The Late Night Double Feature (2014)
A double bill of 1950s-style B-movie shorts from writer/director Christopher R. Mihm, the king of "new old, good bad" movies! In "X: The Fiend from Beyond Space", on a decades-long mission to Alpha Centauri, the crew of the spaceship Endeavor are awakened from LD-sleep to find themselves in orbit around a rogue planet. Finding nothing but a seemingly dead alien on the planet's surface, the Captain decides to bring it aboard for further study. But, the crew quickly realize the creature is not dead... and it's very hungry.
In "The Wall People", following the death of his wife, scientist Barney Collins finds solace in his new role as a single dad to his only son. However, when the boy disappears from his bed under mysterious circumstances, Barney loses his grip on reality and becomes a shut in. Eight years later, he resurfaces with a wild theory: his son has been taken by an otherworldly entity that steals sleeping children through inter-dimensional portals in their bedroom walls!
REVIEW: The Late Night Double Feature is the 9th movie in the ever-growing filmography of Christopher R. Mihm's micro-budget films done in black and white and as a loving and beautiful fun-filled throwback to the classic 1950s Drive-In B-Movies of yesteryear (Or 9th and 10th if you count the two Shorts as two separate movies). All of the films made by Mihm and his crew, films such as:
The Monster of Phantom Lake
It Came From Another World!
Cave Women on Mars
Terror From Beneath The Earth
Destination: Outer Space
Attack of the Moon Zombies
House of Ghosts
The Giant Spider
all take place in the same shared movie universe, but are also mostly stand-alone from one another other than recurring side characters and the occasional brief throwback to a previous movie here and there, so it's not important to watch them in order, however I find you get far more out of them if you do, not to mention you can see Mihm himself improve his movie-making skills as you go along watching each movie.
The Late Night Double Feature is, instead of one full-length movie like the rest of his projects, made up of two short 40-ish minute films, complete with an Intermission sandwiched in the middle of them. I loved that ideas as, technically, it allowed us Mihmiverse fans to get two new Christopher R. Mihm movies in 2014 as opposed to the usual one! However, I really liked both of these stories so I would have actually been perfectly fine with each of these getting their own separate full-length release as well, especially The Wall People, which turned out to be one of my all-time top favorite Mihmiverse stories, and it creeped me out in ways that a Mihm film hasn't outside of House of Ghosts. But I'll get there. First I'll review the first of the mini-movies in this set, X: The Fiend From Beyond Space, then after that will be my review of The Wall People.
As you can probably guess, X: The Fiend From Beyond Space is a heavy homage to classic sci-fi horror flicks like Alien and it's predecessor, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, with an itty bitty bit of John Carptener's The Thing thrown in for good measure - all films that are pretty much included in my personal Top Classic Sci-Fi/Horror list so it goes without saying that I would love this entry. What really made me enjoy it even more though was having one of my favorite Mihmiverse actors, Daniel Sjerven, pop in to reprise my favorite character from Attack of the Moon Zombies, now promoted from cargo pilot to ship captain. Any time that actor appears in one of these movies I automatically like it even more as he's always a joy to watch on screen, especially as his Ace Frehley character, my personal favorite character that he portrays, and he is just as funny here as he was in Attack of the Moon Zombies.
Unfortunately, a lot of the other acting wasn't up to par with his, and was actually not up to par with most other recent Mihm movies. In addition, the final scene of this entry, where the survivors sit around a table drinking and toasting their fallen comrades, was pretty unneeded and was a bit tedious to sit through as a final scene. It went on way too long, really had nothing to do with anything, and mostly just consisted of overly-long toasting and shouting out 'more booze!' every few seconds. I kept expecting some kind of twist to happen, like the alien wasn't really dead and had instead taken on one of their forms and had evolved to better mimic human behavior, as I figured the only way this ending scene would be lasting this long was if it was leading up to a twist such as that, but alas it never happened. Personally, I thought the movie should have instead ended when it zoomed in on the dead alien's body several minutes before, and then this entry would have been a much tighter and solid entry.
