"Attack of the Moon Zombies" Premiere at the Heights Theatre!
By Darrell Moen
The premiere of Christopher R. Mihm's newest film "Attack of the Moon Zombies" was promoted on this page as a major event. A never-before-seen film. Members of the cast in attendance. Collectible merchandise for sale. A moon zombie available for photographs. Real red carpet sort of stuff a la Hollywood in the Midwest. While seated off to the side instead of the usual choice of fourth row center, one was afforded a chance to study the audience during the film. To gauge the response to onscreen events. To see if everyone was enjoying it just as much. The really interesting part of that perspective was the face of the7-8-year-old girl seated behind and to the left who was enjoying the presentation as much as or more than eveyone else.
It's uncertain whether or not she got all the double-entendre contained in the cleverly-crafted dialogue. It's a dead cert she hasn't seen all the movies referenced in the story-line. What's important is that look of unadulterated appreciation for a well-made source of entertainment that she witnessed along with a mostly adult audience.
There was much to appreciate in this, Mihm's sixth film. Once again, Mihm stayed faithful to his premise-making a cheesy film with no onscreen violence, no swearing with a "Star Wars" reference or two and a cameo appearance. That word 'cheesy' is his own as in his statement, "I love to make cheesy films for the sake of knowing exactly what they are with no pretense". The thing is these films are so much more than that to an audience that has been bombarded with high-tech, overly-graphic, 3D-infested assaults on the senses. In short, these 'cheesy' films are a welcome antithesis to all that, confined to the basics of filmmaking. Story, acting, directing, special effects and music.
This cast included some brilliant performers who got the point and played it to the hilt. Shannon McDonough gives a nearly flawless if somewhat subdued interpretation of a botanist on a scientific expedition that is beleagured by a lunar plant that blows spores in the faces of its victims, turning them into hideous zombies. She is one of several personnel under the supervision of Administrator Ripley, played expertly by Sid Korpi. Ms. Korpi's command of the lengthy but pointedly satirical dialogue was eloquent and hilarious.
One side-story revolved around the retirement of one of the base's doctors played by Mike Cook. Cook's performance was also subdued which made it that much more poignant. His soon-to-be replacement's presence enhanced Cook's always strong presence.
As various charcters are zombified, the situational comi-drama takes center stage. The movie references and double-entendre flow freely and Ms. McDonough's personna shines based on the strength of her boyfriend and would-be husband played by Douglas Sidney. The second main sub-story, his various failed attempts to pop the question, is itself a hilarious take-off of sevral films and sitcoms. Sidney's less-than-subtle mugging for the camera only helps his delivery. It would've been great to watch the rehearsal sessions to see how long it took these actors to keep a straight face while delivering these lines. It's that sort of small thing that elevates films like this above 'cheesy'.
As susual, that's all you get for free. It's not a critic's job to tell you the story. Chris set up his website (www.sainteuphoria.com) to make it easier to add all six films to your collection. They're all locally-made with local actors who take pride in their talents. Cheesy or not, it's ultra-cool to be able to share a film experience that everyone can enjoy.
Which brings it all back to the 7-8 year old. She wasn't all that impressed with all the hoopla or the moon zombie in person. When asked by her mother if she wanted a photo taken with the moon zombie, the young lady responded, "Can I kick him?" Her mother denied this request quite firmly to which the now long-faced young lady said, "Then forget it. If I can't kick him, I'm not going." So much for hoopla but a very lucky moon zombie's shins are intact as they should be given the director's assurance that none were injured during filming.
Ms. Korpi's interview can be found in at the movies #76; Mr. Mihm's in at the movies #78; Ms. McDonough's in at the movies #91. Stay tuned for more interviews and follow-ups now that this film is available. It's that good, folks.
As always, seeya at the movies...