Posts Tagged ‘mansion

11
Oct
15

Hell Night (1981) Party on, Garth!

POSTER-HELL-NIGHT

a Primal Root written review

“If you weren’t screaming, and we weren’t screaming, then someone is trying to mind fuck us here.” Seth, Hell Night

I’m not going to lie to you, there were a ton of slasher films made in the wake of the independent horror mega hit, Halloween in 1979. They all followed the formula with varying degree of success. Many tried new ground and failed to deliver the goods, others just didn’t understand the appeal and tried for a quick, meaningless cash grab, while others delivered on the gore and tits but left little to be desired in the thrill department.  Being a life long, die hard admirer of the horror genre, I am willing to give anything a go and I am always thrilled to find an example of a genre film that has every excuse in the world to be a lousy phoned in slasher flick actually put forth the effort, rises above the cliched premise, and delivers something entertaining, actually scary and downright fucking solid in execution. 1981’s Hell Night is a perfect example.

Four pledges, Marty (Linda Blair of The Exorcist and Savage Streets fame) Jeff (Peter Barton from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), Seth ( Vincent Van Patten from Rock and Roll High School) and Denise (Suki Goodwin…umm…) must go through with the initiation ritual pleasantly referred to as Hell Night which means they all must spend the night in the abandoned Garth Manor, where a dozen years or so earlier Raymond Garth murdered his wife, killed off all their deformed offspring and then committed suicide. The youngest of their spawnage, Andrew referred to as a…Gork (?), was never found and the legend goes that he still lives somewhere within Garth Manor, which contains numerous secret passages and catacombs running below the enormous mansion.

hellnightpledges3

Once the four lovely young people are locked in for the night behind the 12 foot tall wrought iron fence which encircles the property, complete with razor sharp spikes at the top where anyone trying to haul their asses over it “might cut their nuts off”, Fraternity and Sorority leaders begin a campaign of pranks in an attempt to scare the shit out of the pledges all while Seth and Denise get all weird and kinky in an upstairs bedroom playing goofy and endearing surfboard role playing, Marty and Pater spend their time chatting and forming a friendship by the living room fireplace. But it isn’t long before the presence of these young people bring to life a dark, malevolent force in the house one that strikes out at the pranksters first and then slowly, mercilessly, begins hunting down our four pledges.

Hell Night works shockingly well despite what comes across as a pretty by the numbers premise. Stick four attractive young people in a dark, forbidding location, unleash a plot contrivance to search them down and kill them one by one according their sluttiness and casual narcotics usage, leave one girl behind to kill the monster and call it a day. But where Hell Night succeeds flawlessly is actually taking the time to create real, interesting, human characters and not some phony, cynical bullshit axe fodder that you can’t wait to see get their heads ripped from their neck stumps. The young people in Hell Night are genuinely likable, shit, even relatable. And this is a huge fucking rarity for a “dead teenage” flick.

HellNightGallery3

Let’s take a moment to look at Seth, probably my favorite character in the flick. This guy is a muscle bound, blonde, weed smoking surfer guy who, according to himself, only cares about drinking, surfing and screwing. In your run of the mill slasher film, this guy would be written of as dead meat right then in there. Horny jock? That sucker is toast! But in Hell Night, these conventions are kicked to the curb and Seth is proven to be not only quite intelligent, but heroic, loyal, and resourceful. As a long time fan of the slasher genre, I can tell you, Seth’s behavior and acts of heroism are not often seen in the slasher formula. In a way, this makes Seth a kind of wild card, as we so very seldom see this kind of character, we are put of edge not knowing just what might happen to him.

That same sentiment goes for the character of Marty. Linda Blair creates a unique and admirable blue collar badass out of Marty. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, comes from a working class family where she grew up fixing cars along with her mechanic Father (PLOT POINT!) and provides an interesting contrast to the other, more privileged, pledges.  There’s even a great extended conversation early in the film about class structure and capitalism between Marty and Jeff. It’s a fantastic moment where two characters are feeling one another out as they get to know one another along with the audience. We’re not talking anything deeply philosophical here, but it far exceeds what the format typically calls for, and that’s worth praising. These characters are real to life, identifiable and ultimately likable. We fear for them and it really does suck when these characters are killed and are no longer in the movie. You actually mourn the loss. See, this effort makes Hell Night far scarier than it’s next of kin.

