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Many thanks to the fine folks who worked so tirelessly to bring visual arts to the Pine City, Minn., public in their 2nd Annual Highway 61 Film Festival. We were honored to have been present on Day 3 of the screenings to introduce writer/director Christopher R. Mihm’s B&W 1950s-drive-in-style B-movie homage to William Castle (The Tingler, House on Haunted Hill), House of Ghosts. We were even more pleased to be able to accept on his behalf the award for Best Action/Horror Feature Film! Mihm was unable to attend because he was busy filming his upcoming movie, The Giant Spider. From the cast and crew of House of Ghosts, we say THANK YOU!!

 

I’m also pleased to announce that I was awarded Best Actress award for the Murder Mystery Company’s production of “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” an interactive dinner-theater comdedy production at which I, an audience member, was “cast” as Anita Goodman (phonetically: I need a good man) the maid of honor. A delightful time was had by all, and I got this really cool certificate as a souvenir:

My hubby Anthony (“Reginald,” father of the bride) and me as the maid of honor.

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Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related short stories with a connection to Halloween to the Petlitzer Prize Contest by October 15, 2012. Winners will be announced live on the air on the Dog Works Radio Show on Halloween Eve.

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PRLog (Press Release)Sep 26, 2012
Love animals? Love to write? Love Halloween? Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related, Halloween-themed short stories to the Petlitzer Prize Contest. “The name ‘Petlitzer Prize’ just came to me one day, as a kind of play on words, a sort of Pulitzer for animal-related works,” said multiple-award-

winning author/animal chaplain, Sid Korpi, (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” http://www.goodgriefpetloss.com, named “Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards) who came up with this contest to recognize quality efforts in writing regarding animals and celebrating the human-animal bond.

Winners will receive certificates of recognition and will have their stories read by Korpi on “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio (http://dogworksradio.com) in early June. The first-place winner also will receive a handsome medallion.

This round of the Petlitzer Prize contest is devoted to pet-related short stories of a Halloween-themed nature. Stories may be fiction or creative nonfiction, 400–700 words in length. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2012 with winners announced live on the Dog Works Radio show on or around Halloween Eve. There is no fee for entering, but only one submission per category is allowed.

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! 🙂

3. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. A winner will be chosen, aired and posted by no later than Oct. 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio show, will be judging the submissions.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second, Third  and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Works sites.) First place winners also will receive a handsome medallion. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners will also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “Dog Works.” (Air dates will be announced in advance, and the show will be available thereafter in archived form.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with “Petlitzer Prize Entry” in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at goodgriefpetloss@gmail.com. I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

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!

Film Reviews: House of Ghosts (2012) – By Duane L. Martin
Posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:18:46 Mountain Daylight Time by DuaneAn eccentric couple, Leigh (Sid Korpi) and Isaac (Mark Scanlan), give a dinner party for some friends, and they’ve hired some entertainment for the evening as well, but when a severe snow storm sets in and traps them all in the house overnight, it’s uncertain as to whether or not whether their entertainment will show up at all. Fortunately for the rest of the film, he does.

The entertainment for the evening is a medium (J. Andrew Wilkins), who brings along a device that’s supposed to open a portal between our world and the land of the dead. The guests all gather around as the machine lights up and its parts spin around inside, but when it’s all over…nothing happened. The medium tells them that he’s opened the door to the other side, now it’s up to them to walk through it. Everyone is underwhelmed to say the least, and Isaac gets his money back after threatening him with legal action for fraud, but once the medium’s gone, things start getting a little creepy. Suddenly, Isaac has a horrible headache and needs to go lay down. Then the other guests start having creepy, ghostly encounters, and people start turning up dead. Will anyone survive this ghostly evening? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

I had to really limit myself in the description of the film so as to not give away any of the good stuff, but that’s essentially what the film is about. So how was it? Well…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the films of Christopher R. Mihm, he makes retro style, black and white b-movies. House of Ghosts is his latest film, and it’s a new genre for him. His previous films have revolved around mutants or outer space themes, and this one takes us into the William Castle style of ghost film.

