Archive for the ‘1970s films’ Tag

I Drink Your Blood (1970)   Leave a comment

“Satan was an acid head!”
-Horace Bones

A nasty bunch of Satanist hippies led by Horace Bones (Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury) show up in a small, nearly abandoned town and move into a house left empty to prepare for a soon to be built dam which will flood the area. During one of their naked, devil-worshipping rituals, they attack Sylvia (Iris Brooks), a local teenager. When her grandfather, veterinarian, Doc Banner (Richard Bowler) confronts them, the gang overpower him and dose him with LSD. If you think they’re only hostile to outsiders, think again. They also strap down one of their own, slice his feet with a machete and swing him from a hook until they’re splattered with his blood. Sweet.


“Do you like Jackson Pollock?”

That’s all Sylvia’s little brother, Pete (Riley Mills) can take. He decides to avenge the gang’s assaults on his family so he takes blood from a rabid dog he put down and injects it into meat pies meant for the cult.


Yum!

In a few hours, Horace and his followers, including the charismatic, Rollo (George Patterson) start foaming at the mouth and craving fresh blood. I’m pretty sure it’s not what Pete the doofus had in mind. The hydrophobic hippies run amok, killing and infecting everyone they meet, including the construction workers in town to build the dam, who, in turn kill everyone they see. It’s a real party.


“Did you say decaf?”

Will Doc Banner, Sylvia, and Pete escape with their lives? Will they ever get the rabid construction workers close enough to water to build the dam? Will bakery owner, Mildred Nash (Elizabeth Marner-Brooks) patent her rabies pies?


“I’ll have seconds!”

I Drink Your Blood is a gore-filled indie with good acting and an original story. In an interview with writer/director David E. Durston in the excellent book, Nightmare USA, by Stephen Thrower, the title of the film was originally Phobia, but producers changed it to I Drink Your Blood and paired it with the less promising film, I Eat Your Skin for the drive-in double-feature circuit. Durston was less than overjoyed about the title change, saying, “Ridiculous—there are no vampires in the film, not even a Bloody Mary! They might as well have called it ‘I Shit in Your Saddlebag’!” Apparently, Durston was a bright, funny character. I Drink Your Blood was the first film to get an X rating from the MPAA for violence. The controversy fueled excitement for the film and sales were brisk, even with the less than stellar I Eat Your Skin attached to it.

I Drink Your Blood entertains a lot more than the title leads you to believe. An original story combined with decent performances (except for Pete) and a dramatic score by Clay Pitts make it worth a watch.


This’ll come in handy.

Multiple Maniacs (1970)   6 comments

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Question: How do you know you’re watching a John Waters film?
Answer: When the film opens with a carnival barker luring unsuspecting victims into a tent full of fetishists so he can rob them, you’re in a John Waters film.

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Mr. David hawks the Cavalcade of Perversions.

Yup.  Lady Divine (Divine) and her cohorts put cigarettes out on each other, sniff a topless woman’s armpits and eat vomit.  Then, when the square suburbanites can take no more, Divine brandishes a revolver, robs the crowd, and shoots any dissenters, cackling all the while.

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“Say what again.”

After the robbery, the gang flees and we discover that Mr. David (David Lochary), the barker and lover of Lady Divine, has fallen for another woman.  David keeps the affair a secret because Lady Divine threatens to tell the police he was in on the Tate murders.  It IS 1970.  Lady Divine, gets word of David’s betrayal and vows to kill him.

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Edith Massey drops a dime on Mr. David.

On her way to commit murder, two lowlifes accost her and drag her into an alley.  Dazed from the attack, Lady Divine runs into a toddler dressed as the Pope who leads her to a church.  Lady Divine prays for guidance.  As she kneels in prayer, she meets Mink Stole who clearly has eyes for her.  It’s a John Waters film so the two women have sex in a pew using a rosary.  Now Lady Divine has an accomplice.  The two lovers head to Lady Divine’s apartment to snuff Mr. David.

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Lady Divine walks with a tiny Pope.

Mr. David and his oversexed lover await the pair in Lady Divine’s apartment where they’ve accidentally killed Divine’s ever-topless daughter.  Now there’s no turning back.  There’s a nutty bloodbath with one survivor.  As Lady Divine lies on the sofa surrounded by the bodies of her enemies and crowing about crimes to come, a huge lobster crawls into her living room and rapes her.  I never thought I’d write that sentence.  Anyway, stuff, like a crucifixion, happens after that, but who cares?  A giant lobster rapes Divine.  Needless to say, the scene catches you off guard.

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“Quick! Get the drawn butter!”

