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An 80s movie completely changed the life of a man who grew up in Seattle

In 1987 Richard Bates watched "Short Circuit" for the first of "a thousand times." Now he owns the Astoria house and rents it out as an Airbnb property.

ASTORIA, Ore. — In 1987 when Richard Bates was a six year old with a face full of freckles, he first saw a movie that would have life-altering consequences. It's name is "Short Circuit."

"Me and my sister must've watched it a thousand times," Bates said.

"Short Circuit" is about an experimental military robot who is humanized by a lightning strike and takes refuge with an animal caregiver played by Ally Sheedy.

Bates was immediately infatuated.

Not with Ally Sheedy.

But with her house in Astoria, Oregon.

"It was larger than life but still approachable because it wasn't a big mansion or something," Bates said. "And I just remember saying, 'I like that house, mom.'"

Five times Bates visited the "Short Circuit" house. Then in 2019, after years of working for the railroad, he bought it. He's been fixing it up, repainting the Victorian farmhouse to match its appearance in the movie, even adding a spiral staircase to the deck overlooking the Astoria-Megler bridge.

"There are days when I go out on the deck having coffee and I'm living on a set of my childhood," Bates said. "It's surreal. It's amazing. "

So amazing, Bates has gone out of his way to share the "Short Circuit" house. It's available to rent on Airbnb and comes with its share of surprises. Like a display case full of movie memorabilia, including a miniature version of Johnny 5 that says things like, "Hey laser lips, your momma was a snowblower."

"This is a 1/6 scale movie replica done by Titan Ross, my friend in Australia, " Bates said. "He graciously donated this to me."

There are Short Circuit sunglasses, local newspaper clippings about the making of the film, even tickets to a royal screening in London.

"Attended by Princess Diana and Charles on January 15, 1987," Bates added.

Upstairs you'll find his collection of "GI Joe," "Star Wars," and "He Man" action figurines.

"I feel like getting older is the art of maintaining your youth," Bates said.

So far "Short Circuit" fans have made up about half of his Airbnb guests.

That doesn't surprise McAndrew Burns of the Oregon Film Museum, who says every year thousands of nostalgic movie fans flock to Astoria.

"We caught lightning in the bottle in the 80s where we have just a lot of iconic 80's films that were filmed here in Astoria and Clatsop County," Burns said. "'Free Willy,' 'Kindergarten Cop,' 'The Goonies,' 'Short Circuit.' You can come to Astoria and step right into these movies."

Credit: KING TY
Richard Bates watches a movie inside the "Short Circuit" house he owns in Astoria, Oregon.

Short Circuit brought joy to Richard Bates's childhood. Why would anybody ever want to grow up and leave that behind?

"It sounds corny but I feel like this house has brought me to life," Bates said. "It was like a bolt of lightning to me. How cool is that?"

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