Following in that style, Christopher himself introduces the film, much like William Castle would, and talks about a fear shield that’s given to people in the theater. William Castle was a master of theater gimmicks, and this totally pays homage to the days of the theater gimmick, which is awesome.

Now we get to the film, and immediately you’ll notice several things. First, he knows how to make his films look like classic films. Everything from the set design and props to the costumes all give his films a very classic look, and this one looks absolutely wonderful. Something else you’ll notice is the great selection of music that he uses in his films. He uses various selections of music from the period, so it not only adds to the whole vibe of the film, it also makes it a more fun and enjoyable experience.

Something else that’s a lot of fun in this film are the references to various things in his previous films. They’re done in a way where it doesn’t really matter if you get the references or not, but it’s more fun if you do.

The real fun in this film though comes from the encounters with the ghosts. There’s a skeleton in a dress and a wig (one of the guest’s dead mother). Another guest sees her dead son’s ghost, only…he’s changed into something she doesn’t recognize. Yet another guest is attacked by spiders (really fun and goofy looking fake spiders). Then there’s the Angel of Death. This is far and away the most creepy and impressive looking thing I’ve seen in any of Mihm’s films, and it’s used in such a way as to maximize the creep factor.

This film, like other of Christopher’s films, include both an English and an Esperanto dialogue track, as well as subtitles in both languages. I have no idea who speaks Esperanto, but hey, if there’s someone out there who does…there ya go. In any case, I’ve never made it any secret that I think that every movie should include optional subtitles, and all of Christopher’s films do, which is awesome. What makes it even more awesome, is that they’re more than just your normal run of the mill subtitles. He really has fun with them, including adding in little descptive things like “Star Trek close-up” and various sound effect noises and reaction descriptions that are both funny and entertaining. If you watch the film without subtitles, you’re really missing a fun aspect of the experience.

From a production standpoint, Mihm’s films started out great and just keep getting better and better. There are people out there who make retro films, but they’re usually just a one off. For Christopher Mihm, that’s his thing. It’s all he does, and when you watch one of his films, you can really see the love and appreciation he has for those great old classics from the 50’s, and he has a whole lot of fun with the genre in his own films. This particular film is perfectly paced, filled with great camera shots, makes use of some cool editing and effects, and is lit perfectly. I mention the lighting, because in a film of this nature, especially in black and white, it’s easy to end up with scenes that are too dark. The whole film is lit exactly as it needs to be, and makes really great use of shadow in a very expert way in various scenes.

The DVD of this film includes several special features, including a blooper reel, the trailer, “The Real House of Ghosts” featurette, an alternate ending, which will be particuarly funny if you’ve seen his previous films and get the reference, a photo gallery, previews, and a film introduction by horror host, Dr. Ivan Cryptosis. It also includes a behind the scenes commentary with Christopher Mihm, Mitch Gonzales and Cherie “Rhuby” Gallanti, and a separate director’s commentary with Christopher Mihm.

I’ve come to expect great films from Christopher R. Mihm, and I absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy, and while you’re at it, get yourself copies of his previous films as well. Classic b-movie fans will probably get the most enjoyment from them, but they can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to just kick back, relax and have a great time with a film.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page here, and while you’re there, check out his other films as well. You won’t be sorry.

 

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:

 

 

Info 101: At the movies 168: House of Ghosts-an eerie thriller

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Minneapolis Movies Examiner

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The newest film by local director/producer/writer Christopher R. Mihm has a flaw which is not shared by any recent Hollywood production.  It’s too good.  This opinion can be twisted sideways to mean it’s not cheesy enough for someone whose reputation is built on cheesiness.  “House of Ghosts” is intended to be a tribute to the films of Willim Castle (“The House on Haunted Hill”).  It is that and more, featuring the talents of several local actors with whom Mihm has worked in previous films.

In keeping with an established ‘NO SPOILERS’ policy, the film’s outline will be very basic.  Isaac (Mark Scanlan) and Leigh (Sid Korpi) are a wealthy couple who delight in throwing parties for their circle of friends.  On this particular evening, they have contracted a spiritual medium (Andrew Wilkins).  Although this idea is scoffed at, the medium proceeds to open a portal to the afterworld.  He warns his audience that there is no way to control who-or what-comes through.  His departure is almost heralded by the arrival of a massive winter storm that prevents anyone from leaving the house.

