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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD REVIEW



In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Hoult

Directed by: George Miller

Written by: George Miller, and Brendan McCarthy

  What an action packed adventure! "Mad Max: Fury Road" has everything an audience could want in a high-speed chase across an apocalyptic desert. Lets start with the vehicles. Furisoa (Charlize Theron) drives one mean War Rig. It looks like one of those typical trucks that carry oil, but it's fixed up to be a well defended, fast moving machine. It's a great choice because it has plenty of room for the characters to run up and down, fight on top of, and climb underneath.
  And what does it have to defend itself against? How about dune buggies covered in spikes? They almost look like porcupines on wheels. Of course there's a monster truck doing what monster trucks do. And then there's a biker gang speeding all around, and launching their motorcycles through the sky. Oh, and no one will forget the Doof Wagon carrying the guitarist with a flaming guitar. Where do they come up with these crazy things?
  Speaking of crazy things, the whole set up in the city before the chase begins is weird. There are all kinds of strange people including the leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). He has woman connected to machines giving their breast milk, an army of guys who are as white as milk, and a hulked up right hand man. However, not everyone is ugly. Joe has several good-looking wives locked up for himself until Furisoa decides to do something about it.
  Then there's Mad Max (Tom Hardy). These crazy people capture him, and soon after chain him to the front of a car when the chase begins. The only reason he survives that chaotic scene is because he's the main character. Actually, it's kind of surprising that the story seems to be based more on Furisoa's actions than Max's. The audience also gets to know a lot more about her than Max. However, it's still a great story, and there seems to be plenty more to be told in another movie.
  But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. Lets talk about that ending chase through the desert. It's like all of the previous chase scenes times two! Cars are crashing, and people are dying left and right! It has Max jumping from car to car fending of bad guys. Hell, he's even grabbed and swung through the air by these guys on poles that are swinging back and forth over the cars. And then there's the moment the audience waited for the entire time… a close encounter with the guitarist!
  As for the acting, Charlize does an excellent job in her role as a strong rebellious woman. Whether it's her or a stunt double, her character is involved in plenty of action, and they are terrific. Tom doesn't seem to have many lines, but also handles the action scenes well. Nicholas Hoult, who fans might remember from "Warm Bodies", is almost unrecognizable in his strong supporting role as Nux.
  “Mad Max: Fury Road” is an action packed movie from start to finish. Just as the action dies down, another exciting scene is just about to start. It has all kinds of bizarre people driving vehicles hell bent on taking out their enemies. The story, and acting top it all off. It looks like this is just the beginning of an awesome trilogy, so I give it 4 pools of blood!

  HorrO

Friday, April 17, 2015

UNFRIENDED REVIEW



Ushering in a new era of horror, Universal Pictures’ Unfriended unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself a year earlier.

Starring: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Shelley Hennig

Directed by: Levan Gabriadze

Writer: Nelson Greaves

  Horror fans are continuing to be on the look out for something new in horror. Many are tired of remakes and found footage films. I've already seen a couple of films done by Skype, and know about some films shot entirely by iPhones. It seems as if that something new might be the different use of technology in horror, which brings us to "Unfriended."
  The audience views the movie as if they’re on Blaire's (Shelley Hennig) computer the entire time. One of the first things she does is watch the shocking YouTube video of her friend, Laura Barn's (Heather Sossaman), death. Quite a depressing way to begin! Then technology is on full display, as she does a ton of different things throughout the movie like using iTunes, texting, web searches, video chat, YouTube, and Facebook. As it became apparent that the entire movie would be her computer screen, it made me wonder if this would hold my attention the entire time, but surprisingly it did.
  It held my attention because of the completely chaotic video chat that ensues. Blaire, her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), and several friends are video chatting, but an unwanted caller that they can’t get off the line joins them. They think it's all a prank until it becomes seriously deadly for one of them. Panic sets in as they try desperately to drop the caller, but still are unsuccessful. At times Blaire and Mitch are having their own talk via text about Laura's death. Blaire does some Googling about online ghosts, as she has a hard time believing that Laura might be back for revenge.
  Friendship is an important theme, as it's one of the main reasons for Laura's death. What's interesting is how Laura turns the supposed friends against each other before disposing of them. Just like Jigsaw, Laura wants them to play a game, which is called 'Never Have I Ever.' The game causes the friends to argue, call each other names, and turn against one another, as more and more secrets are revealed about each other. This might make you want to revisit your friendships!
  So what about the deaths? Well Laura possesses each of the friends causing them to do something that results in their own death. It isn't that bloody because during most of the deaths the video chat breaks up allowing the audience to only see part of the death. In fairness, the video chat breaks up many times, so it isn't only during the death scenes. Even though the audience doesn't get to clearly see them, the deaths aren't too bad with Ken's (Jacob Wysocki) death being the best one.
  For those who might not know, the original title for "Unfriended" was "Cybernatural” (good switch). This just shows how much they wanted to make the point that technology would play an important role in the movie. Hell, the ghost might have been more technologically advanced than I am! While it might take some time to get use to, watching the computer screen the entire time isn’t that bad. There’s enough tension and drama mixed in with a few laughs to keep the audience’s attention. The death scenes aren’t too bad, although it would have been nice to see them more clearly. I give them credit for trying something different so please don’t unfriend me if I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood.

