Movie ghost story set in McGowan, river ghost town

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Builders work feverishly to erect an outbuilding near McGowan's St. Mary's Church. The temporary structure is part of the set for "The Ring II," being shot this week and next in Pacific and Clatsop counties.

Main character plays editor of the Daily Astorian

McGOWAN - "The Ring II" cast is converging on this south Pacific County ghost town this week, filming a sequel to a ghostly horror movie that grossed $229 million worldwide in 2002.

Crew members have been working for a week at old St. Mary's Catholic Church in this historic salmon canning village, the potential site of a new National Historical Park devoted to Lewis and Clark. Preparations for filming have included construction of a partially pre-fabricated "stone" blockhouse behind the church.

Filming is set to begin today, June 9, and may last into the weekend. There will be periodic traffic control in the area, according to Craig W. van Gundy, location manager for the movie.

"We'll be as conscientious as we possibly can to make sure things flow smoothly," van Gundy said.

Onlookers are asked not to come to the church because it is located on the highway, and there is limited parking.

The crew and cast also will be working at Fort Stevens State Park in Clatsop County this week, before moving into Astoria for filming next week. Filming on the Lower Columbia is supposed to wrap up June 19. The movie is scheduled for nationwide release Nov. 10.

Like the original, "The Ring II" stars Naomi Watt and David Dorfman as Rachael and Aidan Keller. The story continues six months after the two characters have moved to Astoria for a fresh start.

The first movie was set in Seattle, where Watt's character was an investigative reporter for the Post-Intelligencer. She discovers a VHS tape essentially haunted by a vengeful ghostly demon girl, who after seven days kills anyone who watches it.

"It just has a quality that gets under the skin," the movie Web site BoxOfficeProphet said of "The Ring."

It was based on the 1997 Japanese hit "Ringu," one of Japan's highest-ever grossing films. Director Hideo Nakata's follow-up "Ringu 2" was even more popular and profitable, and the franchise was adapted into a television series in Japan. Nakata is directing the American version of the sequel here this week.

In "The Ring II," Watts will be editor of the Daily Astorian. Veteran actress Sissy Spacek will play an Astoria doctor.

The busiest day of filming in Astoria will be Saturday, June 12, when DreamWorks SKG will be in the downtown area. Work will be concentrated at the intersections of 12th Street and Marine Drive and 14th and Duane streets. Scenes will also be filmed at the Hertz Rental Car office and in front of the Liberty Theater.

"The work has been deliberately concentrated on one Saturday in order to have the least overall impact," van Gundy said.

The downtown scenes will establish the city and will be comprised of driving and pedestrian shots. The company will create an eerie, creepy look through showing streets empty of cars and traffic. This means no cars can be parked on the streets in the areas being filmed.

Also for the movie, traffic on Marine Drive will run east, and the Daily Astorian office will be "moved" closer to the water.

Van Gundy said the area's natural beauty will be a prominent feature in the film.

Portions of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II" and the "Free Willy" movies also were shot in south Pacific County.

North Head Lighthouse also was considered for inclusion in "The Ring II" - a lighthouse figured in part one - but the director ultimately decided against it.

-The Daily Astorian contributed to this report

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