You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘drive-in movies’ tag.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Attack of the Moon Zombies (2011)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

 

Company: Saint Euphoria Pictures

Runtime: 100 mins

Format: DVD

Plot: A mysterious plant found on the surface of the moon wreaks havoc on the Jackson Lunar Base when its spores change the base’s crew into leafy, undead creatures!

Review: Attack of the Moon Zombies was the Christopher R. Mihm movie that initially grabbed my interest and, by doing some light research into it, alerted me to the entire Mihmiverse Collection. I stumbled upon a thumbnail picture from this movie while looking through Google Pictures for some other B-Movie to use in my review of that one, and as soon as I saw the weirdly cheesy-looking plant-headed Moon Zombie picture I knew I had to find out what movie that was from and thus started my adventure into the Mihmiverse realm. However, once I ordered all the movies, even though this is the one that I was most interested in checking out, I decided to watch them all in release order so that’s why it’s taken me so long to get to my most anticipated one, first sitting through, and enjoying on various levels, The Monster of Phantom Lake, It Came From Another World!, Cave Women on Mars, Terror From Beneath The Earth, and Destination: Outer Space.

And I’m glad I did, because while (for the most part) the movies are stand-alone and you can watch them in any order that you choose, you get so much more out of them by watching them in release order. I say release order because in terms of chronology they jump around back and forth quite a bit, such as the case with this one, taking place in the future (as it may have been envisioned back in the 1950s – the gimmick of all these movies is that, while made now-ish, they’re made with the intent of having them act as if they were made in the black and white 1950s era of B-Movie filmmaking), this one taking place roughly around the timeframe of Cave Women on Mars and Destination: Outer Space, give or take a couple years.