  HorrO

Monday, March 30, 2015

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 5 FINALE



  90 minutes is too much to talk about on Facebook so I'm posting my reaction to the season finale here. First I'll say that my predictions were wrong, and I'm glad! Michonne didn't die (bad guess). As we got closer to the show I had a late feeling it would be nice if no one died from the group after such a brutal season, and it turned out that way. Also just before the finale some people made some good guesses to what was going to happen, and I'm thinking those people knew from the comic. I'm glad I don't read it just so that the show is totally new to me. So let's get into the episode.
  We usually see Morgan at the end of episodes so it was nice to see him at the beginning for a change. Who knew he was as skilled with a stick as Donatello, and the actor is British? We finally got an explanation for the W's, but again I'm guessing comic readers knew that already. Those guys and the W thing are crazy!
  What a shot with Sasha sleeping in the zombie pit! Speaking of sleep, Rick needed some good rest after the brawl. I guess he needed to take some punches to calm down, and take a different approach. It was good to see Michonne prove her loyalty. Even better was seeing Carol give us another priceless moment, or two!
  With this being a finale, I was obsessed with who was going to die, and they did a great job playing off of that for people who were in the same boat as me. Several of our favorite characters were put in tough life or death situations. I was in a panic for Daryl! That was a ton of zombies! Then he wanted to play hero for Aaron! I thought he might just do it! When he goes, I could see him going out a hero. Thank you Morgan for the save! Good thing for Morgan that Daryl knew who he was.
  I honestly thought Glenn was dead! I've been waiting for that Glenn and Maggie moment to happen so one could die, and even though it wasn't a huge moment, that quick chat between the two left me fearing for one of their lives. I was cursing Nicholas, and just couldn't believe this loser would be the death of Glenn! Glenn needs more Rick and Carol in him. Nicholas should be dead!
  And so should the Father! What a nut job! Why does he keep wandering off? Why couldn't those zombies just kill him? In a way he did a good thing by leaving the gate open, but he's still annoying. I thought he was trying to get bit, and come back to Alexandria to become a zombie there. Then Sasha had to go and get in a fight with him. With that gun around, I was nervous even when Maggie was talking to him. Glad nothing happened, but I still don't trust him.
  Good to see them squeeze in a moment for Abraham and Eugene. So much has happened, and we never got to see what became of their relationship. It's good to see them clear the air. They are part of the group, and are only stronger together. Plus that scene was almost like the comic relief for the episode.
  It’s a good thing Rick was paying attention. If not, who knows who those zombies would have killed! Once again Rick’s face was covered in blood. I guess that’s why they wanted him to ditch the beard. That was a nice bloody kill. So do you think Deanna was really going to vote Rick out? It seemed close. Instead of dropping the mic Rick dropped the zombie. Did he really need to say anything else? “Here’s the danger, and I took care of it like I said I would.”
  It still seemed like that might not be enough until good old Pete had to make a scene. Once again, it was like we are so close to the end of the episode please don’t kill someone we love. No offense Reg, but thanks for taking one for the group. How quickly Deanna changes her mind. I like how Rick had no hesitation. Then top it off with Morgan returning right at that moment. You know he couldn’t have liked what he just saw. Rick has some explaining to do!
  I like how they left off with the Wolves. I was wondering how they got all of those zombies in the trucks. Interesting how music was used so much in the last few episodes. So the wolves are going to be the next threat. Bring it! I’m assuming there are more of them, or they are going to have to come up with an even better trap.
  One thing that happens time after time is someone letting a bad person live. Then that bad person comes back and does something to get someone else killed, or injured. It happened with the Terminus people. Glenn let Nicholas live after Noah died, and it almost cost him his life. Deanna didn’t let Rick kill Pete, and it cost Reg’s life. Morgan didn’t kill the Wolf guys, and who knows what they will come back, and do next season. If you’re bad you need to die…period!
  So looking ahead we have the danger of the Wolves. I still don’t trust the Father. Hopefully the group members that heard what Deanna said about him will keep an eye on him. It will be interesting to see what they do with Nicholas when Glenn brings him back. Hopefully some more of the Alexandria people step up so they have someone to kill off later. Yes, a terrible thing to say, but we are running out of group members that I would be ok with dying! I hope they pick up where they left off just to see what Rick and Morgan have to say. Unfortunately they always seem to skip ahead in time. And time is all we have until the October return! Hopefully the spin off will keep us entertained, and be better than the unoriginal title it has!

