Archive for March, 2020

23
Mar
20

(NSFW) Night Killer (1990): Tasty Fright Chicken

Night Killer poster

“FRIED CHICKEN AND FRENCH FRIES!” – Peter Hotten as Axel, Night Killer (1990)

a Primal Root written review

1990 was filmmaker Claudio Fragasso’s year, man. In 1990 his magnum opus, most fully realized and beloved film Troll 2 saw the light of day as a direct to video release. It’s a film that has gained an ever expanding and rabid fanbase with it’s bizarre concepts, lost in translation screenplay, goofball acting and bargain basement effects mingling with it’s genuine nature basically guaranteed it would find an audience over the years to laugh and cherish it for it’s bonkers presentation.

 

But, a far lesser known darker, more adult and, until recently, incredibly difficult to find offering from Claudio Fragasso was released in 1990 under the title Night Killer. It’s film that, too, has gained cult status for many the same reasons as Troll 2, even enjoying a similar retitling to try and sell it as a sequel to something it was never intended to be. Italian producers actually retitled the thing Non Aprite Quella Porta 3, which translates to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, therefore making Night Killer Italy’s unofficial third sequel to Tobe Hooper’s legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre despite Night Killer not featuring a single chainsaw in any shot of the film much like Troll 2 only featured Goblins…and not a single goddamn Troll.

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Night Killer begins with a spastic and, frankly, embarrassingly bad dance rehearsal for some kind of on stage production. One of the performers arrives late, gets naked and then then punched entirely through the gut by a killer is a strange, creepy fright mask that looks like it might have been left in the car too long on a hot summer day, as it appears more than a little melty. Not only that, but the killer is also wearing a dark trench coat and highly rubbery Freddy Krueger inspired glove on his right hand featuring long corn cob yellow finger nails. When you put all the pieces together, The Night Killer actually kind of looks like Freddy Krueger and The Toxic Avenger’s love child.  So, after we see the late dancer’s bare breasts, she is impaled and dies. Farewell and adieu to you bare breasted lady!

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Noticing her absence and also having the epiphany that whatever fucking musical dance show she is directing is going to suck goat balls, the musical’s director flies into a bizarre, seemingly unscripted improvised rage where she mumbles a lot, and stumbles over what she’s saying before storming off the stage to find the late performer who went to change. When she finds the dead dancer’s corpse, The Night Killer slits her throat takes his fucking time chasing her off the top balcony of the theater where she plummets to her death. The chase takes what feels like an eternity as the director gasps for air and tries to scream while dramatically stumbling down corridors, up stairs, downstairs and eventually over the railing. It feels like an appropriate death scene for a theater major.

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We are then treated to an opening credit sequence where a woman hands off her pre-teen daughter and her luggage to an unidentified man, then the man brings the little girl to who I must assume is his wife. Honestly, this happens over the opening credits and I have no idea who these fucking people are, how they’re related or what the situation is. I assumed it was a pair of divorced parents and the little girl was going to spend the weekend with her Dad and her step-Mom, but we find out, later, that this is not the case at all. But this child hand-off opening sequences is totally baffling as there is no dialogue whosoever to establish just what the Hell is happening.

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Turns out, the lady who just sent her daughter packing is our main character, her name is Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman, who you may remember as Billy and Ricky’s slain Mom in the original Silent Night, Deadly Night) who eats what looks like an entire club sandwich for breakfast before lowering the neckline of her oversized sweater to stare at her tits in the mirror and perform the rare horror movie soliloquy about her marriage being on the rocks before being interrupted by a call from her ex-husband who she estimates is “drunker than usual” and explains to him that Clarissa has gone away to the country with Annie, so, again I must assume here that Clarissa is Melanie’s daughter and Annie is possibly the woman we saw in the opening credits. It’s strange having a movie that’s so damn mysterious you have to try and figure just who the characters are. Anyhoo, the phone call with who might be her estranged husband ends with he her screaming “DON’T EVER CALL ME AGAIN!” into he receiver before slamming the phone down and her possible estranged husband shattering his glass in his hand and screaming “MELANIE!” We never see his face, as his back is turned to us in every shot he is in and his voice sounds a lot like the killer’s. Could it be him?

