime of wanting to but never having enough motivation, I officially began making movies in 2005. In 2004, my 13-year-old stepdaughter was diagnosed with bone cancer (of which, she is 100% cured almost seven years later!), I decided it was time to finally get moving on realizing my own dreams because, after all, if a healthy, athletic 13 year old kid could be diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease, I, as an overweight 30-year-old, could easily be next! So, shaken out of my complacency, I sat down and wrote the screenplay for my first film, “The Monster of Phantom Lake.” Driven to finally make a “real movie,” I plowed through and completed it within about six months. The following spring, I held a premiere at The Heights Theatre on the outskirts of Minneapolis, MN to a raucous and excited audience. The film quickly garnered many positive reviews and screened in many events and film festivals across the world. Completely addicted to the experience, I decided I had to keep making movies, no matter what the cost! Thus, here I am seven years later with seven features under my belt and another in the works.
DLM – Back when you first started making films, was it your intention to stick to strictly retro, b-movie style films, or was that something you just sort of stuck with because you enjoyed it?
CRM – I made my first film as a tribute to my late father. Growing up he and I would bond by watching those cheesy old movies together. He passed away in 2000 from a rare form of stomach cancer and had been on my mind quite a bit when my step-daughter was diagnosed just four years later. I felt like I wanted to make a movie that my dad would have loved and one he and I would have enjoyed watching together. This is where “The Monster of Phantom Lake” came from. After releasing it, I had the opportunity to screen it at a drive-in in Wisconsin. Seeing it up on that giant drive-in screen was transcendent! Experiencing my cheesy 1950s-style B-movie at a drive-in is one of the greatest moments of my life because it was THE perfect place to see it. I literally rank that experience up there with the births of my children! During that screening I had an epiphany and decided I didn’t want to do anything other than these retro-style features.
DLM – When it came to writing your latest film, House of Ghosts, you took a bit of a different direction from your other films, in that this one is more of a William Castle style ghost story rather than a monster or sci-fi type film like you’ve made in the past. What inspired you to go in this direction this time around, and is it a style and genre you’d like to re-visit again in the future?
CRM – After making six films, I decided I wanted to branch out A LITTLE. Not very much, obviously, since “House of Ghosts” very much fits in with my other work. After doing sci-fi/monster pictures for so long, I wanted to try something that was a little more straight horror. I figured it would allow me to stretch my filmmaking and screenwriting skills in a new direction while staying within my chosen style. As a fan of the films (and gimmicks) of William Castle, it was the perfect way to start branching out by paying homage to the master!
Lastly, it is a style and genre I will revisit in the future. I very much enjoyed it and I think it gave me the courage to branch out in other ways as well. For instance, my next film “The Giant Spider” is my first attempt at a “giant bug” film. I also have plans to make a sort of western film next year!
DLM – I noticed that in this film you had a lot of inside jokes that related to your previous films. Did you have a difficult time fitting those in so that they’d be funny for people who got the references, while still keeping it amusing enough for people who didn’t?
CRM – In the very beginning, I decided I wanted all my films to be standalone stories while simultaneously existing in the same “universe.” Basically, it’s built in such a way that characters, locations, family lines, products, bad-pseudo-science, etc. from one film may appear in another or be mentioned or directly referenced. In this way, it ties all of my films together BUT, they can all be enjoyed one at a time, completely separate from the others. As I add more films to the library, it’s getting harder and harder to include “inside stuff” without alienating folks who may not be familiar with all of the films. In “House of Ghosts” there are many inside references but I don’t think they’re so heavy-handed as to take away from someone’s enjoyment of the final film.
(It should be mentioned that a fan of the films came up with the term “Mihmiverse” as a shortcut to refer to the universe of my films. It, along with the term “Mihmivites” to describe the fans themselves, have since stuck and become synonymous with my work!)
DLM – You have a “stable” of actors that you tend to go to for each of your films. while throwing new and different people into the mix now and then. Tell us about some of the cast members that have become familiar faces in your films, and the benefits to having reliable cast members to work with from film to film.
CRM – The greatest benefit of using the same actors over and over is the shorthand we end up having with each other. I know their strengths and they know how I need and want things done. They know what to expect and where to take things and I can trust their instincts to create great performances. This also makes the actual process of shooting one of these films smoother and much more relaxed.
