Beer and B-Grade Horror Flicks

Locally-made horror films show at Mike 'N Molly's
Emily Cotterman

Issue date:
7/20/06 Section: Arts + Entertainment

Unbridled terror! Unquenchable romance! Unbelievable science! The unstoppable power of the rock and roll!" describes Christopher Mihm of his film The Monster of Phantom Lake. Mihm's film, along with five other horror flicks, are to be featured at Mike 'N Molly's in downtown Champaign next week.

The beer garden's movie week begins on July 23 with The Monster of Phantom Lake and University of Illinois vs. A Mummy at 9:30 p.m. These two will be shown again on the July 26. The Adventures of the Screaming Ape parts one and two will be shown on the 30, along with Werewolf Cemetery, which is a serial. The three directors of these films are very enthused about the upcoming pseudo-festival.

The screening of these movies at Mike 'N Molly's not only has entertainment value, but can bring important exposure as well.

Chris Lukeman, director of University of Illinois vs. A Mummy explains, "I'm just trying to get this sucker seen as much as possible and showing it downtown is a nice way to open up the flick to a broader audience than current students on campus." The film already premiered on campus in April after two years of production.

Mihm, director and writer of The Monster of Phantom Lake, hopes that the audience gets "a deeper appreciation for independent film and the magic of classic, black and white movies."

However, Mihm doesn't just enjoy the horror genre, although that's what his film and the festival is all about.

"I am not interested in horror specifically," he admits, "I am simply a fan of atomic age 1950s/1960s era B-grade 'drive-in' cinema. The fact that most of those films happen to be horror or sci-fi is just a nice little plus."

There is an atmosphere of fun surrounding the film festival events, along with some personal mocking.

Lukeman states that "Even if you've never set foot on the University of Illinois, the humor is still great and the casual experience Mike 'N Molly's provides with their outdoor beer garden is a great fit for the B-horror shock of watching dozens of students fighting a 75-year-old mummy from Ann Arbor."

Jason Butler, co-writer and co-director of The Adventures of the Screaming Ape and Werewolf Cemetery understands the fun in horror films, and gave a glimpse of what the audience will do during the evening.

"Everyone knows the tropes, it's a good time predicting which character's going to die next, and thus it's easy to parody," Butler says. He explains he has a respect for horror films due to its long tradition in cinema,

"[The genre] has had its ups and downs but some of the best and most subversive movies in the last 100 years were horror flicks, more often than not low-budget horror flicks."

For Butler, making the film is sometimes more enjoyable than the finished product.

"My co-director Mark Peaslee and I have more than a passing interest in special effects and a sometimes obsessive 'how did they do that?' attitude. So it's fun for us to figure out, say, how to tear someone's head off - liquid latex - or how to show a hand bursting out of a grave - bury an actor. It's a lot of work but very rewarding; hopefully the audience enjoys seeing it on screen, but if not, I had fun anyway," explains Butler.

Mike 'N Molly's itself is much appreciated by the directors. The bar usually features live music or DJs and always has good alcohol, something that is encouraged by Butler. He hopes the audience gets "the urge to drink a lot of beer and tip their bartender. Also have a bunch of laughs, perhaps spilling their beer in the process so they can buy more."

Mihm echoes this sentiment, exclaiming, "The Monster of Phantom Lake - the unspeakable horror that menaced the fate of the human race! That, and good beer."

Mike 'N Molly's is located at 105 N. Market Street in Champaign. For more information, please call 217-355-1236. Movies will be featured on July 23, 26 and 30.