Countdown to Halloween Day 12: Danny Johnson Saves the World (2015)

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Countdown to Halloween – Day 12: Danny Johnson Saves the World (2015)
Cast:      Elliot Mihm as Danny Johnson
Gabrielle Bilotta as Cassie Eliot
R.J. Lundgren as Red
Alice Mihm as Evelyn
James Norgard as Grandpa

Written & Directed by Christopher R. Mihm

Plot: It’s Christmas time and Grandpa has been coerced into telling his grandchildren a story. So, he naturally goes back to the time that he aka Danny Johnson saved the world from an alien invasion. There’s an evil king and queen, killer robots and Steve added in for the fun-filled adventure!

Personal Thoughts: Danny Johnson Saves the World is Christopher R. Mihm’s homage to the classic family films from the 50s and 60s. This one is a much lighthearted effort and I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun this one was. Eliott Mihm was very good in the lead role, as was all of the young and non-professional cast. Mitch Gonzales has created an amazing killer robot while Norman Yeend’s stop-motion dinosaur was a fun addition. While I found the frequent sequences with Grandpa a little tedious at times, James Norgard is always so entertaining to watch. I also greatly enjoyed the opening color Canoe Cops cartoon. A very fun and entertaining entry in the Mihmiverse.

Trivia:

  • Elliot Mihm appears as Danny Johnson, marking his third time (Terror from Beneath the Earth and The Giant Spider) playing the young character and first time in a lead role.
  • Alice Mihm also appeared as young Alice in The Giant Spider (2013).
  • James Norgard’s classic “Dear God No” line is heard not once but twice, so make sure you watch until the very end of the credits.
  • Released in Esperanto, as most other Mihmiverse films. Esperanto was created by Dr. Ludwig L. Zamenhof as an attempt at a universally spoken language.
  • Steve is available in four different puppet versions from the Mihmiverse site.

Availability: Available on DVD through the Saint Euphoria website, the online home of the films of Christopher R. Mihm.

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Countdown to Halloween Day 11: Classic Horrors Club Podcast

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On this month’s episode 11 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff and I enter the Mihmiverse! We take a look at Attack of the Moon Zombies (2011)and House of Ghosts (2012), and we report on the world premiere of Demon with the Atomic Brain (2017)! Special thanks to Chris Franklin and Steve Sullivan for calling in with feedback.

You can listen to the podcast at the link above or through iTunes. We’re a proud member of the Phantom Podcast Network!

Countdown to Halloween Day 10: The Giant Spider (2013)

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Countdown to Halloween – Day 10: The Giant Spider (2013)
Cast:      Shannon McDonough as Zita Marczak
Daniel R. Sjerven as Howard Johnson
Billie Jo Konze as Dr. Hackett
Mike Cook as Dr. Edwards
James Norgard as Dr. Gabriel
Mark Haider as General Castle

Written & Directed by Christopher R. Mihm

Plot: Radiation from atomic weapons testing has mutated a spider into a gigantic monster and threatens to terrorize the people of Phantom Lake. With the military virtually helpless, it’s up to a group of scientists and a local reporter to save the day.

Personal Thoughts: When people talk about the films of the Mihmiverse, The Giant Spider is often referred to as the best starting off point and I tend to agree. This remains my favorite in the catalog that now includes a total of 12 films and one musical. This is an amazing homage to the giant bug flicks of the 50s and the special effects are superior to the original era without losing the feel of a forgotten film from the past. As with all Mihmiverse films, there are familiar faces with the returning General Castle and Dr. Edwards, references to past films and inside nods as well (I’m talking about you Monster of Phantom Lake). A highly recommended film for anyone entering the Mihmiverse or just in the mood for a giant bug film in the tradition of Them! or Tarantula.

Trivia:

  • The movie makes direct references to the caves and bat creature from Terror from Beneath the Earth and the nearby lake from the first Mihmiverse film, The Monster of Phantom Lake.
  • Mike Cook makes his third appearance as Dr. Vincent Edwards here, fitting in between Terror from Beneath the Earth and Attack of the Moon Zombies.
  • James Norgard makes his second of an eventual four appearances to date as Dr. Gabriel, complete with his now expected phrase, “Dear God no.”
  • This is the largest cast in any Mihmiverse film as quite a few extras appear, especially in the drive-in theater sequence.

Availability: Available on DVD through the Saint Euphoria website, the online home of the films of Christopher R. Mihm.

