We have seen the future and it is made of cardboard.
It seems almost impossible to explain the films of Christopher R. Mihm. Starting with The Monster of Phantom Lake back in 2006, he’s made a series of zero-budgeted black-and-white mock Fifties horror and SF films that deliberately try to recreate the look and feel of the movies of that age – although even Teenagers From Outer Space never looked quite so cheap as his efforts!
Although they stand alone, all of his movies are loosely tied in together, with characters, places and storylines connecting them in what he terms the “Mihmiverse.” You might call them “camp,” although I’m not sure the word really fits, as Mihm works more from his love of these old films than from a desire to mock them for being so bad.
Destination: Outer Space is somewhat unusual in his oeuvre as it is more SF and less of a Creature feature – although he does manage to offer several rather cool creatures for his fans – mostly, yes, made out of cardboard.
One is aware that his spaceships, interiors and props are deliberately designed to be cheap, with much it made of recognizable bits and pieces. But he brings a lot of charm to it all, particularly in some of his more interesting designs – such as the blocky cardboard head of the robot, A.D.A.M. or the goofy alien Oculons, whose heads are one giant eyeball (very, very cool – and a little stupid at the same time).
The first twenty minutes are a bit slow (although the opening scene with the bottle opener is a nicely staged bit of comedy) with his hero spending most of them sitting in a spaceship talking to himself – or to Mission Control (which is technically the same thing as Josh Craig plays the voice of his character’s father here, repeating a part he’d played in Mihm’s first three films), but the finale, with Josh’s Captain Mike Jackson battling assorted aliens to infiltrate the Ominai homeworld keeps things moving at a nice pace and even gives us the spear-in-the-giant-eye moment we were all waiting for from the moment we first saw the Oculons.
This is not a movie for the average viewer. Instead, it is for those of us who love classic Fifties SF, with all its flaws and failings – and all its sense of wonder. I am left with a desire to watch more of Christopher Mihm’s Mihmiverse films – even though I am still aware that this one moved a bit slowly, and could have stood a little more variation in its sound levels.
Somehow these seem like minor flaws in a film that’s willing to exist in its own strange little reality.