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Horror flick filmed in Kalamazoo re-released for its 25th anniversary

Film director Lynn Drzick and Stuart MacDonald pose with the heads of the two monsters of the film. The yellow stained skull Stuart holds is that of the main monster of the film, the "Devil Dog", it has large teeth and three long horns stick from its snout. Lynn is holding the head of the other monster in the film. It's made of a rubbery material and has long brown hair in the back. The monster's long head is characterized by its light brown skin and jagged teeth. Stuart wears a black and blue button up with Hawaiian motifs on it. Lynn wears a white, blue and red plaid button-up. Prints of posters for older films like Dawn of the Dead and The Black Hole can be seen to the left of the image. An arcade machine can also be seen to their right.
Michael Symonds
Film director Lynn Drzick, right, and Stuart MacDonald pose with the heads of the two monsters of the film at Lynn's home in Kalamazoo.

Known for its campy dialogue, In the Woods has a small but dedicated following.

In the Woods centers around firefighters fighting a three-horned devil dog after his skull is dug up.

Lynn Drzick produced, directed and wrote the film. He was born and raised in Kalamazoo, so he knew exactly where he wanted to shoot it.

The movie was shot in the Kalamazoo metro area — viewers may recognize locations like the Henderson Castle or the now-closed Portage Pub — and in the forest in rural Van Buren County.

The movie was also supported by the Portage Fire Department, which helped out with the film’s more volatile scenes.

“There's an explosion scene where the main star of the movie tries to blow up the creature. And fortunately, we had the firefighter training ground, so we set off some real explosions.”

In 1998, the film premiered at the Lansing Film Festival.

“At the end of the movie, cheers, it just erupted. And that's where, you know, your heart swells. It's like, wow, we did it.”

Since then, In the Woods has gained a small cult following, due in no small part to its campy dialogue. But the camp was not intentional according to Stuart MacDonald, who played firefighter Al Fargo.

“None of us knew that it was going to come across cheesy until it was over.”

This following has lead to a novelization, director’s cut, and even an unofficial drinking game. The film has also seen releases in the United Kingdom and Japan. Drzick said this is all thanks to fans keeping interest alive.

“It's crazy to think about that. You know, 25 years later, somebody keeps on, no pun intended, digging up this movie.”

The film may also spawn a sequel. Drzick says he’s written a script, and adds, the original cast is on-board.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.