Arden Hills filmmaker debuts at State Fair

— Kate Garlock, Bulletin Staff

Christopher Mihm, the monster movie
maker of Arden Hills, stands outside
the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater at the
state fair, where his films will be
shown throughout this year's Great
Minnesota Get-Together.
— Photo By Kate Garlock/Bulletin
Christopher Mihm is out of this world. Whether it's outer space, a moon station, or Mars, he finds monsters everywhere; and then he films them.

Mihm, 34, has been making movies out of his basement in Arden Hills for five years now, and with enough films under his belt for a festival, they will all make their premiere at the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater at the Minnesota State Fair this year.

A monster match

The idea to partner with the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater to show his films, wasn't even Mihm's, he said. It came from the work of two "uber" fans -- Sid [Korpi] and Anthony [Kaczor].

The Blue Moon at the State Fair is reminiscent of a drive-in; old movies show on the screen in the dining area, and various car seats make up the diner's seating.

For Mihm, who makes 1950's "B" style monster movies, it seemed like a perfect fit.

So Sid and Anthony were surprised when they found out Mihm didn't even know about the diner, he said. They contacted the owners for him and got the ball rolling. Before long there was an agreement -- the five Mihm monster films would show throughout the day, each day at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

In the past, the owners of the Blue Moon would show their films on DVD, but with food duties, it proved to be more work than they could handle so they started looking for alternatives. They wanted to be able to start the movies in the morning and concentrate on their food for the rest of the day.

That's where Mihm came to their rescue.

"I jumped on the chance to ingratiate myself with the owners," Mihm said.

Using his computer savviness, he found a way to create a program of movies and television that would run continuously through the day on a laptop.

In his playlist, Mihm's five films -- "The Monster of Phantom Lake," "It Came from Another World!," "Cave Women on Mars," "Terror from Beneath the Earth," and "Destination: Outer Space" -- will show randomly throughout the day.

Last Saturday and this Wednesday, Mihm and his monsters will screen a marathon of movies. Mihm said he'll be available at this time to meet his fans, talk about his movies and display his monsters in person. Other cast, crew and members of the "Mihmiverse" are at the diner on those days to mingle with movie watchers and fairgoers.

Mihm's movies

Mihm takes his viewers out of this world, while keeping the process of making them local. For his past several movies, he has created sets in his basement. For outdoor scenes, he uses a friend's home in Woodbury. Mihm uses local actors and even family members as his cast, and he writes, directs and edits his movies himself. Many movies are almost entirely Arden Hills based projects.

Mihm's fifth movie -- "Destination: Outer Space" -- took the longest of all of them. Mihm said it took over a year to complete the movie.

"For my little films, that's a long time," he said.

Since creating his first movie, Mihm's projects have expanded and started to gain a following. Mihm tours his films through the Midwest, showing them at various small town festivals, and has found people who have already made a family tradition of going to see his latest screenings.

Mihm's movies are all family-friendly. He says while they're not made for kids, they are definitely safe for kids. He calls them an "Ed Wood" style of films -- with goofy monsters and 1960's era situations, all filmed in black and white.

It's not the tongue and cheek humor you might expect from someone making, what are widely considered "bad" horror movies.

"I don't make fun of those movies," he said, adding that humor is in looking at it retrospectively and laughing. "My goal is to be indistinguishable [from the old B Horror movies]."

One of the biggest subsets of Mihm's fans are kids.

"My movies are scary but they're not really scary," Mihm said, noting that this makes his movies the perfect monster movies for children. Instead of a potentially scary and gruesome scene from a modern day monster flick, Mihm uses monsters that are "fun and goofy."

He does recognize that his type of film is "very niche" but still appreciates the wide following he has already developed around and outside of the Twin Cities.

He said he thinks his partnership with the Blue Moon will help reach even more fans who might find themselves in that niche.

At the diner, people who get tired of the bustle of the state fair can have a break, sit down, order food and enjoy a film with their meal.

"It's an oasis in a sea of fried food," Mihm said.

Mihm himself is already a sucker for the diner's Korean tacos.

"They're so good," he said.

Mihm won't have his DVD's for sale everyday at the Fair, but he says there is mention of his website at the bottom of the screen while his films play; fans can visit to learn more about Mihm's films, purchase DVDs or even donate money to become an assistant producer, adding their name to the credits on the big screen.

Mihm said he's excited for this door that's opened for him in the filmmaking world.

"If nothing else, the exposure is great," he said. "There are hundreds of thousands of people at the State Fair -- catching a glimpse [of his movies], raising the profile, getting it out there."

Mihm's sixth film, "Attack of the Moon Zombies," will be filmed this fall and winter in a moon unit Mihm is making in his basement. As is tradition, the film will premiere around Memorial Day at the Heights Theater in Columbia Heights.