TRAVERSE CITY — Fans of Rich Brauer’s “Dogman” movie finally will get to see the terrifying title creature — or at least its offspring — in a sequel now making its way around northern Michigan.
“Dogman2: Wrath of the Litter” comes to Frankfort’s Garden Theatre this weekend, after a brief, last-minute showing at the State Theatre just before Christmas.
The sequel picks up a year after the Dogman terrorized a small Midwestern community and nearly killed farmer Hanklin Purvis. Calm has returned and folks have gone back to their normal routines. But unseen in the nearby forest, the Dogman’s pups are preparing to fulfill their terrifying destiny.
“It’s pretty clear the puppies have grown up and they’re a bad batch,” said Brauer, owner of Traverse City-based Brauer Productions. “They now stand upright nearly 7 feet tall.”
The writer-director tapped friend and special effects creator Brian “Buzz” Smith to design six menacing “creatures” — mechanical contraptions actors don — with the help of a furrier. The radio-controlled faces used in the close-up shots are based on a Ludington show dog, a Belgian Tervuren, who doubles in the film as the running pups.
Like its prequel, “Dogman2” was shot in and around Benzie County, including on the Swander farm, which serves as the home of Hank (Larry Joe Campbell) and his wife Dorothy (Mariann Mayberry).
This time around, Sheriff Samels (Stacie Hadgikosti, a veteran of Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre Co.) has taken a job as a bartender but keeps a police scanner on the bar and still racks a shotgun single-handed. Actress Cheryl Turski, also of the Purple Rose, joins the original cast as new character Lorna, Dorothy’s sister now living with Dorothy and Hank.
“She and Hank don’t get along at all,” said Brauer, who wanted to crank up the tempo, action and fun in the sequel. “Hank is a hunter-gatherer and Lorna is a devout vegan.”
Local talent includes Old Town Playhouse and Riverside Shakespeare veteran Tom Cilluffo as Hank’s nephew, Jeshen, and vocalist Miriam Pico, who performed the theme song, “Run Like Hell.”
Regular-admission “sneak previews” take place Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Garden Theatre. Friday’s screening will be followed by a Q-and-A with Brauer, Saturday’s will be preceded by a 1 p.m. showing of the film that started it all — the original “Dogman.”
In honor of its subject matter, area animal shelters and rescue organizations will collect dog and cat food and cash donations. They’ll also sell calendars and Dogman2 T-shirts in the theater lobby.
Brauer said he is working with the Vogue Theatre in Manistee to show the film there. He also expects it to make a return to the State.
And yes, there is a “Dogman3” on the horizon.
“My brain is spinning with new ideas for the next generation of these things,” he said. “If it happens, the next one’s going to be World War III. I want to keep ramping these things up.”