There are so many great actors that have been added to the “stable” that it’s hard to name just a few! Instead, I’ll list the ones that immediately come to mind and say this about all of them: they are all my dear friends, are dedicated, easy and fun to work with, and are extremely talented (and would be a marvelous addition to ANY project)—Mike Cook, Sid Korpi, Shannon McDonough, Daniel R. Sjerven, Jim Norgard, Justen Overlander, Stephanie Mihm, Michael Kaiser, Catherine Hansen, Mark Haider, and Anthony Kaczor. (If I forgot anybody, I apologize profusely!) Also, there are a couple behind-the-scenes folks that I have to mention, specifically Mitch Gonzales (my go-to guy for monster designs and special effects) and Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati, my lighting and production designer and the only person who can ever get away with telling me “no!”
DLM – What were some of the aspects of this film that you feel came out particularly well, and are there any aspects of it that, looking back on it, you’d have done differently?
CRM – I think we achieved the right atmosphere and level of escalation we were going for. I think the script is solid and the “scares” we got were very close to how I imagined them. I am actually quite proud of the finished product and wouldn’t change much. There are small things I would change that really wouldn’t affect the overall film that much. I struggled with my William Castle-esque intro and wish I could have shortened it a little but, it’s fine for what it is. Some of the special effects weren’t QUITE as special as I was imagining and I really wish we could have gotten actual snow. I live in Minnesota and I wrote a blizzard into my script not knowing that last winter would have one of the lowest snowfall amounts on record! So to answer the question, the changes would be minimal things that in all honesty, would only ever be big enough to bother my own perfectionist sensibilities!
DLM – Tell us about the ghosts in this film. Who made the costumes for them?
CRM – There are really only two ghosts that required their own special costumes. (SPOILER ALERT!) One is the “Angel of Death,” a skeletal creature with, as I called them, “Loki horns” coming out of its head. It wears a simple monk-like black robe that was created by costumer Carol Eade. The creature’s mask and skeletal hands are latex creations made by the uber-talented artist and special effects expert Mitch Gonzales. Mitch also did some cool zombie ghost make-up that appears later in the film.
The other ghost was a callback to a previous film that required us to pull out an old costume that had been in storage for quite a few years! That costume was created by me and two of my kids!
DLM – There’s a scene where one of your cast is in the basement and is attacked by a bunch of spiders. How hard was that scene to shoot and how difficult was it to move the spiders around the way you wanted to?
CRM – Special effects wise, that one was a lot easier to do than I thought it would be. During that scene, the character’s flashlight keeps failing so it made editing different effects shots together much smoother because we end up with short periods of complete darkness. For some shots, we used spirit gum to attach spiders to the actor and for others, we tossed cheap plastic spiders at him while simultaneously using lots of clear fishing line to add the illusion of webs and movement. All things considered, I think it turned out much better (and much cheesier) than we originally anticipated. The “spider attack” is one of my favorite scenes in the finished film!
DLM – One of the things that I noted in my review that was done particularly well in this film was the use of light and shadow, and this was particularly important in the scenes with the ghosts, and the scene with the spiders. How difficult was it to get the lighting just right in these scenes. Was it really time consuming to get it to look the way you wanted, or did it come together fairly quickly?
CRM – This is entirely on the shoulders of lighting designer Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati. She and I have been friends for many years and she’s not only talented as hell but REALLY gets what it is I need and want. She’s done many theater productions over the years and when she read the script she basically said, “I got this.” I know her inspiration for the film was actually the hard and harsh shadows of film noir. From the beginning, she told me what she needed by way of supplies and I just got out of her way to do what she does best! The final result is 100% her and I could not be any happier with what she was able to achieve! AND, the best part about it is that she works very quickly and efficiently, so it really didn’t cut into our shoot times much at all!
DLM – What was the most difficult scene for you to shoot in this film?
CRM – The hardest scene to shoot involved the first time one of the characters (played by Stephanie Mihm) sees the ghost of her deceased son. In this scene, the spirit keeps appearing in different parts of a hallway in front of or behind Stephanie’s character while the ghost’s face is shrouded in shadow the entire time. It was extremely difficult to get the lighting in that scene JUST RIGHT to hide the actor’s face while still maintaining the tension and moodiness of the setting.
DLM – One of the things I’ve always loved about your films is the selection of music you use. Where do you find all this great old music, and how time consuming of a process is it to pick out just the right selections?
