Bucket of Blood (Weresquito: Nazi Hunter, 2016)

Mihm_Weresquito_CoverDuring World War II Cpl. John Baker is captured and experimented on by the deviant Nazi scientist Schramm.  He was saved by the Allied forces, but he is forever changed.  When he sees blood, he is transformed into the human-mosquito, or rather the Weresquito.  He is on a mission to find Nazis (and specifically Schramm) who are hiding out in America.

His search has unexpected complications as he starts to fall for Schramm’s niece (who is unaware of her uncle’s dark past).

Weresquito is one of those high-concept ideas that feels like it would have been at home in the late fifties.  It is promoted as being in Plaz-Mo-Scope which evokes, of course, the gimmicks of the era.  What this means is that anytime we see blood, it is red, and the only color in the entire film.  This makes for a neat effect.  If you have ever seen the horror film Popcorn, this film feels like it could have been one of the “fake fifties films” they made for that movie.

The performances are good (and James Norgard is clearly having fun going over the top as Schramm). The Weresquito himself is a great monster visually.  Listen, if you want to see Nazis get their blood sucked out by a man-sized mosquito (and I think you are lying if you say you do not)? This is your film!

 

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.

Not of This Earth (Attack of the Moon Zombies, 2011)

Mihm_Attack_Moon_Zombie_PosterSet in the future of Cave Women on Mars and Destination: Outer Space, Attack of the Moon Zombies takes place in the Jackson Lunar Base. A new scientist arrives and while he is being given a tour, finds a unique item…a plant.  After he seems to die from exposure to spores, the inhabitants of the base move on.  But while preparing for an autopsy, the young man wakes up…changed.  Slowly, scientists are disappearing, being changed into the moon zombies.

It becomes a race against time as the survivors try and find a way to stop the zombies and escape.

All the films, of course, have had ties to each other.  But Attack of the Moon Zombies really feels as if it ties the Mihmiverse films together.  While Josh Craig appears as neither Jacksons, his Professor Jackson is mentioned (but has been upgraded to President). One character is related to the Deputy from Terror From Beneath The Earth and Dr. Edwards also returns.

The zombies look pretty good (the Mihmiverse films started to show a vast improvement in the makeup and costumes around Destination: Outer Space).  One of my favorite in-jokes the film has is its naming conventions. The Captain is named Herman Frehley, but constantly demands to be called Ace.  The Administrator’s last name is Ripley.  But observant viewers will notice that several characters are named after the characters of the old Buck Rogers TV show.

Attack of the Moon Zombies moves at a decent pace and is a lot of fun to watch.

Up From the Depths (Terror From Beneath the Earth, 2009)

Mihm_Terror_Beneath_Earth_CoverHe is all ears and teeth and he’s from hell! Alice is trying to find her young brother Danny in a local cave network.  Instead, she runs into a mysterious stranger. Alice and Danny’s father Stan runs to the sheriff’s office when his children never return home.  With the help of local Geologist Dr. Edwards, they try and find the children, only to discover a giant mutant bat creature.

The creature is able to paralyze its victims and is collecting our heroes to have as a meal.

As with any 50’s era horror, the monster is the result of science.  In this case, atomic testing is done in the caves.

The sets for this film are very simple.  It is the caverns or the police station.  So, in some ways, this almost resembles a play.  This is the first film in the Mihmiverse to not feature Professor Jackson (or even his son Captain Jackson), but he is represented by his wife, who brings Dr. Edwards the scientific device that will help save the day.

The music in Mihm’s films really evoke the films of the fifties.  It can be overdramatic, sometimes even goofy.  It almost always hits the right tone for the film, and that is true here.

The Bat Monster, as prior monsters, looks a bit slapped together with arts and crafts style.  It has large unblinking eyes and teeth that look a bit like plastic.  In spite of this, there are some nice shots of the creature.  Specifically a full reveal as it steps from the shadows.

Terror From Beneath the Earth carries on the b-movie monster tradition fairly well.  While a bit more serious than It Came From Another World, it still has its moments of fun.

Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (Cave Women of Mars, 2008)

Mihm_Cave_Women_PosterIn the far, far distant future of 1987, Captain Jackson, son of Professor (now Director) Jackson,  is on a mission to Mars.  He and lieutenant Elliot arrive on Mars and discover a lush jungle…er…midwestern wooded area and Lieutenant Elliot ends up a prisoner of warrior cavewomen.

Elliot is desperate to get back to his spaceship as he finds himself catapulted between rival cave woman clans. While both are really disdainful of men, you can tell the good Cave Women from the Bad Cave Women because the Bad Ones wear leather and have dark hair, while the Good Ones wear cloth outfits and are blonde.

 

The film uses very simple coding (not uncommon for the era that inspired the film).  Part of the amusement in the films of Mihm is the archaic ideas of the sexes.  These are not presented as the “Good old days when men were men and women were women”.  I have noted that Christopher does not mock the horror and sci-fi of the 50’s and 60’s.  But that is not entirely true.  He pokes a lot of fun at the silly mentalities (Girl scientists?! Girls with opinions?!) of the time.  In this film, the portrayals of independent woman as hating men is the target for mockery.  The Cave Women are so over the top in their talk about how inferior men are, the oppressive matriarchy comes off as the fevered nightmare of Rush Limbaugh.

Visually, you start seeing some growth.  The monster looks a little better.  There is some nicely done green screen that manages to still give that old movie set look.  And the portrayal of Mars is a lot like those early films that imagined other planets looking vaguely earth-like…but you know…rockier. Also, the space suits are in that great line between looking cobbled together and being a little futuristic.

There were a few points where the film drags, but at the same time, this is not that out of character for a lot of sci-fi and horror of that era.  Setting it in the future of 1987 (so “far” from the 50’s, but well in our “past”) creates it’s own humor with the visuals of how far and advanced we would be. Of the first three films, this one, in some ways, feels the closest to the sci-fi films of the 50’s.

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