"It Came From Another World!"
By Darrell Moen
Greetings! This is another look into the Mihmiverse, the world of local director Christopher R. Mihm. There was a noticable delay between reviews due to unforseen technical difficulties with the disc. With that cleared up and the time used to view the film a couple times, our series can continue. Please subscribe to these pages to have this info emailed directly into your life. Thank you!
It's already been established that local director Christopher Mihm enjoyed watching the cheesy monster flicks of the '50's with his father. He started making similar films as a tribute to that part of his past and a tribute to his father. "The Monster of Phantom Lake" was his first effort. "It Came From Another World!" is the second adventure of the affable Professor Jackson (Josh Craig). It's also the return of the Canoe Cops (Mike Cook; M. Scott Taulman). SPECIAL NOTE INSERT: A discussion of what's unique about the Canoe Cops will not happen as it is a spoiler of the ending of "The Monster of Phantom Lake." Das ist verbotten, yah! Visit www.sainteuphoria.com, order "Phantom Lake", watch it and you will understand. It is also the first appearance of the lovely and talented Shannon McDonough as the lovely and talented Julie Ann Saint Marie.
What can be discussed is the attention to detail established by director Mihm. In "Phantom Lake", Craig (who has also played his own father) had a great deal of dialogueall of which was punctuated with poignant pauses to emphasize key words. That character trait was consistent throughout and is again in this film. Craig was able to deliver it in a manner that seemed (frighteningly) natural. It's just one example of Mihm's ability to elicit authentic performances from his actors. It's also a testament to the actors that they can maintain that motivation from one film to another. It's that offbeat humor that's more endearing than funny, yet it makes one laugh.
At the beginning of "It Came From Another World!," Jackson's cohort, Dr. Frasier (Mike Mason) witnesses the crash of a "rock from outer space." When he fails to return on time, Jackson goes looking for him with the somewhat-less-than-helpful canoe cops. Taulman's character is more interested in offering his theories about unrelated subjects than the search. It turns out that Frasier 'lost track of time,' which is what leads Jackson to the destiny of having to save the planet. It also complicates his plans to wed Ms. Saint Marie, who turns out to be very understanding. Jackson must fend off a curious foegiant eyeballs with human bodies. They are not gifted foes but there are a lot of them.
This film marks a significant advancement in several areas of filmmakingmusic, editing, special fx, lighting and complexity of storyline. Jackson again sings an original song ("Paddlin' Along"), this time in semi-doowop style with Mason, Cook and Taulman. It's a throwback to the song Jackson sang in "Phantom Lake" ('A Rockin', A Rollin', All the Way A Ramblin' '). That tune was reminiscent of the old Ricky Nelson ballads from "Ozzie and Harriet." The rest of the incidental music was all very old-time sci-fi-movie music, all expertly blended to enhance the story.
The story-line had several levels which also included references to the first film. That's why watching these in order of release is so crucial. The editing and lighting were more carefully crafted this time. They had to be to simulate space travel but Mihm uses it more emphatically to enhance this production. The editing was more crisp, also vital to this sort of presentation. These things plus the costumes of Carol Eade and Ms. McDonough all add up to even more funwhich is the most valuable part of this film experience.
Again, it behooves one to revel in the fact that these films are locally made by local actors who are determined to keep working and show improvement with each gig. These films are a refreshing departure from the Hollywood schlock that everyone's seen too many times. It's easy to become jaded and sarcastic, but these films make it equally easy to recall that some films are for one thing and one thing onlyentertainment. Stay tuned for our next look into the Mihmiverse!
As always, seeya at the movies...