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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

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Actress Shannon McDonnough (as Zita) expresses what you’ll look like if you don’t act now and miss out on the chance to see Christopher R. Mihm’s latest 1950s drive-in-style B-movie: “The Giant Spider.”

Advance tickets to “The Giant Spider” premiere—Wed., May 22, 2013 at the Heights Theatre—were put on sale yesterday (Feb. 21, 2o13) and the theater is already two-thirds SOLD OUT!! Order your tickets IMMEDIATELY at www.sainteuphoria.com if you hope to make this one-of-a-kind event! (I have a small role in this, but I have BIG ’50s hair. Always worth seeing!)

Click here to watch the official movie trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeMHg5IaUg8

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!

Check it out. That’s my armpit you see trying to overshadow Shannon McDonnough in the glamor department! Remember to get your tickets NOW for the only other theatrical showing of the movie currently scheduled in the Twin Cities: Thursday, July 14, at the New Hope Cinema Grill. Don’t miss out a second time if you didn’t make the premiere!—Sid

Star Tribune June 1, 2011

RJDiogenes wrote on the Trek BBS site: “For those of you who are fans of of Drive-In B-Movies from the 50s (and homages thereof), we have Attack Of The Moon Zombies. This is the latest film by Christopher Mihm, all of which are set in the same growing universe.

“The films are quite humorous, but not in the same way as, say, Larry Blamire’s movies, like Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. Most retro pastiches go heavy on the parody, but Mihm plays it mostly straight; if you came across any of these movies on TV, it would take you a few minutes to realize you’re not watching a genuine old flick. And, best, he treats his characters with respect; there’s an emotional investment that is genuine and gives the audience something to care about beyond a simple homage.

“Anyway, my copy of Moon Zombies just came today, so I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll be getting to it soonest.”

Followed by this response after his viewing the movie: “Well, I was certainly not disappointed in ‘Moon Zombies.’ It was as good and entertaining as I anticipated. The casting is great-—Mihm seems to have a knack for that. Mike Cook is as classic a character actor as anyone could hope to find and the rest of the cast is wonderful to watch as well, especially Shannon McDonough and Sid Korpi. As I noted above, Mihm brings real Human pathos and feeling to the wonderful campiness and cheese of the B-Movie universe. I wish that Sciffy would show these movies and bring them to a wider audience.”

To which OmahaStar responded: “Cheese? What cheese? I don’t know what you could possibly be referring to. There’s no cheese in Mihm’s movies. Ok, maybe a tiny little bit of cheddar, but that’s all. I’m glad you liked it. I was at the premiere on Wednesday (haven’t missed one yet, this was the fourth one for me), and it was completely sold out. I’m glad you pointed out how great Sid is. She’s remarkable, and … Ok, I’m sorry, but it takes one hell of an actor to pull off the line ‘All-out space plant zombie attack’ and keep a straight face. That line got massive applause. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with the Moon Zombies movie, here’s a little info … It’s the 70s. The President (Jackson, from the previous movies) has a scientific moonbase named after him. The station is full of doctors, including Dr. Vincent Edwards, who is only a few days from retirement. His replacement, who is the son of a man he once knew back on Earth, is every bit as brilliant, and finds a strange plant in a cave not far from the base. The plant seems to kill people … only, they don’t stay dead. They become … moon zombies. As with all of Mihm’s movies, it’s an homage to B-movies from the 50s, and is probably his best movie so far. Sid previously appeared as one of Adam’s people in Destination: Outer Space. Here, she plays the station’s Administrator. Shannon previously played Julie Ann St. Marie Jackson. Here, she plays a new character, and she goes platinum blond. Mike Cook has appeared in every film except Cave Women, though as different characters. He is the most well-known actor, having appeared in series such as Prison Break, and movies such as Fred Claus. The movies are designed so that they can be watched separately and enjoyed without needing to have knowledge of the others.”

