"Attack of the Moon Zombies" (2011)
By Duane L. Martin
"Attack of the Moon Zombies" is the latest retro style sci-fi b-movie from the mind and talents of writer / director Christopher R. Mihm. This time around, we're on the Jackson Lunar Base, and after a mysterious plant is found on the moon's surface and taken inside the base, the sudden lack of exposure to cosmic rays causes it to come out of hibernation, at which point it sprays their newest crew member in the face with a cloud of spores. He drops like a dead deer and later, as his body is being examined, it comes back to life as a moon zombie and sprays a cloud of spores in the face of the doctor who's examining him, turning her into one as well. What's a moon zombie? Basically, once infected, they come back to life as a plant person that's able to produce the same cloud of spores as the original plant, and their main goal seems to be to turn the humans. There's no brain eating or anything, they just want to change everyone into what they've become. Will any of the crew escape? Will they be able to stop the zombie horde? You'll have to watch to find out!
Like all of Christopher Mihm's films, this one was filled with lots of familiar faces (from his previous films), great costumes, nice effects and some nifty keen b-movie style monsters. The settings were a bit spartan in this one however, but then again, you wouldn't really expect a moon base to look like a disco or an art gallery, would you? He's typically made his films to look like they were shot on the kind of budgets that Ed Wood used to work with, and once again, the look is effective and totally suits the film.
Speaking of the look of the film, One of the things that really impressed me was the opening scene, where a rocket is flying through space and then lands inside the moon base's docking bay. The look of the scene had a real 50's b-movie look and feel to it and there was even a nice distance shot of the rocket once it had landed, showing the crew exiting it and walking across a platform to enter into the base. It's these little touches that add to the overall look and feel of these films, and getting something so cool looking right off the bat lets you know right away that you're in for some fun.
On the way in, and once we enter the base especially, we get to really experience Captain Herman Frehley (Daniel Sjerven), the rocket jockey who brought them to the base. Now Daniel Sjerven has been in some of Christopher Mihm's other films, but in the past he's typically played the likeable hero. In this one, he gets to play a semi-alcoholic douche nozzle with all the manners of a goat...and you could see that he really enjoyed playing the part, which made it even funnier.
Shannon McDonough plays Dr. Hackett, a botanist and the potential fiance to Dr. Collins (Douglas Sidney). I say potential, because every time he tries to ask her to marry him, someone interrupts them. It becomes a running thing in the film, even to the point where you start to wonder if something's going to happen to prevent it all together. Shannon's character comes off as the type of girl who'd be getting coffee for everyone and fixing dinner rather than a serious scientist. You saw this type of character in a lot of the sci-fi films of the era. Women "scientists" thrown into a group of men on a space ship, only to be mostly relegated to being the love interest for the leader of the mission, getting into trouble, fixing the meals and getting the coffee. Dr. Collins was more of a serious character who genuinely tried to save as many people as possible while holding off the moon zombies. So basically, he was the hero of the film, and a bit more of a serious character. Sid Korpi plays Administrator Ripley. She runs the moon base, and is the only one in the film that actually goes down with a little bit of a fight. She played her role in a more serious manner. Like, she might get you coffee if you asked her for it and she was in the mood, but generally you'd get it yourself. Basically, she was competent and friendly, but there was no question at all that she was the leader. Michael Cook played Dr. Vincent Edwards. He had been like a father to Dr. Hackett for years, and now he was about to retire, which is incredibly upsetting to Dr. Hackett. Unfortunately he picked a really lousy time to do it. If he'd have done it a week earlier, he could have avoided this whole mess.
The acting in this film is similar in many ways to the previous films, but notably absent is the halting manner of speech that, while amusing at first, became far less so as it kept cropping up in subsequent films. I had dinged some of the previous films for this in past reviews, and I'm glad to see that manner of speaking wasn't present at all in this one. However, this film did have one problem, not so much related to the acting, but relating to the way the script was written. The dialogue was really thick, meaning, there was a lot of it. So much in fact, that it really affected the pacing of the film. There were scenes where they talked and talked, but what was going on didn't really add much to the story. I would have preferred to see the amount of dialog reduced, while increasing the number of action scenes with the zombies. The monsters, after all, are why we love these films. The only other small complaint I have is that in the scene where Administrator Ripley is cornered by the zombies, I would have liked to have seen more of a fight. She was the only one who actually tried to fight them off. Mostly people just ran from them...if they could.
The reason I've always enjoyed Christopher Mihm's films, is because I myself am a huge fan of classic b-movies, and it's always been awesome for me to know that there's someone out there who's trying to keep that spirit alive. While there's a lot of tongue in cheek that goes on in his films, you can always feel a sense of respect as well for the classics that have given generations of movie lovers so much enjoyment. These films are always fun to watch, and this one is no exception. I'm very happy to say that he and his cast and crew have done a great job with this one.
The DVD has a lot of great special features on it as well, including a blooper reel, the trailer for the film, a Mihmverse Featurette, a photo gallery, an introduction by horror host, Dr. Ivan Cryptosis, Technical Commentary with Christopher R. Mihm, Mitch Gonzales, Mark Haider, Cherie "Rhuby" Gallanati, Rylan Bachman, Sid Korpi and Anthony Kaczor, and a separate director's commentary with Christopher R. Mihm. It also has English subtitles and an alternate Esperanto language track.
If you love classic sci-fi, I think you'll really enjoy Christopher's films. They a lot of fun, and a great homage to the genre. You can find out more about this, and Christopher's other films by visiting the Saint Euphoria website, or you can go straight to the "Attack of the Moon Zombies" page on the site by clicking here.