Horrorfest 2019: Never Sleep Again


Music Movies Horror Gif Shared By Gamand On Gifer
They are not paying me for promotional purposes. Yet….

Well it is time for another Horrorfest, especially since last year’s worked great and resulted in me reviving my love for horror movies. Every time I think I’ll stop doing these something causes me to continue, and in this case the magic of streaming services makes it possible I will be doing this until I finally die…or return as the undead. I thought about doing a list but that never works, so all films listed here are ones I have actually viewed, with reviews to bore-I mean, follow. Enjoy! PS: This was my 500th blog post. Very fitting, indeed.

This concludes Horrorfest 2019. I will unsticky this post when it is time for Horrorfest 2020. Thanks for reading.
Pre-October:

1. The Babysitter (2017, Demonic Cult)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-babysitter-2017-mcg/
2. Ready Or Not (2019, Crazy Rich People)-https://wp.me/pRBID-2mq
3. It: Chapter 2 (2019, Pennywise)-Work in progress I guess
4. Summer of 84 (2018, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/horrorfest-2019-presents-summer-of-84-2018-francois-simard-anouk-whissell-and-yoann-karl-whissell/
5. The Ranger (2018, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-ranger-2018-jennifer-wexler/
October:

6. Viy (1967, Demons)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/horrorfest-2019-presents-viy-1967-konstantin-yershov-georgi-kropachyov/
7. Under the Shadow (2016, Evil Spirits)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/horrorfest-2019-presents-under-the-shadow-2016-babak-anvari/
8. Twins of Evil (1972, Vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/11/25/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-twins-of-evil-1972-john-hough/
9. Vampire Circus (1972, DUH)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/11/27/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-vampire-circus-1972-robert-young/
10. Final Exam (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/horrorfest-2019-presents-final-exam-1981-jimmy-huston/
11. The Love Witch (2016, SEX MAGIK)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/the-love-witch-2016-anna-biller/
12. City of the Dead (1959, New England Witches)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/city-of-the-dead-1960-john-llewellyn-moxey/
13. The Corpse Grinders (1971, KILLER CATS)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-corpse-grinders-1971-ted-v-mikels/
14. Cannibal Girls (1973, MEAT)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/horrorfest-2019-presents-cannibal-girls-1973-ivan-reitman/
15. Hell Night (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/horrorfest-2019-presents-hell-night-1981-tom-desimone/

16. The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-hills-have-eyes-2-1985-wes-craven/
17. Hands of the Ripper (1971, Jack’s Kid)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-the-hands-of-the-ripper-1971-peter-sasdy/
18. The Mutilator (1985, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-mutilator-1985-buddy-cooper/
19. Thirst (1979, Vampire Cult)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/2019-horrorfest-presents-thirst-1979-rod-hardy/
20. Stagefright (1987, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-stage-fright-1987-michele-soavi/
21. The Wax Mask (1997, Giallo)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-wax-mask-1997-sergio-stivaletti/
22. De Lift (1983, Killer Elevator)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/horrorfest-2019-presents-de-lift-1983-dick-maas/
23. I Drink Your Blood (1971, Rabies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/horrrorfest-2019-presents-i-drink-your-blood-1970-david-e-durston/
24. All The Colors of the Dark (1972, Madness)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/03/12/horrorfest-2019-presents-all-the-colors-of-the-dark-1972-sergio-martino/
25. One Cut of the Dead (2017, Zombies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-one-cut-of-the-dead-2017-shinichirou-ueda/

26. Demons 2 (1986, UGLY BUGGERS)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-demons-2-1986-lamberto-bava/
27. Der Nachtmahr (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/der-nachtmahr-2015-achim-bornhak/
28. You Might Be The Killer (2018, Meta)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-you-might-be-the-killer-2018-brett-simmons/
29. Day of the Animals (1977, NATURE IS PISSED)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-day-of-the-animals-1977-william-girdler/
30. The Awakening (2011, British Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-awakening-2011-nick-murphy/
31. Bloody Pit of Horror (1965, Torture and lots of it)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/horrorfest-2019-presents-bloody-pit-of-horror-1965-massimo-pupillo/
32. Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016, Lesbians)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/horrorfest-2019-presents-sweet-sweet-lonely-girl-2016-a-d-calvo/
33. Mayhem (2017, VIOLENCE)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/horrorfest-2019-presents-mayhem-2017-joe-lynch/
34. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019, GO BIG OR GO HOME)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/11/horrorfest-2019-presents-zombieland-double-tap-2019-ruben-fleischer/
35. Jack Frost (1997, Killer Snowman)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-jack-frost-1997-michael-cooney/
36. Dark Water (2002, CREEEEEPY)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-dark-water-2002-hideo-nakata/
Halloween:

