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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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Ever aspired to being in the movie biz? Here’s your chance! As little as a $10 donation to fund this independent ’50s-drive-in-style B-movie masterpiece by award-winning director/writer Christopher R. Mihm (“Attack of the Moon Zombies”) can land your name in the credits on the big screen as an associate producer!!! Besides, it’s my first big role in a movie and I want the director to be able to afford to feed me and the other actors on long days of shooting!

Click here to learn how!

The following is an article about the movie in which I and my hubby have cameo appearances—and one line apiece—and for which our dear, departed dog Mortimer was given an associate producer’s credit! Note: some corrections to my quote are 1) I am NOT yet 50!; b) my stalagmite is just over 3 feet tall, NOT man-sized, unless we’re talking midgets/little people, AND I said it was from “Terror from Beneath the Earth” NOT “Cave Women on Mars”; and c) Mihm’s movies are “wonderfully cheesy ’50s drive-in movie homages,” not merely “silly”! I hate being misquoted. She left out the part where I called Mihm “The Roger Corman of Minneapolis,” too, but otherwise, I thought Ms. Ford did a nice job on the piece. Please join us for the premiere on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the historic Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, Minnesota! For more info and to order tickets, go to <www.sainteuphoria.com>.

Also of note, Mr. Mihm is the creator of the wonderful “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” website! Contact him at <chris@asterisksoftware.com>.

—Sid

An Arden Hills filmmaker’s fans pitch in to

help finance and produce his latest movie.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune Christopher Mihm displayed some of the props used in his new movie “Destination: Outer Space.” At left is the head of Oculon while the robot at right is named ADAM. The movie will be shown at drive-ins and sci-fi conventions. That’s an asteroid at top left.

‘Destination: Outer Space’
ALYSSA FORD Special to the Star Tribune April 21, 2010

B-moviemaker Christopher Mihm of Arden Hills knew he had a fan base for his black-and-white creature features with their bug-eyed lake monsters, alien-possessed meteorites and matriarchal colonies on Mars.

He’s accustomed to getting fan e-mails from people all over the country, and he’s been able to finance his moviemaking hobby in part through the sale of patches, posters and DVDs of his four previous films: “The Monster of Phantom Lake” (2006), “It Came From Another World” (2007), “Cave Women on Mars” (2008) and “Terror from Beneath the Earth” (2009).

He’s even gotten to the point where he’s pleased (but not surprised) to see fans dress up for his premieres — in ball gowns or their own googly monster eyes made of pingpong balls.

But Mihm says he wasn’t prepared for what happened last year when his fan base pitched in to save his latest film, “Destination: Outer Space.”

It all started when one of Mihm’s financial backers had to back out due to recessionary troubles. “It was a job thing,” said Mihm, with a shrug. “It happens.”

But that left “Destination: Outer Space” in a lurch. “I was kind of racking my brain,” says Mihm, “and I kind of concluded that if I couldn’t figure out a way to raise a little money, I’d have to postpone shooting until I could save some up myself.”

But then Mihm, a 33-year-old freelance computer programmer in his grown-up life, put a notice on his website, www.sainteuphoria.com, asking for $50 donations to the project in exchange for future DVDs, tickets to the premiere on May 25 and “associate producer” credits in the film.

“I knew I’d get maybe four people to do it and that would be it,” Mihm says.

To his great surprise, 50 people signed up to be associate producers for “Destination: Outer Space,” giving this black-and-white B-movie an even bigger budget than it was going to have in the first place.

“I was stunned and pretty touched, too,” says Mihm.

Some fans also offered to help produce the film, donating their time to build sets and engineer monsters. One volunteer was Mitch Gonzales, 45, of Maple Grove, who discovered Mihm’s films while surfing online in 2007.

For “Destination: Outer Space,” Gonzales — a project manager for an injection-molding company by day and a B-movie fan by night — built a starfish-inspired monster out of chicken wire and foam latex with a giant bulbous eyeball for a head. He also created a pair of wiggly antennae for an extra, and was even allowed to make a cameo appearance in the film wearing a tall, made-up forehead. “I was thrilled to be allowed to play in the Mihm sandbox, so to speak,” says the father of two.

Fan Rylan Bachman, 31, of Cambridge, Minn., spent long hours hunting for iron-ore rocks along a railroad bed for an asteroid scene in “Destination: Outer Space.”

“I wanted to find some great rocks with nice pits and crevices,” Bachman says.

Mike Obrecht, 34, of Omaha, made a 14-hour round trip to Arden Hills to help build some sets for the film and play a capitalist alien named B’Kee in a crowded bar scene.

Mihm, 33, says that all of his films have relied heavily on family members and even neighborhood kids from around Arden Hills, but “Destination: Outer Space” is the first one created by the “Mihmiverse” — the name he has given to his small but rabid fan base.

As a result, he says, this production has quadruple the number of sets and costumes of any of his previous movies.

“It’s my B-movie version of ‘Star Wars,’ ” Mihm says.

The reason for all this fan mania is simple, says Sid Korpi, 50, of south Minneapolis, who is such an aficionado of Mihm films that she keeps a man-sized stalagmite in her basement — a souvenir from the set of “Cave Women on Mars.”

“It’s all about Chris,” says Korpi. “When you’re around him, you can’t help but want to get involved in these silly movies. He’s made monsters of all of us.”

Alyssa Ford is a Minneapolis freelance writer.

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