John Waters wrote, directed, produced, and shot MULTIPLE MANIACS in his native Baltimore.  During his introduction to the film at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June of 2016, he said he filmed the Cavalcade of Perversion on his parents’ front lawn.  Waters cast friends Edith Massey, Mink Stole, Pat Moran, David Lochary, and Divine in lead roles.  Friendship trumped acting ability, but that’s not important.  This is not so much a film as a happening.  It is also, as film critic J. Hoberman notes, John Waters most overtly Catholic film.  Janus/Criterion just restored the film and it looks great.  It’s also weirdly entertaining.  Everyone is crazily over the top and the whole film is a riot.  I watched MULTIPLE MANIACS for the first time in a full theatre with John Waters in attendance and the place went nuts.  It’s vile, disgusting, and fun to watch.

face

Rating: 4 Lobsters

5 Desert Island Movies #NationalClassicMovieDay   12 comments

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Some questions are hard.

Every once in a while, someone will ask me what my favorite films are.  My favorite films?  Do you mean my favorite films with large, radioactive insects?  My favorite films about the mob?  My favorite westerns?  War movies?  Heist films?  Films where the main character paints with his girlfriend’s blood?  That’s the thing.  I like a lot of films and quite honestly, my favorites change from day to day.  Anyway, I saw Jay from thirtyhertzrumble.com posting his top 5 and I thought I’d give it a shot.  The author of the Classic Film and TV Café, a blog about classic film and TV (no kidding), came up with the idea for this blogathon, but I found out about it too late so I’m posting my favorites anyway and attempting to give him credit.  Here goes!

women

THE WOMEN (1939)

I’m not sure why, but I love fashion shows in movies.  HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE has a fun one too.  Great stuff.  I’m not even a clothes person.  I am not the woman with 200 pairs of shoes or an outfit for every occasion…at all.  It doesn’t matter.  The wacky over-the-top couture fits the ‘I can get my nails done daily because the hardest work I do all week is hail a cab’ lifestyle.

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So practical.

The clever and often overlapping dialogue written by Clare Booth Luce, Anita Loos, Jane Murfin, David Ogden Stewart, and even F. Scott Fitzgerald makes fun of the wealthy consumers in this film while still allowing us to like them.  I’m not sure if it would pass the Bechdel test because these women talk about men a lot.  They also talk about themselves and their hopes for family and love.  Not all ambition hangs out in the boardroom, after all.  The women in THE WOMEN talk about things that still come up today.  I’m your wife and the mother of your children, but I still have to look like a model and greet you every day with a negligee on and a soufflé in the oven.  I also have to be a good sport about it and look the other way when you pinch the cigarette girl.  Welcome to 2016, 1939.  THE WOMEN is a smart film that holds up.

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A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)

My teenager adores this film and the two of us sit on the couch and laugh like fools throughout the entire movie.  If it’s on in the morning, she will get up.  Let me repeat that.  SHE WILL GET UP.  Remember, she’s 18.  I love this film.  This is another movie with a ton of stuff going on.  The asides and in jokes become clearer after each viewing and the physical humor is some of the best in film.  The Marx brothers work so well together.  The choreography and timing in the scenes in the ship’s stateroom and the hotel in New York are as complex as any dance number Fred Astaire dreamed up and the sarcastic put downs still crack me up.  It’s worth seeing just for “Take Me out to the Ballgame” in the orchestra pit.  Major smiles.

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“Peanuts!”

thestrangerposter

THE STRANGER (1946)

I’ve read that Welles didn’t care for this one, but he was wrong.  There, I said it. First of all, it looks fabulous.

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A gym has never looked so good.

Those shadows and chiaroscuro get me all hot and bothered.  Also, Nazis.  I love Nazis in films of the 1940s.  It’s all black and white.  There’s none of this police action/Vietnam/should we really be there crap.  They’re Nazis.  They’re bad.  End of story.  I also love films about the seedy underbellies of otherwise lovely places.  SHADOW OF A DOUBT, BLUE VELVET, even THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and ROPE have that ‘Come over for a cup of tea, Aunt Clara.  I’ll move the body out of the spare room.’ feel to them.  Edward G. Robinson has a lot of fun with this one.  Robinson takes his time ruminating over Welles and his possible ties to the death camps and insinuates himself into his life until it all goes pear-shaped for the murderer.  Just terrific.  Orson Welles makes a great bad guy too.  I think Loretta Young is a bit shrill in THE STRANGER, but she unravels nicely.

