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From the Cheap Seats

John Rondy is a Bay View-based freelance writer.

St. Francis bar the setting for two scenes in horror movie sequel

On The Right Track Roadhouse Cafe, a bar/restaurant at 3724 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in St. Francis, will serve as the backdrop for several scenes in a sequel to a locally-produced horror film.

“Brutal”, a film by Nuna Minch and Keith Webster (www.Myspace.com/Brutalmovie), premiered to a packed house on Halloween 2008 at the Downer Theater. The full-length indie movie documents the efforts of a group of ghost hunters at a haunted farm house in Caledonia. While on their search they run into the wrong person.

Based on the success of the first movie – which included a favorable review in Fangoria magazine and numerous e-mails from horror movie fans clamoring for a followup – Minch and Webster are now in production for the sequel.

“We were looking for a restaurant to film the scene,” said Webster, a south side resident. “I saw this place, and it just had an older, small-town look to it. It has a homey feel. As soon as we walked in the door, the owner (Gloria Vandenburg) was very friendly and very receptive.”

 Built in the 1850s as a railroad house, On The Right Track is believed to be one of the older structures in St. Francis, and is said to have been part of the underground railroad network that hid slaves, says Vandenburg, who bought the building in 2005. It was also reportedly a brothel in the 1920s and ‘30s. Vandenburg also has reason to believe that her building is haunted (more on this in a follow-up blog).

The two scenes that will be filmed in early June are not bloody, but heavy on dialogue, as they advance the plot of two men discussing the unsolved murder of the daughter of one of the men. Conflict arises when a t.v. reporter and his cameraman come into the bar and make an unsuccessful attempt to interview the father of the murdered girl.

“The making of the movie is fun, the editing is stressful is fun, but when you get to the distribution part, that is a whole different world,” said Minch, who is in negotiations to get Brutal released on DVD. “It’s a typical horror film with gore and [Quentin] Tarantino-type twists. But you don’t want to repeat what everyone else has done.

“I am thankful and grateful for letting use the diner,” adds Minch, who is 36. “It is very cool of them. You never know, while we are filming, maybe we will catch a ghost on camera.”

 The actors are local, consisting of family and friends of friends. Music for the soundtrack to Brutal is supplied from Minch’s band, and several other local musicians.

 “We try to contribute as much of our own skills as possible,” said Minch, who says the first movie cost about $10,000 to produce. “This is self-promotion for Milwaukee.. you never know where this could go. Someone is going to benefit from this down the road. Milwaukee is underrated, it’s got a lot of talent.”

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