"The Monster of Phantom Lake" — never far from the Mihmiverse!
By Darrell Moen

Greetings! Local film buffs have no doubt deduced that the Mihmiverse is the place to be as far as this page is concerned. [Writer/director Christopher R. Mihm] makes cool films with local actors and films them locally. It's a personal quest to make sure that no one forgets that. This will be the first of four reminders of how cool the Cities are with these films available. It's a chance to harken back to the days of yesteryear and take shots at the Hollyweird schlock being foisted upon us. An example? "Titanic" is being released next April in 3D. Do you really want to spend ten bucks a ticket to watch that again? Come on. The ship still sinks and all those people still drown. Seeing it coming at you is just proof positive how gimmicky this has become. Please subscribe to these pages. It's free to have it be part of your life. Thank you!

Christopher R. Mihm is departing (briefly) from his '50's monster films to do "House of Ghosts" for his 7th film. This is a tribute to the works of William Castle. Those familiar with the genre will know that Castle had his own very distinctive style. Those familiar with Mihm's work know that tribute and duplicate are two very different things. Mihm's films are his own in the style of a certain genre and/or director. Definitely not intended to be duplicates or copies if you prefer. He calls his world the 'Mihmiverse' for that reason. Castle's work cannot—should not—be duplicated. Nor should it be forgotten. "House of Ghosts" will seem like several films you've seen but it'll be Mihm's own and he intends to have it ready by spring 2012 to keep the tradition of a new film every year alive.

In that vein, "Attack of the Moon Zombies", his latest film, will be screened at 7 p.m., July 14, at the New Hope Cinema Grill, $15 (including a kid-friendly buffet). Check www.SaintEuphoria.com for tix and directions. 400 seats at the Heights sold out very quickly back in May and the New Hope seats 150. Do the math quickly and don't pass up the chance to see this on the big screen. Find out what it's like to break new ground away from the Hollyweird hype. It's fun!

"THE MONSTER OF PHANTOM LAKE" (2006)

Filmed in MN and Wisconsin, this is a romantic-comedic-tragedy centering around a professor (Josh Craig) and his buxom pretty grad student/assistant Stephanie (Leigha Horton). They are in the woods doing some field work and trying hard not to reveal how hot they are for each other. Woven into this tale is the tragic figure of Mike "Lobo" Mason (Michael Kaiser) who unwittingly is mutated into a monster. This is the result of illegally dumped Atomic Waste!

His prey become the five high school grads on a camping trip to celebrate their freedom from school. Penny (Lindsey Holmes) is insanely cute and out there with George (Brad Tracy). Amy (Rachel Grubb) is the sexy one who's into Jonathan (Justen Overlander). Elizabeth (Deanne McDonald) is the nerdy one, there alone as in her school days. As events unfold, their paths cross that of the Professor and Stephanie and all heck breaks loose. These characters are supported by several smaller roles, one of whom is the sheriff played by Mike Cook, a recurring figure in Mihm's films. These core players play their roles to the hilt without going over the top, especially Holmes and Overlander. Holmes is the epitome of the cutie no one wants to see come to harm. Overlander is just plain brilliant in this and anything he does.

Mihm lets his characters tell the story instead of weighing it down with superfluous backstory and needless detail. It flows much more smoothly this way, allowing the viewer to focus on the events and the mannerisms of the actors. Each actor is given specific details to convey and there is obvious chemistry among them as they do so. However intentional (or unintentional), the lasting mood of this film is the undertone of "Friday the 13th." No, that's not a '50's film but, like that film, "Phantom Lake" is set in the woods, the trees and underbrush are vital to the story and there's an ominous feel to the urban legend approach to the storyline. It just feels like a campfire tale come to life. You can almost taste the s'mores.

This was Mihm's first film and is definitely the one with which to start your collection, providing you haven't already. It is available at www.SaintEuphoria.com for $10. Rik at Mr. Zero's also carries it. Mr. Zero's is a block and a half north of Larpenteur on the east side of Lexington (just past the Dairy Queen). He also sells them for $10. This disc includes a deleted scene, a hilarious blooper reel and previews.

As always, seeya at the movies...