Hell Night ghost projection

There are no red herrings in Hell Night, only a menacing, blood thirsty antagonist that remains hidden in the shadows for about 95% of the film’s running time. AGAIN, this works in Hell Night‘s favor, as it adds a legitimate feeling of unease and fear as we imagine just what or whom is lurking in the darkness, in those catacombs, racing towards us down the candle lit hallways of Garth Manor.  However, the number of killers at work here is left in question, which also adds to the uneasy tension Hell Night generates. But, when you stop and think about the premise of Hell Night, it does kind of dawn on you that these college kids ARE trespassing on Private Property…I guess The Garth clan has every right to butcher these assholes invading their home. Who are the real bad guys here? 😉 This flick even manages to create some genuine suspense as one young pledge, in a panic, decides to scale the high fence surrounding Garth Manor and must hoist his weight over numerous spikes poised to pierce his tender young flesh. When looking for help, all the young people can find is useless authority and they must rely on themselves, their cunning and resourcefulness to survive Hell Night.

Alright, so when all is said and done, is Hell Night original? Hardly. What it actually is, is a well crafted and performed Spook Show Haunted House. It’s genuinely thrilling, fun, and even pretty goddamn nightmarish at times. Hell Night is a sadly overlooked piece of slasher film history, one I continually wait to see it becoming rediscovered and reaching the cult status it so richly deserves. Boasting some fine performances, nasty, mean, mother fucking monsters, some outstanding cleavage from a still baby faced Linda Blair, a genuinely creepy score and the patience to really create some worthwhile characters, Hell Night is, in this filthy fright flick fan’s opinion, is one of the better slasher efforts to come out of the 1980’s.

WORD OF WARNING: There is NO nudity in Hell Night.

I’m awarding Hell Night FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-Root

14
Jan
13

Texas Chainsaw 3D: The Family That Slays Together…

4-texas-chainsaw-3d-fan-poster

a Primal Root review

“Do your thing, cuz!” -Heather, Texas Chainsaw 3D

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Taking up directly after the events of the very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, literally the very afternoon after Leatherface,  Hitchhiker, Cook and Grandpa, mercilessly terrorized poor young Sally in their decrepit old farmhouse over supper, The Sawyer household is descended upon by a gang of pick-up truck driving, rifle wielding, vigilantes out for blood. Before you can say “I thought you was in a hurry!” the Sawyer clan, now numbering in the dozens (huh?) is struck down in a bloody, brutal one sided battle waged by beer swilling rednecks.  So much for that whole family of Draculas being such fierce opponents.  But one little baby Sawyer survives to be raised by an unloving, alcoholic white trash couple…sigh.

Almost 40 years later and that little Sawyer baby is now in her early twenties and a burgeoning art student who likes to use dead animal parts in her work, lives in a trendy, spacious loft with her live in unfaithful boyfriend (*spoiler alert* he’s fucking her best friend who is dating a crepe chef or something). The survivng Sawyer baby has been given the name Heather Miller. She’s a strikingly pretty, pale skinned, shapley young thing with jet black hair, a penchant for flannel and the standard issue emo hipster hairstyle. Who knew the Sawyer clan’s backwoods, inbred, hillbilly genes could produce such a sexy thing?

texas-chainsaw-3d-alexandra-daddario-tania-raymonde

Heather receives a mysterious message in the mail informing her she has just inherited the estate of a long lost relative who has just recently passed away. You know where this is headed, don’t you? Yep, she is now the proud owner of the Sawyer estate which has undergone some pretty drastic renovations since we last ventured out that way for dinner. Now it’s a two story mansion with a pool table and a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. Oh, and with plenty of room in the basement for the only other survivor of the Texas NRA Massacre, ol’ Buzzsaw Billy himself, Leatherface!

