Supernatural film stars locals

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When film director Christopher Mihm was a child, he said he inherited his father’s love for what Mihm described as “cheesy
monster movies.” Mihm and his father would rent VHS or Betamax copies of these films, many of which Mihm’s father had not seen since his own childhood, and watch them together.

Mike Cook, a local actor and frequent Mihm collaborator, said Mihm must have run out of these films to watch, which may have been the impetus for beginning a filmmaking career of his own.

“If you want to see more, you’ve got to make them yourself,” Cook said.

Mihm has indeed been hard at work making them himself.

Mihm’s seventh film in as many years, “House of Ghosts,” had its Eau Claire premiere Sept. 22 at The Grand Theater. Mihm said the turnout for the event was better than anticipated and that the enthusiastic crowd made the screening a tremendous amount of fun.
“It’s always good when people are laughing in the right spots and ‘oohing and aahing’ when they should and getting creeped out when they’re supposed to,” Mihm said. “House of Ghosts” was Mihm’s first attempt at a more supernatural film, after previously working in the science fiction or monster movie genres. He cited the works of mid-20th century director William Castle as primary influences on the film.

Based out of the Twin Cities, Mihm lives in St. Paul and shot “House of Ghosts” almost entirely in Minneapolis over the course of three months, working mostly on weekends and evenings. He wrote the script over a four-to-six week period, an amount of time that Mihm has found to be perfect for his style of filmmaking.

“I purposely try not to overthink my scripts as much as possible, just because I worry about making it too good,” Mihm said. “I’m making these sort of good bad movies; I don’t want it to be perfect.”

Cook, a member of the Chippewa Valley Theater Guild, said the draw of continuing to work with Mihm is the fun he has making the films. He also praised Mihm’s ability to keep a set loose while managing to get the necessary work done.

“I’ve done a lot of movies in my day, and he does it differently than anyone else,” Cook said.

Perhaps not surprisingly given his chosen style, Mihm said he does not enjoy many modern horror films, singling out John Carpenter as a director whose sensibilities seem more in line with those of early horror directors.

Never one to rest for long, Mihm is currently at work on “The Giant Spider,” which he called his most ambitious project to date, with bigger set pieces and a larger cast of extras than his more “self-contained” previous films.

Mihm does sound hopeful that “The Giant Spider” will have an Eau Claire premiere at some point next year. His hope is for the film to have a Twin Cities world premiere in May 2013.