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    The 2011 found footage survivor flick GRAVE ENCOUNTERS was certainly a worthy entry in the shaky cam subgenre. Despite having some less than stellar CGI, the film felt real and put the characters in a fairly plausible situation, with suspenseful pacing, fun, campy performances and a solid directing debut from Collin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, collectively known as The Vicious Brothers. That said, the follow-up picture, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2  (currently enjoying a limited theatrical run in Canada), is more than a bit of a disappointment.

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    Q&A: Linda Blair speaks on the eve of FearNET’s 40th Anniversary “EXORCIST” marathon!

    by: Kier-La Janisse on: 2013-02-16 08:03:35

    In conjunction with FEARnet’s “Complete EXORCIST Marathon” this Sunday,
    we had a brief chat with the iconic Linda Blair about her legacy from THE EXORCIST and


    This Sunday February 17th, FEARnet celebrates 40  years of THE EXORCIST with an all-day “Complete EXORCIST Marathon” starting at 2pm ET, from William Friedkin’s Oscar-winning film (which also garnered its young star an Oscar nomination) straight through to Renny Harlin’s 2004 EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, at the same time honouring Linda Blair’s colorful acting career and her humanitarian efforts through the Linda Blair World Heart Foundation.


    But while her head-spinning breakout film remains her most revered role, it’s not just THE EXORCIST that has made Linda Blair an icon. We watched her grow up onscreen, and for those of us who grew up with her, she proved a remarkably powerful role model.  Her heartbreaking turn in Donald Wrye’s 1974 TV movie BORN INNOCENT offered up one of the first realistic glimpses behind the walls of a youth detention centre (a role that was pivotal in determining the course of my own life as a 15 year-old in juvie) and subsequent roles as a troubled teen (SARA T. PORTRIT OF A TEENAGE ALCOHOLIC, EXORCIST II – where she spends much of the film literally wobbling over precipices) reflected the real-life chaos of a young girl dogged by the pressures of early fame. But as she got tougher, so did the roles: she led a brigade of prison maidens in a fight against institutional injustice in Paul Nicholas’ CHAINED HEAT, taught us about the pleasures of revenge through the candy-colored camp of Danny Steinmann’s SAVAGE STREETS, and even followed that up with a methodological play-by-play in the instructional film HOW TO GET REVENGE – a wink to the glut of 1980s self-improvement videos.  She’s had songs written about her by the likes of Redd Kross (“Linda Blair” from the album named after her film BORN INNOCENT) and Alice Donut (“Green Pea Soup”), and remains one of the most beloved genre actresses of all time.

    In conjunction with FEARnet’s EXORCIST MARATHON (full schedule below), we had a brief chat with Blair about her legacy from THE EXORCIST and beyond.



    FANGORIA: In THE EXORCIST you have a lot of cultural anxieties literally written on your body. Did you find that your character as a vessel for demonic activity made you by extension subject to disturbing projections by those who saw the film? I understand that viewers upset by the film’s religious hypotheses saw you as somehow personally responsible.

    LINDA BLAIR: I think the best way to say it is that I was a working child actress, acting in commercials and modelling and I was approaching maybe 12 years old and I wanted to follow my dream, which was to become a veterinarian. So I was going to quit the so-called “acting” when the novel The Exorcist, which William Peter Blatty wrote, broke all records and upseated the world in such a way, like “What do you mean demonic possession? What do you mean the Catholic Church has kept this under a blanket, and in a closet?” And he knew what he was doing, he was uprooting some information that people were not talking about. I was not raised Catholic, Kier-La, I was raised protestant, so we didn’t talk about any of these things. We were raised to be good to others, give your time in your community, and treat others as you wish to be treated – that’s how I was raised. So when we started THE EXORCIST, we didn’t even talk about it. They were probably so happy that I wasn’t Catholic and didn’t ask all these questions! So it was strictly a character that was created through special effects, through makeup, through the structure of the screenplay, and the lighting, cinematography and of course all the acting with such amazing actors, Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller. But there were people when the film came out that, you know, they’re emotionally delicate anyway, and they may have got into a lot of the press and therefore had a hard time distinguishing between what was true, what was sensation, what was the PR machine. But it’s a theological thriller, it’s meant to make you think, and it’s meant to take you on a journey, but as far as anything else, those thoughts might be better addressed by a psychiatrist.


