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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

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Film Review: Attack Of The Moon Zombies (2011)

Attack Of The Moon Zombies poster 325x500 imageSYNOPSIS:

“Twenty years have passed since Dr. Vincent Edwards took on a certain radiation-mutated bat creature and he is ready to retire. While training his replacement on the Jackson Lunar Base, the two stumble upon a seemingly impossible discovery: alien plant life on the surface of the moon! Unfortunately, exposure to the spores of this otherworldly flora cause instant death. Too bad those killed by them don’t stay dead and instead, want nothing more than to replicate!” (courtesy IMDB)

REVIEW:

This week I present to you one of the most incredibly implausible introductions to one of the…movies in the history of Horror News – that’s right, I’m talking about my fabulous introduction to Attack Of The Moon Zombies (2011)! It goes a little like this…

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 1 400x470 imageIt may look like it was made in 1961 but don’t let that fool you. Made fifty years later than you’d think, by my old American friend Christopher Mihm, Attack Of The Moon Zombies stars Shannon McDonough, Mike Cook, Douglas Sidney, Michael Kaiser and my old sweetheart Sid Korpi, in a science fiction extravaganza that promises to go one better than Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, with zombies – on the moon! The crew of an isolated moonbase find themselves inundated with mutated monster-men and sinister space-spores! Despite the serious situation, it’s a loony lunar laugh-fest that lovingly lampoons low-cost movies while remaining remarkably respectful to those bizarre but beloved B-graders. So strap yourselves in and count backwards from ten, as we prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse – on the moon!

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 2 400x469 imageI’m very happy to announce that my introduction this week has been nominated for a Rondo Award for Most Gratuitous Alliteration In A DVD Review. If you see me on the red carpet, please help me back into my seat. Now to tell you exactly who and what you’ve been watching. Only you know why. Attack Of The Moon Zombies, Christopher Mihm’s sixth – yes, sixth! – movie in just as many years. He doesn’t mock the originals so much as replicate the organic elements that make these films so enduringly endearing – including their low-budget shortcomings and questionable talents – with 21st century sensibilities. This delicate balance of parody and homage is not easy, but Mr. Mihm is a master of this special brand of fifties-style satire, which has become its own sub-genre, as evidenced by films like The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra (2001) and Frankenstein Versus The Creature From Blood Cove (2005).

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 3 400x471 imageWithout effecting the plot or pacing, there are plenty of references to fifties classics for you trainspotters out there: The Mole People (1956), The Thing From Another World (1951), This Island Earth (1955), The Day Of The Triffids (1962), The Green Slime (1968), and the subtly-titled It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958). You may also recognise bits of Star Trek, THX-1138 (1971) and the Alien (1979) franchise. The real reason he chose to set the film on the moon was because it had nothing to do with any of his other films and, since the movie had to be shot during the winter, his choices were filming ‘in the snow’ or ‘in his basement’. Lacking enthusiasm for hypothermia or yetis, the basement was the way to go. Ordinarily, to create a moonbase you’d need a skilled crew and vast amounts of money, but if all you have is US$3,000 and five people with day jobs, the best you can hope for is a lot of duct tape and plywood. Fortunately, these are the same materials used by NASA so it’s perfectly authentic.

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 4 400x472 imageJust like the sets, the acting is also perfectly…wooden, and Shannon McDonough really shines in this aspect as the moon-based botanist, Doctor Hackett. Douglas Sidney plays her boyfriend, Doctor Collins, whose attempts at proposal are repeatedly thwarted. Mike Cook plays Doctor Vincent Edwards, the wise old professor days before retirement, who is training his young replacement Glen Hayes, played by Michael Kaiser. But my personal favourite is Sid Korpi as Commander Ripley. Born January 27th 1962, Korpi’s real name is Keanu but changed it to something less preposterous. A cold-eyed calculating expert in conspiracy, torture and murder, a master villain and head of the secret society known as the Si-Fan, she operates all over the globe, her aim being the ultimate domination of the world. However, her nefarious plans are repeatedly foiled by the stout British agent Dennis Nayland Smith…wait a minute, that’s Doctor Fu Manchu. Ah, here we go – Sid Korpi’s stage career was a series of hits and misses – mostly Mrs. I’ll explain: She played Mrs. Boyle in Agatha Christie‘s The Mousetrap, Mrs. Banks in Father Of The Bride, and Mrs. Gertrude in Steve Martin‘s Underpants…yes, that’s the title of the play.