CRM – All of the music I use is old public domain library or royalty free stuff. At the beginning of the editing process I find about five or six big pieces and extract any usable audio. Then during the editing process, I add music at the same time I put together the video—sometimes even editing a scene to the cues in the music. It can add a little extra editing time but it allows me to synch things in such a way that the music becomes almost a secondary character in the film.
DLM – Did you make any technical advancements in this film, like new equipment, new software, etc… that you feel improved your production quality over your previous films?
CRM – Aside from using real theater lights and a “real” lighting designer, the big change was upgrading my camera to HD. In the past I filmed everything on a Panasonic DVX100a, which is a standard-definition 24p camera. For “House of Ghosts,” I purchased a new Panasonic HMC150 AVCCAM. I believe the difference in the way it looks speaks for itself!
DLM – This film, like previous releases, has English subtitles, which are a really fun part of the experience and shouldn’t be missed. It also includes both a language track and subtitles in Esperanto. What language is Esperanto exactly? Who speaks it and what made you want to include it in your films?
CRM – Esperanto was created in the late 19th century and is the most widely spoken constructed language. I’d go into the whole background of it but it’d be much easier to point you to the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto!
Basically Esperanto was started as a language that was supposed to be very easy-to-learn and used for “peaceful, diplomatic purposes.” In the 1950s, the language was quite popular among sci-fi and monster fans with Forrest J. Ackerman (who created the seminal classic-movie magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland) being a big fan and speaker. When I wrote my previous film “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” the action takes place on an international moon base in the 1970s (as imagined from the 1950s). During pre-production, a friend suggested that from a 1950s sci-fi perspective, an international science station would absolutely REQUIRE that all crew members know Esperanto to allow communication. I liked the idea quite a bit so I found an organization of Esperanto speakers and asked them to translate a few signs and the base’s motto that was to appear on the all the characters’ mission patches. One thing led to another and they volunteered to translate the entire script AND record an audio track for it. Seeing no negatives, I gladly accepted. “Moon Zombies” has since been very well received in the Esperanto community and the translation team was excited by the prospect of doing more – thus, we ended up with Esperanto subtitles and spoken audio on the “House of Ghosts” DVD—and I love it!
DLM – I noticed that the dialogue in the film is re-recorded and dubbed in rather than using the live recorded sound. While it makes the sound quality of the dialogue excellent, does it create any significant sync problems or delays from a production standpoint when you do it that way?
CRM – I do that purposely just for consistency. I find it quite difficult to capture dialogue live, especially when using the bare-minimum crews as I do. After so many films, I have my audio process down to a bit of a science and it doesn’t really FEEL like it adds that much time to the creation of the film simply because it’s more or less a standard part of how I do things. I just add spoken audio the same way I add music—at the same time I edit the video. And yes, it CAN occasionally create synch problems. But, since it’s digital, I can do a lot to minimize that and, if I absolutely can’t get something to line up right, it just forces me to cut away to something else in the visuals!
DLM – What are your plans for House of Ghosts? Are you going to send it around to various festivals before you put it out there for sale, or are you planning to self distribute it right away?
CRM – I make my films specifically for DVD. I release them the same day I hold the premiere. I had a distribution deal early in my filmmaking career but it really didn’t turn out so well! So, I self-distribute all my films because it’s the only way I’ve been able to make any kind of money back from my investments into producing them. I do send them out to various festivals and events but, those can be hit or miss. A lot of times, I try to set up events directly with other promoters, theaters or live horror hosts.
DLM – You premiered this film to a live audience. Tell us about that evening and how it all went. How was the film received?
CRM – Every year I hold a premiere of my latest film at a local theater that is the longest continuously running movie theater in the Twin Cities—it goes back to the silent era! Every year the profile of this event has been rising. The premiere for “House of Ghosts” sold out the 400 seat theater six weeks in advance! That was definitely a first! Because this film is a tribute to William Castle, we included some extra “shenanigans” to add extra oomph to the experience. We had a faux doctor and nurse on hand in case anyone died, had a planted woman “freak out,” did a pseudo-Emergo thing with a walking skeleton and rained plastic spiders on the heads of theater goers. All in all, the night was a smashing success and the film has been very well received!
DLM – Your next film is The Giant Spider. Can you tell us anything about it, without giving too much away, and do you have any idea when you’re going to be starting production on it?