    FANG: Then when EXORCIST II came out, it was not as well received as the original but there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in that film – all the different schools of thought – Christianity, African mysticism, ESP studies, neurology, psychology – that coalesce and work together to address Regan’s issues. Not to mention the great art direction and score. What are your own thoughts on EXORCIST II in retrospect?

    Well when Warner Brothers wanted to make a part two, they certainly had approached us on several occasions, and we said, no, no, no, no. But one day they said, please will you just read the script? So we did. And it was brilliant. It just isn’t the script they shot. So John Boorman came in off an Academy Award win with DELIVERANCE,  and Louise Fletcher for CUCKOO’S NEST, obviously the late,  great Richard Burton, who – for me, it was like, you know I grew up on BECKET and ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS, which was one of my favorite films as a child, CLEOPATRA…Anyway, we all joined forces for the film, but we had no creative control. And it changed several times, so the first screenplay that we all approved became unrecognizable. There are many who think that the film is still extraordinary in a different way, and the audience has the right to take from any film what they do and don’t like, and make their own [minds up]. These are all theological thrillers meant to make you think about good and evil, and religion, as you said, you have the neurological and the African religions, you have all these different factors, and I think that’s what Boorman was trying to go for. And it got a bit too… maybe a few too many ingredients. But a lot of people really like it.


    FANG: I just think it’s interesting that it’s like the fact that people were upset by the use of Catholicism in THE EXORCIST is almost addressed by EXORCIST II. In that it’s not targeting one religion but diversifies its stance…

    Absolutely, and Bill Blatty, who studied to be a Jesuit priest, felt he wanted to tell this story but he also wanted to make one of the scariest films of all time, because his agents told him that he couldn’t write it. And he was like, “oh, I’ll show you.” So he had a mission, and it just happened that his mission really overrode anything anybody could ever have thought to conceive. And you know, it was his destiny to write this film, and to have people still talking about it years later. Again, I was not raised Catholic so I don’t have all the veils and trappings of guilt. Guilt should come from whether you are conducting yourself in the best possible way in society. You know, did I give a hundred percent in that job and what I’m doing, or am I just relying on others to try to pay the bills and do things and be lazy? You should have guilt from that, not from…they just try, in my opinion, to keep people within the church and to not go outside to find their spiritual awakening.

    FANG: Well I was raised Catholic, and even though I’m not Catholic now, the guilt is ingrained.

    BLAIR: I know it is. I do. I know it is. Anything that happened to us as a child – that’s why when you start to look at child psychology and how people act out as adults, it’s all from your childhood.


    FANG: Speaking of which, right after EXORCIST you did BORN INNOCENT, which is one of my favourite films of all time…

    BLAIR: Actually I’ll step in, I actually did AIRPORT ‘75 before that. And thank you for that – BORN INNOCENT was an equally difficult job, and more from an actor’s point of view, I had to really find myself in television, there was no such thing as TV movies, it was one of the first of its kind, and it was a challenge. The screenplay was amazing and the project certainly caused a lot of disturbance in America [ed note: a controversial shower-rape scene was trimmed from all prints after the initial broadcast fueled complaints], and it’s one years later that I am so proud of, because it really helped change a lot of lives.

    FANG: With both THE EXORCIST and BORN INNOCENT, they both have these very troubling, grueling scenes involving sexual violence. What kind of preparation did you get for these scenes, at that age, psychologically?