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 5 400x471 imageShe was then kidnapped by Christopher Mihm and forced to appear in Attack Of The Moon Zombies, which earned her a nomination for a Dead Letter Award for Best Actress In A Zombie Movie. But that was a long time ago, way back in 2011. Since then she has appeared in at least two more films: House Of Ghosts (2012) and The Giant Spider (2013), both of which I hope sully your monitors with soon. The reason Attack Of The Moon Zombies looks sharper than Mihm’s previous efforts is because it’s been shot entirely in a controlled environment, making it easier to light and more consistent than the outdoor locations in most of Mihm’s movies. The low-tech sets, costumes, makeup and cast all add to the film’s considerable charm. The Moon Zombies themselves are perfectly realised, and look exactly as cheap as they should – simple masks and gloves – without ruining the scary bits…too much.

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 6 400x473 imageWhile Attack Of The Moon Zombies is a great introduction to the Mihmiverse, it’s worth watching all the films – found at http://www.sainteuphoria.com – and pay attention. Any fan of classic genre films is guaranteed to find a lot to like. And it’s with that rather masochistic thought in mind that I’ll make my farewells, and ask you to hit the highway to hell with me again next week while I drive you to delirium to witness another car crash on the boulevard of broken dreams for…Horror News! Toodles!

Attack Of The Moon Zombies photo 7 400x474 imageAttack Of The Moon Zombies (2011)

Read more at http://horrornews.net/69058/film-review-attack-of-the-moon-zombies-2011/#1y5K8RT2rhzdbJEz.99

Learn what’s happening in the Mihmiverse, namely, the filming of his latest B-movie, “The Giant Spider.”

http://www.examiner.com/article/info-101-at-the-movies-198-further-observations-from-the-mihmiverse?CID=examiner_alerts_article

Interviews: An Interview with Christopher R. Mihm – By Duane L. Martin
Posted on Wednesday, July 04, 2012 @ 03:11:34 Mountain Daylight Time by Duane


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.

* * *

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.

Executive Producer Bonnie Kane, me, and Kailynn Neal (one of Bonnie’s fellow dog groomers at Royal Pet Beauty Shop, where our Westies were made continuously gorgeous for filming)

’50s Fashionista Jenn Farmer with me.

Josette Elstad, owner of JoJo’s Retro and Vintage (www.jojosretroandvintage.com)    and Kiera McMillan, another of                  Royal Pet’s great staff.

Clockwise from top center, the feet of Jenn Farmer, Maggie Schultz, Anthony Kaczor, me, and Christopher R. Mihm.

Writer/Director Christopher R. Mihm with Ann Segar and me.

Anthony Kaczor, my hubby and butler Piers in the movie, shows off his great new Christian Dior tux (ebay $29). To the right, I’m squishing Bonnie Kane.

Ann Segar and “House of Ghosts” lighting designer,        Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati, looking spectacular.

The cast and crew of “House of Ghosts.” From left: Sid Korpi, James Norgard, Dan Sjerven, Mark Haider, Andy Wilkins, Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati, Catherine Hansen, Anthony Kaczor, Horror Host Dr. Ivan Cryptosis, Michael Kaiser, Stephanie Mihm, Liz Kaiser, Christopher R. Mihm and Mitch Gonzales.  I was holding Blanche, and many of the rest of the cast were pouring out an invisible tribute to our “homies” Mike Cook, Mark Scanlan, and Justen Overlander, who’d already left for home.

