Bad science fiction makes good for Minnesota director


Friday, May 18, 2007

By Ed Bradley • 810.766.6258

Those bad science-fiction flicks of the 1950s are looking pretty good for Christopher Mihm.

The Minnesota-based writer-director found such a positive reception to his 2006 parody of those cheesy alien-attack flicks, "The Monster of Phantom Lake," that he's just finished a sequel, "It Came From Another World!"

"Monster" garnered enough buzz at last year's Flint Film Festival to earn an invite for "World" this year. The follow-up will be screened at 6:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Mott Community College's Regional Technology Center.

The key to Mihm's sendups has been a keen knowledge of the leaden dialogue, unconvincing special effects and improbable plot turns of the grade-Z originals. But Mihm's longtime friend, Josh Craig, has played a key role with intentionally wooden portrayals of the pipe-smoking, guitar-strumming hero of both films, Professor Jackson.

"Josh and I have been friends since high school," Mihm, who lives near St. Paul, Minn., said via phone this week. "We'd been talking about making a movie for years, and it took 15 years to actually do it. We're very big science-fiction fans.

"We wanted him (Jackson) to be reflective of the stiffer srtyle of 1950s B-movie acting. We wanted him to be stiff ... but embued with the traits of being kind of a ladies' man. He never has the answer (to the films' crises), but he always figures it out, a little bit like a nerdy James Bond."

Mihm, 31, and Craig, 33, co-produced "It Came From Another World!" and already are at work on a third film, "Cave Women From Mars," which takes place in the 1980s and chronicles the exploits of Jackson's son.

"The first two films, our budget was between $1,500 and $2,000. We basically got everyone we knew to do it for free," said Mihm, who recently became an executive in a subsidary of a media company that is distributing the third movie. "This time, we actually have a budget."

-- Ed Bradley