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After swearing to never make his Pho recipe again, Chef Holmes is asked for one last batch by a stranger, who might not just be of this world.


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Chef Holmes played by Daniel "Holmes" Lujan Bilbo Bagger played by Art Martinez
Alien #2 & #1 played by Ralph Blanchard and Casey Poma

Production History

The best way to get a true "Point of View" shot.

After the consecutive October releases of HOnTed DOG and Apple Die in 2013 and 2014, it was a no-brainer that the Cat cat crew would have to make another film for a Halloween release in 2015. Taking a departure from the horror genre, Ralph and Casey decided to pay homage to the campy, although well-meaning, science fiction films of the 1960’s. Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space was a major influence stylistically, in that spaceships always seemed to be empty rooms with some computers and drapes, and aliens were simply normal people with baggy, shiny clothes on. The new Cat cat film was to be black-and-white, to better mimic the style of movies of that era and shows like The Twilight Zone.

The porch was our home for what seemed like an endless
shoot, lol.

Ralph and Casey wrote the script, about a chef’s Pho being used as a fuel source for aliens, in early 2015. Popular 1960’s slang, like “beet feet” and “it was a gas”, was integrated heavily into the script to re-create the era and provide the maximum of silly dialogue.

Shooting began much earlier this time around, with the film’s opening sequences filmed in Mexico over summer 2015 (making U.PH.O. the first ever international Cat cat Production!) Ralph, actor Daniel Holmes Lujan, Carly Lujan, and Art Martinez (Casey wasn’t there) shot the beginning scenes that take place in the bar and the seaside exterior scenes. Art Martinez, son to Daniel Holmes Lujan and brother to Carly, played bartender Bilbo Bagger on the spot, learning all his lines that day and giving a great performance. The bar scenes were filmed in Gordo’s, which, in the years since production, has changed ownership and has undergone a drastic makeover. Ralph and Casey are happy to have captured the look of old Gordo’s with their film!

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Plan 9 From Outerspace
The 1959 film directed by Ed Wood was one of the inspirations for U.PH.O.
Forced persepcive at work. The bar counter at Gordos Cantina in Ensenda, Mexico has been replaced with a pool table (2020).

The rest of the film was filmed much later in California closer to the release. The spaceship set was filmed on the front porch of the Lujan’s mobile home. The metal sides and top lent a very industrial look to the “spaceship”, and provided enough room for all the computer consoles and tech paraphernalia that had been manufactured so greatly by Ralph and Carly.

Jon Hamm gave us access to his wardrobe for our movie...

The final exterior scene was filmed in a ditch near La Verne, CA, a location that would also be used for Cat cat’s western, "Yeehawbanero," two years later. It was here that a real vintage special effects technique was used for the spaceship (which is actually a painted bird-feeder from Michaels with added fins). For the wide shots with the spaceship, a technique called “forced perspective” was used. (This technique was also used in Old Saint Dick: Saint Dick 2 Goes to Jail to create jail bars). While the actors stood very far from the camera, a model of the spaceship (which measures about a foot high) was hung just a few feet from the camera lens. In the camera’s eye, the spaceship was made to look as if it were sitting on the ground, and since it is so close to the camera, the small spacehsip appears to be much bigger than the actors! This was a popular technique in mid-century cinema to create various visual effects like this with hanging models. The black material seen at the top of the spaceship is actually black tape holding the model in place off the edge of a C-stand. When the ship takes off, the spaceship model was simply lifted out of frame. Movie magic! The flame effects were added in post production.

For promotion, Cat cat released a “Behind-the-Scenes Featurette” of the film on October 1, in which Casey and Ralph repeated lines exactly from a featurette for Pitch Perfect 2. While the Pitch Perfect 2 featurette had different clips throughout, Cat cat simply used different takes of the exact same line.

2020 recreation of this famous shot from the film.

Editing for U.PH.O. was intensive, with long days and nights put into the edit. At the end, Ralph went through the film in the final stages and added in all the strange tech sound effects. For the soundtrack of the film, the two filmmakers knew that music from that era would be essential. Not only in the composition sense, but in terms of audio quality. Thus, music was taken directly from early public domain films. Themes from 1936’s Things To Come and 1956 Japanese film Warning From Space can be heard in the film. Perhaps most prominently is the music from 1960’s First Spaceship on Venus. This music is featured in the opening credits of the film, as well as the scene where Chef Holmes is abducted.

At last, with everything completed, it was time for U.PH.O.’s release. U.PH.O. premiered on YouTube Tuesday, October 27, 2015, a few days early of actual Halloween. A poster was never completed for the film in time for release, and wouldn’t surface for a few years. A few years later, a “Costa Rican” version of the film was made, which is simply the film with the Costa Rican national anthem in the background getting progressively louder.