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Fast forward a second or two and she receives another phone call from the actual killer who tells her “You’re a fine looking woman, Mrs. Beck. You’re just MADE to be fucked senseless.” and “I won’t kill you straight away, first I’m going to fuck your BRAINS out!” She hangs up, calls the cops, but it’s too late. The masked killer reveals himself to already be inside her home with the line, “I can’t wait 5 minutes, Mrs. Beck, I’m too HORNY!” Melanie fights valiantly to kill the intruder, but it’s no use. Once cornered, the killer reveals his face to her, not the audience, and we cut to a week later where she has amnesia and it turns out she was rescued offscreen by a man named Sherman, who is married to Annie and takes care of Melanie’s daughter Clarissa. See, it’s ALL coming together! Sherman even got a deep cut across his face for saving Melanie. And, for whatever reason, only Melanie can identify the man who held her captive for eight hours despite Sherman’s face to face encounter with the Night Killer. I’m sure there must be some logical explanation for this, but being that this is a Claudio Fragasso film, you never know if this is a clue, a red herring, or just inept screenwriting and filmmaking, so everything is absolutely unreliable. We also learn from Sherman that Melanie’s husband was booted off the police for undisclosed reasons. The plot thickens to the point of crusting over as it becomes unidentifiable!

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Immediately after Melanie is released from the hospital an asshole in a jeep drives up next to her and begins cat calling her between taking swings of his 40oz. She flicks him off and speeds off, but he stalks her down to a restroom where she pulls a gun, makes him strip nekkid, and dump his clothes in the crapper. He runs out of the restroom and drops this incredible line of dialog…

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Now, you might think this sweaty, bug eyed creeper with the incredibly active body language will never be heard from again, but this psychopathic stalker actually tracks Melanie down at the beach where she is attempting to kill her herself with a load of pills. This guy actually picks her up, carries her into the ocean, forces her head under water so she is forced to drink salt water so she’ll barf up all the pills she just ingested. This moment of valiant and violent heroics is followed by this guy kidnapping Melanie and keeping her locked in a seedy motel room where he presents her with Kentucky Fried Chicken and French Fries “Nothing does it to me like friiiiied chicken!” before sticking a unloaded gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger and tying her down nekkid and making her say “Pretty Please” over and over again. This bug eyed, vicious rapist is named Axel (Peter Hooten from Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) and Inglorious Bastards (1978)). We are led to believe this guy is the actual Night Killer as we see THE Night Killer impaling voluptuous blonde woman at the local aquarium after hours and killing prostitutes in his art studio after they recite the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and then putting them in identical masks as him and making out with their dead bodies as Axel hold Melanie hostage. Are they one and the same? Are there two separate homicidal rapist scumbags running around this little city? I can only tell you that this film is so absolutely off the wall unpredictable and poorly put together, I doubt you will be able to guess every twist and turn Night Killer has to reveal by it’s laugh out loud what the fuck conclusion.

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Night Killer is actually a pretty impressively devious, dark, demented horror film that doesn’t let logic or any for of real common sense get in the way of it’s hysterically over the top, super imaginative, if completely illogical twists.  What really helps are the no holds barred over the top performances from the entire cast. Top to bottom, everyone is going for the gold and trying to sell this fucking movie. Sure, their performances are wacky and laughable…across the board, actually, as they try with all their mediocre acting might to pull of this ludicrous dialog. There are even some moments of genuine terror, especially during scenes between Melanie and Axel as the actors both play off one another really well. Every scene is pitched to the extreme and it’s something that works in Night Killer‘s favor and makes the proceedings far more enjoyable and engrossing, even if it is in a laughably Trash Cinema way.