CRM – It’s a coming of age story about a boy and his dog. Actually, it’s not but that’s what we sarcastically tell people when they ask. “The Giant Spider,” oddly enough (more sarcasm), is about a gargantuan arachnid that is making its way toward a small town. On the way, it stops off to eat people. Meanwhile, a group of scientists, a newspaper reporter, his fiancee, and an army general try to stop it! It’s a very straightforward script and, if I can pull it off, will most likely be my most ambitious and biggest “blockbuster!” We’ve already been in pre-production for at least a month and we’ll be shooting the first scenes in the middle of July!
DLM – Tell everyone where they can find out about your films and purchase copies for themselves.
CRM – Visit my website at http://www.sainteuphoria.com, the online home of the films of Christopher R. Mihm! There you can view clips and trailers and purchase DVDs, posters and other collectibles AND play a special custom-made Infocom-style text adventure game set in the Mihmiverse I created specifically for the site! (You can find it under “Danny Johnson and the Lucky Coin” in the “Special Features” section!)
DLM – Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?
CRM – My films are funded almost entirely by the fans. If you’re at all interested in contributing, we offer associate producer credits for only $55. For every credit you buy, you get your name in the end credits, 5 copies of the finished DVD to share with family and friends, two tickets to the premiere, and a beautiful, frame-able signed certificate stating your involvement in the associate producer program! AP credits can be purchased in the merchandise section of my website. Thanks!
Well worth the wait, we just received our SIX Dead Letter Awards for “Attack of the Moon Zombies” (won earlier this year) from MailOrderZombie.com. Thank you Derek M. Koch and the gang!
Included in those awards are:
Best Zombie Movie—”Attack of the Moon Zombies”
Best Director—Christopher R. Mihm
Best Zombie—Michael Kaiser
Best Actress in a Zombie Movie—Sid Korpi
Best One-Liner in a Zombie Movie—spoken by Administrator Ripley (Sid Korpi) “I know I’d rather die in agonizing pain than become some weird meat puppet for those nasty little things out there, wouldn’t you?”
Best Death Scene in a Zombie Movie—Dr. Vincent Edward’s self-sacrifice (Mike Cook), awarded by write-in vote!
Here are MY TWO awards!!
I also loved the message on the Priority Mail box they all came in:
It was Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The skies were darkening, a threat of severe weather imminent, as people lined up around the block to see the world premiere of Christopher R. Mihm’s B&W 1950s drive-in-style B-movie, House of Ghosts.
We had a sold-0ut show, with just a few scalpers out front selling available-at-the-last-minute tickets.
My gown cost me $6.99 at a Goodwill store! I borrowed a genuine antique brooch from my friend Carol Johnson. Many enthusiastic fans arrived in vintage clothing of their own, and they deserve some runway recognition.
PRLog (Press Release) – May 02, 2012 -
Arden Hills writer/director Christopher R. Mihm is the king of new old, good bad movies. Known as Minnesota’s own Roger Corman (“Little Shop of Horrors”), he brings to life spot-on re-creations of the B&W 1950s-drive-
Well despair not. Diehard fans who are kicking themselves for failing to order their tickets early have been issued a reprieve of sorts. Mihm’s message to them: “If you chose to snooze on buying your tickets to the World Premiere of ‘House of Ghosts’ at the Heights Theater, you lost because that show is 100% sold out. We have, however, scheduled a second chance for you to experience this awesome B-movie in another great theater, the New Hope Cinema Grill.”
“House of Ghosts” screens at the New Hope Cinema Grill for a special “dinner-and-a-movie” event! Mark your calendar for Thurs., June 7, 7:00–10:00PM.
“Do NOT delay this time,” Mihm advises. “The Heights holds 400 and it sold out. The Cinema Grill theater holds about 150. Do the math. Get your tickets TODAY if you know what’s good for you! This is an exceedingly rare opportunity.”
Located in a suburb of Minneapolis, the New Hope Cinema Grill is a full-service restaurant (with three showrooms) that offers a variety of entertainment, including movies, live standup comedy, sporting events, and the latest film from writer/director Christopher R. Mihm! The New Hope Cinema Grill is also one of the select establishments serving Surly beer on tap!
This screening of the newest Mihmiverse film is in the perfect setting for the whole family. For only $15.99 a ticket, you’ll be treated to a screening of “House of Ghosts” and a kid-friendly all-you-can-eat pizza/salad/pop buffet. PLUS, alcoholic beverages will be sold on-site to make the evening that much more enjoyable for those inclined to partake in adult libations!