Heather and her dead bodies, I mean, best buddies, road trip it out there, inherit the estate and begin getting acquainted with the townsfolk. All of which seem wary and trigger happy that there’s so much hubbub going down at the Sawyer house.  That very first evening, as Heather pokes around the house (and her boyfriend heads off to the nearby barn to have his man utter milked by Heather’s best bud) Commando Crepe ventures down to Leatherface’s lair unleashing the maniac’s special brand of down home house warming. Nothing says Southern Hospitality like a man wearing someone else’s face and wielding a chainsaw, am I right?

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That’s right, it’s intestinal coleslaw city! Next thing you know, people are getting slammed on meat hooks, getting cut in half,  having their faces re appropriated as fashion accessories, etc. And once all the teen character’s are out of the way, the movie is only half way to the finish line! We still got a whole town of  blood thirsty, Coors swilling, Glen Beck fans to obliterate! You know that subtle gore the original Tobe Hooper “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was known for?  Yeeeeeah, don’t expect such restraint here. There’s gut spilling in this flick that would make Jigsaw blush. It’s a smorgasbord of splatter along the lines of Tobe Hooper’s sequel,  the cleverly titled ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2″. Of course,  I am saying this about the movies gore level. Because the intelligence and wit of the original Chainsaw franchise (well, the first and Part 2) is missing in action.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is about as dumb as they come, you don’t just have to suspend your disbelief for the action that takes place in the film to make sense, you gotta whack your disbelief over the head with a crowbar and ship it to Abu Dhabi for this sucker to pass muster.  The fact that the surviving Sawyer girl is only in her early twenties,  that Leatherface has been just chilling in a basement for the past 30 some odd years, that even after being bound with her arms over her head and having her shirt torn open Heather’s gorgeous heaving breasts would stay totally covered…It’s all very stupid. Almost like… Almost like… *GASP* AN OLD SCHOOL SLASHER SEQUEL!

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Only, if this were an old school slasher film, you;d be seeing all kinds of boobage right now.

I don’t know how it happened but I genuinely enjoyed Texas Chainsaw 3D.  Sure, it was about as dumb a sack of entrails, but it did tap into that exact same level of absurd stupidity as the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels. It’s just mayhem for mayhem’s sake and feels like some kind of missing 1980’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel! Sure, they try to humanize Leatherface a bit more in this entry, but that’s kind of the plight of the sequel.  They always try to show you more of what makes these monsters tick, and in the process, unintentionally end up make them less scary.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie. It’s just plain BAD.  Like my spelling. But you know what, I still had a blast sitting back and letting the movie do it’s business despite the near infinite dumbshit creative decisions. Probably the coolest segment of the whole damn movie was the opening credits which featured retrofitted sequences from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre now rendered  IN 3D! The final chase where Sally is pursued by hitchhiker and Leatherface  was quite a sight to behold in the third dimension, especially after having seen the film several dozen times over the years, it gave the classic a fresh perspective. Hell, they should just re-release the original in 3D like Titanic! If I paid money for this slice of undercooked headcheese I sure as Hell would pay money to see one of the greatest horror films ever made in 3D!

But, I digress…

Texas Chainsaw 3D eschews everything that followed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as if those events  never happened and plays almost like a fan film. With cameos by series cast favorites (and horror convention circuit staples) as well as copious tips of the hat to the franchise, it’s obvious that this flick was made by people who have a deep admiration for the series.  Which makes me scratch my head and wonder why they didn’t make it their concern to write a Great, Hell, even a GOOD screenplay for what is essentially supposed to be the sequel to the landmark original?  Instead, they created this greasy piece of scrapple that’s enjoyable, sure it’s fun, but it doesn’t exactly feel like direct lineage to the original.  Not exactly direct blood but a far of distant second cousin in law that shares the same name.

It's Hammer Time aka: Don't get too attached to the bald guy.

It’s Hammer Time aka: Don’t get too attached to the bald guy.