Jaws-5

JAWS (1975)

While JAWS started the whole summer blockbuster thing, it wasn’t the first creature feature.  Universal had THE WOLF MAN and DRACULA and the 1950s showed us what radiation could do to desert ants and crickets.  In Japan, Godzilla and his cohorts/enemies (depending on which film you’re watching) destroyed and saved Tokyo countless times.  Sometimes, the scientists found a creature in the ice.  THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and THE DEADLY MANTIS defrosted the terrible beings and hurled them at an unsuspecting public.  THEM! gave us the prototype for the modern creature movies and it’s wonderfully done.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Spielberg was a big THEM! fan.  I digress.  I love JAWS.  There’s something about it that makes me so happy.  The soulless leviathan threatens the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Amity Island and Quint, Hooper, and Brody band together to kill the beast and save the day.  Here’s another black and white film.  The shark eats kids and dogs.  He’s bad.  He’s the Nazi of the sea and our heroes are the allied troops tasked with taking him out.  What separates JAWS from many of the other nature vs. man films are the characters and the writing.  We get to know these guys and we’re worried about them.  We want Brody to get home to his wife and kids.  We want Quint to get his Napolean Brandy.  We also want Quint to run him into the shallows so Hooper doesn’t have to get into that damned shark cage.

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I got no spit either.

Writers, Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb, and the uncredited John Milius fleshed out these men so we’d give a damn about them.  They even wrote in the island as a character.  There’s so much going on in this film that I see new things each time I watch it.  That newness would come in handy on an island.

his-girl-friday-1940

SURPRISE!!!!!

For the last film, I had a hard time deciding between HIS GIRL FRIDAY and HARVEY.  They’re both funny and full of terrific performances, but HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) edged HARVEY out by a whisker.  I love the frenetic, overlapping Hawksian dialogue and the amazing cast of character actors elevate this film above madcap comedy status.  I would argue that HIS GIRL FRIDAY and CASABLANCA use character actors better than any films ever did.  Roscoe Karns, Regis Toomey, John Qualen, Billy Gilbert, Porter Hall and Gene Lockhart make this film.

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“Hi, babe.”

Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant are the stars, but without the reporters and the pols vying for a byline or political brownie points, it wouldn’t be the same.  The comments delivered from the sides of mouths in this film keep the viewer on his toes too.  You can’t sneeze while watching this for fear of missing 14 punchlines.  It’s whip smart and prescient and I’m out of breath at the end of each viewing.   This film is coming with me if I have to smuggle it in my sock.

 

These are my 5 favorites…this week.  Come back next week, and I’ll probably have a different list.

Jason-Sudeikis-devil-SNL

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)   2 comments

 

aaeyes

Laura Mars might need a new eyeglass prescription.  Every so often, and without notice, she sees the world through the eyes of a serial killer.  Laura (Faye Dunaway) earns her living with her eyes.  She’s a high fashion photographer who specializes in photographing models wearing beautiful clothes in violent situations.

aacar

The film uses Helmut Newton’s photographs as Laura’s.

She lives in a huge, penthouse apartment, wears expensive clothes, and goes to all the best parties.  Laura’s photographs and coffee table books sell like hotcakes.  She’s on top of the world.  When someone starts killing her friends, Laura’s life changes just a bit.

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Great lips.

At first, the police, led by Detective John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones) suspect that Laura is killing her associates to gain publicity for her artwork, especially when she tells them that she sees the murders…from three blocks away.  She claims to witness each crime as the murderer would.  Both authorities and her friends think she’s a loon.

aarene

“What you talkin’ ’bout, Laura?”

I should point out that all this time, Faye Dunaway sports some happening duds.  It’s autumn in New York City and Faye’s got the tweed thing going on.  She wears a lot of cool mid-calf wool skirts with double front slits and high boots.  She also has the plaid shawl thing down.  Theoni V. Aldredge designed the costumes.  Well done, Theoni!  Clad in tight, bell-bottoms, boots, and wool blazers, Tommy Lee Jones cuts a dashing figure.  Even his mullet is impressed.

aaplaid

The sheep are nervous.

The seventies lives through the music in the film as well.  Tunes by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Heatwave, Michael Zager Band, and Odyssey give the modeling sessions a Studio 54 vibe.

aabond

After a few more bodies pile up, Laura convinces John that she’s not crazy so they fall in love after a funeral.  Sigh.  Now that the pair are a completely committed couple destined to spend their lives together, we can all relax, right?  Wrong.  Hey guys!  There’s still a killer out there playing ice pick tag.

aacam

“I just remembered.  All my friends are dead.”