  HorrO

Thursday, March 19, 2015

INTERVIEW WITH "WOLFCOP" WRITER & DIRECTOR LOWELL DEAN



Shock Pop Comic Con took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on February 14, 2015. Among the many great guests to meet and panels to attend, there were several movies screened that day. One of those movies was the Florida premiere of “WolfCop.” It was presented by Popcorn Nights, and included a Q&A with the movie's writer and director, Lowell Dean. Before the screening, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lowell for an interview.

HorrO: "The first thing I always like to ask is why horror? How did you end up in the horror realm?

Lowell: "I think I got into horror because horror enlists a big emotion. It gets you on multiple fronts. If it's sometimes sillier or not as good horror you'll laugh and it will be a big laugh, and if it's really good horror it'll haunt you and it'll be in your brain for years to come. So I just love the big reactions that a horror film, a good horror film, sometimes even a bad horror film can get."

HorrO: "Oh yea! Definitely! They get different reactions. You mentioned comedy vs. horror and just thinking about it, when I looked up the movie it's listed as a comedy horror, but when I watched it I really didn't think it was one way or the other. I thought it was pretty much down the line. Do you view it that way, or which way were you viewing when you put it together?

Lowell: "Exactly what you said. Pretty much down the line, and even through shooting and through editing we were always, as I like to say, 'walking that tightrope of horror and comedy.' Sometimes we would even be shooting a scene and shoot it in a funny way and then we would say well maybe we should do that one completely straight to just have that option. Because even with the flow of the movie, as we started editing, we didn't want it to feel all over the place. We wanted it to be almost like a gradual build. In a weird way, the first half of the film is almost quite serious, and it's kind of as WolfCop grows the comedy grows and it starts getting more and more absurd, which was kind of our goal. I wanted it to have scare moments, but I knew calling anything “WolfCop” means you have to acknowledge it's going to be absurd, and people are going to laugh at it no matter what.”



HorrO: "Where did you come up with the idea for “WolfCop?”

Lowell: “The idea came about honestly by smashing two different ideas together. I was trying to prep for my first film. I wanted do something I could both write, and direct. So I kind of through all of my ideas on the table, and the ones that I was most passionate about were a werewolf script and a cop script. Kind of mentally developing the stories going down the road, and about half way through each I got frustrated and decided to smash them together. It actually solved a lot of the problems I was having with the storytelling, and I had never seen it before. I thought the idea of a werewolf cop was just super weird, and I thought would be super fun to make.”

HorrO: "Expanding on two things you just mentioned, why a werewolf as opposed to another creature?

