The Late Night Double Feature by Ambush Bug
Originally posted at Ain't It Cool News
Christopher Mihm has been making his name by making original films that feel like they were made in a simpler time when monster movies were light and fluffy and downright sweet. I often talk about those days when I used to watch old monster movies laying on my belly on the carpet in front of the television as a kid immersing myself in the black and white worlds with men wearing big monster suits terrorizing cardboard sets and actors who were less than thespians. Mihm seems to be born of that era as he mimics those old films with a master's hand. His latest film is a double feature set up as if it were playing at a drive-in with all sorts of banner ads and directions that we all know and love from those shows. The films themselves are short 40 minute vignettes, but there's a lot to be had with both of them despite their truncated length.
The first film is "X: The Fiend from Beyond Space," a somewhat classic tale of a monster amok in a spaceshipan "Alien"-esque tale as if realized through an antiquated lens with sets made from cardboard and acting not too much more emotive, but done so in a fun manner where the actors know they are over emoting and mocking it up for the camera.
The effects are actually pretty great with a brain sucking alien that possesses people and while the monster is basically a man in a mask, the mask itself looks great as does the brain sucking effect.
"The Wall People" is the best of the two, a somewhat surreal and existential piece which feels a bit more sophisticated than the usual Mihm fare. The story follows a man who is investigating the disappearance of his son and wife. Enlisting the aid of two elder brainy types, the man finds out that reality isn't what it seems to be and things get really weird after that.
The highlight of this one is definitely the stop motion monster scene as the man battles creatures from his child's mind. The large skeletal beast is definitely impressive in a Harryhausen sort of way. And the scenes leading up to the abduction of the child and his wife are filled with tension of the real kind rather than the mock tension you usually get in Mihm's films.
Both of these shorts, especially "The Wall People" show a slight shift at more of a serious tone for writer/director Christopher Mihm. I liked both of these films for different reasons; the first, for its old school cool that has become Mihm's trademark and the second, for the subtle shift to more serious subject matter. While a lot of the trademark hokiness occurs in that segment, there are more sophisticated themes at play. If anything, this "Late Night Double Feature" showcases the varied talents of Mihm, a filmmaker who feels as if he has dropped out of the past and is starting to put more modern themes in his throwback films.