Last night I had the thrill of attending the premiere of Twin Cities filmmaker Christopher Mihm's Attack of the Moon Zombies (AotMZ, hereafter) locally-made film. It's a throwback to the classic sci-fi flicks of the 50s and 60s and employs all the trappings of the era (glorious B/W, over-dramatized musical score, lovingly dopey visual effects and monsters, and of course--gloriously hamfisted acting!
|The Heights' organist: pre-show entertainment!|
I'll be honest-- I envy this guy! Every year he releases a new film he made with his friends, family, local thespians, and cinemaniacs and holds a "WORLD PREMIERE" at the historic Heights Theater in NE Minneapolis. The Heights is an old-fashioned (and well cared for) movie house with stage curtain and house organ intact (we were treated to a 30 minute performance prior to the show last night).
Laughing at--and with--films from another eraThe film itself was preceded by old news reels, previews from horrendous/classic sci-fi films, and one of his older films. I won't go into a full review here (or spoil), but the plot centers around a claustrophobic moonbase "in the future" staffed by unwitting scientists who become "moon zombie" prey after discovering an alien plant hidden in a lunar cave (think John Carpenter's The Thing, but the moon stands in for Antarctica).
The brussel-sprout-headed undead aliens are the true stars of the film, lumbering towards our cowering heroes in spectacular Plan 9 From Outer Space fashion. The film uses well-worn movie cliches (i.e., camera freely gliding over a slow moving hand about to reveal a corpse-under-the-sheet surprise) to great effect. Short of some stilted dialogue in the beginning, the result is a hilarious and well-orchestrated send-up of sci-fi films and their audiences. It's as if you're participating in a live episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. AotMZ, much like Mihm's other films, are a love-letter to cinematic cheddar played to the hilt.
Rubber and latex BEMs, deadly radiation, and silly subplots about marriage proposals, round out the the film's retro sci-fi caricature. Sprinkled throughout were nuggets of pop culture in-jokes (sci-fi and music mostly) that kept our little group laughing after the credits.
AotMZ boasts an impressive cast of thespians--most notably Mike Cook and Sid Korpi in standout performances as an avuncular senior scientist and a hard-nosed-moon-base-administrator-with-a-golden heart, respectively. Douglas Sidney and Shannon McDonough seem to relish their purposefully 2D portrayals as love interests/leads. Sidney punctuates every scene he's in with silent goony-faced expressions and McDonough is a twirling, sobbing, wreck of a woman straight out of a 50s soap opera acting class.
'Moon Zombies, a delicious treatSeeing the film with his actors, crew, and loved ones must be a huge high for Mihm--as everyone bursts out into laughter, groans, and applauds along with the on-screen action. After we've all taken in the hilarity, he offers DVDs of the flick (all of them actually) for a few bucks along with posters, t-shirts, patches, and more. The literal icing on the cake: a a moon + zombie cake, cupcakes, and cookies. Filmmaker, cast, crew, and co-conspirators alike were of course on hand to meet the audience, sign autographs, and ladle thanks on fans for supporting what I'm glad is now a Twin Cities tradition.
In an age of over-produced, financially fire-hosed movies, it's an absolute delight to not only see independent/locally supported films, but also participate in an event that celebrates imagination, science fiction, and an unabashed love of the movie-going experience. I look forward to exploring new corners of the Mihm-verse next year!
Saint Euphoria Films (Mihm's production company)
Attack of the Moon Zombies info
Keep up with the Mihm-verse on Facebook