New horror movie uses Roseville locations and history

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 22, 2015

 “Spring Thaw” director Mike Stanley stands outside the old Roseville Theatre on Utica. His new Roseville-based horror movie came out on DVD this month.

“Spring Thaw” director Mike Stanley stands outside the old Roseville Theatre on Utica. His new Roseville-based horror movie came out on DVD this month.

Photo provided by Mike Stanley

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ROSEVILLE — A new independent horror film called “Spring Thaw” is pulling double duty: It not only was made to thrill audiences, but to serve as a love letter to the city of Roseville.


Mike Stanley, who wrote, directed and acted in the film, said the movie was an opportunity for him to show off Roseville to the world by featuring familiar locations in the city and snippets of its history.


“Now that the film company (Filmlab Showcase Pictures) has really gotten established and we’re known now, I wanted to do something that would bring Roseville out into the spotlight — show Roseville to the world,” Stanley said.


In the film, Stanley said, a traveling carnival sets up shop in the 1940s at the city’s Packard Field, where the Eastgate Shopping Center is now located. The leader of the carnival is murdered, and his wife, a gypsy fortune-teller, puts a curse on the city to avenge him.


The movie skips ahead 75 years to where a reporter named Mitch Edwards is researching the Federal Department Store fire in Roseville and comes across the wife’s ghost and her curse.


“When she does come back, she basically destroys the entire town of Roseville,” Stanley said.


The film was shot on location in Roseville over the winter and into the spring around Macomb Mall, City Hall, the Eastgate Shopping Center, Roseville High School and other spots; Stanley said the movie includes a montage of the city that he believes could fit into a Travel Channel program.


“I really wanted to capture the city with everything it has to offer,” he said. “This film gets worldwide distribution, and for people to actually see Roseville as it is and how I see it and how proud the people are of Roseville.”


Filming was also done in St. Clair Shores, Lexington and Detroit, he said.


Making a movie that calls back to Roseville’s history did require a fair amount of research into Packard Field, the Eastgate Shopping Center and the Federal Department Store, Stanley said. He was able to use footage of the Federal store being torn down after the fire, and he re-enacts the fire itself in the movie.


He also discovered a plaque at Eastgate highlighting its history as an airport, something Stanley thinks not many residents remember today.


City Manager Scott Adkins said he was not personally aware of the details of “Spring Thaw,” but noted that the city hosted a few filmed projects last year, including segments for Food Network along with this movie and a mystery movie.


The city is involved insofar that it requires filmmakers to pull permits, but typically that means that the staff only knows of parts without any context on how it all comes together, Adkins said.


“It’s exciting,” he said. “We have a unique area around here — lots of opportunity for different genres of movies and documentaries. It’ll be interesting to see the final product.”


The movie is currently available on Amazon.com on DVD.

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