Gorgeous actress Alexandra Daddario steals the show as Heather, the long lost Sawyer girl who is grappling with her family connection. Seeing her go from a lost soul to Leatherface’s keeper is pretty cool. She also has great crazy eyes that are hidden behind a  sweet, inconspicuous gaze. Seriously, when she embraces the killer inside and starts hacking and slashing while quipping like Freddy, her crazy eyes might just be the most unsettling aspect of the whole damn film. She widens those puppies, grins like the Cheshire Cat, sinks her pitchfork into folks and I ended up with the strangest boner…I still think they really missed an awesome opportunity to create a female Leatherface here. Seriously, how fantastic would it be to see some buxom young woman in a grue spattered apron, wearing someone else’s face while revving up a chainsaw and doing the infamous Leatherface shuffle? Am I alone on this? Bueller? Bueller?

Dan Yeager as Leatherface is…he gets the job done. Neither the best nor the worst Leatherface to cross paths with the franchise. Leatherface sure is getting up there in age though,  but as evidenced by Heather’s age, the basic rules of space and time need not apply in the Chainsawniverse.  Leatherface can still chase after prey with the best of them. Never running out of breath or breaking his hip.  It’s gotta be those Centrum Silvers he’s been taking. Probably his best moment is at the very end of the film when Heather interacts with him at the Sawyer dining room table after one VERY long night. It’s both oddly touching and even almost suspenseful. We finally get an extended look at Leatherface’s eyes and we can almost imagine he’s emoting. Great stuff.

I don't see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I don’t see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I was expecting the absolute worst walking into Texas Chainsaw 3D and, while not very good, I thought it was passable schlock fun. Sure, they turned Leatherface into much more of an anti-hero than he ever was originally, and made the whole Sawyer clan WAY more sympathetic than I feel anyone could ever try and take a family of murderous redneck cannibals, and there are plot holes so big you could speed  a big rig right through them,  but it is a nice big helping of bad movie fun. It plays it straight with no post-modern jabs at slasher movie conventions and is thick and heavy with the red sauce. It doesn’t spend it’s time trying to be witty or clever, it just wants to give us it’s story and serve us up a nice big bowl of  splatter film love.

This movie is terrible, but for those looking for an old school, brain dead,  slasher flick to gnaw on a bit, look no further.   Now get me a female Leatherface!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

18
Oct
11

Athena and Noel, October’s Devil Girls of the Month (NSFW!)

        (NSFW) October is here and everyone is eagerly awaiting the approach of what is the undisputed favorite holiday around The Collective, Halloween! It is no different for The Devil Girls as two of our favorite ladies, Miss Athena Hollow and Noel Cypress, get caught up in a little trouble at the local haunted manor. Trapped behind steel bars, no means of escape, while the dank smell of decay and the the oppressive chill of encroaching evil are a constant reminder that their fates just might be sealed once and for all… What are two lovely Devil Girls to do? Find out the answer and feel your Halloween Spirit rise as you check out Miss Athena and Noel’s seductive new spread! Quite the sugary, trashy, treat to get this Halloween season rolling off on the perfect note.

Stay Trashy,

-Root

Photography by Kickapoo

www.missathenahollow.com

www.noelsnaughtynook.com

www.geekgirlsonline.com

15
Dec
10

Hard Rock Zombies: Night of the Creeping Sex Offender

a Primal Root review

Admittedly, the cheesy movie fan is kind of an oddity unto himself. Someone who won’t go see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen because it’s a contrived multi-million dollar hunk of dog shit but will spend countless hours looking for the next “Manos”: The Hands of Fate that they can laugh their asses off at with their pals while downing some rot gut in the comfort of their own living room. Well, my fellow collectors, you will be happy to hear I have come across one of the strangest pieces of Trash I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a greasy, hairy, spandex clad monstrosity from 1984 entitled, Hard Rock Zombies.

Rocking Hard or Hardly Rocking? If we're talking about the hair then they most certainly are Rocking Hard.