A Q&A with writer/director Christopher R. Mihm and a few of the actors and behind-the-scenes folks from the film will follow the screening. DVDs and other merchandise will also be on sale at the event.
Check out the official movie trailer at
Advance tickets are now available! Check out the events section of the http://www.SaintEuphoria.com merchandise page to order yours right now!
New Hope Cinema Grill, 2749 Winnetka Avenue North, New Hope, MN 55427
With “House of Ghosts,” his first supernatural thriller, writer/director Christopher R. Mihm pays tribute to the works of the master of classic horror, William Castle! (“The Tingler,” “House on Haunted Hill,” “13 Ghosts”)
Rich socialites Isaac and Leigh have a tradition of throwing exclusive dinner parties that include unique (and expensive) forms of entertainment. This time, they’ve booked a spiritual medium who promises to “open a portal to the great beyond” and allow the couple’s equally eccentric guests to contact the “afterworld.” But, before he begins his presentation, the occultist offers a warning: once the door has been opened, no human being can anticipate or control what might come through. Regardless, the group collectively agrees to go forward, only to find itself greatly disappointed by the results… at first. Trapped in the couple’s oversized house by a massive winter storm, the partygoers begin to experience unexplainable and increasingly frightening things. As these occurrences intensify, it becomes apparent that something evil is at work. Can the group survive the night or will ignoring the medium’s warning be the last thing they ever do?
Mike Cook, Justen Overlander, Michael Kaiser, Sid Korpi, Mark Scanlan, Stephanie Mihm,
James Norgard, Catherine Hansen, Andrew Wilkins, Mark Haider, Anthony Kaczor, and
Christopher R. Mihm as himself
Christopher R. Mihm’s “Attack of the Moon Zombies” Wins Numerous B-Movie Awards
PRLog (Press Release) – Mar 23, 2012 –
Minnesotan writer/director Christopher R. Mihm has a unique filmmaking niche. He makes only B&W, 1950s-drive-in-style creature features, or as he puts it, “I make good bad, new old movies.” Released in May 2011, his sixth film, “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” received universally positive reviews from those who want their nostalgia to be newly made. Recently, cult-movie site MailOrderZombie.com nominated “Attack of the Moon Zombies” for many of their annual Dead Letter Awards for quality filmmaking in the zombie genre.
The awards Mihm’s film won are: 1) Best Zombie Movie, feature length; 2) Best Director of a Zombie Movie (Christopher R. Mihm); 3) Best Zombie (Michael Kaiser); 4) Best Actress in a Zombie Movie Sid Korpi as Administrator Ripley; and 5) Best One-Liner in a Zombie Movie: “I know I’d rather die in agonizing pain than become some weird meat puppet for those nasty little things out there, wouldn’t you?” Plus, the movie won Best Death Scene via a write-in-only ballot, naming Mike Cook’s self-sacrificing demise as Dr. Vincent Edwards the best of the deaths. The film took home more awards than any other in the competition. Winners were established by popular vote.
Fans of this monstrously memorable, family-friendly, super-cheesy flick are urged to visit the Mail Order Zombie site to listen to the highly entertaining 3/22/12 podcast #177 at http://www.mailorderzombie.com.
Also up to popular vote to decide is the 10th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, for which “Attack of the Moon Zombies” has been nominated as Best Independent Film (Category 8). Please visit http://www.rondoaward.com/rondo/rondos.html to vote for this fine ’50s movie and support independent cinema by March 31, 2012.
If you haven’t yet seen “Attack of the Moon Zombies” and want to check it out to see what all the hubbub is about, order your copy from http://www.sainteuphoria.com today! While you’re on the site, why not purchase your tickets for the May 23, 2012 Heights Theatre premiere of Mihm’s seventh film, “House of Ghosts”? This show, a spooky homage to the 1950s-fright-film director William Castle (“The Tingler” and “House on Haunted Hill”) is selling out fast—fewer than 50 tickets remain—so act soon.
PRLog (Press Release) – Mar 07, 2012 -
Minnesotan writer/director Christopher R. Mihm has a unique filmmaking niche. He makes only B&W, 1950s-drive-in-style creature features, or as he puts it, “I make good bad, new old movies.” Released in May 2011, his sixth film, “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” received universally positive reviews from those who appreciate this unusual genre. Recently, cult-movie site MailOrderZombie.com nominated “Attack of the Moon Zombies” for the second-highest number of categories of any other movie honored by their Dead Letter Awards.