This one is the longest Mihmiverse movie yet, clocking in at an hour and 40 minutes. Now as you may guess from some of my previous reviews, I kind of feel that almost-two hours is way too long for something like this, especially when it takes 40 minutes before we even begin the actual plot of the movie of people getting infected and the Moon Zombies start going around. A bit tighter of a pace in that first half and this movie would be 100% perfect. As it stands it’s only ‘Just About 100% perfect‘, which is still really damn good!
For the most part, Attack of the Moon Zombies deals with almost all-new characters. A lot of familiar faces for fans of these movies, but they’re playing brand new characters from what they played before. Playing the lead female character is Shannon McDonough, who fellow Mihmivites will recognize as the fiance-and-then-wife of Doctor Jackson from It Came From Another World! and a cameo appearance in Terror From Beneath The Earth. I was a bit harsh on her role in those movies, as I found the character she played a bit drab and boring, but after seeing her here I now know that was solely the way the character was written and it was not indicative of Ms. McDonough’s acting abilities because she owns this movie in every scene that she’s in. Within five minutes of being introduced to her new scientist character here, I was totally in love with her. Returning alongside her is also Daniel Sjerven from Cave Women on Mars and Terror From Beneath the Earth, this time playing a rude, childish, alcoholic pilot that still manages to retain a certain level of humor and charm about him, despite being the kind of character you probably wouldn’t like spending a whole lot of time around in real life. Also with them is Michael Kaiser who has been in all of these movies in small bit parts as well as the man behind the costume of I think almost every monster, creature, and humanoid alien to date, and Sid Korpi who played a minor role in Destination: Outer Space but here plays the person-in-charge on this Moon Base, Administrator Ripley. And yes, that is a very clear (and loved!) nod to the Alien franchise. The one person who does return and actually plays a previous character is Mike Cook reprising his role as Dr. Vincent Edwards from Terror From Beneath the Earth, a role I also previously found a bit dull and uninspired but actually really enjoyed this go-around. Also, he hasn’t visually aged a day in the 20+ years between that movie’s timeline and this one! Oh, the wonders of Movie Magic, I tells ya!
Actually, old character and new ones, old actors and new ones, out of all the Mihmiverse movies this one I think is the one that had me loving all the characters in record time and it wasn’t long into the movie before I started genuinely caring about what might happen to them. Sure, the movie has an overly-long 40 minute lead-up to the actual horrific events that make up the plot of the movie, but it uses that time really well to give us some good characterization on everyone and some nice story beats that pay off later in the movie. For instance, lead character Dr. Hacket (as played by Shannon McDonough) is in a relationship with another of the scientists on board and he keeps trying to propose to her but each and every time he does they keep getting interrupted at the last second before she can give her answer, a continuous and hilariously repetitive story beat that keeps playing out even well into the Moon Zombie infestation. Add to that the continuous complaints by some of the staff that there isn’t enough women on-board, Ripley missing the birth of her grandchild due to being on that base, and the sub-plot of Dr. Vincent Edwards’ looming retirement and they really give you enough meat to sink your teeth into for each and every one of these characters, no matter how large or small their role is.
The only issue I have in the character department, and it’s only a minor nitpick and in no way goes against my final score of the movie, but Daniel Sjerven’s perfectly sleazy pilot character drops out of the movie pretty early on to return to Earth, and during the thick of the infestation events of the movie the main cast are trying to survive long enough for him to return so they can leave the base and get the heck outta dodge, so having them constantly make reference to waiting on him, in addition to knowing what a familiar face Daniel Sjerven is to this series, I was fully expecting him to show up at the last minute and save the day, Han Solo style, but sadly we never do see him again, which was slightly disappointing especially since he never got that character redemption moment I was really hoping for. Even though this is a minor nitpick, it also works as a compliment as well because if these characters weren’t so likable and well-written, I wouldn’t have cared about wanting him to return at the end for a redemption moment to begin with.
Making us care for these characters this much actually ends up being a bit heartbreaking, seeing as how once the Moon Plant shoots its spoors out and finally turns the first person into a plant-headed Moon Zombie (which then in turn begins turning everyone else), it’s only a matter of time before most of the characters you’ve come to love bite it, and as much as I enjoyed spending time with everyone leading up to this portion of the movie, it’s really here till the end that it truly shines. Seeing as how the terror begins during the middle of the night when most of the crew is sleeping, there are some authentically creepy moments that play out here, such as a scene where one guy wakes up in his darkened room with no knowledge of what has started, and begins hearing some unknown thing banging savagely on his door, trying to get in to him. The claustrophobic feel of the base as the characters run around the maze-like hallways and run into various random Moon Zombies, either stand alone or in large groups, only adds to the creepy factor. Of course none of that would have been successful had it not been for the best creature designs we’ve seen yet in the Mihmiverse series, nor for the best set designs we’ve seen yet; Never once did I question that this was actually a real Lunar Base and these plant-headed Moon Zombies were a real threat – Within a few minutes of pressing Play I was sucked right in and I was right there alongside all these characters. Micro-Budget as this may be, it did just as good a job loosing me in its imagination as any bigger budget Hollywood movie could, and its this movie that best shows just how far Christopher R. Mihm has come, in addition to everyone who works with him, since the days of The Monster of Phantom Lake, and it shows best just how they’ve all evolved as filmmakers.
As with all the other movies in the Mihmiverse, this self-produced DVD is stacked right up with tons of excellent bonus content. There’s only one Blooper Reel instead of the usual two (but it has a really good length to it and is, just like all the others, simply laugh-out-loud hilarious), a trailer for the movie, a Photo Gallery of tons of Behind-the-Scenes photos, an introduction to the film by Horror Host Dr. Ivan Cryptosis, a half hour long featurette on the whole Mihmiverse itself, and the usual informative full length Audio Commentaries, one by just Christopher R. Mihm and a second more Technical Commentary by many of the Behind the Scenes folks.
Attack of the Moon Zombies is easily my favorite film by Christopher R. Mihm to date. Sure, it’s a bit longer then I’d like and takes it’s sweet time getting anywhere, but it also uses that time to perfectly make us get to know and care about our cast of characters, which is actually a really smart move here since it made it all the more heartbreaking when many of them get ripped away from us during the events of the second half of the movie when the infection has broken out and the Lunar Base is overran with 30+ deadly Moon Zombies shuffling around the dark, empty maze-like corridors. The movie can also double as a fun ‘Find The References’ game, as it’s chock full of references to classic sci-fi/horror flicks like Alien, The Thing From Another World, It! The Terror From Beyond Space, and any number of zombie movies to just point out a few. Plus there’s also tons of inside jokes and references to previous Mihmiverse movies (Such as Doctor Jackson-then-Director Jackson is now the President – Nice!), so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open to catch them all.
Seeing as how most of the advertising for these movies come from simple word of mouth from the fans, then if you do check his stuff out and enjoy it please help get the word out there on these movies and hopefully we can snag in a few other fans that may not even realize these exist. You can order these on DVD (and even BluRay for the latest couple!) over at his official site which is filled with all sorts of other goodies as well (including a monthly newsletter in addition to a very laid back, yet fun and informative, podcast). Hell, there’s even an excellent deal on right now – Buy Three Movies, Get One Free, which seeing as how there’s currently eight of these titles, if you do that twice then that is the perfect way to catch up with all of them and in the end save some dough – that’s how I did it!


10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward

Advertisements

Author Tom Fowler of Overland Park, Kansas, is a big B-movie fan…and that’s really lucky for us in the Mihmiverse because he recently watched and loved Christopher R. Mihm’s B&W 1950s-drive-in-style creature feature, House of Ghosts. In fact, he loved it so much, he has purchased the entire set of Mihm’s seven movies (also including: Monster of Phantom Lake, It Came from Another World, Cave Women on Mars, Terror from Beneath the Earth, Destination: Outer Space, and Attack of the Moon Zombies), and he plans to review each in turn throughout the summer. He’s calling this the Christopher R. Mihm Summer Reading Festival.

Be sure to check his website frequently to catch his reviews.

http://www.tomfowlerwritings.com/christopher_mihm

Or better yet, join him in his quest to immerse himself in the Mihmiverse by purchasing your own full set of his films for the special LOW PRICE of just $49.99 + $9.99 shipping and handling. That’s more than a $27 savings!

Visit http://www.sainteuphoria.com/merch.html#dvds to pick up your set!

Christopher R. Mihm’s “Attack of the Moon Zombies” Wins Numerous B-Movie Awards

“Attack of the Moon Zombies,” a B&W 1950s-drive-in-style creature feature film by writer/director Christopher R. Mihm, took a record six Dead Letter Awards in this year’s competition.
 
Attack of the Moon Zombies by Christopher R. Mihm
Attack of the Moon Zombies by Christopher R. Mihm

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.

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

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!

Share this blog

Bookmark and Share

Archived Blogs

Advertisements