Lowell: "I think I just love werewolves. I feel like werewolves have been overlooked a lot lately in horror cinema. I've grown up loving werewolves. I mean, I love every monster, but vampires I think are kind of over saturated. Zombies, which I love, and I've even written some zombie scripts, I feel like I've also seen a lot of. Also the complimentary nature of the werewolf and the cop just kind of work together because I wanted a guy investigating crime scenes that he might have been at the night before, and a zombie wouldn't forget. A vampire wouldn't forget. Only a werewolf could mirror a black out drunk."

HorrO: "'13 Eerie' you just directed it, but this one wrote and directed it, so what was the challenge like going from one to the other?"

Lowell: "It was a really unique challenge actually. '13 Eerie’ was a really good experience, but it did feel weird directing something that wasn't my story to an extent because I had to basically study the script. I probably treated that script more preciously than I did "WolfCop" because it was someone else's words, and I wanted to make sure that I did everything right by their script. But with "WolfCop" I had no respect for myself as the writer. Whenever we were shooting, if something didn't make sense or something wasn't working, we'd just throw it out. I would work with the cast because it's a completely different thing. It's an idealized romanticized version of the story when you’re a writer. I know from my own experience your imaging the perfect weather, and the perfect characters, and the perfect performances, but in the reality of an independent film you don't always have that. It can say 'exterior sunny day,' and then you walk outside and it's a blizzard so you have to adapt the story. So it was a big challenge, but I loved it."

HorrO: "And now kind of going into the character of Lou, there's the mention of 'Liquor Donuts' early in the film, and I've never heard of that so I found that amusing. I can see why you have cop and donuts, but liquor is an important thing in the film to both Lou and WolfCop. Why did you go with liquor, alcohol?"

Lowell: "I think a couple of reasons. One it was very good for his character because he is an alcoholic so it was appropriate to have a fast food chain that kind of feed that addiction. Obviously donuts also feed an addiction for the cop. Also, in some small towns in rural Canada, you will find places as absurd as Liquor Donuts. It feels like this really weird over the top fictional convenience store, but not only can you find a place like Liquor Donuts, in my research I found places that were like Liquor Donuts and Guns. Even though that's real, it felt a little too silly, so maybe that will be in the next movie. They need to branch out and expand their audience."

HorrO: "Now lets talk about the transformation scenes because those are always important in werewolf movies. The first one takes place in a bathroom, and kind of starts off in a very unique way. Talk about the idea behind that one."

Lowell: "The bathroom transformation was born out of wanting to be really creative, and do something unique, but also knowing we had limitations. The benchmark, in my opinion, for werewolf films transformations is "American Werewolf in London." It has the best transformations. We knew we wouldn't have days to shoot it, or a week to shoot it. We'd be lucky if we had a half-day to shoot our transformations, so when we did the mental math we had about six shoots. That's all we would be able afford to do for our transformations. It’s one of those things where you have six shoots make it count. What haven't we seen before in a werewolf? Well I haven't seen a werewolf penis. So we decided lets just go with something that hopefully grabs people."

HorrO: "And the second transformation is a little bit different, so what were you trying to get out of that one as opposed to the first one?

Lowell: "That was the one were we said this is the media transformation, and we have to actually show something. The first one we knew we could get away with just a hand full of shoots, but the second one we knew if we were a werewolf movie we had to have at least one scene where we showed as much as possible. We just wanted to make it really painful, and have a lot homage to the classic things like the transforming eyes, and the growing claws. Emersen Ziffle, the effects artist, wanted to make it super painful. We did a lot of things like obviously his back is ripping in pain. Because he's a superhero, I wanted to do a homage to like when Superman rips his shirt open and we see the S, so we have him do that with his chest. Just rips his chest skin off. So just wanting to do something we hadn't seen within our budget."



HorrO: "Not long after that there's a scene where WolfCop gets intimate with Jessica. Now was that awkward in any way for the actors shooting that scene?"

Lowell: "I think it was awkward in design, but once we started shooting it was just funny. Our only goal was to not laugh because as soon as we put them together any kind of romance or intimacy was just like a joke. We needed the music and the candles to make it feel like it was romantic."

HorrO: "And did you ever consider putting Lou in that position, or was it always WolfCop that was going to be the one?