My friends and Petlitzer Prize colleagues, Robert and Michelle Forto, traveled from far and wide to share the singular experience that is a Christopher R. Mihm movie premiere. Read what Robert had to say about the gala event.—Sid

Attack of the Moon Zombies World Premiere!

All of us like good entertainment. But would you fly 3000 miles and have your wife drive 15 hours and almost 1000 miles to meet you for a secret rendezvous in the Twin Cities just to go to a movie?

We did.

To be fair it was part of a meeting with an editor friend for a book project that I am working on and a road trip to Deadwood, South Dakota and then home to Denver for a couple weeks before I head back to Alaska.

The movie was the world premiere of Christopher R. Mihm’s Attack of the Moon Zombies!

Moon Zombies premiered at the Heights theater in Columbia Heights, MN. The Heights is one of those cool old school-type theaters that our great country is losing at alarming rate, giving way to I-Max, 3-D and twenty screen stadium seating multiplexes. What a shame.

There was a line around the block waiting to get into the sold out performance and even included reporters Bob and Rob asking us what we were wearing and asking goofy questions. They weren’t Joan and Melissa Rivers but close…

Before the show Dr. Ivan Cryptosis emceed introducing the film and the man behind the madness, Christopher R. Mihm.

[Listen to Attack of the Moon Zombies Interview on Dog Works Radio]

The movie was everything that we would expect from Mihm. True to form bringing back some of his characters from previous films and that quirky 50s drive-in horror/sci-fi style that kept the sold out audience on the edge of their seats.

Moon Zombie’s peppered humor with some serious acting from Sid Korpi (Administrator Ripley), Mike Cook as Dr. Vincent Edwards and the fan favorite, Michael Kaiser as Glen Hayes.

What would a 50s-style B-Movie be without a damsel in distress? Of course Moon Zombies covers this with a brilliant performance my Shannon McDonough and her screams!

Of course we have to have a monster. In Moon Zombies we have plenty of cabbage-headed zombies lurking around that scoop up their victims as quick as you can toss a salad. With Mihm’s trademark bug eye’s the monsters paid a great homage to those creatures from the films of yesteryear. While the effects are cheesy and low budget (they are supposed to be) they work!

After the film they gave out schwag and a meet and greet with the stars and a reception followed with cupcakes and an ultra-cool Moon Zombie’s themed cake that would give Food Network’s Ace of Cake’s a run for their money.

Even though I was going on 24 hours without sleep at the time of the movie I would have to say that this movie kept my attention and was some of Mihm’s best work.

This type of filmmaking is what the world needs these days. It is just plain fun. Fun for the whole family in fact. Yes, the effects are corny and the million dollar sets and CGI of today’s big budget features are in a far off land, but that doesn’t discourage Mihm. Moon Zombie’s was filmed almost entirely in Mihm’s basement.

The Mihmiverse is deliberate and out of this world. You have to check this guy out. You can buy all of his work on his website for less than 10 bucks a piece. Few independent filmmakers have put out a movie a year like Mihm has since his first effort in 2006 with The Monster from Phantom Lake. I would venture to guess that few have been as successful as Mihm in his passion and it shows.

Info 101: at the movies 99: Attack of the Moon Zombies premiere!

  • May 27th, 2011 9:42 pm CT

Darrell Moen

  • Minneapolis Movies Examiner

Greetings local film lovers!  Welcome to the Mihm-iverse that is uniquely Christopher R. Mihm’s world.  Please subscribe to the various pages to keep up with the local film scene.  Thank you!

“ATTACK OF THE MOON ZOMBIES” PREMIERE at the Heights Theater.

