If retro-style monster stories are your sweet spot, then you’ll want to enter the Mihmiverse — a series of films and podcasts featuring classic monster tales making their way to The Fantasy Network this summer. The Mihmiverse is the invention of writer/director Christopher Mihm, whose creative world has quite the following of fans already.
Obsessed with movies and the movie-going experience for as long as he can remember, Mihm became inspired to actually make his own film after his father’s death from cancer and another cancer scare with his stepdaughter (who has since recovered), he started thinking about life differently.
“I started to distinctly feel my own mortality and realized that if I didn’t finally try following my dreams and make a movie, I may run out of time and be stuck with nothing but regret,” he says. “So, I finally took the plunge and made a movie called The Monster of Phantom Lake. And the best part of making the film was that it became a great distraction for the entire family as we dealt with my stepdaughter’s treatments.”
Expanding on a Dream
Since then, Mihm has kept busy, drawing storytelling inspiration from many sources. “Sometimes elements of the stories come from timely topics like the Covid pandemic, which inspired parts of 2020’s The Phantom Lake Kids in The Unseen Invasion,” he says; the film follows a group of kids dealing with a worldwide quarantine and invisible aliens. Others start as fun titles like Weresquito: Nazi Hunter or Cave Women on Mars.
“There was a good amount of story variety in the sci-fi and horror films of the late 1950s and 60s,” Mihm says, “and I often like to try my hand at different tropes of the era, like making a giant bug movie (2013’s The Giant Spider) or a tribute to the master of horror-movie gimmicks, Williams Castle (2012’s House of Ghosts).”
Beyond a love for the genre itself, Mihm also appreciates that his retro-style, sci-fi / horror flicks open up realms of creativity to him. “There’s a lot of freedom afforded me by making retro-styled movies. I’m allowed to make films for a fraction of the budget something in a more modern style would require, and some of the mistakes I make are simply seen as part of the charm of the genre! I’m a huge science fiction fan and, usually, sci-fi needs high-end special effects, costumes, sets, etc.
“By making old-school B-grade sci-fi movies, I can explore science fiction ideas without the exorbitant budgets, partially because the inherent ‘cheapness’ that comes with the retro style doesn’t detract from the final stories and concepts. That, and I just love a good, old-fashioned cheesy movie!”
Why Tell Monster Tales
Ask Christopher Mihm why it’s worth telling monster stories, and the answer is simple.
“One of the strengths of monsters and monster movies is that they can symbolically embody frightening or negative aspects of the human experience, give these things form, and, ideally, allow us to fight them on terms we can easily grasp,” he says. “A good example which comes to mind is how the original Japanese giant-monster movie Gojira (which was recut and released in the U.S. as Godzilla) was really a metaphor for the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the U.S. in World War II. These creatures from these films can extrapolate our fears into something tangible and, hopefully, allow us to confront them in ways that seem less abstract.”
After having a few films under his movie-making belt, Mihm began funding his Mihmiverse projects through crowdfunding, which have earned strong support from fans. Soon, he found himself intrigued by another form of storytelling — podcasting. He launched The Mihmiverse Monthly Audiocast in 2014 to share “the little things that go into the process of making my films,” he says, with the portion of his fanbase that was interested in hearing about that backstage view of filmmaking.
“My podcast focuses specifically on the behind-the-scenes aspects of my films,” Mihm says. It addresses what’s going on with his current productions, touches on the behind-the-scenes history of his films, and includes other unrelated creative endeavors like readings of other stories he has written or radio-play-esque dramatic readings like the Atomic Tales series written by Stephen D. Sullivan and brought to life by various actors, Mihm included.
“I’ve been making these low-budget indie movies for quite a while, so it’s been nice to be able to share some of the history of how my movie universe has come together, particularly because few people know exactly how much work, blood, sweat, and tears have gone into these goofy little movies!”
Partnering with TFN and Fans
With the vast majority of his audience (90% or so) coming from word-of-mouth and the remainder coming from fans searching finding his website (sainteuphoria.com), meeting him at conventions and such, Mihm is excited to continue the work he loves so much.
“I find that being able to be creative and entertain people have been my favorite things about creating my films,” he explains. “Seeing my stories go from idea to script to production to screen feels like a little miracle every time and I never get sick of it! Then, being able to watch other people watch and enjoy them is one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Few things beat making someone laugh or get scared or cheer because of something you created! That’s the magic of movies that has enthralled me since I was a kid. Being able to get lost in a story and just letting it take you where it wants to take you is one of my favorite things about being alive!”
And this is why he’s thrilled about bringing his stories to The Fantasy Network. “One of the hardest things to do in the age of streaming is finding the right audience for your work,” he says, “especially since most streaming services these days are focused on bigger budget indies and Hollywood-produced films. Partnering with The Fantasy Network gives me as an indie creator access to an audience I may not normally be able to reach.
“I also very much appreciate that The Fantasy Network is interested in taking a chance on someone as underground as I am! Despite being around for close to two decades, it’s very difficult to ‘break through,’ especially when what it is I do is pretty niche! I love the attitude and aesthetic of The Fantasy Network and the people who run it. I’m very excited for this partnership and think it will be quite mutually beneficial, particularly for the folks who will be introduced to the Mihmiverse movie-universe for the first time!
To support the Mihmiverse, check out the latest crowdfunding projects Mihm has happening.
“Right now, that’s a flying-saucer-attack project called “Annihilate All Humans! I self-distribute all of the physical media for my films, so all the money received from sales of DVDs and Blu-Rays goes right back into making more movies. Additionally, you can find fun collectibles and exclusives like stuffed-animal versions of the monsters from my movies on my website!
“Also, if there’s any one thing I want to reiterate it’s that the way most people have found out about the Mihmiverse is through word-of-mouth. If someone enjoys my films after checking them out, all I ask is that they let other people know about them!”