Galaxy Express (Danny Johnson Saves the World, 2015)

Mihm_Danny_Johnson_CoverChristopher R. Mihm often has a specific influence for a film.  For Danny Johnson Saves the World, he was focused on creating a family adventure.  It is the tale of young Danny Johnson (we’ve seen Danny in prior Mihmiverse films) who is playing a game of “hide and seek” with his friends when they run smack dab into an alien invasion of…puppets.  Danny has to save his friends and little sister from the diabolical Alien Queen (and her imbecilic King).  He is helped by an alien defector named Steve.

Danny Johnson Saves the World has a flashback framing device that is reminiscent of the Princess Bride and a Christmas Story as aged Danny Johnson (played by James Norgard) is telling his grandchildren a story as they wait for the Christmas Meal.

The film is a lot of fun and achieves its goal as a family film. There are action and monsters, but nothing too intense for younger viewers.  The effects have that look of a 50’s family sci-fi with a neat looking robot villain and a monster called Meat (it looks like something from Dungeons and Dragons) that features more classic stop-motion animation like we saw in the Late Night Double Feature.


The Secret Invasion (The Late Night Double Feature, 2014)

Mihm_Late_Night_CoverUnlike prior features, the Late Night Double Feature is two ideas that Mihm had where he felt they would not necessarily carry an entire film, but  he still wanted to tell.  Each episode is about modern TV show length, making them very quickly paced.

In X: the Fiend from Beyond Space an intergalactic mission in 2014 is awakens from deep sleep   They have brought aboard an alien corpse.  Well, they assumed it was a corpse.  After the alien disappears, the crew tries to locate it, but do not realize the creature is assimilating the crew one at a time.

This is kind of what you might get if Alien was made in the 50’s (Right down to the female leads taking on the alien fiend for much of the story).  The story has some fun dialog (at one point, they determine the alien must be intelligent as it was wearing pants).  The alien looks great with a classic sci-fi feel.  X hits the ground running very quickly, wasting no time (but still finding moments to make references to classic and modern sci-fi) .

The Wall People is interesting because the idea feels very modern.  Scientist Barney Collin’s wife was killed in an accident and then his son disappeared mysteriously.  Eight years later Dr. Edwards and Dr. Gabriel pay him a visit.  Barney is not quite…right.  He has been unable to convince anyone of his theory that there is an evil inter-dimensional being that takes children from their beds through the walls of their rooms.

The film plays with questions of Barney’s sanity and reality.  Is he dead? Is he on Pluto? It is very “Twilight Zone” in that nature.

This segment has some really nice stop motion action evocative of the time.  Most of this tale rests on the shoulders of Doug Sidney who does a real good job of conveying Collin’s as someone struggling to save his kid but having reached the edge of his sanity.

The double feature format works real well here.  Although there is an intermission between the films, it might have been fun to include one or two faux trailers (a la Grindhouse, though Mihm may have avoided this consciously specifically because of such comparisons).


Attack of the 60 Foot… (The Giant Spider, 2013)

Mihm_Giant_Spider_PosterThere was a time when giant bug/arachnid films were the rage.  And the Giant Spider brings back several characters we have met going as far back as the Terror Beneath the Earth.  The titular spider is no doubt some kid’s pet that crawled into the irradiated caves that populate the Mihmiverse and got to be bigger than a tank.

The monstrous Spider works it’s way through the countryside, devouring people.  A group of scientists and military work fervently to stop the creature’s rampage.    Returning to the Mihmiverse for the film are Dr. Edwards (Terror From Beneath the Earth & Attack of the Moon Zombies) and Dr. Gabriel (Attack of the Moon Zombies).  These are fun recurring characters because Michael Cook (Dr. Edwards) and James Norgard (Dr. Gabriel) are very entertaining.  They know when to ham it up and when to dial it down.  The thing that really makes any of Mihm’s films work is that the characters are largely played straight.  There is not a lot of “I am trying to act badly”.  Folks bring sincerity to the roles, which is where the amusement comes in.  These scientists are delivering pretty weak science, yet, with real conviction.

The effects for the Giant Spider are really strong.  They are, of course, a combination of green-screen and a regular sized tarantula and a model creature.  The close ups of it’s face are a model (puppet?) but it is a fun “monster” version of our nightmares.  The green-screen work is not seamless, nor should it be.  It mimics the look of a movie era probably the best of all of the Mihmiverse films to this point.

While most of the Mihmiverse films tend to feel very distinctly 50’s, the Giant Spider kind of straddles a line between the 50’s and 60’s.  Especially with the logo (the only splash of color the film) and the theme song.  The theme song is very much a sixties proto-punk sound.

Christopher’s films are never overly long, but the Giant Spider is one of the shortest.  And this is really in service to the film.  It moves at a good pace and is pretty tight in it’s storytelling.  The Giant Spider has long reigned as one of my personal favorites in the works of the Mihmiverse.

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