If X: The Fiend From Beyond Space was it's own separate full-length entry I would probably give it a 7/10, however...
The Wall People, as stated above, is without a doubt, one of the best stories yet in the Mihmiverse and is totally unlike anything Christopher R. Mihm has made thus far. It picks up several years after a child goes missing from his room, and his grieving scientist father, played brilliantly by Douglas Sidney, reprising his character from Attack of the Moon Zombies, thinks he finally figured out what happened - An all-powerful inter-dimensional being residing on Pluto opened some form of portal and kidnapped his son. Now, with the help of two fellow scientists - Mike Cook as Dr. Edwards and James Norgard as Dr. Gabriel (making this entry specifically a fun Attack of the Moon Zombies prequel reunion), he must find a way to open his own portal, make contact with these other-dimensional beings, and get his son back.
This entry in the Mihmiverse is so mentally disorienting, mind-screwy, and downright genuinely creepy, that any fan of sci-fi horror should instantly love it. It's also filled with all sorts of twists and on more than one occasion you're left feeling as if what's happening is really real or just in the main character's head...until of course other stuff starts happening and other characters start witnessing it all too.
It's so mind-screwy and genuinely creepy, and it's one of those entries that I actually want to say as little as possible on it because the more blind you go in, the more fun you'll have, not knowing what to expect next. I will say though that this entry really gave me strong H. P. Lovecraft vibes, and fans of his works, especially those who love movies like The Beyond, are sure to find enjoyment with this one. I have no qualms in saying that while I was watching this entry I had to pause it because I was hearing a strange creepy noise in my apartment that I knew didn't belong there and had to go investigate - Never did figure out what caused it, but seeing as what this entry was about, I will not rule out inter dimensional Lovecraftian beings.
Of course I can't finish this portion of the review without mentioning the AMAZING stop motion monster effects for The Wall People, making these the most ambitious effects in a Mihm movie to date, and it very much paid off. Every time one of these putty-made beasties was onscreen I had to just pause for a minute and marvel at them. Christopher R. Mihm and his crew have certainly come a LONG way since the days of Monster of Phantom Lake when it comes to the effects work for the monsters.
This whole package was a great fun addition to the Mihmiverse. Sure, it still has the annoying faded edges that started with The Giant Spider that I dislike, however it didn't bother me nearly as much this go-around. I think partially because these two entries are much darker movies so it wasn't as noticeable, mixed with the fact that I might just be getting used to it by now.
I find the more horror-themed entries in this series are usually my favorites, so it's no wonder that The Late Night Double Feature ranks up there for me, probably second only to House of Ghosts. While X: The Fiend From Beyond Space I felt has a few issues, and I feel it could have been made much better with only a few small tweaks, I did still really enjoy it overall, and The Wall people is pretty much perfect in every way possible. This is a 2-for-1 movie package that fans of the Mihmiverse will not want to miss out on. I only regret that I slacked and took three years to finally watch it.
As with all movies in the Mihmiverse, this self-produced DVD is surprisingly stacked right up with tons of excellent bonus content, though perhaps a slight less amount that usual. There's the always-hilarious Blooper Reel, a trailer for the movie in addition to trailers for some previous movies in the Mihmiverse, a Photo Gallery of tons of Behind-the-Scenes photos that shows just how much hard work goes into these low budget movies, an introduction to the film by a new Horror Host, Dr. Bob Tesla, and the usual informative full length Audio Commentaries, one by just Christopher R. Mihm by himself and a second one where he's joined by many members of the Cast and Crew. I know some previous entries have the occasional Behind the Scenes video and I would have loved one for this movie on the designing and creation of the claymation stop motion monsters of The Wall People, but alas, I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Seeing as how most of the advertising for these movies come from simple word of mouth from the fans, if you do check his stuff out and enjoy it please help get the word out there on these movies and hopefully we can snag in a few other fans that may not even realize these exist. You can order these on DVD (and even BluRay for some of them!) over at his official site which is filled with all sorts of other goodies as well (including a monthly newsletter in addition to two separate very laid back, yet fun and informative, podcasts).