Now, you can never judge a movie by its title. At first, Hard Rock Zombies sounds like it could be just fine– Zombies rising from their graves to munch on the warm, gooey flesh of the living as metal music blares over the soundtrack and the arterial spray spatters against the wall. Alas, no dice. Instead we get a hairy, sleazy quartet of rockers lead by the mustachioed lead vocalist and guitarist, Jessie. They play nightly to crowds of about a dozen or so young women decked out in their leopard print spandex and requiring a cheering track as they couldn’t quite work up the excitement to cheer while they were actually on camera at the concert.

This young lady immediatley contracted a venereal disease upon having her breasts signed by Jesse.

Once their introductory concert is over and the audience endures a scene where they all hang around in their tight little underwear and fiddle around with their junk, they head out for their next scheduled concert in a town by the name of Grand Guignol (SUBTLE!!), a small town Jessie has been warned to stay away from by a young pre-teen girl named Cassie. The warning goes unheeded and as the band rides off in their van while chanting a tune that will raise the dead (Jessie read about it in a “book”) they pick up a scrawny blonde hitch-hiker chick who invites them to stay at her family’s mansion.

'Don't be so quick to judge' might be the message of Hard Rock Zombies. After all, this...being could just be bringing us cookies and rainbows! Nope, just a tack hammer to bludgeon us to death.

Just wait till you meet this bunch. One-eyed midgets, wheelchair bound werewolf grannies, bald-headed blood spattered chicken slayers and even a retired 90-something year old Adolf Hitler who bangs werewolf lady at night with an audience of midgets he calls his grandchildren. And you say that the Sawyer clan from Texas Chainsaw Massacre had awkward family get-togethers! Needless to say, the band sees nothing wrong here, and is even mildly charmed. Upon arrival and hearing constant screams of agony coming from the mansion the band’s keyboardist sheepishly asks the little blond minx, “Um, excuse me. I don’t mean to be rude, but what’s with all the screaming?” Were people just more accepting of this kind of behavior in the 80’s? I suppose this was post-Manson pre-Waco America. Still, no red flags go up? Not one?

As the band hypes the town up over the impending HARD ROCKING by way of a dancing montage where the band members hop, skip, jump and mime (yes, mime), Jessie spots Cassie again and chases her across town. Over the course of the film, Jessie falls madly in love with this 16-year old girl. So much so he writes a tender yet shitty love ballad just for her. His love is so passionate it is already penned and rehearsed to perfection by the band.

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And so, night falls as the band recuperates from a painful but not fatal electrocution at the Freak residence. And it is them after much anticipation, the Freak family ACTUALLY decides to kill the band! This had me cheering in my living room as one by one these hair band rejects get slaughtered in very cheap and awkward ways. The keyboardist and bassist get murdered by werewolf granny, who regains the power to walk when she puts on her wolf mask. Um, Jessie gets crucified on an oak tree and then receives a weed whacker to the chest and the drummer gets it while naked in the shower with the blond hitcher as they try to recreate the legendary scene from Psycho.

I wonder if Alfred Hitchcock was flattered by this far more genital heavy homage to his now legendary scene?

Halfway through the running time and we’re one step closer to actually having some zombies show up now that the entire band is murdered. The small town residents bury the guys a foot or two deep in the front yard of Freak Manor and call it a day. Cassie has a harder time letting go. She sits beside Jessie’s grave and plays her favorite cassette tape of theirs that just so happens to feature… the same REANIMATION ROCK we heard them playing in the van earlier! The four fellows rise from their graves to march around town doing some strange dance before getting their vengeance against the Freaks who killed them.

Oddly enough, our story doesn’t end there. Before you can say “This movie is retarded” those killed by the band rise up from the dead to begin killing anew. That’s right. Zombie Hitler, Werewolf granny, zombie midgets and ever a zombie interpretive dancer! They are all back to tear about the quaint little town of Grand Guignol to pieces.

Will the band impress the big wig record executive now that they are dead? Can Grand Guignol be saved from the zombie apocalypse? Will the band ever be able to convincingly fake-play their instruments? Will there be any explanation as to why the midget zombie has decided to ride a cow? Will any of the severed head jokes make me laugh? Will Hitler’s gas chamber in the Cave of Death come in handy? You’ll just have to check this puppy out to see!