Nurse Kira checks the Angel of Death (created by Mitch Gonzales) for a heartbeat.

I’m holding Blanche up to Christopher R. Mihm who is beside the Angel of Death and its creator, Mitch Gonzales.

Here I am with the four, four-legged stars of “House of Ghosts.” (Oliver, Blanche, Keely, Ambrose) They’d come down to take their BOWwows.

Stephanie Mihm (Ursula), in a lovely dress made for her by her mother Carol Eade from a vintage pattern, with frequent Mihm-movie star Dan Sjerven, and Mike Cook (Harlan).

Writer/director Christopher R. Mihm prepares to cut the cake by Melissa Dirtzu.

After taking out the bobby pins from my ’50s hairdo (by stylist Hannah Rouser).

The more than 50 bobby pins I’d removed from my hair!

“Doctor” Warren Porter and “Nurse” Kira Pontiff at the Heights Theatre lobby.

Earlier: Getting Nurse Rachet’s hair ready. Behind the scenes, back home just before all the hubbub was to transpire, I helped to prep our faux nurse (Kira Pontiff) and faux doctor (Warren Porter), who were going to pass out “fear shields” to audience members to save them from dying of fright.
Retro-style movie maker Christopher R. Mihm’s “House of Ghosts” screens at the New Hope Cinema Grill for a special “dinner-and-a-movie” event Thursday, June 7 following sold-out world premiere in May.

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-

in-style creature features many of us grew up loving. Fans from across the country will be swarming the Heights Theater on May 23 for the world premiere of his latest B-movie, “House of Ghosts.” Trouble is, the event sold out on Friday the 13th of April (how’s that for a positive omen for a ghost movie?), leaving hoards of people upset that they’ll be missing out.

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

SYNOPSIS

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?

STARRING
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

“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.

Zombies come to Eau Claire in 1950s inspired film

September 22, 2011 By Jenna Campbell

Local filmmaker Christopher R. Mihm is bringing his newest film to Eau Claire. “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” Mihm’s sixth feature, will play at the Grand Little Theatre this Sunday. In the film, a prominent geologist, played by local actor Mike Cook, is about to retire. As he shows his replacement around, they find a plant in a cave, which they bring inside where it comes back to life. Spores from this plant turn people into plant-like monster zombies, using their bodies as vessels. All of Mihm’s films are reminiscent of 1950s style drive-in movies. “Attack of the Moon Zombies” will take place in the far off future of the 1970s on the Jackson moon base in a science station. “I try and get my movies to be somewhat indistinguishable from the old ones,” Mihm said. “I want them to be as authentic as I can get them.” Mihm said “Attack of the Moon Zombies” was filmed entirely in his 15 by 20 foot unfinished basement. From September of last year into February, Mihm said they spent most weeks setting up the set and most weekends shooting the film. “It was kind of a crazy process,” Mihm said. “It was a lot of work just putting up and taking down.” Mihm began to experiment with filmmaking while attending college. Though he was pursuing music, his passion led him to want to continue to make films after graduation. “Something just sort of clicked in my head, and I said, ‘you know I’m going to make a movie,’” Mihm said. “I just never looked back, and I just can’t seem to stop.” Mihm said his decision to pursue the 1950s drive-in style genre was triggered by the time he spent watching movies with his father when he was young. “I was raised on them,” Mihm said. “It was something that we’d sort of sit around and do; we’d watch these old cheesy movies.” But Mihm said honoring his memories of times spent with his father isn’t the only thing that drives him to keep making these types of movies. “I also just absolutely love the sort of honest realness of those old films, where they were really, really trying to make scary things without knowing how, without having the money to do it,” Mihm said. “Back then, it was real. It was everything you could touch. I mean, the space ships are paper plates.” Fans are beginning to take notice of Mihm’s films all over the world, but Mihm said the films still mostly premiere in the Midwest. The film will premiere at Eau Claire’s Grand Little Theatre on Sunday, September 25. Proceeds of the film premiere will go to the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild and will help pay for operating expenses and new sound equipment at the Grand Little Theatre.

