Film Review: The Late Night Double Feature by Duane L. Martin
Originally posted at http://www.roguecinema.com/article4448.html
"The Late Night Double Feature" is the latest retro b-movie from the talented mind of Christopher Mihm. Those who follow my reviews may know that I've reviewed all of Christopher's films and I always look forward to seeing his films, so I was excited when he sent this latest one my way.
This release contains two separate films. I didn't think to look at how long each one was, but combined they run for about 90 minutes. The films are as follows:
"X: The Fiend From Beyond Space" - After a space crew is awoken from their stasis by the ship's computer when they encounter a rogue planet, they go down to investigate and find a lone alien there that appears to be dead. Once they bring him on board however, they find out that their assumption about the condition of the alien was highly inaccurate, and when the creature wakes up and starts absorbing people and assuming their form, it's up to the survivors to stop it before it can kill again.
"The Wall People" - A young boy disappears from his room one night, and his father, who's a brilliant scientist, discovered that his child had actually been taken to Pluto through a portal, though by who and for what reason he doesn't know. In an effort to retrieve his son, he creates a machine capable of opening a portal to Pluto so he can attempt to get him back. Along with the help of two fellow scientists, he must discover the truth about what really happened to his child and bring him back home before it's too late.
This is Christopher's first double feature film, and I have to say I think it worked out really well. Neither story would have worked as a full length film, but with each at the proper length and put into a double feature, they worked perfectly.
Now for the review part...
Christopher's original monster was fun, but goofy looking. Over the years, his monsters have evolved more and more, getting cooler looking with each film. Both of these films include cool monsters, but I'll start with the monster in "X" first. This one looked...weird. It's almost a combination between an insect and some kind of a weird sea creature with big red eyes. Probably the coolest part is the proboscis that comes shooting out if its mouth and attaches to the crew members' foreheads when it absorbs them and takes their forms. It was a very cool idea and very well executed.
"The Wall People" had Catherine Hansen in makeup that made her look like some kind of a witch, but the really cool monsters were the stop motion monsters in the "Pluto" black room. One was a dragon type of a monster, while the other was an octopus-like creature sort of reminiscent of the aliens on "The Simpsons." Both of these monsters were just great and the fact that they were done in the stop motion style added a lot to the entertainment value of the film.
As for the sets, most of the film except for the exterior shots in "X" are made of pegboard, and for each room shot they had different stuff hanging on the walls to indicate that it was a different room. It's kind of fun spotting all the different stuff. One room even has a couple of pot holders hanging on the wall. "The Wall People" mostly takes place in a house, but there's also the Pluto black room I mentioned, and a segment that was shot out in the woods that had perhaps one of the creepiest things I've ever seen in a Christopher Mihm film. I won't spoil it here, but I was watching the film with my wife and we both thought it was just creepy as hell. While there isn't much in the line of props in "X," "The Wall People" had a really cool looking console that the scientist built to open the portal that looked like something out of an early episode of "Star Trek."
Now, the acting. This is where I'm going to have to ding "X" especially. The acting and line delivery was so stiff and unnatural sounding that it made it difficult to really get into the film. A big part of the problem is that all the dialog was dubbed over in post, so it all ends up sounding "read," and as I said, unnatural. The one exception was Daniel Sjerven who always seems to pull off a more animated sounding performance, despite the fact that its dubbed. "The Wall People" was dubbed as well, but it suffered far less from this problem, and Douglas Sidney was just awesome as the tweaky scientist. His performance was really over the top and it brought a great deal of fun to the film.
For special features, this release includes a blooper reel, the film's trailer, a photo gallery, previews, cast & crew commentary, director's commentary, a film introduction by Dr. Ivan Cryptosis and subtitles in both English and Esperanto. Be sure to watch all of Mihm's films with the subtitles on, because he often thrown in goofy little things that add even more fun to his films.
While "The Wall People" is by far the superior film, both films represent another great outing from a man who's made classic b-movie style films his life's work. If you love classic b-movies, then be sure you take a look at what Mihm is doing with that style in the modern day and check out all of his other films while you're at it. You're in for a really great time.