37. Happy Birthday to Me (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/horrorfest-2019-presents-happy-birthday-to-me/

Coda:

38. The Lighthouse (2019, WUT)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/06/08/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-lighthouse-2019-robert-eggers/

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Invitation (2015, Karyn Kusama)


The Invitation and Starry Eyes are both slow burning horror dramas that despite their weaker elements are still solid and worth seeing. They both deal with how damaged people are easily manipulated into going along with concepts and ideas that are harmful to others and to themselves. Both have endings that are a big payoff, and both feature at least one character who realizes what is going on long before anyone else figures it out. I do wonder if maybe it’s California’s history with cults and violence that has resulted in so many horror films being set in that particular area. Noirs such as Chinatown also present the area’s dark side, usually hinting at evil lurking beneath.

Yet The Invitation reminds us also that evil is not so black and white, that is rests in the hearts and minds of people. They can be our friends, loved ones, relatives or people we are acquainted with. Will, the film’s haunted protagonist, understands that all too well in the end. He is cursed with figuring out the reason why his friends and him are at his ex wife’s house, a place that used to be his long ago in a different life. Too bad that he only figures it out later, and that of course the others present don’t believe him. One scene I liked was when Will is screaming in pain, only its internal. His suffering becomes tangible, present to the audience.

While this film takes too long to get going, when it finally does it has a presence that is very engaging. I often wonder if a terrible incident would be enough to push me into coming under the spell of a manipulative individual. Yet I realize that in one way or another it’s easy to be manipulated, to have the illusion of control. That’s a far more unnerving thought than any horror film.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Crimson Peak (2015, Guillermo del Toro)


Gorgeous and elegant, with a grand cast and a creepy score Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is another fine example of his ability to make a good horror film. This one happens to be in the tradition of classic gothic horror, with ghosts mostly accepted as being real or possible by many of the characters. Furthermore there is a great sense of dread prevailing through the entire movie, one that never lets up even after the credits roll.

Even though the plot is rather simple I did not mind figuring out what would happen later on. Del Toro channels many past horror films effectively while also bringing his own style to the picture. At times del Toro does not get enough credit for being a talented director, and I always look forward to whatever new project he is working on. This film benefits from his ability to paper over some of its flaws and to account for certain scenes that don’t work as well as others.

crimson-peak-jessica-chastain-screengrab-0002

Having a marvelous cast sure works in his favor-even Charlie Hunnam, the weak link, is good as the kindhearted and smart doctor Alan,  who has a crush on Mia Wasikowska’s young budding writer Edith. Unfortunately for him she falls under the spell of British aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his eerie sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Despite warnings from both Alan and her father, Edith decides to wed Thomas and move to his crumbling mansion overseas. Anyone who’s ever seen a horror film could guess where this is going.

Yet there are plenty of creepy moments as previously noted, and the house’s presence is so notably made that it’s as if it’s part of the cast itself. Also the third act did take me by surprise in a few regards and was very tense. Some think that “Peak” is not a horror film, yet I disagree. It’s a good addition to the “Don’t go in the house” genre.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: God Told Me To (1976, Larry Cohen)


Opening with a killing spree that feels ripped from today’s headlines, God Told Me To feels all too relevant in today’s blood soaked present. The cop who tries to find out why a seemingly normal man would murder people without cause or reason is coldly presented with an eerie sentence where ever he goes: “God told me to.” The opener is chaotic and terrifying, ending in tragedy.

The police fail to see a motive even though others continue to kill, stating the exact reason the first murderer did. The cop, Peter (Tony Lo Bianco) runs up against his own police force and ends up digging into his own past, revealing unanswered questions that might lead to a nightmarish future. At the heart of all of this is a cult leader who may not even be of this world. Cohen frames all of this in stark, realistic and eerie fashon, crafting scenes of pure tension.

Even more interesting is that the film has two particularly strong female characters, played by Deborah Raffin and Sandy Dennis. How they relate to and figure into what Peter is going through establish and ground the movie in a plausible reality. They also realize only too late the deep issues that Peter has, although his wife mediates upon Peter’s obsession with religion. One harrowing scene involves Peter dealing with his perceived sins in a church, a moment that reminds me of the works of Abel Ferrera.