I like EYES OF LAURA MARS.  I hadn’t seen it in 432 years and seeing it again was a trip.  Did you know it was written by John Carpenter?  I didn’t.  The cool set-pieces and shots of gritty, 1970s New York give the film texture and the cast is wonderful.  Raul Julia gets to play Laura’s alcoholic gigolo of an ex-husband and he’s perfect.  Rene Auberjonois, as Laura’s handler/manager does his usual terrific job.  I like Brad Dourif in this too.  As Laura’s mumbling, semi-sketchy driver, Dourif is convincing as a guy who’s polite on the surface, but might have a head in his fridge.

aabrad

“You looked in my fridge?”

Tommy Lee Jones is pretty hunky in this role.  My daughter said, “He’s so ugly, he’s cute.”

aatom

“I’m not ugly.”

He’s likable, intelligent, and deeper than he seems.  Dunaway plays her part well.  She’s a bit over the top, but it works.  What doesn’t exactly work is her character.  Laura Mars, a wealthy, powerful, career woman who takes sexually charged and violent pictures seems sort of shy and virginal.  A few times in the film, people remark that she’s not at all what they expected when they saw her photographs.  It’s like they have to say she’s not really like that  as a way of making the audience like her.  Oh well.

aaaafoot

“The game is afoot!”

All in all, EYES OF LAURA MARS is a satisfying watch.  Carpenter’s story has a fun central idea and the performances are fun.  Oh right.  The song.  Jon Peters made his bones producing the Kristofferson/Streisand film A STAR IS BORN and this film.  A former hairdresser, Peters dated Barbra Streisand during this period and the two made a few successful films together.  Back to the song.  “Prisoner”, sung by Streisand at the beginning and end of the film is a perfect showcase for that voice.  She hits every note bang on.  I know what you’re thinking, but you have to admit, the woman can sing.

aaabig

“You shoulda seen it!”

EYES OF LAURA MARS stands out because of its creative concept and solid performances.  It has no castles or bats, but it does have the main character’s friends getting stabbed in the eye, so huzzah!

aapp

More plaid.

haunty

Asylum (1972)   Leave a comment

asylum poster

I love anthology films.  It doesn’t matter if they’re anthology drama, comedy, or horror films, but I hold a special place in my heart for anthology horror.

car

ASYLUM begins with Modest Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain.  As the music swells, we see Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrive at a remote sanitarium.  Martin meets with Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) who offers him a proposition.  Rutherford will hire Martin if, after interviewing four patients, he can identify which of the inmates is B. Starr, the former head of the institution.  Starr had a complete breakdown and is now an inmate.  Attendant Max Reynolds (Geoffrey Bayldon) takes Dr. Martin from room to room to hear each patient’s story.

magee2

“Tonight on Spot the Loony…”

In the first segment, “Frozen Fear”, Bonnie (Barbara Parkins) tells the story of her lover, Walter (Richard Todd) and his wife, Ruth (Sylvia Syms) and their, um…breakup.  Walter, sweet guy that he is, takes his wife down to their basement to show her a gift he just bought for her.  She’s always wanted a chest freezer and is delighted until Walter surprises her further with a blow to the head.  Fortunately, the freezer is Ruth-sized so Walter has plenty of room to store the bits of Ruth he chopped up and wrapped neatly in brown paper and twine.  Now Walter can abscond to Rome or Nice or Trenton with Bonnie and live happily ever after, right?  Not so fast, bub.

toddaxe

“Oh, honey?”

Barry Morse plays the titular role in “The Weird Tailor”.  With no money coming in and the threat of eviction looming, Morse gets an odd request from new customer, Peter Cushing.  Cushing commissions Morse to make him a suit made of special fabric he brings himself.  Morse must construct the clothing in a particular order to exact specifications and during the times mandated by the instructions.  Since Cushing wants the outfit immediately and promises to pay handsomely, Morse agrees to his terms.  Things move along swimmingly until delivery day when Morse makes an odd discovery.

cush

“I’m odd.”

Dr. Martin sees patient Barbara (Charlotte Rampling) next.  Barbara tells of her release from another sanitarium.  Her brother, George (James Villiers) drives her back to the family home and introduces her to her new nurse, Miss Higgins (Megs Jenkins).  Barbara, annoyed at the prospect of a nurse telling her what to do, goes to her room to find her friend, Lucy (Britt Ekland) there.  Barbara is overjoyed to see her old friend who immediately suggests that they go over the wall and go on a spree.  Their outing doesn’t go as planned.

rampling

“Summerisle?  No, I’ve never been there.”

“Mannikins of Horror” stars Herbert Lom as Dr. Byron, a man who believes he can transfer the essence of himself into a small robot who will carry out his will.  All I can say is I want a Herbert Lom robot.

lombot

The Lombot in action.