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I understand writer/director Claudio’s original vision was to make a psychological horror film with very little violence and gore, but the producers balked at the director’s initial edit of the filmed and hired exploitation legend Bruno Mattei (director of Rats: Night of Terror (1984) and Strike Commando (1987)) to add some gore to the proceedings, hence, all the really out of place moments of Night Killer’s claw punching through people. I honestly think the psychological horror elements are the strongest of the film. You can feel what Claudio was really going for with Night Killer and the gore elements always come off as out of place and make the film feel even cheaper than it obviously is.

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This was my very first time seeing Night Killer and I was genuinely impressed by this trashy slice of cheese. It was not afraid to go to some pretty extreme places, took a lot of risks, and obviously not afraid to create a film that was absolutely baffling and send the audience through a dark, nasty tale without a map or even a compass. You literally are thrown in totally blind, with no clue as to who these people are, what’s going on, what the time frame is or how things are connected and you are expected to keep up and fill in the blanks. And it works. It blows my mind to say it, but by the film’s end, being kept in the absolute dark makes it all work. It’s either really tricky and somewhat smart screenwriting, or it’s absolutely moronic and they got lucky. I like to think it’s the work or a Trash Cinematic genius. Let’s face it, Troll 2 shouldn’t work either, but goddamn if it’s not one of the most legendarily entertaining Trash Cinema films ever made. Night Killer is cut from the same cloth and deserves just as much notoriety and recognition among Trash Cinema fans.

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I am awarding Night Killer FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

20
Mar
20

Leprechaun (1993) Fuck you, Lucky Charms!

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“Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won’t live through the night.” The Leprechaun; Leprechaun (1993)

a Primal Root written review

The realm of mythical creatures is a veritable smorgasbord of imagination fuel and inspiration lubricant. From Trolls, to Goblins even Fairies, Dwarves and Elves. All can be extracted from the whimsical and often deeply unsettling tales and transplanted into a low-rent schlocky monster movie destined to go straight to video and find it’s cult following. It’s all just old world make believe where you can either choose to follow the rules already established in centuries of story telling, come up with your own bullshit to justify your no budget monster movie, or pick and choose some of both, toss them in your screenplay blender, and you’ll nearly make something at least entertaining 95% of the time.

Then there’s 1993’s Leprechaun, the film that sent the elementary school video rental kid into a tizzy as we reeled at the concept of something so absurd being transformed into something absolutely terrifying. It felt dirty, it felt cheap and it was genuinely unnerving to little kid Root, who grew up with children’s programming and sugary sweet cereal that ALWAYS portrayed Leprechaun’s as incredibly sweet creatures. Then you would catch the fucking trailer for Leprechaun and you had to reevaluate everything you once held sacred. It honestly wasn’t until Iw as about 11 or 12 when I finally got around to renting The Leprechaun and, well, it certainly didn’t live up to the unrelenting horror I had dreamed up in my head while looking at the VHS box on the shelf at Video 21. Sure, it’s not a very successful horror film, but it does have it’s…LUCKY charms. Uuughhh…I’m not even a Dad and I made that joke.

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The Leprechaun franchise, which runs eight films long and provided Warwick Davis paychecks during those dark days before the Harry Potter film series and Disney hadn’t yet bought the rights to Star Wars and begun shitting out empty husks of nostalgia, and sent the pint sized horror the the far off reaches of outer space (Leprechaun 4: In Space) to the the center of urban decay…TWICE (Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood). But it all began humbly enough back in 1993 with a little farm house in the middle of nowhere, a stolen bag of gold and yet to be known Friend.