    Well in THE EXORCIST, nothing. It was all just all just mechanics, so we never, ever discussed it. It wasn’t until many years later that I personally was like, “Oh my god!” No, no, no, I had no idea. And Friedkin will tell you a different story, of course, and I always say “Now, Billy, I was 13 years old, let’s go back 40-some years, kids don’t know that stuff.” He smiles and says, “Oh, but it’s more entertaining my way.” What-ever. And with BORN INNOCENT, that was just plain really hard to do. It was hard. Didn’t like that. But, you know, I hoped it would make a difference, and it did. It really drove people to change their course in life.


    FANG: This is kind of a long-winded question, but your early career trajectory is really interesting in terms of its transformative qualities – from THE EXORCIST to SAVAGE STREETS, the roles you chose are almost like a character arc in itself. Taken cumulatively, they reflected the transformation of a woman from a victim of violence – and even sexual violence in THE EXORCIST and BORN INNOCENT, through traumatic dissociation in SARA T., PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE ALCOHOLIC, and then you have readjustment and repression in EXORCIST II, becoming an aware Final Girl in HELL NIGHT and then emerging as an avenger and a protector of women in SAVAGE STREETS…

    BLAIR: Wow! I never saw it like that. Truly I can tell you it was the state of what was being written and the projects that were [coming to me]. There wasn’t a lot for young people, so I was presented with groundbreaking material that had never been done. And they probably would not have even allowed it five years prior. And then as women became victors – because one must remember, up until the 50s, 60s, 70s, women were oppressed – so with these roles, they were trying to follow suit from some of the big films with Stallone and all of them, and we were making it a female heroine. And you know, it was just terribly fun to play. And then we went back with REPOSSESSED with Leslie Nielsen so people could remember that we are entertainers, and chill out. Because sometimes people get so heavy into things.

    And there’s wonderful films of all genres and it’s also a matter of if you’re in the right place at the right time. Right now as you know, my foundation and charity all stems from my childhood of wanting to save animals and be a veterinarian. So the Linda Blair World Heart Foundation is founded out of my feelings that we are not getting enough done in our communities to stop the shelters from having to euthanize, from people losing their homes and their pets. I feel that by putting my voice, my money, my charity, and giving people guidance as to how they can make a difference, to rescue, adopt, to foster, to volunteer, to keep our food banks plenished so that they don’t have to give up their animal because they don’t have anything to eat, you know? All the info is at the website www.lindablairworldheart.org – and through Linda Blair World Foundation on Facebook.

    FANG: Okay I have one last question – I wondered if you could tell me the story behind the instructional video HOW TO GET REVENGE!

    BLAIR: Oh yeah, that was a friend of mine, Bob Logan. And it’s all stupid humor that came out of LAUGH-IN and that whole era of vaudevillian-type comics, and it’s really pretty silly.

    FANG: It’s a crazy piece of cultural ephemera.

    BLAIR: It’s a bunch of stupidity is what it is.


    “The Complete Exorcist” Marathon starts Sunday on FEARnet at 2 p.m. ET. FEARnet will air a special introduction made exclusively for the marathon by Friedkin, and fans can interact through a poll on their site to vote for their favorite prequel to the film: “Exorcist: The Beginning” or “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.” The channel will also air an exclusive interview with “Exorcist: The Beginning” director Renny Harlin. The full lineup in ET time zone:

    •    “THE EXORCIST” – 2 p.m.
    •    “EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC” – 4:30 p.m.
    •    “EXORCIST III” – 7 p.m.
    •    ‘DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST’ (Network Premiere) – 9:30 p.m.
    •    ‘EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING’ (Network Premiere) – midnight

    FEARnet is also organizing a Twitter sweepstakes in conjunction with the EXORCIST Marathon – for rules and information on prizing, visit fearnet.com/ExorcistSweepsRules.


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    Women in Horror 2013: The Ladies of Astron-6

    by: Dave Pace on: 2013-02-15 20:34:47

    FATHER’S DAY was a breakout indie hit of
    2012 and finally put the Winnipeg filmmaking collective Astron-6 on the map
    after a long time in the trenches of YouTube shorts and experiments in self-released
    DVDs. A gruesome grindhouse chronicle of a maniac cannibal rapist who only
    targets fathers, and the ragtag bunch on a mission to end his grim legacy, the
    film manages to not just entertain but also drive a message about the politics
    of the rape-revenge genre.