Naturally all of this craziness boils to a shocking and chilling finale. Cohen is an underrated auteur that made different and interesting films, some horror, some crime, often mixing the two and giving us a film such as God Told Me To. Not too many films made in the 1970s have stayed relevant, yet what may be Cohen’s finest creation is still very applicable today. Particularly with the recent killing sprees and the rise of religious fanaticism.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Philip Kaufman)


Eerie and very sinister, quiet and deadly. You only really too late that your own friends and neighbors are being replaced by creatures unknown. This is a force beyond our understanding, a parasite that feeds upon man. Do not, I repeat, do not fall asleep. You shall dream your last dream if you do, and the rest is a walking nightmare. Conformity is the norm already in human culture, which is unfortunate. Most unfortunate. Welcome to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The original 1956 classic dealt with McCarthyism and communism, fear of the other and the suburbs not being a safe haven. Philip Kaufman’s equally great remake moves the action to San Francisco, trafficking in 1970s style paranoia and the fear of government bureaucracy in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Donald Sutherland, Blake Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy round out a fine cast that adds to the expert direction. The soundtrack is nice and creepy, although the film easily uses silence to underline the horror of what is occurring.

One of the best parts of the film is when a person literally crumbles away in Sutherland’s arms. What a terrifying concept, that a person could be destroyed and an unfeeling monster emerges, occupying their living space. Also the film wonderfully uses Nimoy and Sutherland,  who both fit the material rather well and are the major players in a situation that could determine the fate of the human race.

While I’m not sure if the other two remakes are even worth seeing the 1978 version is almost equal to the 1956 adaptation of the novel all of them are based on. Due to spoofs and time I knew the film’s ending, and yet that finale still amazes. This film is another worthy additon to sci-fi and horror.

A Pair of True Detectives Season 1 (Possible Spoilers)


Its been a long time since I reviewed a TV show episode by episode, or at least focused on the overall season. The last show I covered episode by episode was Lost, and the last season I reviewed overall was Season 1 of Game of Thrones. So I present to you folks my short, not really in-depth enough thoughts on True Detective’s first episode. I wrote all of these entries last year:

True Detective Season 1 Episode 1: The Long Bright Dark

Opening in the Deep South and focusing in on a case that had long been thought solved in 1995, the HBO show True Detective utilizes flashbacks and flash forwards for a season centering around two Louisiana State CID’s, Rust and Marty. These former partners are being interviewed, or more likely interrogated, by current detectives because someone has been killed in the same fashion as the girl that they found in a field over a decade prior. Having fallen out after years of working together, Marty and Rust are grilled separately, each giving accounts of what transpired during the murder investigation. In the process certain elements come to light, and we begin to get a certain picture of who these men are and how they think.

This is especially made clear in a scene in which Rust offers his darkly humorous and brutal outlook on humanity after Marty unfortunately asks Rust what his belief system is. Matthew McConaughey breaks free of his movie persona here, delivering a brooding monologue that Woody Harrelson reacts to quite strongly, which in turn was funny and rather apt given the nature of what Rust had just said. Its interesting that Marty’s wife, Maggie, wants Rust to meet Marty’s family, as the two men seem to have little in common and Rust is no longer a family man. Perhaps curious to see who has her husband’s life in his hands, although maybe also a typical formality of sorts. What occurs as a result of that decision is Maggie realizing what Marty already knows: that Rust is on edge, teetering on that line between sanity and madness.

Another choice moment is when Rust in the interview forces one of the detectives to get him a six pack of Lone Star as he continues to chain smoke away during their questioning. The first episode concludes with a rather nice puzzling quote that does not come across as typical or cliche based on how McConaughey delivers the line. Harrelson and McConaughey display a natural rapport and connection in this show, playing off of one another and reflecting their fantastic talents onscreen. I’m looking forward to viewing the rest of the series based on this gorgeously shot, bleak and neatly directed episode.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Candyman (1992, Bernard Rose)


Filmed in the poorer parts of Chicago where the events of Candyman take place, Bernard Rose’s film is a unique and great 1990s horror movie that is creepy due to how quiet many of it’s scenes are. Virginia Madsen is a young grad student who decides to write about the infamous urban legend of Candyman, only to discover too late that the monster is very real. Thus begins a spiral into madness and despair as she loses most of what she cares about. Xander Berkeley does a nice turn as her scumbag husband who betrays her as she finds herself in a walking nightmare.

