This still from the independent
movie "The Monster of Phantom Lake" by first-time
filmmaker Christopher Mihm is an homage to 1950s-era science
fiction monster movies. Mihm set the story’s background in
Mukwonago’s Phantom Lake after talking with his wife,
Stephanie, who is from that area.
MUKWONAGO - "It’s alive! Agghh! Run! Save yourselves! Don’t
worry about me ..."
Something horrific is afoot at Phantom Lake!
Thank goodness "The Monster of Phantom Lake" is a work
of film fiction by first-time filmmaker Christopher R. Mihm.
Mihm, an aficionado of low-budget, unspecial-effects science
fiction and horror movies of the 1950s, said he chose the town of
Mukwonago lake for the setting of his creepy creature feature
because of blood - blood relation that is.
Mihm, who lives in a St. Paul, Minn., suburb, said his wife
Stephanie is from the Mukwonago area, and when he and his cohort in
cinematography, Josh Craig, were looking for a lake location for
their monster-running-amok film, she just happened to mention
"That’s perfect," he said he told her, and thus the
name for his independently produced production came about.
Why a film about - according to the movie’s Web site - "a
shell-shocked ex-soldier who is transformed by Atomic Waste into a
revolting monster who wreaks havoc at the local high school
graduation and the dedicated scientist and his assistant who make
the most important scientific discovery ever?"
"To understand that, you have to understand my late father,
George Mihm," Mihm said. "He loved old science fiction
movies. As a kid, he would sneak down to the movie theater and sit
through a double feature of the trashy, B-grade science fiction and
Mihm said that his dad "told me all these great stories
about these movies when I was a kid and when I got old enough, he’d
rent them and we’d watch them together, over and over again."
"I just couldn’t get it," Mihm said. "I thought
they were awful."
But after his father passed away in 2000 at age 51 from stomach
cancer, he viewed those same movies a bit differently.
He and Craig had talked for years of making a movie together, and
one day, after watching one of his dad’s favorites, they decided
to pursue their dream and create a film.
And not just any flick.
The duo aspired to make it a tribute to those 1950s vintage
sci-fi blockbusters with their "poorly written dialogue, barely
passable camera work and marginal special effects," he said.
"In honor of my Dad and his love for these movies, ours has
all the rampant sexism and stupidity of the 1950s B horror
movie," Mihm said with a laugh. ‘‘It has been filmed in
black and white and contains every silly cliché featured during the
horror film genre in its heyday."
A prime example, Mihm said, is the movie’s monster, who despite
shuffling along at a shambling pace, always seems to catch people
who are running full speed away from him.
Mihm said the project was "very much a family affair, with
even my mother-in-law and 3-year-old son helping out."
Carol Eade, who has spent the last three decades living in
Mukwonago, said she was tapped by her son-in-law to help with
"We had great fun hunting for clothes in the second-hand
shops that were right for the era," she said, noting that her
shopping list included things like bobby socks, pedal pushers and
Being handy with a needle, too, helped her earn a spot in the
film’s credits for wardrobe.
When asked what she thought of Mukwonago being the location of
the monster movie - which was actually not filmed there - she
"It will put Mukwonago on the map," she said.
Linda McAlpine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org