The grave diggers must have anticipated their reanimation since they just threw dirt ontop of the band rather than burying them. Good thinking! That saves time.

In all honesty, probably the only truly disturbing aspect of the entire film is Jessie’s strange lusting for Cassie. The 12 year old girl. The man writes songs about her. He runs after her as she flees. He even corners her to give her a sentimental ring which seems to win her over. There’s even a fantastic fantasy sequence that takes place towards the end of the film as the now zombified band rocks out their brand new Monster Ballad “Cassie” where Jessie sees himself running to embrace his little girl love in a secluded area of the woods while he is decked out in a white leisure suite and a matching ascot. This can only be the sexual fantasy of a mustachioed pedophile with a rotting brain and a taste for the tacky. That sequence was the one that elicited a serious reaction from me, a strange combination of nervous laughter and stomach churning.

Jesse, and his not yet legal love interest, Cassie.

The film reaches a climax as the town folks realize the only way to appease the zombie is to let them gang bang a virgin girl to death. AND THE TOWN FOLKS ARE COOL WITH THIS! They find this information in some random book (probably the same one Jessie got the Raise the Dead song from) and decide it’s time to sacrifice Cassie’s sweet, virginal love outlet to the hordes of the undead who probably can’t get it up anyway.

I mean, kudos for originality, but I have a feeling there was some creative force on this project who liked the prospect of a very young girl getting fiddled with a bit too much. The film already makes one feel dirty while watching it simply due to the production values but the added bonus of this strange Lolita complex makes me want to incinerate my clothes and take a scalding hot bath while trying to scrub away the stain on my soul with a Brill-O Pad and AJAX.

You know who else enjoyed rising from the dead to eat living flesh...

Hard Rock Zombies is a one of a kind film and is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and hopefully, you will ever see again. It’s awkward, bargain basement schlock that is hard to really get a grip on because there’s just so much zany shit going on in every dang scene! People running around with giant pictures of faces to avoid zombie attacks, people fondling dead women’s breasts, old men ascending to heaven after providing exposition, men parading around in tightey whiteys! It must be seen to be believed, and even then, you may not be able to wrap your mind around it.

This was my expression as I sat through Hard Rock Zombies.

In the pantheon of zombie cinema, Hard Rock Zombies undoubtedly is among the very worst. The scummy film at the very bottom of the Trash Cinema dumpster. But no viewer can deny its gonzo kind of creativity and originality. I mean, it didn’t transform into anything good. But, for those of us who find the appeal in the trashiest of bad movies, these are the flicks we are looking for. We’re not looking for something “good.” We’re looking for the forgotten. The oddities. The films everyone else threw away and banished to obscurity decades earlier. And for those of us who make up The Collective we find the beauty in such trash. And that’s what always keeps us searching and, in the end, always coming back for more.

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root

29
Oct
09

The Primal Root’s Halloween Special Part 2 – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Halloween 05

Hey Gang!

Well, the big day is almost here and just in time for Halloween we have our second Halloween Special Rotten Review!

In this installment we are taking a look at a pretty notoriously bad piece of Halloween Trash Cinema. I’s the fifth film in the beleaguer Halloween franchise. That’s right, we’re taking a look at Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.

Prepare yourself for obnoxious overacting middle aged teenyboppers, insane child therapists, shacks that time forgot, grizzled pirates, the bogeyman floating the Illinois rapids, young children getting run over, adults abandoning troubled children to PAR-TAY, the most painful condom in history, sex with pants on, cowboys from hell, and slightly homo-erotic doctor/patient death scene.

John Carpenter redefined not only horror, but the culture of Halloween in America back in 1978 with the release of Halloween. And man, they’ve been trying to destroy what he created ever since. With the ill conceived 5th entry Switzerland born filmmaker Dominique Othenin-Girard managed to kill off the franchise once again for about 5 years.

Join The Primal Root as he explores one of the worst sequels to any franchise ever made and get into the Halloween spirit! Trust me, we manage to turn this nastiest of tricks into quite a treat.

Stay Trashy!

– Root

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/85776056″>(NSFW) Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 7</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user24396091″>Kevin Cole</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




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