Things take a severe left turn from there as the guests are forced to confront their own demons and mortality.  This is where Mihm’s true talent as a director takes over.  He has worked with most of these actors so often he doesn’t have to direct so much as guide.  More than any other film, Mihm allows the action to dictate the story and the cast to dictate the action.  This allows the audience to feel like they’re watching it live and in person.

That is the essencer of what makes this film “too good”.  Mihm stays faithful to all of his signatures–a personal appearance, a “Star Wars” reference, backward hints to his previous films and music that is integral to the storyline.  Time cannot move quickly enough toward next Memorial Day and the release of his next project-“The Giant Spider”.  “House of Ghosts” can be purchased on DVD at www.sainteuphoria.com.

Dancing to the Rockin’ Hollywoods. Shown bottom left, Tom “Woody” Strohmeyer on sax. The crinoline you see peeking out from under my dress is actually a half-slip that was so long I had to pull it up over my chest! Check out our dance instruction website, Two Right Feet (www.tworightfeetdance.com), if you’re a beginner and would like to learn swing, rumba, waltz, foxtrot or cha cha in a private setting for cheap.

Petlitzer Prize Writing Contest Seeks Halloween-themed Pet-related Short Story Submissions

Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related short stories with a connection to Halloween to the Petlitzer Prize Contest by October 15, 2012. Winners will be announced live on the air on the Dog Works Radio Show on Halloween Eve.
 
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Love animals? Love to write? Love Halloween? Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related, Halloween-themed short stories to the Petlitzer Prize Contest. “The name ‘Petlitzer Prize’ just came to me one day, as a kind of play on words, a sort of Pulitzer for animal-related works,” said multiple-award-winning author/animal chaplain, Sid Korpi, (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” http://www.goodgriefpetloss.com, named “Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards) who came up with this contest to recognize quality efforts in writing regarding animals and celebrating the human-animal bond.

Winners will receive certificates of recognition and will have their stories read by Korpi on “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio (http://dogworksradio.com) in early June. The first-place winner also will receive a handsome medallion.

This round of the Petlitzer Prize contest is devoted to pet-related short stories of a Halloween-themed nature. Stories may be fiction or creative nonfiction, 400–700 words in length. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2012 with winners announced live on the Dog Works Radio show on or around Halloween Eve. There is no fee for entering, but only one submission per category is allowed.

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! 🙂

3. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. A winner will be chosen, aired and posted by no later than Oct. 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio show, will be judging the submissions.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second, Third  and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Works sites.) First place winners also will receive a handsome medallion. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners will also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “Dog Works.” (Air dates will be announced in advance, and the show will be available thereafter in archived form.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with “Petlitzer Prize Entry” in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at goodgriefpetloss@gmail.com. I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

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Sid Korpi is the award-winning author of “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” as well as a motivational speaker, professional editor/writer, actress and animal chaplain.

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Film Reviews: House of Ghosts (2012) – By Duane L. Martin
Posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:18:46 Mountain Daylight Time by Duane


An eccentric couple, Leigh (Sid Korpi) and Isaac (Mark Scanlan), give a dinner party for some friends, and they’ve hired some entertainment for the evening as well, but when a severe snow storm sets in and traps them all in the house overnight, it’s uncertain as to whether or not whether their entertainment will show up at all. Fortunately for the rest of the film, he does.

The entertainment for the evening is a medium (J. Andrew Wilkins), who brings along a device that’s supposed to open a portal between our world and the land of the dead. The guests all gather around as the machine lights up and its parts spin around inside, but when it’s all over…nothing happened. The medium tells them that he’s opened the door to the other side, now it’s up to them to walk through it. Everyone is underwhelmed to say the least, and Isaac gets his money back after threatening him with legal action for fraud, but once the medium’s gone, things start getting a little creepy. Suddenly, Isaac has a horrible headache and needs to go lay down. Then the other guests start having creepy, ghostly encounters, and people start turning up dead. Will anyone survive this ghostly evening? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

I had to really limit myself in the description of the film so as to not give away any of the good stuff, but that’s essentially what the film is about. So how was it? Well…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the films of Christopher R. Mihm, he makes retro style, black and white b-movies. House of Ghosts is his latest film, and it’s a new genre for him. His previous films have revolved around mutants or outer space themes, and this one takes us into the William Castle style of ghost film.