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    Exclusive photos, comments on “JUG FACE”

    Often, the stories that shake our skulls most are those that toy with the brain inside. Chad Crawford Kinkle’s debut feature JUG FACE, which premiered at this year’s Slamdance, does just that. Bearing themes similar to THE VILLAGE, RED STATE, KILL LIST and THE WOMAN (the latter also produced by Andrew van den Houten), the film is set in a cultish backwoods community, one developed far outside the norms of contemporary societal ideologies and customs. Read on for comments by van den Houten and others on the JUG FACE team, and a few exclusive pics.

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    Toronto! Terror for teens unspools at TIFF’s “Next Wave”

    by: Chris Alexander on: 2013-02-15 17:22:58

    One of the biggest celebrations of cinema in the world, TIFF
    (the Toronto International Film Festival) has many appendages to both its
    annual week-long festival and its year-round slate of diverse programming. One
    of these strains is the TIFF Next Wave, a mini-festival (in its second year)
    that spotlights teen-oriented films selected by teens for teens.

    Next Wave begins its run today through Sunday at the gorgeous
    TIFF headquarters, the Bell Lightbox at John and King in Toronto. It’s a
    notable fest for younger FANGORIANS in that a few genre friendly titles are
    getting the deluxe treatment, including the splatterific DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D, a
    gory horror comedy shot in digital 3D; the first exclusively Canadian film shot
    in this kind of 3D process, in fact.


    Matilda Davidson is a senior member of the Next Wave committee (and
    she’s 17…feel old yet?). She’s an enthusiastic youth, mad about movies,
    articulate and serious about providing great content for her peers and

    “DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D is hilarious. It was the best choice for a
    closing night film because it’s just covered in blood and a real crowd pleaser.
    It has a bit of EVIL DEAD in there but goes off in all kinds of unexpected
    directions. These films at Next Wave are designed to appeal to real teenagers,
    not what people think teenagers should watch but what they do watch and enjoy.
    It’s an important component of TIFF.”

    The shot-in-Niagara Falls DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D does indeed close
    the festival on Sunday in all its goofy, violent dimensional glory, but to get
    a look at all the Next Wave programming (which includes a few key John Hughes
    classics as well) and the more macabre selections like Ireland’s EARTHBOUND and
    Spain’s GHOST GRADUATION, visit TIFF Next Wave.

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    by: Samuel Zimmerman on: 2013-02-15 17:04:19

    She once was blind, now she sees the Devil’s light. 

    THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is fast approaching, and apparently Nell’s demon tormentor is returning. In the film, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning.

    Fango has the latest of THE LAST EXORCISM PART II’s 30 second spots, one that looks to be the cinematic equivalent of an inverted cross. “After the fall, comes the rise,” a clergyman warns (or comforts!) and from what the filmmakers are talking up, it seems this go ’round, Nell’s a bit more warm to its impulses. Considering Ashley Bell’s standout presence in the original, the sequel will hopefully dig into some strange, exciting places. 

    THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is in theaters March 1, 2013. For more, pick up FANGORIA #321 (on sale this month) for an exclusive talk with Bell and keep an eye on FANGORIA.com for words with director Ed Gass-Donnelly and producer Eli Roth. 


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    Q&A: Director Michael Gallagher on tech slasher, “SMILEY”

    by: Samuel Zimmerman on: 2013-02-15 15:50:16

    What effect does every nasty thing you post, paste, type, share or even think online actually have? The mass of negative energy that surrounds daily life on the internet can be overwhelming and without a clear portrait of consequence, director Michael Gallagher thinks kids today aren’t learning a damn thing. SMILEY (available now on DVD and digital download), using the tried and true slasher for an era steeped in tech, imagines a new kind of urban legend, one which summons the eponymous murderer to do your impulsive bidding. Fango spoke with Gallagher about underslashing, oversharing and what exactly is wrong here.

