This is by far the best film Christopher R. Mihm has ever made.
I’d half expected it to be a cross between The Fly and the old Republic serial, Spy Smasher, but instead we get something quite different from that – and quite different from the ten other Mihm films that preceded it. Yes, it is in black and white, and yes, it echoes the science fiction and horror films of the Fifties, but it is a far darker film and one which seems quite distant from the gentle parody and lighthearted approach of his earlier films. Nor does it seem to have many references to the shared universe of his films, the Mihmiverse – not even to Phantom Lake! – although many of his familiar cast members do make appearances, albeit in quite different roles.
Instead, this one seems to be channeling some noir-ish, post WWII revenge thriller, mixed in with the darker, Sci Fi horror of the late Fifties, like The Fly.
In fact, it isn’t that hard to picture Van Johnson or Edmond O’Brien in the lead, as a desperate ex-soldier on the track of the Nazi scientist who experimented on him during the War.
Okay, this is a Christopher R. Mihm film, so we know the monster makeup will be…primitive. Enthusiastic, yes, but still primitive. The Weresquito mask itself has an interesting design, even if it doesn’t do much. And the other were-creatures that show up late in the film?…well, let’s just say that the Werequito mask has an interesting design. The were-spider is particularly so-so.
But this is a Christopher R. Mihm film. We knew that. And we knew there would be plenty of silly moments, both deliberate and otherwise. We know we’re supposed to look the other way when our evil genius Nazi scientist has a heavy Minnesota accent (but then we all know that Russian Submarine commanders have heavy Scots accents). We know that it is no accident that the soldier who rescues our hero from the Nazis is named Michael Kaiser (after the guy in the monster suit in so many of Christopher’s films). And we know that we’re not supposed to notice that all those bodies drained of blood by the Weresquito look remarkably healthy.
But this one stands out for its serious tone and themes, for its creative use of its black and white cinematography, and for its leaner, meaner editing. Unlike many of the Mihmiverse films, it doesn’t slow down after the opening and get talky.
It’s impressive. It’s fun. It’s more than a little corny. But, at the same time, it manages to stay serious throughout.
Excellent job, Chris. I just hope that your upcoming film, Demon with the Atomic Brain will be as good.
Certainly the teaser trailer promises that it will.
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