Countdown to Halloween Day 9: Monthly Mihmiverse Audiocast

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We start off this week’s salute to the Mihmiverse, the films of Christopher R. Mihm, with episode 36 of the Monthly Mihmiverse Audiocast. You’ll get to hear Monster Kid Radio’s Derek M. Koch talk with Chris about his latest film, Demon with the Atomic Brain (2017), and yours truly, the Monster Movie Kid, offers up the latest edition of the Kansas City Crypt

Countdown to Halloween Day 8: The Indestructible Man (1956)

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Countdown to Halloween – Day 8: The Indestructible Man (1956)
Cast:      Lon Chaney Jr. as Charles Benton
Max Showalter as Lt. Dick Chasen
Marian Carr as Eva Martin
Ross Elliott as Paul Lowe

Written by Vy Russell & Sue Dwiggins
Directed by Jack Pollexfen

Plot: Charles Benton has been double crossed on a murder charge and is now headed for the gas chamber. After his body is sold to a scientist for experimentation, he is revived with super strength and impervious to bullets. Benton begins a quest for revenge against those who harmed him, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

Personal Thoughts: It’s hard to believe that Lon Chaney Jr. was only 50 years old at the time this film was made because he looks so much older. Sadly, by this point of his life, alcoholism was ravaging his body and makes it difficult to see these performances. He would live another 17 years and his career would continue to spiral downward with a few bright moments but too far and few between.  Here, the movie plays more like an episode of Dragnet, which I’m sure was not coincidental. Not horrible but such a step down for Lon in just a decades time.

Indestructible-Man-poster

Trivia:

  • After the opening scenes in the prison, Lon Chaney has no lines for the rest of the film.
  • This was originally released on a double bill with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Availability: Even though the film is known to be in the public domain, it was released as part of the now out-of-print Lon Chaney Collection. This print is a little better than most other copies and, while the film isn’t a classic, it is worth tracking down for the other Chaney rarities found on the set.

Countdown to Halloween Day 7: House of the Wolf Man (2009)

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Countdown to Halloween – Day 7: House of the Wolf Man (2009)
Cast:      Dustin Fitzsimmons as Reed Chapel
Jeremie Loncka as Conrad Sullivan
Ron Chaney as Bela Reinhardt
Michael R. Thomas as Count Dracula
Billy Bussey as The Wolf Man
Craig Dabbs as The Monster

Written and directed by Eben Garr

House-Wolf-Man-poster

Plot: Dr. Reinhardt invites five unsuspecting guest to his castle on the promise that one of them will inherit his estate. However, there is terror lurking in every shadow as the mad scientist soon reveals his game that ultimately involves Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster.

Personal Thoughts: What an interesting but uneven homage to the wonderful Universal Horror films. Eben Garr does an amazing job when it comes to lighting and overall atmosphere but could have used some help with the script. It seems to take forever to get to the monsters, which leaves us meandering through a lot of dialogue that is also very uneven. At times, the story is interesting but at others it is slow and repetitious. The cast is actually quite good, despite having a problem delivering the intentionally dated dialogue. Well, most of the cast is good because Ron Chaney does not quite have the acting chops his grandfather and great-grandfather had. He looks the part but it is sometimes painful to watch as he delivers the sinister lines. The make-up effects and music are amazing, enhancing the movie above other low-budget efforts. And the big monster clash between the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster is a fantastic knock-down no holds barred event. And was that a Creature from the Black Lagoon hand next to one of Dr. Praetorious’ creations? Unfortunately, we get Count Dracula squeezed in at the end. Now, Michael R. Thomas definitely looked the part but his arrival made no sense and he has virtually nothing to do, other than play a big part in a less than satisfying finish. I wish someone could have edited the script and given the film a proper ending. That said, it’s a lot of fun if not a little disappointing at the end.

House-Wolf-Man-2

Trivia:

  • Ron Chaney is the grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. and was only 17 when Lon passed away in 1973.
  • The Frankenstein Monster is seen wearing a vest, similar to Son of Frankenstein (1939).

Availability: This film is now out-of-print and will require some Google Fu to track down a copy on eBay or other second-hand sources. Unfortunately, prices are currently around $75 on eBay, so patience is needed to find a much more reasonable price.

Countdown to Halloween Day 6: House of Dracula (1945)

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Countdown to Halloween – Day 6: House of Dracula (1945)
Cast:      Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot
Glenn Strange as The Monster
John Carradine as Count Dracula
Onslow Stevens as Dr. Franz Edlemann
Martha O’Driscoll as Miliza Morelle
Lionel Atwill as Inspector Holtz

Story by George Bricker & Dwight V. Babcock
Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe Jr.
Directed by Erle C. Kenton

Plot: Count Dracula has tracked down Dr. Franz Edlemann in hopes of finding a cure for his vampirism…or has he? It turns out to be an overly elaborate ruse to seek out new victims. Of course, Lawrence Talbot arrives at the same time seeking a cure for his lycanthropy. And of course, there just happens to be Frankenstein’s monster lurking in the catacombs.

Personal Thoughts: Another monster mash-up that is missing the Karloff factor from the previous House of Frankenstein. John Carradine returns as Count Dracula, as effective as he was the year before. There’s a pretty big leap that the Monster would somehow wash away from a nearby quicksand pond to an underground cavern but you just have to go with it. And the poor Monster has even less to do here, which thankfully changes with his next go around in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Chaney is a little less jovial here but does get his happy ending…only to have it forgotten some three years later. Not bad but less enjoyable than House of Frankenstein.

House-Dracula-poster

Trivia:

  • Lionel Atwill was terminally ill with cancer during the making of the film, dying only six months after completing his work.
  • There are technically three legendary horror actors in the role of the Frankenstein monster (Strange, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.) courtesy of various segments of stock footage.

Availability: Available on multiple Universal Horror DVD and Blu-ray sets but is part of the Dracula Complete Legacy Collection.