    FANGORIA: Why make a slasher? Having gone ahead and tried to
    craft a contemporary one, rooted in tech, do you find the genre still relevant?

    MICHAEL GALLAGHER: I would go so far
    as to say the slashing elements in SMILEY are of the “diet” variety. There’s some
    real intense slashers that can be made. This was from the concept of
    doing something of the internet age, kind of a cautionary tale about sharing
    online and what kind of business they’re getting connected with on stream and
    chat sites and all that. So, it was something we wanted to use the slasher
    framework for and really discuss the implications of that and some of the theories
    that go along with internet culture. As far as the slasher genre goes, I think
    it’s the idea of someone who’s pissed, who wants to have vengeance, revenge, or
    just wants to have fun, and is going around picking people out by hand. I
    think, personally, it’s much scarier than the idea that there’s ghosts in the
    house. That’s sort of a trend right now, either someone’s possessed or there’s
    a ghost in the house. I’d like to see more of a man with a vendetta.

    FANG: Everyone can a be bit cynical about the way technology
    infects our lives, but when did you feel so impacted as to make a film out of

    GALLAGHER: I think, in my own life, for a long time I was
    really opposed to getting a smart phone. I eventually caved and got one and
    just the way I became attached to it made me really uncomfortable. And the way
    I see people engage with their technology makes me very uncomfortable. A lot of
    the youth, or teens, they just overshare. We’re going to have politicians in
    the future, and  we’re going to be able
    to look at their search history  and see
    what they’ve been up to. I don’t know if we’ll be able to elect anyone
    [laughs], because I feel like we’ve all wanted to see either “2 Girls 1 Cup” or
    some horrible effed up thing that’s out there. We’ve all been curious. This is
    putting it in a genre setting and saying what if you did that and could
    actually summon someone to murder. What would that be like? Personally, I feel
    like it’s more of a problem with the generation that’s grown up strictly with
    the internet and doesn’t understand the consequences of that. So, this film is
    really for them. It’s a cautionary tale to them, because most people who lived
    in the pre-internet , pre-streaming video era, they don’t take it as seriously
    as these kids. They understand the consequences more than the children do.


    FANG: What’s interesting about SMILEY is that in a lot of
    slashers, the typical grating characters are jocks, but SMILEY is rooted in a
    new age where people  who would be
    perceived as nerds—coding, hacking, staying online—they’re the ones that are
    serious jerks.

    GALLAGHER: I’m always surprised when people who are tech
    savvy in a movie are sort of awkward or shy. Sure, there’s that, but everyone I
    know who really knows their shit with technology is much more like the Jimmy
    Fallon character from SNL. Most people I know who know the internet have a
    pretty good sense of humor, and they don’t really have time for people who don’t
    understand it. THE SOCIAL NETWORK was one of the first times I’ve really seen a
    great character in Mark Zuckerberg. It was someone who knew his shit and didn’t
    have any patience for people who didn’t understand. In this movie, it was the idea
    of having characters that knew their shit and are using that power to maybe
    kind of fuck with someone who’s not up to speed.

    FANG: Your killer, Smiley, essentially has an emoticon
    carved into his face. What’s the line between that being effective and
    massively silly?

    GALLAGHER: I have made a horror movie where the bad guy has
    an emoticon on his face. I think that’s a slight accomplishment in itself
    [laughs]. I think audience will interpret or take away different things. I
    think the older audience, I think the people who are much more ingrained in the
    genre will maybe not see SMILEY in the same way that a fourteen or fifteen
    year-old that’s grown up on the internet and nothing else. I made this film for
    the teen audience, for people who watch the stuff I make online. Having them at
    screenings, and seeing them react to it—they really respond to it in a much
    different way than grown-ups respond to the film. It’s one of those things
    where you talk about so many things that are inside baseball on the internet
    and referencing so many different things, the movie’s really for that audience.
    The people that don’t like it, they’re usually a little older and they’ve seen
    everything you can see in the genre. This is sort of, I would say, this is
    really for the people who getting interested in horror.