Among the awards for which Mihm’s film is in the running are: 1) Best Zombie Movie, feature length; 2) Best Director of a Zombie Movie (Christopher R. Mihm); 3) Best Zombie (Michael Kaiser); 4) Best Actress in a Zombie Movie (both Sid Korpi as Administrator Ripley and Shannon McDonough as Dr. Stephanie Hackett received nods); and 5) Best One-Liner in a Zombie Movie: “I know I’d rather die in agonizing pain than become some weird meat puppet for those nasty little things out there, wouldn’t you?”
Fans of this monstrously memorable, family-friendly, super-cheesy flick are urged to visit the Dead Letter Award Ballot form at the Mail Order Zombie site (https://www.docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGl5Mzd3eVVFMm0zTVFQMXFhRy0wa3c6MA) to cast their votes for “Attack of the Moon Zombies” in all categories by the March 16 deadline. Winners will be announced on the 3/22/12 Mail Order Zombie #177 podcast at http://www.mailorderzombie.com.
Also up to popular vote to decide is the 10th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, for which “Attack of the Moon Zombies” has been nominated as Best Independent Film (Category 8). Please visit http://www.rondoaward.com/rondo/rondos.html to vote for this fine ’50s movie and support independent cinema by March 31, 2012.
If you haven’t yet seen “Attack of the Moon Zombies” and want to check it out before you vote, order your copy from http://www.sainteuphoria.com today! While you’re on the site, why not purchase your tickets for the May 23, 2012 Heights Theatre premiere of Mihm’s seventh film, “House of Ghosts”? This show, a spooky homage to the 1950s-fright-film director William Castle (“The Tingler” and “House on Haunted Hill”) is selling out fast, so act soon.
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Attack of the Moon Zombies Review
REVIEW: Attack of the Moon Zombies
Attack of the Moon Zombies is the latest in a series of movies by writer/director Christopher R. Mihm that emulate the cheesy sci-fi b-movies of the 50s (other titles by Mihm include Cave Women on Mars and It Came from Another World!). Moon Zombies is the only one I’ve seen, so I can only speak for it, but everything in this movie tried to make it seem like a genuine 50s drive-in flick, from the soundtrack, to the haircuts, to the worn-out (but not overdone) black-and-white film look. There’s a real sense that Mihm is not trying to parody those films in any way, but trying to genuinely, lovingly make one.
Our story takes place entirely on a Lunar base that was established in 1976 (again, a 50s idea of the future). Silent and eccentric newbie Glen (played by Michael Kaiser) is coming aboard to replace retiring Dr. Vincent Edwards (Michael Cook). When showing the newcomer around, Dr. Edwards shows him a strange plant he found in a cave on the moon and they take it back to the base. The plant sprays some powder in a character’s face and the character dies (trying not to give anything away here), returning a few hours later as a strange plant-human hybrid out to get the humans — who, of course, themselves turn into moon zombies if they are indeed got. The rest of the movie is pretty much the characters running around the base, trying to avoid being zombie plant food.
Which isn’t to say the story doesn’t work or is boring. It may be a bit simple, but this is a 50s cheesy movie wannabe here. And it works. The acting is perfect and feels just like pre-method acting, which is to say, a lttle wooden and overdramatic (actress Shannon McDonough really shines in this aspect as Dr. Hackett). Like I said, I don’t know about the previous movies Mihm has done, but I would venture this one is his best, as you can tell this isn’t the crew’s first time attempting this kind of thing. It all gels nicely and nearly flawlessly. It’s entertaining in ways I didn’t expect, one being the comedy aspect. I laughed out loud numerous times, at self-conscious lines like “Yeah well, it sounds like the plot of some.. bad.. drive-in movie,” and especially at the subtitles. I watch all movies with subtitles on whenever possible just to be sure I don’t miss a line of dialogue or anything. Well, the subtitles for this movie were amusing as hell, with funny captions like >>rejection< < when a man is hitting on a girl and the girl slams her book in his face, and when a title card reads “Day 1″ the humorously unnecessary subs read “The First Day.”
