“Deer Camp ’86″ movie to be theatrically released this month

May 9, 2024

Movie was filmed mostly in Mason and Oceana counties

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

GRAND RAPIDS — A locally produced film is being released in theaters nationwide at the end of this month. “Deer Camp ’86” was written and produced by Harold David Cronk of Scottville and Eric Michiela of Holland under the pseudonyms Bo Hansen and Riley Taurus. The super natural thriller/comedy is about six guys who drive up to northern Michigan from Detroit to spend time deer hunting. In the process, they manage to wake a “forest demon” which proceeds to haunt them. The movie was filmed almost entirely in Mason and Oceana counties in the fall of 2020.

Cronk has directed and produced several films locally including his beloved “Mickey Matson” series. He is best known for being the director of the box office smash hit “God’s Not Dead” and won an Emmy Award as director of the Disney-Plus series “The Quest.” His latest film “Average Joe” is scheduled for release this fall.

Michiela, principal owner of Gorilla, a film-based marketing firm in Grand Rapids, has made several independent films including “Camp Manna,” “Arrowhead,” and “The Manifestation.”

Actor Noah LaLonde on the set of ‘Deer Camp ’86’ in Riverton Township

Filming locations included Thurow Farms in Riverton Township, Wilwin Lodge/Woodruff Lake, Custer Township, the former Johnny’s of Custer, Sander’s Meats, Custer Township, and Murphy’s Tavern, Weare Township.

The film will have its official world premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 at Celebration Cinema Studio Park movie theater in downtown Grand Rapids. In 2022 sold out sneak preview screenings of the movie were shown at The Vogue Theatre in Manistee.

Actor David Lautman played the role of Ep.

In 2022, “Deer Camp ’86” won the Best Special Effects award at Screamfest film festival in Hollywood. Screamfest is the largest and longest running film festival in the United States and included over 20 feature films.

Several of the film’s actors have also gained notoriety since making the movie.

Detroit native Noah LaLonde played the role of Wes. He attended Grand Valley State University and has earned his mark in Hollywood playing the role of Cole in the Netflix series “My Life with the Walter Boys.”

California-born David Lautman played the role of Egbert “Ep”. He has gained fame as the character Grant Smoltz in “General Hospital”. He has also appeared in over 165 commercials including a campaign spokesperson role for Canon, CarGurus, LiDL, and Health-Ade. His father, Ben Lautman, acted in the original Broadway production of “HAIR” from 1970 to 1974.

Paul Wilson played Sheriff Paulsen

Paul Wilson of Tampa, Fla., plays Sheriff Paulson. Wilson is best known for his involvement in the popular horror series “The Conjuring.” He played Richard Nixon in the Showtime series “The First Lady” Wilson is also an executive producer of “Deer Camp ’86.”

Jay J. Bidwell as Buck

Arthur Cartwright of Detroit played the role of Simon. He starred in Cronk’s 2018 movie “God Bless the Broken Road” and also was featured in “Do You Believe,” which was produced by Cronk. He also stars in the upcoming movie “The Rhythm.”

The movie also stars Jay J. Bidwell (Jacob Heethuis) of Muskegon and a 2005 graduate of Shelby High School in the role of Buck.

“We had an amazing cast and crew who worked hard during a very stressful time in our nation, a pandemic, and made this great movie,” Cronk said. “Most of our crew, and several of our actors, were from Michigan. We have always strongly believed in using local talent as much as possible.”

Beginning May 31, “Deer Camp ’86″ will open in 150 independent theaters across the country. Information on screenings can be found on fandango.com.

Follow the movie’s Facebook page here. 

Writers and producers Riley Taurus (Eric Michiela) , left, and Bo Hansen (Harold Cronk).


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