 

Filmmaker Christopher R. Mihm Raises Funds for New Film with Double Feature at New Hope Cinema Grill

Cave Women on Mars

Terror from Beneath the Earth
Terror from Beneath the Earth
PRLog (Press Release)Aug 10, 2011 – A fan-favored pair of Christopher R. Mihm’s 1950s-style B-movies, “Terror from Beneath the Earth” & “Cave Women on Mars,” will screen exclusively on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, 7 p.m. at the New Hope Cinema Grill at 2749 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope, MN 55427 (763) 417-0017. At this unique venue, viewers can enjoy both movies and an all-you-can-eat buffet of salad, pizza, and soda for just $15; a full bar also is available to adults.

Mihm’s latest release, the wildly popular “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” screened at the Cinema Grill to a sold-out crowd in July. Mihm’s intention is to attract new fans into the Mihmiverse with this showcasing of two more of his purposely campy, drive-in-style, B&W movies.

B-movie aficionados will have the chance to meet the director, some of the actors, and maybe even a monster or two, so bring along a camera. Audience members, as always, are encouraged to come dressed in their finest 1950s togs to fit in with the era. Contests and a silent auction will help to raise funds for Mihm’s upcoming independent film,House of Ghosts,” an homage to director William Castle (“House on Haunted Hill,” “The Tingler,” and others). Also offered will be special deals on becoming an associate producer of the new movie. Mihm-orabilia, including the full set of his six movies—“Monster of Phantom Lake,” “It Came from Another World,” and “Destination: Outer Space” completing the set—will also be available for sale on-site.

“Terror from Beneath the Earth”—Synopsis
After years of underground atomic testing, one of the animals living within the Wisawa caves (a system that stretches from Phantom Lake to the Deadlands) has undergone a radical and unimaginably horrible transformation! While exploring the caves, Dr. Vincent Edwards (Mike Cook) and colleague Rosemary Bennett (Stephanie Mihm) stumble across evidence in the disappearance of local children. After reporting the find to the local sheriff, Dr. Edwards and Rosemary are tapped to lead a rescue attempt. Along with the sheriff (Justen Overlander) and small-town farmer Stan Johnson, the children’s father, (Dan Sjerven), the rescue party quickly comes to the realization that if the caves don’t get them, whatever unseen terror lurking in the shadows just might!

“Cave Women on Mars”—Synopsis
It is the future: 1987. Humanity has finally left the confines of its home world. When the two-man crew of the MARS-1 spaceship lands on the surface of the red planet, they are astonished to find it strangely Earth-like. After deciding to split up and scout around, Lieutenant Elliott (Dan Sjerven) stumbles across an amazing discovery—primitive, matriarchal warrior women! He is promptly taken prisoner by the Martian beauties and led unwillingly across the alien landscape. While his commanding officer, Captain Jackson (Josh Craig), searches for his lost comrade, Lieutenant Elliott encounters unimaginable excitement in the form of fierce monsters, exotic vistas, strange magic and most unexpectedly… true love! An astounding adventure unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, “Cave Women on Mars” is not to be missed!
Can’t make this event? You can still enjoy all the Mihmiverse movies. Each DVD is available for sale for just $10 at http://www.sainteuphoria.com.

IMPORTANT! Purchasing advance tickets to this exclusive double feature—“Terror from Beneath the Earth” and “Cave Women on Mars”—is highly recommended, as there will be no guarantee of walk-in tickets being available. Purchase yours at www.sainteuphoria.com!

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Christopher R. Mihm has devoted himself to re-creating the campy, cheesy goodness of old B&W B-movies featuring family-friendly monsters. Lowest-of-the-low-tech and high in fun, his movies are singularly entertaining in a non-CGI way.

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