Lowell: "It was always WolfCop, and that was something I fought for from the beginning because it's expected to have two humans. There was talk at one point that what if Jessica was a werewolf, and you have two werewolves. I love things that are slightly uncomfortable, and slightly weird. I've had people tweet at me 'this is bestiality'. It's not bestiality it's just really weird."

HorrO: "Besides the transformations, there's a lot of special effects in the movie. A lot of it on the gory side. Was there a certain amount of gore you were trying to achieve?"

Lowell: "Just as much as possible. Again, a lot of it was within our budget, and what our special effects team could create within the time, and budget we had. So Emersen would go, and create gags. We would storyboard it pretty tightly so we would know how many severed heads we'd need. He'd bold those guys’ heads, and hands, and things like that. We also just had kind of an all purpose bucket of guts, and body parts. Again, when you're making an independent movie time is your enemy. We would say we are going to do these five cool gags but if we ran out of time and we only had half that amount of time we'd go to plan B, which is just like 'ok now film the wall and lets throw a bunch of guts at it' cause that's what you have to do."



HorrO: "The movie ends with a pretty good action scene. What was the most difficult challenge in that scene with so many different things going on?"

Lowell: "Easily the biggest challenge for filming the end fight was fighting the weather. By weather I don't just mean how cold it was, but also we were shooting outside in winter and that meant our days were very short. We didn't even have 12 hours of sunlight. Sometimes we had 8 hours of sunlight. We had to be filming all these dialogue scenes, but also fight scenes and we never finished a single fight scene on time. Every day we'd be rushing through the dialogue to add a couple of hours of fight scene, and keep picking away at the pieces. Definitely losing sunlight was always our enemy."

HorrO: "I watched the film twice..."

Lowell: "Awesome!"

HorrO: "And one of the things you did really well was kind of hide what was going on in the town from the audience. You can kind of see it when you watch it a second time your like 'oh I see it now.' How hard was that to hide with your story? Giving a little bit away but not completely."

Lowell: "It was actually quite fun. Once we knew where we were going with which characters couldn't be in the same room at the same time and things like that and what the mystery was it kind of fell into place. It just became about trying to be as secretly obvious as possible. That's because I really wanted it to be the kind of movie that would reward repeat viewings. Actually you'll see things like certain characters are referencing other identities they have. Certain people are for example, there's a 'Vote Terry' button someone picks up, and in the next scene someone else has it. We tried to be as obvious as possible just to see if anyone would pick up on it. It was just fun."

HorrO: "Like I said I watched it twice, and picked up on some things the second time. You can enjoy it more picking up those things the second time around. Do you have any funny stories about filming behind the scenes stuff, in between shoots?"

Lowell: "It was just really fun. It was a punishing shoot for sure. Like I said, it was an independent film, so pretty tight budget. Really tight timeline. We shot the whole movie in 17 days. We shot about 6 pages a day, which was crazy because sometimes those 6 pages were fight scenes. I don't even know, it was just madness. You'd loose your mind, and at some point we'd have multiple cameras shooting multiple fight scenes. I guess one funny story is I strained my ankle, and had to walk with a cane. Towards the end when we were doing those outside fight scenes we'd be shooting a fight scene to the left, and a fight scene to the right. They would take turns prepping, and who ever was ready quick enough with either the lighting, the camera, the blocking, or coordination we'd shoot that one while the other was getting ready. Just running back and forth I slipped and felt pretty stupid. I mean, it was all fun. Everybody was great. The cast and crew was great. It was fun to work with people like Jonathan Cherry, and Amy Matysio, who were very funny and always throwing in new ad-libs and weird lines. It was just fun to torture Leo everyday, and he would always endure the most painful stuff, but he's a beast. He would take it and give it."



HorrO: "I read that there was an action figure..."

Lowell: "Yup!"

HorrO: "Who came up with that idea?"

Lowell: "That was something we wanted to do before... I don't know if your aware of how we got the movie made through the CineCoup campaign."

HorrO: "Yea I read a little bit about that."

