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This weekend, we did a highly impractical thing: We drove nearly 600 miles, round-trip, to watch our new movie, “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” in its natural element, the drive-in movie theater! We had to go from our home in Minneapolis, MN, to Jefferson, WI (just outside Madison), to get to the Hi-way 18 Outdoor Theater. Along with us on this adventure were our four Westies, Blanche, Keely, Ambrose, and Oliver. They truly had the right to be there, too, because all four dogs were associate producers of the movie!

Why would we do such a thing, you ask. Chris Mihm had continually teased us during filming about our heads being 90-feet-tall on the drive-in screen so I had to see for myself.

The pooches were angels the whole ride there and during the meet-and-greet before the movies started, and they drew in a lot of dog lovers as they sat alongside director Christopher R. Mihm and his “Zombie” stepson Michael Kaiser, pictured below.

Naturally, we brought our own camera then proceeded to forget to get any pictures of our own adventures. Grrrr. Ah well, one must live in the moment.

“Attack of the Moon Zombies” was the third in a triple feature following “Pirates of the Carribbean on Stranger Tides” and “Tron Legacy.” (Both only so-so movies in my opinion, despite their big-budgets, big-name-actors, and special effects-ladenness.) I was asked to make announcements over the P.A. system to remind people to drop by the snack bar to buy Mihmorabilia and DVDs of all his movies. I had to announce, following the almost totally CGI-based “Tron,” “And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…” because of the absolutely low-tech, ’50s creature-feature quality of our movie. The fact that it started at nearly 2 a.m. didn’t help keep the crowds there, but a few diehards remained nevertheless (and all those LOVED the movie, by the way!). And a good number of people thought ahead and bought their own DVDs to watch at home after a good night’s sleep.

We’d been planning on staying the night in a camper trailer in Stephanie Mihm’s (Dr. Rutherford in the movie and Chris’s wife in real life) mother’s driveway, because she lives only about 45 minutes from the drive-in, but throughout the night we discovered that might not be a good idea. Keely and Oliver had begun spazzing over every new noise and every person who walked past the car. They almost never do that when in the car during the day, unless another dog or a squirrel passes by. Plus, I think Keely spotted some kind of night-rodent action near the car and stayed on high alert for hours. It was exhausting keeping them quiet. We finally learned the only way to shut up Oliver was to bribe him with popcorn.

Oliver, Blanche, Keely and Ambrose, associate producers and barkie dogs at the drive-in

Given this ongoing naughtiness of theirs, I knew we’d get no sleep in the trailer and the dogs would likely just disturb those trying to sleep in the house, so at nearly 4 a.m., we drove back the five hours to the Twin Cities. We took turns, so we’d each have had at least a small nap to sustain us.

One cool thing was that by the time we were leaving, ours was the only car left in the whole drive-in and a heavy fog had drifted in. I felt like we were in the midst of the mist from an old Universal Studios monster movie. More than a little cool-creepy. But driving home was treacherous to say the least. I’d counted more than a dozen dead deer along the freeway on the way there, and I was really worried one would dart out in the heavy fog so I’d stand zero chance of avoiding a collision. Luckily, we made it out unscathed, but two days later, my bio rhythms are still out of whack. I’m too old for operating on this little sleep!

But the experience was nevertheless infinitely worthwhile. The Hi-way 18 Outdoor Theater is a wonderfully maintained piece of Americana. For $8, you get to see three movies, they have great burgers and popcorn at the snack bar (and probably other stuff is yummy, too, but this was what I personally sampled), their staff was friendly and personable, AND they have WORKING SPEAKERS for you to hang on your car window!! Old school drive-in action at its best! Before the shows started, these speakers were playing awesome oldies music to put you in that nostalgic, 1950s mood. Part of a dying breed, this drive-in is a treasure and worth a trip if you’re ever in the Madison/Jefferson, WI, area in the summer.