The premiere of Christopher R. Mihm’s newest film “Attack of the Moon Zombie’s” was promoted on this page as a major event.  A never-before-seen film.  Members of the cast in attendance.  Collectible merchandise for sale.  A moon zombie available for photographs.  Real red carpet sort of stuff a la Hollywood in the Midwest.  While seated off to the side instead of the usual choice of fourth row center, one was afforded a chance to study the audience during the film.  To gauge the response to onscreen events.  To see if everyone was enjoying it just as much.  The really interesting part of that perspective was the face of the7-8-year-old girl seated behind and to the left who was enjoying the presentation as much as or more than eveyone else.

It’s uncertain whether or not she got all the double-entendre contained in the cleverly-crafted dialogue.  It’s a dead cert she hasn’t seen all the movies referenced in the story-line.  What’s important is that look of unadulterated appreciation for a well-made source of entertainment that she witnessed along with a mostly adult audience.

There was much to appreciate in this, Mihm’s sixth film.  Once again, Mihm stayed faithful to his premise-making a cheesy film with no onscreen violence, no swearing with a “Star Wars” reference or two and a cameo appearance.  That word ‘cheesy’ is his own as in his statement, “I love to make cheesy films for the sake of knowing exactly what they are with no pretense”.  The thing is these films are so much more than that to an audience that has been bombarded with high-tech, overly-graphic, 3D-infested assaults on the senses.  In short, these ‘cheesy’ films are a welcome antithesis to all that, confined to the basics of filmmaking.  Story, acting, directing, special effects and music.

This cast included some brilliant performers who got the point and played it to the hilt.  Shannon McDonough gives a nearly flawless if somewhat subdued interpretation of a botanist on a scientific expedition that is beleagured by a lunar plant that blows spores in the faces of its victims, turning them into hideous zombies.  She is one of several personnel under the supervision of Administrator Ripley, played expertly by Sid Korpi.  Ms. Korpi’s command of the lengthy but pointedly satirical dialogue was eloquent and hilarious.

One side-story revolved around the retirement of one of the base’s doctors played by Mike Cook.  Cook’s performance was also subdued which made it that much more poignant.  His soon-to-be replacement’s presence enhanced Cook’s always strong presence.

As various charcters are zombified, the situational comi-drama takes center stage.  The movie references and double-entendre flow freely and Ms. McDonough’s personna shines based on the strength of her boyfriend and would-be husband played by Douglas Sidney.  The second main sub-story, his various failed attempts to pop the question, is itself a hilarious take-off of sevral films and sitcoms.  Sidney’s less-than-subtle mugging for the camera only helps his delivery.  It would’ve been great to watch the rehearsal sessions to see how long it took these actors to keep a straight face while delivering these lines.  It’s that sort of small thing that elevates films like this above ‘cheesy’.

As susual, that’s all you get for free.  It’s not a critic’s job to tell you the story.  Chris set up his website (www.sainteuphoria.com) to make it easier to add all six films to your collection.  They’re all locally-made with local actors who take pride in their talents.  Cheesy or not, it’s ultra-cool to be able to share a film experience that everyone can enjoy.

Which brings it all back to the 7-8 year old.  She wasn’t all that impressed with all the hoopla or the moon zombie in person.  When asked by her mother if she wanted a photo taken with the moon zombie, the young lady responded, “Can I kick him?”  Her mother denied this request quite firmly to which the now long-faced young lady said, “Then forget it.  If I can’t kick him, I’m not going.”  So much for hoopla but a very lucky moon zombie’s shins are intact as they should be given the director’s assurance that none were injured during filming.

Ms. Korpi’s interview can be found in at the movies #76; Mr. Mihm’s in at the movies #78; Ms. McDonough’s in at the movies #91.  Stay tuned for more interviews and follow-ups now that this film is available.  It’s that good, folks.

As always, seeya at the movies…

Voyage #6 into the Mihm-iverse: Attack of the Moon Zombies!Voyage #6 into the Mihm-iverse: Attack of the Moon Zombies!

Credits:
Partial poster from http://www.sainteuphoria.com website, used by permission of Christopher R. Mihm.

Rating for Attack of the Moon Zombies:

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