T. Justin Ross

Producer T. Justin Ross discusses the movie, ‘The Mortuary Collection,’ at a screening hosted by the Clatsop County Historical Society on Saturday night at the Liberty Theatre.

The Clatsop County Historical Society honored the region’s film history on Saturday night by hosting a screening of “The Mortuary Collection” at the Liberty Theatre.

The movie, a horror anthology, was filmed in Astoria in 2018.

The filmmakers joined the community for the screening and spoke with the audience.

“We have filmed all over the country and in some other countries and this is the first time we’ve ever loved the community so much that we came back to screen it,” said Ryan Spindell, the movie’s director.

The historical society helped filmmakers scout locations, including the Flavel House Museum, Shively Park, the Astoria Armory, Fort Stevens State Park, the Masonic Lodge and downtown Astoria. Local volunteers came out throughout the process to help construct sets and even perform as extras.

“This town really became like a second home for us,” said T. Justin Ross, a producer of the movie. “The community really came out and helped bring this one to life. We’re very happy about it and this is kind of our way to say ‘thank you.’”

Ross said he and Spindell grew up in the ‘80s watching “The Goonies,” “Short Circuit” and “Kindergarten Cop” and are excited to be part of the county’s film history.

In the movie, the Flavel House was the setting for the mortuary. The mortician, played by Clancy Brown, tells a young woman who responded to a help wanted sign outside of the mortuary that there is a story behind every death, not only about how the person died, but why.

The young woman, played by Caitlin Custer, wanted to hear the most gruesome stories. The mortician tells her four stories, each one progressively more gruesome. After each story, the movie returns to the mortician and the young woman in the mortuary.

“The Flavel House was the anchor of the whole story,” Ross said.

He said they searched throughout the country for the right city and the right mansion.

“Astoria had both,” Ross said. “It was a hard find.”

Several locations in Astoria were featured in the film. The Masonic Lodge became a fraternity house and the Astoria Armory became a library. Filmmakers even used archives from the Astoria Library basement to dress the set.

“There are a lot of interesting Astoria references and hopefully (the community) gets a little more out of it than the average viewer as a ‘thank you,’” Ross said.

Ross said there is no premiere date set for the movie, but the plan is to make the film available at least on a streaming service sometime this year.

McAndrew Burns, the historical society’s executive director, said in an email he was pleased to be part of the movie and thought Astoria and the Flavel House looked terrific on screen.

A full house attended the screening on Saturday.

“It is a great addition to the tapestry of our rich local film history,” Burns said. “Maybe we’ll be doing ‘Mortuary Collection’ celebrations in 30 years like the Goonies anniversaries.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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