Unlike other slasher films this one is well shot and directed. Like many horror films Candyman benefits from a great eerie score that helps set the mood. Tony Todd is perfect in the title role, operating as a demonic spirit. Although this film doesn’t touch heavily enough on social and political elements that it could have further explored it is still a wonderful addition to the horror genre. I loved the Hitchcock references midway through and the asylum scenes were freaky. Of course this film has sequels and it can’t resist a darkly funny spot of revenge near the end. I’ve never said Candyman five times in front of a mirror and I’m in no rush to do so. In this world sometimes one doesn’t tempt fate.

One Night, Three Bava’s


Okay so I meant to post this on October 31st, 2013 but I tend to procrastinate and I was really far behind on reviews at that point anyways. This was mostly because I was too busy watching horror movies, and I spent Halloween night at home enjoying beer, food, and a trio of Mario Bava films:

1) 5 Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

In some ways I’m not even sure that 5 Dolls For An August Moon is a horror film, as most of the movie is a murder mystery/suspense drama with plenty of bodies to go around. Still its a loose slasher film/giallo crafted by the legendary Mario Bava, and I loved its ghoulish sense of humor. There is some amusement to be found in how this film unwinds, and there is a scene that possibly violates logic yet in this film’s loose and wild narrative its a scene that makes absolute sense. Oh and this film could have been subtitled “Rich people behaving badly. Really badly.”

A group of industrialists throw a party on a secluded island, with several of them attempting to pay off a scientist for his discovery of a formula that could be revolutionary. From early on when someone is horribly murdered to the group’s horrible way of dealing with the murders going on in their midst, 5 Dolls operates as a slasher comedy, with the characters rapidly dropping like flies. Like so many other slasher movies this film quickly becomes a guessing game, where the murder hides in plain sight and no one can be trusted. Its a nice level of paranoia that works fairly well in the best slasher movies.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, and while I really liked this movie I think its one of Bava’s most uninteresting in terms of what happens. Yet I loved the pure style of the proceedings, and the final shot is in some regards a wonderful joke. Dead people haven’t been this funny or interesting in quite some time, I think.

2) Hatchet For Honeymoon (1970)

In some ways the great looking yet sinister manic John, the main character of Hatchet For The Honeymoon, reminds me of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Both are rich psychopaths who hide their murder lusts behind perfectly constructed facades, carefully wooing lovely beauties and then killing them. However Bateman wasn’t a mother’s boy, and he was too smart to be locked into a loveless marriage of connivance like John was. Poor John, much like Patrick, can barely keep it together: his world is a house of cards, and he is a lunatic bordering on absolute madness. This is Mario Bava’s masterwork, a film that takes us inside the world of a madman and achieves the tricky part of making us care if he can actually stay one step ahead of the law, that he escapes fate.

Not to mention the fact that midway through the movie loses itself completely in the tricky confines of John’s psychotic world view, operating as crazy as John does the rest of the way. The title by the way is a complete misnomer, as John doesn’t actually murder anyone with a hatchet, choosing instead to use a meat clever to nasty effect. The killings are gorgeous, constructed perfectly and therefore shockingly up close. You can almost feel and sense the fear of his victims and pity them even as John covers his awful behavior with the lies of a gentleman of leisure.

I cannot reveal here one of the film’s best aspects, nor can I say more about the ending, which is bone chillingly eerie. What I can note is that Hatchet For The Honeymoon is a classy giallo with plenty of surprises up its sleeve. So far the only other Bava I find that comes close to matching this film is Blood and Black Lace, another nasty piece of work that is another fine contribution to the slasher sub genre of horror movie making.

3) Twitch Of The Death Nerve/A Bay Of Blood (1971)

Okay so I can see why everyone feels that Friday the 13th: Part 2 ripped off Twitch of the Death Nerve, also known as A Bay of Blood. In fact its painfully obvious, and yet I like both movies-even though A Bay of Blood is the superior of the two. Mario Bava was really good at depicting horrible mayhem occurring onscreen to the point where its no surprise that the Americans decided to rip off his kills. Especially the famous “Spear through the two lovers” death scene that was so graphic the filmmakers of Friday the 13th were forced to cut parts of the scene just to avoid the dreaded “X” rating. Bava apparently did not have that problem in Italy, although I’m sure even the censors over there were strict to a certain degree.

Another thing I love about this film is that the killers are mostly revealed-there is little secret as to who is murdering who, and the body count is rather high. Since the lake front property is worth a great fortune a greedy brood has descended upon the area, desperately killing off one another to try and take control. In some ways this movie has the feel of a gory soap opera where someone is screwing someone else, another person has murdered someone else, and everyone seems to be in on some type of demented conspiracy. Its almost difficult to keep up with the machinations of the entire situation.


