Dennis Baker grew up in a haunted house on Woodland Court in Ypsilanti, Michigan — the supernatural (and possibly preternatural) events he and his family encountered inspired Dennis to produce two horror films, The Woodland Haunting, and The Woodland Haunting 2. These cult classics were half horror, half twisted comedy. But what really happened? In attempt to answer that question and separate the truth from the fiction Baker himself produced, Mindsplinters Films brings us The "True" Story of the Woodland Haunting, a documentary that mixes footage from the movies with interviews regarding this very haunted house.
This is not your typical ghost documentary. Baker’s campy but lovable character, Denton Rose, Paranormal Investigator (the world’s worst Elvis impersonator) makes many an appearance throughout the documentary which feature interviews with past residents of the house on Woodland Court and an interview with Brian Leffler of the Northern Minnesota Paranormal Investigators, someone who is no stranger to Ghostvillage.com. We caught up with Dennis Baker about his new documentary.
At what age did you realize there were indeed ghosts in your house and what did you think about that?
I was about 8. We all heard it for the first time as a family coming from the upstairs. But it really hit home in my mind one night as I lay in bed and heard something moving in the room around me. I knew no one was there — and each time I turned the lights on — nothing. Oddly enough, I began asking it to stop so I could sleep (it returned each night) it did.
When did you first get into film?
I made funny comedy shorts in the 80s when video first became available. Growing up a short distance from Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, they quickly became my heroes and I tried to follow in there footsteps. But it was not until 1999 when I bought some high-end video equipment that I got serious. At first I did training films. But soon my creative insane gene took over and my friends and I made The Woodland Haunting 1, the 22 minute short. That would be when I became a real film maker. Before that I did a lot of acting but not for screen. I did a gig for FOX for the live Simpson’s stage show and other miscellaneous stage gigs of no account.
After creating two short fiction films based on the house at Woodland Court, what prompted you to make a documentary?
Not having a big budget I could not make the films with what I felt was a convincing delivery. Woodland Haunting 1 & 2 while based on “some” real elements has a large helping of English humor and zaniness to them. I made the films like that because there is something about a low budget film, that when it tries to be more serious than it can afford, the end result is lack of interest. And one thing both of these films are “is” interesting, and part of the crazy way they are made mixing fact, funny, and fiction together is why it is so popular. But, I always wanted folks to know that there is a “real” story from what happened in that house. The documentary is my way of telling folks what in the films were real, and filling in the gaps of things never told.
Did you run into any problems while filming this? Did you find that some people didn’t want to talk about it?
Some of my old neighbors did not want to talk about it. But others said they had seen the ghost boy mentioned in the film as recently as April of this year. Oddly enough, for some reason a lot of folks wanted to remain “anonymous.” No idea why.
Also, we had strange voices in the background of some of the footage we can not identify. The microphone is sensitive and would have heard it at the time of filming. We had many strange things happen while filming. Not sure if it was related to the subject?
What does your family think of you making these films about your haunted house?
They enjoy it — my sisters were really the inspiration because of all the stories they told about that house. It was something we all knew happened to us and it was good to "get the story out.”
How long did you live there?
I lived in the house for over 10 years.
Can you give us an example of one of your more frightening moments while living there?
My encounter with the shadow figure was the most impressive of all my experiences. I walked into the house when I was home alone and was confronted by a huge shadow-type figure. It had bright red eyes and I just stood there frozen for several minutes. Finally I was able to drag myself to the door and fled the house. I never saw it again after that.
Are you in contact with the current owners of the house? Do you know if the haunting continues?
No, a reporter from the local press interviewed him. He said odd things still occur. Other than that, the ghost boy still wanders the grounds according to neighbors.
Are there any future haunted projects you’re working on?
We begin shooting The Visitor with Alice Cooper’s daughter, Calico in the fall. This is a high quality serious ghost flick being filmed in a real haunted house. The location we are keeping secret for now. We are also doing investigations into haunted houses currently. We have been to the Stanley Hotel, Hotel Colorado, and plan trips this fall to Minnesota and “maybe” a serious investigation into the Woodland House with Brian Leffler.
What’s your favorite junk food?
Fried Peach Pies my Mom makes — nothing better on the planet!
Visit Dennis Baker’s Web site at: www.woodlandhaunting.com
Click here to buy this DVD now.