The movie starts in 1983 with a sweaty, whiskey drenched old Irish guy named Dan O’Grady coming back home to his North Dakota farm house from his trip to Ireland and brags to his wife that he has stolen gold from a Leprechaun and that this is the last they’ll see of this old piece of shit farm! He goes to hide the gold, The Leprechaun turns out to have followed O’Grady home and murders Mrs. O’Grady by tossing her down the basement stairs before Dan grabs a four leaf clover and traps the Leprechaun in a crate down in the basement. O’Grady pours gasoline on the crate, strikes a match…then suffers stroke and falls to the floor before he gets the chance to torch the little malicious magical monster.

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Fast forward to 1993 and and Father and Daughter duo, J.D. Redding (John Sanderford) and Tory (Jennifer Aniston. Yes, THAT Jennifer Aniston) are driving out to North Dakota to live in the old, abandoned O’Grady farm house. As you might suspect, Jennifer Aniston’s character is a none stop whining, complaining, bitch of a character which feels king of like her entire career trajectory. Honesty, could you point me out a Jennifer Aniston character that is actually no a self obsessed spoiled shrew? Seriously, she has been playing the same character for decades with the same inflection, line delivery and mannerisms. She’s unbearable as ever, here, as rich, vegan, Evian water drinking wet blanket, Tory. Get used to it, because you’re going to spending a whole lot of time with her.

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Tory hates the place (SURPRISE, SURPRISE!) and makes plans to stay in a hotel until she meets a slab of beefcake painting the farm house who goes by the name of Nathan (Ken Olandt of April Fool’s Day & Summer School fame ) who mentions how “Girls are always afraid of spiders and dust” which brings out Tory’s feminist tendencies and, now, refuses to leave because she is a 90’s woman and not afraid of anything despite actually stating that she IS afraid of spiders, dust, dirt and manual labor not three minutes before. But, now she has something to prove to the hunky Nathan, so she will continue to miserable and complain for the length of the film.

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We are son introduced to the two most likable Non-Leprechaun characters in the film, Alex and Ozzie, who work with Nathan and his “Three Guys Who Paint” business . Alex (Robert Hy Gorman from Rookie of the Year & Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead) is Nathan’s 10 year old brother and Ozzie (Mark Holton from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure & Teen Wolf) a man-child sort of fellow. These two banter, bicker and end up being the characters in charge of keeping to plot moving forward. Ozzie is the one who unleashes the Leprechaun from the crate while alone in the basement, and is threatened with having his ear bitten off and having it turned into a boot if he doesn’t fork over his stolen gold. It’s a baffling threat, but one I really like and have filed away to use at the proper moment in my own life when someone is giving me shit. Freddy never makes these kinds of intimidating aggressions. His is mostly observational puns, not really “I’m going to rip off this from your body and repurpose it entirely.” But, I digress…

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For the first half of the movie we basically get all the character mistaking The Leprechaun for an animal. Someone sees or feels something, claims it’s a Leprechaun, then it is blamed on a rat or a cat. I was personally hoping for someone to blame something on a bat so we could get the “at” trifecta in play, but it never happened, sadly. J.D., Tory’s Dad, even makes the idiotic mistake of reaching his entire fucking arm into a tree to try and GRAB what he thinks is an injured cat only to have his hand nearly bitten of by The Leprechaun. They rush poor old Pop to the hospital and we literally never see him again.

Meanwhile, Ozzie and Alex chase down the end of a rainbow which leads to an abandoned truck where Dan O’Grady stashed the stolen gold all those years ago. After Ozzie accidentally swallows a gold coin while attempting to bite it and prove that it’s real, (oh, Ozzie) they take the sack of coins into town and leave a coin over night with a rare coin specialist. But as the specialist goes to open up his safe to hide gold coin for the night, out busts The Leprechaun with a jig, a laugh, and well placed snaggle-toothed voracious bite to what is either the man’s upper leg for dangling ball sack. One thing must be mentioned about this film, the lighting is absolutely horrendous. Either the lighting it dull and flat as shit or it’s pitch black where you can hardly tell what’s happening. So, either way, Lep bites the shit out of the guy and drop him to the ground before threatening the guy in rhymes and then grabbing and nearby pogo stick, and I shit you not, pogo sticking the man to death. Yes, The Leprechaun gets on the pogo stick and bounces repeatedly on the mans chest while singing, “This old Lep, he played one, he played pogo on his lung!” In all honestly, this movie comes to life and becomes a Hell of a good time whenever Warwick shows up as The Leprechaun. The man is over the top, malicious and funny as shit. You can tell the guy is relishing the chance to play such an animated villainous character and is taking full advantage of the role.