I was surprised at how much I laughed and was entertained by the film, especially since 50s sci-fi cheese doesn’t hold any kind of special place in my heart; I just think they’re bad movies, just like we have bad movies today, and I only watch the ones with zombies in them (believe me, I get my fill of bad movies that way). But this was so charming and so successful at its goal that the viewer can’t help but admire it. I have to knock off a point for the length — at 99 minutes, it could have been at least 85 — but I still give Attack of the Moon Zombies 7/10 plants. You can get it at http://www.sainteuphoria.com/aotmz.html for a reasonable $9.99.
Christopher R. Mihm’s “Attack of the Moon Zombies” is…”a definite ‘Must Buy,’” movie reviewer and host Darryl L. Pierce on “A Little Dead Podcast.
We’re a ways into the broadcast, as host Darryl L. Pierce covers a lot of horror/sci-fi movie ground. Thanks for the auditory “thumbs up” review!
Listen to the 2nd Mihmiverse Bonfire Podcast with hosts Mark Haider and Cherie “Rhuby” Gallianti, director Christopher R. Mihm, and special guest, Mihm Monster Extraordinaire Michael G. Kaiser.
“Attack of the Moon Zombies” (2011) By Jason Coffman In 2006, Wisconsin-based filmmaker Christopher R. Mihm released his first feature film “The Monster of Phantom Lake.” A loving tribute to the 1950s creature features Mihm grew up watching with his father, Mihm’s first film established the blueprint for his subsequent oeuvre: low-budget black & white features shot on the cheap that aim not to ironically appropriate the look and feel of 1950s genre cinema, but to actually replicate that look and feel as an end in itself. Each of Mihm’s films— with titles such as “Cave Women on Mars” and “Terror from Beneath the Earth”— build on and add to an overarching mythology and world that has been earning his work a cult following of like-minded fans who grew up on and love the same b-movies that inspired him. Mihm’s latest film, “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” is no exception and may also be his most technically accomplished film yet. In the not-too-distant future on the Jackson Lunar Base, Dr. Vincent Edwards (Mike Cook) is on the eve of retirement. While training his young replacement, Glen Hayes (Michael Kaiser), the two men find a long-dormant plant hidden in a cave on the lunar surface. They return it to the laboratory of the Base Botanist Dr. Hackett (Shannon McDonough) and report the find to Base Administrator Ripley (Sid Korpi). Once removed from the lunar surface and its deadly radiation, the plant springs to life and the scientists learn the hard way that the plant’s spores cause paralysis and death in short order, followed by reanimation as a plant-like zombie! Soon the Moon Zombies have overrun the Base, constantly thwarting Dr. Collins’ (Douglas Sidney) attempts to propose to Dr. Hackett and resulting in the shutdown of radiation shields over two-thirds of the base. A small group of survivors must figure out a way to reach the shield controls and wipe out the Moon Zombies in time for the next supply ship to arrive and take them home. Too bad the base is absolutely crawling with monsters and time is running out— can our heroes save themselves and end the Moon Zombie threat? Shot in “era-appropriate black & white” on digital video, “Attack of the Moon Zombies” looks a bit sharper than Mihm’s other films, but that may be because it’s almost entirely shot on sterile interior sets. The Lunar Base is all white walls, plastic lawn chairs and automatic sliding doors, probably making lighting a bit easier and more consistent than in the outdoor locations that make up much of Mihm’s previous films. The cast is mostly made up of alumni from Mihm’s previous films (and includes his wife Stephanie), and the lo-fi sets, costumes and monster make-up all add to the film’s considerable charm. The Moon Zombies themselves are perfectly realized, looking exactly as cheap as they should (they appear to be masks and gloves) without being too goofy to generate some genuine tension. Mihm absolutely nails the tone and dialogue of his 50′s inspirations, and the game cast does a great job across the board. Aside from the crisp DV picture, the only tip-offs that the film isn’t from the same decade as “It Conquered the World” are the sly pop culture references (be sure to note all the characters’ names!) and the use of some simple CG animation early in the film instead of cardboard-tube space ships and Christmas-light stars. While “Attack of the Moon Zombies” may be most fun for “Mihmiverse” converts— it really does pay to watch all the films and pay careful attention— any fan of classic sci-fi and horror films will find a lot to like, and this is a great introduction to Mihm’s work. Learn more about “Attack of the Moon Zombies” and Christopher R. Mihm’s other films at his official website: www.sainteuphoria.com.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).