You can emulate this experience at home by fashioning a screen from, say, a bed frame with a white sheet stretched across it, and projecting your own collection of Christopher R. Mihm DVDs onto it. Watching these lovingly made cheese-fests is best under the stars!

“Attack of the Moon Zombies” is available for just $10 at <www.sainteuphoria.com>. And, if you live in the Twin Cities and missed the May 25 premiere, you can catch it on Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m. at the recently renovated New Hope Cinema Grill. A mere $15 will get you in to see the greatest B-movie of our time, PLUS an all-you-can-eat salad bar/pizza/soda buffet! (Alcohol is also available for the grown-ups.) Bring the whole family! Advance tickets are available. Purchase yours NOW because there are only 150 seats available and the premiere sold out at the Heights Theater, with 400 seats.

Height Theater premiere lineup

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Get ’em while you can, folks! Seriously, the buzz on this marvelously cheesy, funny/scary, B&W 1950s-drive-in-style creature feature by writer/director Christopher R. Mihm is over the moon, so to speak! The Heights Theater, where the premiere will be held on May 25, is not huge and I really think it’ll sell out fast! To co-opt a phrase used by my PetPAC colleague pet photographer Patrick Nau, “Don’t say ‘I wish I had.’ Say ‘I’m glad I did.'”

An added bonus is you’ll get to see my goofy ’50s hair as Administrator Ripley! I’m open to ridicule. 🙂

This event is a red-carpet affair—just like in Hollywood!—and everyone is encouraged to put their glad rags on. Assuming this will be following in the footsteps of Mihm’s five other movie debuts, you’ll meet the director and all the stars, hear a wonderful Wulitzer organ played, watch 1950s newsreels, eat cake and meet the Zombies created by Mitch Gonzales.

To order your advance tickets, click here.

Read about Christopher R. Mihm, the man and his movies in this May/June issue of SciFi magazine due out in April (It’s the official magazine of the SyFy channel) and in an upcoming Mpls/St. Paul magazine!

I first learned of Christopher R. Mihm through a story about his movie Cave Women on Mars published in the Southwest Journal in Minneapolis. His motivation for making B&W 1950s-drive-in-style B-movie homages was to honor his deceased father, who’d instilled in him from childhood a love of charmingly crappy cinematic works. He named his production company “All for George Productions.”

I then attended the world premiere of Cave Women on Mars (2008), and I was sucked into the Mihmiverse forever, where I now happily fester.

The plot, and there actually was one, which is always a bonus, involved a handsome astronaut (Dan Sjerven) who is stranded on, you guessed it, Mars, surrounded by primitive warring Amazonian beauties. Oh, the cheesy sets and costumes…the purposely stilted line delivery ala Shatner…the overacting of the villainesses (who were, it turns out, tinier than Alan Ladd and just filmed to look imposing—this I learned at the after party where I towered over chief baddie, Rachel Grubb, thinking I could have vanquished her simply by sitting on the waif)…What was not to love?

Cave Women was Mihm’s third film, and from the aforementioned article, I knew his first movie was Monster of Phantom Lake (2006). I assure you, the gang at “Mystery Science Theater 3000” would have been ecstatic to watch this one.

There were literally times in watching this film I guffawed so loudly I scared   my dog, Mortimer! I’m a ‘50s-ophile and adore most things created at or about that time. Monster of Phantom Lake had it all. It featured hormone-driven/twist-dancing teens, a crazed war veteran turned urban legend thanks to toxic waste, inept but lovable Canoe Cops, awesome cat-eye glasses, and a lake creature Roger Corman’s special-effects crew would have coveted, adroitly played by Mihm’s teenaged stepson Michael Kaiser.* Also memorable, and truly hilarious, was the campy song Professor Jackson launches into: “A-Rockin, A-Rollin, All the Way A-Ramblin’.” (A quadruple threat in the talent department, apparently Mihm’s not just a writer/director/producer, he’s also an accomplished musician who performed all the musical tracks for the song).