Lowell: "So basically before we even made the movie we had to pitch CineCoup why our project should be the one that they made. We had to make a concept trailer, and a bunch of videos. One of the videos we did we said, '"WolfCop" is not just a movie, "WolfCop" is a franchise.' Even though it's kind of dark and messed up, we wanted to treat it like a comic book superhero, and do things like action figures, comic books, and video games. I think that's what excited them, and part of the reason they got behind "WolfCop." So we did a fundraiser through IndieGoGo, and now we have action figures being made. I don't know how many we made, like 500 or something. Very limited release. They'll be coming out in the next couple of months. Obviously the Blu-Ray and DVD, and we did limited comic books too. And our vinyl soundtrack, which I just saw someone downstairs had."

HorrO: "Wow! Cool! Obviously going forward, I also understand there's going to be a sequel. Is that still in the works?"

Lowell: "Yea. I've written the sequel. A few different drafts now, so it's pretty close. The producers are putting together the financing, and I'm hoping we are shooting this summer."

HorrO: "Cool. And is that your next project, or do you have other things going on?"

Lowell: "I'm developing some other kind of horror comedies right now in my down time from "WolfCop." Just based on the momentum it has I would be surprised if "WolfCop 2" isn't the next thing I do."

HorrO:"To wrap it up, why should fans see "WolfCop"

Lowell: "I think fans should see "WolfCop" if they're looking to just have a good time and feel the retro 80's throwback vibe. It's not going to give you nightmares so you can bring your friend if they say they're afraid of serious horror films, and have a drink and watch it at midnight!"

HorrO: “Thank you!”

Lowell: “Thank you!”



“WolfCop” will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD March 10th! It’s already available on Xbox Live. For more information about the film, please visit www.WolfCop.com.

Click here to read my review of the film. Also, click here to see our promotion for the film.

I would like to thank Lowell Dean again for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CRYING WOLF REVIEW



From the Director of 'DEADTIME' and 'Zombie Harvest' comes Crying Wolf! They're Hungry, Hairy and ready to hunt you down! The comedy horror Crying Wolf tells the story of strange and weird goings on in a little English village called Deddington. The gruesome death of local girl Charlotte by a rabid monster causes alarm and revulsion - before desperate reporters, crazy detectives and revenge seeking hunters descend on the scene! Crying wolf is a fast paced British comedy horror that will keep you howling for more!

Starring: Caroline Munro, Joe Egan, and Kristofer Dayne 

Directed by: Tony Jopia

Written by: Andy Davie, Michael Dale, and Tony Jopia

  "Crying Wolf" is like a story within a story with many other short stories going on. What does that mean? Well, the overall story is told by a private investigator (Gary Martin), who has come to town to investigate the disappearance of a girl. While in town, he stumbles upon a book, and begins reading through it. So begins the story of a pack of wolves, and what happens on one of their hunting trips. Seeing the story from the pack's view as opposed to the victims gives the movie something different to work with.
  As the investigator reads on, the audience is introduced to the pack, and how certain members came to join it. Just as the audience begins to sort through the who’s who of the pack, the wolves stop, and begin telling some stories of their own. Hence, the other short stories mentioned above. This is actually one of the better parts of the movie. Each wolf tries to tell a crazier story of death. The audience gets to see these short stories played out that are full of people dying in all kinds of ways. The best one might be the one where two topless girls are sun tanning, and one tries to frighten the other to death!
  Getting back to the original story, the investigator tells another story of how two hunters came together, and now are plotting against this pack of wolves. This sets up a great ending action scene between the hunters, the wolves, and a few of their potential victims. It's a crazy back and forth scene with plenty of deaths. Just prior to the final scene, the audience gets treated to a multiple wolf transformation scene, which is fun because audiences are usually only treated to one transformation at a time.
  Overall, the idea for "Crying Wolf isn't bad, but it just needs a little bit tighter of execution. While the death stories in the middle of the story are fun, mixed in with the character stories it's almost too many sub stories to keep up with. The deaths were good, and it has plenty of blood in it. However, budget constraints probably held them back from doing more, and instead they injected some unfavorable CGI. There are times when the blood, and wolf movements seem too fake. Even with some flaws, there's enough there to say it's worth watching, so I give it 2 pools of blood.

  HorrO
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