By the end of this movie I was a bit exhausted, although that was more so from having spent the entire Halloween night watching Bava movies on Netflix Instant Viewing. A Bay of Blood is gory, bloody (of course) and yet manages to keep that trademark dark humor that Bava featured in some of his later movies. I smiled at how the film ended, and I realize that the Friday the 13th series would have benefited from more dark humor in the series and maybe some nicely tuned irony.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Mimic (1997, Guillermo del Toro)


Despite years of camping experience and being out in the wilderness, bugs still creep me out. Insects are different from humans, and they truly rule this world for they far outnumber us mammals. Mimic starts out with scientists desperately creating a new bug to wipe out a child killing plague ravaging New York City. In the process they unleash a monster that only presents itself years later, coming back to haunt the scientist couple that was responsible for its existence in the first place. Dr. Susan Tyler and Dr. Peter Mann begin to realize that the the so called “Judas Bug” has mutated into something bigger, something truly frightening. After all, the characters along with Leonard, a local transit cop, are forced to journey deep into the underground beyond and beneath the subway in an attempt to prevent the bugs, which can now mimic human behavior, from emerging to take over the city.

The creature effects are fantastic, and this movie is really entertaining. Particularly when the film moves to below the city, as the humans end up becoming prey for gigantic bug creatures. del Toro utilizes the damp, dark setting to create an eerie atmosphere while also playing with genre conventions. Although this film does have cliches such as the noble cop who proves handy in the end, the scientist partner who is sarcastic and ends up as bug food, and the adorable little boy raised by the kind old man that may be the key to what is really going on. Still thanks to del Toro’s direction and the really good script such elements fit the movie well, although it helps that the film itself is a really good monster film.

Although on further research it seems that del Toro has disowned the film and was not happy with the finished product. I can’t say I blame him since it was his movie, but I still liked Mimic all the same. I wonder if the film could not have been truly great instead of merely good however had they allowed del Toro to fulfill his vision. I would like to see the Director’s Cut, and there was supposed to be a different ending according to IMDB.com’s trivia section-an ending that sounds creepy and fantastic to me. Too bad it didn’t happen, although I guess there have been many films butchered or altered by film studios over the years.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Lords of Salem (2012, Rob Zombie)


After witnessing a bunch of old witches having a huge devil worshiping orgy in the middle of the woods many things will seem tame after wards. In this case though the film The Lords of Salem decides to up the level of insanity after a slow buildup that establishes the main characters. Rob Zombie effectively channels Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Roman Polanski, and even Stanley Kubrick while managing to make a slightly better and frightening woman targeted by satanists movie than Ti West did with The House of the Devil. I’m impressed, to say the least, although I’ve only viewed his two Halloween films. I much prefer his latest over each of them, and I do plan to go backwards and view his first two movies. Say what you will about his music but Zombie has a knack for camera placement, haunting visuals, and fairly good plots. The problem with the two movies I mentioned have been more of the acting and dialogue variety, coupled with H2 ending up being way too concerned with overly extreme and pointless violence instead of its far more interesting psychological center.

Lords of Salem however lacks most of the issues that plagued his previous works, and has some rather starkly wonderful and creepy moments. Such as the eerie hallway moments, or the inside of Heidi, the main protagonist’s, apartment-there is only dim light in there, and it has the feel and look of a tomb. With a great big amazing poster from the classic A Trip To The Moon inside, also. I read that the moon is involved with fertility, and that makes sense because poor Hedi’s seemingly nice landlord may not be who she actually is. Spooky. Of course we are also left with the possibility that all of Heidi’s troubles are the result of her struggling to stay clean from drugs, which only adds to the dark proceedings. Oh they are dark indeed, bleak and terrifying nightmares that plague Heidi and cause her to question reality. Its bad enough when you are facing normal problems, yet suffering from possible hallucinations is even worse.

The rest of the film continues to unfold in a suffocating atmospheric manner, growing more and more odd and entering further into the world of the bizarre. Mysteries are answered only resulting in new questions, and by the film’s last act the final connections to reality are completely severed. Rob Zombie has given us a freaky new horror film, an experience in terror that is bold, well crafted, and different. By the time the end credits rolled I was almost glad that the film had ended only so that I could witness something happy to cleanse my thoughts. However the images still lingered on long after the screen had faded to black.

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