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Soon, that night there is a brutal standoff at the old O’Grady farm house where the Leprechaun is willing to stop at nothing until he gets all 100 gold coins back. There’s even an exceptionally goofy action set piece where the Leprechaun hides out int he kitchen cabinets and Jennifer Aniston is throwing them open to Nathan can blast the shit out of them with his shot gun, only The Leprechaun is too quick and keeps taunting the hapless heroes which leads to Leprechaun reaching his arm out of a drawer and clamps his claws around Nathan’s nuts and squeezes them like a pair of grapes. It’s a hilarious moment and genuinely one of the few comedic moments that really work.

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This final half of the film feels like it consists of none stop chases where The Leprechaun tries out multiple modes of transportation to catch his victims. He tries roller skates, go-carts, hospital gurneys, wheel chairs, modified tractors, etc. They speed up the film to make it look like he just might catch them, but it ends up looking ridiculous and just makes you chuckle.

Towards the end of the film. Jennifer Aniston gives The Leprechaun his sack of gold, only for The Leprechaun to realize there’s a single could missing and it’s currently making it’s way through Ozzies poop chute. The Leprechaun gives chase to Ozzie and begins slashing the hell out of the guy with his boot buckle to try and get his gold back. Will Ozzie end up having his guts ripped out by The Leprechaun? Will Jennifer Aniston’s STOP complaining for a moment and try to help someone? While Nathan perhaps display some simple competence and maybe notice, after shooting The Leprechaun for the 100th time, filling The Lep full of led DOESN’T WORK? With Alex use his cunning slingshot skills to win the day? You’ll have to check out Leprechaun to find out!

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There is one shining, glittering bit of solid gold in the film Leprechaun and it is obviously Warwick Davis. The man has brought to life countless popular characters and his turn as The Leprechaun is truly a treat to behold. The man brings so much life to what is otherwise a shockingly dull, bland and dishearteningly unimaginative slog. Whenever Warwick is on screen, you forget how bored you’ve been for the last several minutes and it keeps you hooked and waiting for his next goofy, fun, nasty over the top appearance. The kills, besides the pogo stick death, are all underwhelming. There’s an extended foot chase with a police office through the woods you anticipate will have a great death scene, but instead, The Leprechaun simply snaps the police officer’s neck. Dude, this scene takes up what feels like fifteen minutes of screen time and all you can deliver is the actor turning his head and adding the sound of someone snapping celery? Shit like that is fucking annoying. You spend that much time chasing someone in a slasher movie, you better make it worth the time.

Leprechaun almost come off like a PG-13 horror flick. There’s literally no sexuality whatsover. Not a pair of bare breasts in sight. The gore is hardly there. There’s some bloody stuff, including an eye removal, but this content would probably be presented on prime time television without even needing to be censored. It almost feels like it was made for TV and has a kind of flat, poorly produced hollow quality to it. It’s the very bare beginnings of a franchise I really feel gets better as it goes and the more outlandish and silly the story devices become. By the time The Leprechaun heads to space, the creative minds behind the ongoing series realized that campiness works REALLY well for the series. Plus they realized sex and violence are ALSO why I’m spending my money and time on this, so they began shoehorning tits and more gore as the series continued and got far more creative with the stories they had to tell.

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Leprechaun (1993) is that cinematic rarity, a first entry in the series that just might be the least interesting. All the elements and ideas are there for the taking, and thankfully, those franchise entries that came in the original’s wake took full advantage of the possibilities this pint sized mythical monster has to offer.