    FANG: Are you seeing the film reach that audience? It’s
    interesting seeing an indie, or limited release film or something like
    DETENTION that’s geared, or will speak to a certain age set. Are they finding
    it on VOD?

    GALLAGHER: I think that’s what we’ll start seeing more of.
    We have these great channels and portals to get content out now directly to
    audiences at home. On SMILEY, we were fortunate enough to have a theatrical
    release and to come out and have people from all over to be able to see it. Now
    that the film is coming out on DVD and on iTunes, the real audience it’s
    intended for can see it. I think we were able to, on a microbudget, do the most
    that we could. It’s hard to get a movie out without a huge budget, but we’ve
    been extremely fortunate to have a huge response on our trailer and being able
    to talk about the film in so many outlets. I feel like, for the most part, our
    audience has been able to see it or is now able to see it. The response I’ve
    been getting is incredible. It’s just one of the challenges of the time and the
    changing landscape of distribution.

    FANG: How nihilistic are you yourself about of all this
    versus the film?

    GALLAGHER:  I think
    the film is very nihilistic; almost too nihilistic in a couple of cuts that we
    did. So, I don’t know if that just comes from my own taste, or what. I just
    think that people, we’re in a weird time where you have something like
    Anonymous where they go out and they do things for, more or less, social
    justice or things that they see are not done properly in the world. They’re
    going to go and take that power away from those that have it and show that the
    people can do something and they can do it online. They can hack and create
    their own outcome. There are other people that do things that aren’t for the
    greater good, that are doing things that if most people heard stories of what a
    group of kids online are doing, it would shock them. There’s also things that
    they post and do, that are just like, “why?” The only reason is, is that it’s
    for fun. I think that trend is growing and the idea that we’re all kind of
    interconnected, we’re so desensitized by horrible images and oversharing and
    access to content we’ve never seen before. I think the kids are almost like
    blank slates that to feel something, they have to fuck with people. That’s
    something I wanted to explore in the film. To me, that’s scarier than any
    creature coming at you, or any paranormal concept; the idea that humans really
    just want to watch everyone die for fun, that’s horrifying to me. 

    Read more »
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    “MARK OF THE DEVIL” director returns with “ORPHANAGE”

    by: Chris Alexander on: 2013-02-15 13:42:57

    Eurohorror fiends hold director Michael Armstrong’s 1970
    medieval torture opus MARK OF THE DEVIL in the highest of regards and
    rightfully so. The atmospheric, lush capitalization on Michael Reeve’s
    WITCHFINDER GENERAL not only boasts a magnificent cast in Herbert Lom, Reggie
    Nalder and Udo Kier, but a sweeping score (by Michael Holm, also employed in
    Jason Eisener’s HOBO WITH A  SHOTGUN)
    surprising emotional heft and wincing levels of grim violence. Yes, this is the
    film that was marketed with a patron sensitive vomit bag….

    Since that auspicious picture, Armstrong has dabbled freely
    in the genre, writing MARK OF THE DEVIL II, Pete Walker’s HOUSE OF THE LONG
    SHADOWS, writing and co-directing the undervalued SCREAMTIME and even doctoring
    the script of Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE. Now, forty years after his last stint
    behind the lens Armstrong has finally been lured out of retirement by Paper
    Dragon Productions to direct a new film, a UK creeper called ORPHANAGE.

    “I agreed to be exhumed from retirement because I felt I
    could trust Paper Dragon Productions to offer me the creative freedom I need to
    realize a story I’ve wanted to bring to the screen for more than 30 years,”
    Armstrong said.  “I very much look
    forward to working with them.”

    Described as a sociological suspense shocker, a complete
    veil of secrecy has now been thrown around the project as it heads into
    immediate development. Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, ORPHANAGE will be
    produced by Paul Horsfield and Jonathan Jones, with Neil Jackson and Kevin
    James executive producing for Paper Dragon Productions.

    Stay tuned to FANGORIA for more details as this project

    Read more »
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