Guns of the Apocalypse (2018)

I’ll admit it, I feel a bit guilty.

I’ve had another screener sitting in my inbox for some time now, but as soon as I got the envelope in the mail with my copy of Christopher R. Mihm‘s latest film, I forgot all about watching that one and warmed up my DVD player.

After all, we are talking about the latest addition to the Mihmiverse here, the latest in Chris’ series of “New Old, Good Bad” movies.  It isn’t like you can ignore Guns of the Apocalypse for very long, not with that front cover with the faux-Sixties Spaghetti Western movie poster design, complete with a mushroom cloud coming out of the barrel of a Six-Shooter!

Now for those of you who came in late, Christopher Mihm is a truly unique filmmaker, who has made a remarkable number of these ultra-low budget science fiction films that lovingly try to recreate the sort of science fiction movies that were made back in the Fifties.  They’re the sort of films that are made of cardboard, duct tape, kickstarter campaigns and lots and lots of ingenuity.

Lately, Chris has been branching out from his more familiar territory, and has made a number of highly unusual films, like a Fifities-style children’s movie with puppets, a drive in style “Double Feature” and a gritty Post War thriller (with monsters).  Guns of the Apocalypse  marks a bold exploration of movies past that takes him even further from his familiar stamping grounds.  This is Chris’ take on the Spaghetti Western.  And on the Post-Apocalyptic film.  With, naturally, hints of  Spaghetti Sci Fi.  Instead of the Fifties, we’ve moved into the Sixties and Seventies.

But, after an all too brief moment of color, the end of the world comes and the rest of the film is in glorious Black and White.

The plot is simple and classic:  a man with no name reluctantly comes to the aid of a woman and a child.  The mysterious black-clad Death Dealers are after them, and he has to help them reach the one place they can be safe.

Now one might argue that Chris’ former space pilot hero — who for all his talk about survival is still at heart a decent man — is quite different from the very amoral (or, at least, debatably moral) characters Clint Eastwood played in those old Italian epics.  In fact, the film reminds me a little more of some of the American adult Westerns that imitated those classic Sergio Leone originals.

But that’s a quibble, as the film in many respects still feels like it came from the Fifites.  It definitely has that more deliberate Fifties-style pacing — and the relative simplicity of plot so many of the Fifties films had.  Which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Chris’ films.

As this is a Mihmiverse film, we get some enthusiastic makeup effects for the mutants — and for the Death Dealers when we see them unmasked.  I’ll have to admit that I miss some of the more outrageous creatures Chris put in his best films, but the black clad Death Dealers are among his most striking creations.

While Michael G. Kaiser, who is the unseen face of most of Chris’ monster creations (and  always seems a little embarrassed in those rare films where you can actually see his face!), doesn’t get a big monster to play, he did at least get to hide most of his face as both a mutant and a Death Dealer.

As we expect from one of Chris’ films, we get to see a lot of familiar faces — in fact, the credits give us almost a who’s who of the regular players in the Mihm stock company.  The curious thing is that quite a few of those players don’t seem to have ended up onscreen.  While a few of them are hiding behind mutant makeup or the Death Dealer’s black masks, Chris has another surprise up his sleeve for those who stick around for the credits — something I’ll admit I missed completely!

I’ll admit I love it when someone plays this sort of cinematic game (and a very appropriate one!) on me and gets away with it! Well done Chris!

And I have to yell “well done Chris” not just for that one trick, but for making another solid entry into his quirky universe of films.  Okay, I’ll admit, I still think Weresquito, Nazi Hunter is his best ever film, and this one isn’t good enough to knock it off its pedestal.  But it is still a wild ride, and another testament to the fact that you don’t need a hundred million to make a great film.

Although I’ll admit it would be interesting to see what Chris would do with a hundred million

And, if nothing else, this one should hold us until his next one comes out.

Maybe.

If he hurries.

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