Next, I bought It Came from Another World (2007), Mihm’ second film, and did it ever send me! Professor Jackson (a recurrent role of a sort for Mihm’s best bud/co-producer on most of his movies, Josh Craig) has to go searching for a colleague, Dr. Frasier (Mike Mason), who’s gone missing in the woods where a mysterious meteorite has been seen crashing to Earth. Enter our favorite Canoe Cops, Sven (M. Scott Taulman) and Gustav (Mike Cook), to help him with the tracking. I’ll not be a spoiler, but there’s a certainscene involving an oar and a mushroom you’ll need to be wearing Depends to safely watch.

Mihm masterfully uses public domain footage and music to set the mood, as well as ping-pong balls to create the alien-possessed creature’s fiendish googly-eyed visage. A highlight of the film is a fabulous campsite sing-along featuring the infectious song “Paddlin’ Along,” performed by Echo Driver, Mihm’s musical nom de plume.

More than any of Mihm’s movies to date, his 2009 release, Terror from Beneath the Earth, was truly a family affair, with his lovely spouse Stephanie, son Elliot, stepdaughter Liz Kaiser and stepson Michael Kaiser taking prominent roles. Dan Sjerven returns, this time as a frantic father searching caves**—made radioactive by local atomic testing, naturally—for his two lost children (Liz and Elliot). Mike Cook, otherwise known as Canoe Cop Gustav, is Dr. Vincent Edwards, renowned geologist and all-around brainiac, who is called in on the search with his assistant Rosemary Bennett (Stephanie). The mutant bat creature (Michael, the inveterate Mihm-monster portrayer) the search party discovers is one of the best film monsters ever devised. (Check out the corn-cob holders that have been used to make its teeth!)

The B-movie-loving world thrilled at last spring’s premiere of Mihm’s fifth film, Destination: Outer Space! (2010) at the historic Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, Minn. Josh Craig reprised his roles as Captain Jackson (and his father), taking the character to new depths as an alcoholic loser whose life has no meaning until he tests a rocket ship that flies faster than the speed of light and sends him into new galaxies of terror and adventure with a space pirates named Urina, a robot named ADAM (played by Michael Kaiser and voiced by writer/director Mihm himself), and evil, eyeball-headed Oculon monsters.

Mihm’s films have racked up the cult-movie accolades, including Best Science Fiction Feature—2007 ShockerFest International Film Festival; Best of Fest Award—Big Damn Film Festival, Kansas City; and Audience Choice Award—Big Damn Film Festival, Cincinnati and Indianapolis; and many others.

This brings us to Mihm’s latest movie marvel, Attack of the Moon Zombies, due to premiere May 25, 2011. Dr. Vincent Edwards (Mike Cook, of Terror from Beneath the Earth fame) is back, on the moon in the distant future (the 1970s), and readying himself for a peaceful retirement. That is until a mysterious space plant is discovered in a moon cave by his young replacement and seeks to replicate itself by any means possible, thus threatening all the inhabitants of the Moon Base. This movie marks a subtle shift in Mihm’s storytelling style, incorporating a much larger ensemble cast with, dare I say it, character development galore. The crazy-talented Mitch Gonzales created the zombie monsters, marking an up-notch in sophistication without the sacrifice of that precious cheesiness. This is bound to be one of Mihm’s very best and is a must-see for any true B-movie aficionado. I know I wouldn’t miss it for all the world(s) in the Mihmiverse!

Become an associate producer of Mihm’s movie for a mere $50 donation and you’ll get a free ticket to the premiere, several copies of the finished DVD AND your name on the silver screen for all time. More info on this at www.sainteuphoria.com.

Sid Korpi is a Minneapolis-based writer and former film studies teacher, and in the spirit of full disclosure, she also plays Administrator Ripley in Attack of the Moon Zombies.

* I now own framed pieces of the Monster of Phantom Lake’s actual scaly hide (i.e. painted-on bits of plastic lawn and leaf bag).

**Ever generous to his fans, Mihm bestowed upon me one of the original papier maché stalagmites from the bat cave, which is proudly displayed in my basement!

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