Following in that style, Christopher himself introduces the film, much like William Castle would, and talks about a fear shield that’s given to people in the theater. William Castle was a master of theater gimmicks, and this totally pays homage to the days of the theater gimmick, which is awesome.

Now we get to the film, and immediately you’ll notice several things. First, he knows how to make his films look like classic films. Everything from the set design and props to the costumes all give his films a very classic look, and this one looks absolutely wonderful. Something else you’ll notice is the great selection of music that he uses in his films. He uses various selections of music from the period, so it not only adds to the whole vibe of the film, it also makes it a more fun and enjoyable experience.

Something else that’s a lot of fun in this film are the references to various things in his previous films. They’re done in a way where it doesn’t really matter if you get the references or not, but it’s more fun if you do.

The real fun in this film though comes from the encounters with the ghosts. There’s a skeleton in a dress and a wig (one of the guest’s dead mother). Another guest sees her dead son’s ghost, only…he’s changed into something she doesn’t recognize. Yet another guest is attacked by spiders (really fun and goofy looking fake spiders). Then there’s the Angel of Death. This is far and away the most creepy and impressive looking thing I’ve seen in any of Mihm’s films, and it’s used in such a way as to maximize the creep factor.

This film, like other of Christopher’s films, include both an English and an Esperanto dialogue track, as well as subtitles in both languages. I have no idea who speaks Esperanto, but hey, if there’s someone out there who does…there ya go. In any case, I’ve never made it any secret that I think that every movie should include optional subtitles, and all of Christopher’s films do, which is awesome. What makes it even more awesome, is that they’re more than just your normal run of the mill subtitles. He really has fun with them, including adding in little descptive things like “Star Trek close-up” and various sound effect noises and reaction descriptions that are both funny and entertaining. If you watch the film without subtitles, you’re really missing a fun aspect of the experience.

From a production standpoint, Mihm’s films started out great and just keep getting better and better. There are people out there who make retro films, but they’re usually just a one off. For Christopher Mihm, that’s his thing. It’s all he does, and when you watch one of his films, you can really see the love and appreciation he has for those great old classics from the 50’s, and he has a whole lot of fun with the genre in his own films. This particular film is perfectly paced, filled with great camera shots, makes use of some cool editing and effects, and is lit perfectly. I mention the lighting, because in a film of this nature, especially in black and white, it’s easy to end up with scenes that are too dark. The whole film is lit exactly as it needs to be, and makes really great use of shadow in a very expert way in various scenes.

The DVD of this film includes several special features, including a blooper reel, the trailer, “The Real House of Ghosts” featurette, an alternate ending, which will be particuarly funny if you’ve seen his previous films and get the reference, a photo gallery, previews, and a film introduction by horror host, Dr. Ivan Cryptosis. It also includes a behind the scenes commentary with Christopher Mihm, Mitch Gonzales and Cherie “Rhuby” Gallanti, and a separate director’s commentary with Christopher Mihm.

I’ve come to expect great films from Christopher R. Mihm, and I absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy, and while you’re at it, get yourself copies of his previous films as well. Classic b-movie fans will probably get the most enjoyment from them, but they can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to just kick back, relax and have a great time with a film.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page here, and while you’re there, check out his other films as well. You won’t be sorry.


Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:18:46 Mountain Daylight Time Film Review

Saturday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. Central time, Dr. Robert and Michele Forto and author Sid Korpi will be announcing the winners of the latest Petlitzer Prize pet-related poetry contest. To listen to the live readings of the winning poems that day, visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dogworks/2012/06/10/dog-works-radio-presents-the-petlitzer-prize-contest-round-6

Or go to that site after that show airs to listen to the archived version.

The next round of the Petlitzer Prize contest will be for pet-related short stories, 400–700 words in length. For all the rules for submission, click on Petlitzer Prize Contest Rules above this posting. The deadline for submission is Oct. 15, 2012, and there is only one entry allowed per person per round.

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