ASYLUM has a scary, dramatic score by Douglas Gamley and Mussorgsky, a great horror film setting, and a super cast of veteran British actors.  Robert Bloch of PSYCHO fame wrote the stories, and Roy Ward Baker directed.  Baker also directed A NIGHT TO REMEMBER and quite a few films for Amicus and Hammer Productions including the portmanteau horror, VAULT OF HORROR.  Amicus made a number of anthology horror film in the 1960s and 1970s and this is one of the best.

poster asylum

haunty

Helter Skelter (1976)   Leave a comment

aahelpos

On July 20, 1969, engineers at NASA realized a decades-old dream and landed the first manned mission to the lunar surface. As 500 million people watched, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Less than three weeks later, on August 9, another group realized their dream when they broke into the home rented by Roman Polanski and his wife, Sharon Tate, and massacred five people.

aaa10
Outside the scene of the Tate murders, 10500 Cielo Drive, Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles.

The reasons for those murders and two more on August 11 were not typical ones. Sharon Tate and Voityck Frykowski didn’t welch on a bet.  Abigail Folger and Jay Sebring didn’t steal from the wrong people. Steven Parent wasn’t running around with the wife of a jealous man. Rosemary and Leno LaBianca didn’t get caught in a drug deal gone bad. Their killers didn’t get caught mid-burglary and decide to off the witnesses. No, what keeps us talking about the murders in Los Angeles that August is the bizarre motive and the even more bizarre people who thought it up.

aawall
Spelling counts.

Vincent Bugliosi, the District Attorney of Los Angeles County at the time, prosecuted members of the Manson family for the seven murders and wrote, along with Curt Gentry, the brilliant true crime book, Helter Skelter about his experienceThe made-for-television movie of the same name doesn’t stray far from the book and that’s a good thing.  The book is a marvel of true crime/legal reporting. The film leaves out some details. It would have to or it would be ten hours long. In his book, Bugliosi spends a lot of time discussing his methods and the legal particulars of the case.

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George DiCenzo and Vincent Bugliosi

Director Tom Gries (Will Penny) keeps the story moving forward and makes you want to learn more.  George DiCenzo has the authority to play Bugliosi and I when I think of Charles Manson, I picture Steve Railsback. He IS Manson. It’s–if you’ll pardon the expression–witchy.

aasteve
“I said no olives!”

I remember seeing this on TV when it first aired. This was the time when everyone watched whatever big TV movie was on that week. Everybody talked about it. I know I couldn’t look away. Hearing Charles Manson’s theory for the first time was chilling. It was almost as frightening to realize that this scary little man could convince a group of lost people to kill total strangers for no reason. Highly recommended.

aaaaafam
One man’s family.

haunty

And Now the Screaming Starts (1973)   2 comments

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Newly married Catherine Fengriffen (Stephanie Beacham) arrives at her husband’s ancestral castle expecting romance and love.  Instead she encounters weird portraits, a peeping ghoul, and a disembodied hand.

pic hand
“Hiya!”

Catherine keeps seeing nutty stuff no one else sees.  Everyone thinks she’s rattraps so they send for Dr. Whittle, played by the always comforting Patrick Magee and Dr. Pope, the kind and brilliant Peter Cushing.  Catherine’s husband, Charles (Ian Ogilvy), gets a bit frustrated with his neurotic wife and the fact that their honeymoon is less sexy romance and more researching the family curse and calling the doctor.

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“Yes, a hand.  I see.  Is it time for bed?”

Anyway, the house continues to gaslight Catherine and no one will tell her the backstory.  She sees hands and spooks and windows open by themselves.

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“Let me give you a hand with that.”

It’s a real party until she finally hears the legend.  You see, Henry Fengriffen, Charles’ grandfather, had a wife and child, but ignored them and filled his house with the scum of the earth.  Drunken orgies, full of harlots, debauchery, and bad singing, go on for days.  During one particularly grotesque spree, Fengriffen breaks into the house of humble serf, Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead) and his new bride, Sarah (Sally Harrison).  Fengriffen’s attack on the young couple brings on a curse which haunts poor Catherine today.

hand
“Coochie coochie coo!”

Will Patrick Magee and Peter Cushing rid the house of demons?  Will the curse continue to annoy and vex Catherine?  Will Herbert Lom trim his eyebrows?

cushing
“Apply leeches liberally until sense is restored.”

Roy Ward Baker directed AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS based on Roger Marshall’s screenplay of David Case’s book.  Phew.  It’s a decent horror film, but it could use a little oomph.  More screen time for Cushing, Magee, and Lom could only improve it.  Look for Rosalie Crutchley as a servant.

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In the night. In the dark.

haunty

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