I’m awarding Leprechaun ONE AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

The true Pot o’ Gold is further on this rainbow of a series.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

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17
Mar
20

(NSFW) Hyacinthus Ori and Mr. J: Devil Girl & Devil Guy March 2020

Trashy St. Paddy’s Day, Gang! The Primal Root here and deeply proud to present to you our first co-headlining Devil Girl & Devil Guy spread in YEARS! Featuring two fresh faces to The Trash Cinema Collective, Hyacinthus Ori and Mr. J! Follow us on down the filthy rainbow and enjoy feasting your eyes on this bloody, fiendish pot o’ sexy gold!
The Primal Root: One thing I love about this spread is how both of you are so animated and play really well off one another. Had you two worked together before? How was it being placed in this classic horror scenario playing your respective parts?
Mr. J. : Oddly enough we hadn’t met until we shot , so it was “Hey let’s shoot!” , the chemistry was amazing and we all had a blast, as far as the role , I’ve always loved the bad guys , from joker to Freddy to Leprechaun it’s way too fun to play the bad role, all these characters kill you in horrible ways but laugh while they do it and always create fun ways to take you out , so it was a blast !
Hyacinthus Ori: Thank you, it was really fun! No actually, it was our first time meeting, but we had a great time! He’s a friend of Kayla’s and a photographer himself, so I figured he’d know what he was doing. As far as the role, I think it was perfect for me. I love horror movies, especially ones like this, so yeah it was super cool to be murdered by a creepy mythical creature.
TPR: Lep, this one is for you. How difficult was it getting into character as the evil leprechaun? It certainly comes across like you fully embraced the fun, dark nature of the roll.
Mr. J. : it was so much fun bc I loved the movies growing up plus there isn’t alot of roles that fit shorter guys like me who are under 5ft. , I love how he’s so cynical and crazy about his gold but has to kill you in a way that he has to laugh about, so this role was nothing but fun to just let loose and play with, but the biggest plus was being a photographer myself it was fun getting to be own the other side for once and let loose plus working with Kayla King has always been high on my bucket list !
TPR: Goldie, did you ever imagine you would have the opportunity to flee for your life while scantly clad from a malicious leprechaun? Is this one for the bucket list?
Hyacinthus Ori: Never! But you know, I’ve wanted to work with Kayla for a while now and it turned out great, so yes, definitely checking this one off the list.
TPR: Both of you, hypothetically, what would you do if you came across a mysterious pot o’ gold, perhaps…at the end of a rainbow?
Mr. J. : I know better than to get in between him and his gold now if I had his powers maybe me and him could have a leprechaun showdown.
Hyacinthus Ori: Well I’d definitely take some pictures, but no touching! I’m not a superstitious person, but I also don’t gamble with my life!
TPR: What will you be drinking this St. Paddy’s Day?
Mr. J. : My favorite liquor is Jager and redbull so that’s my go to all year round!
Hyacinthus Ori: I don’t tend to like beer, so maybe an Appletini for the color? Oh what the hell, give me an Irish Car Bomb!
TPR: Any particular Trash Cinema favorites you like to watch as St. Paddy’s Day draws near?
Mr. J. : I’m still going thru my Leprachaun marathon because I haven’t watched the newer ones so I’ll be continuing them!
Hyacinthus Ori: Of course I’ll be revisiting the Leprechaun series, but I still haven’t seen Frankenhooker. Maybe I’ll finally take some time to check that out.
TPR: Any words of encouragement or wisdom for The Trash Cinema Collective?
Mr. J. : Don’t let greed take you over ,it might not be worth it in the end also never judge a book by its cover , dynamite comes in small packages lol.

Hyacinthus Ori: Don’t let this big, bad world get you down! Remember: love myself, love yourself, and stay trashy!

Photography by Kayla King of Rewski Photography

 




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