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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Review: Society

One From the Vaults

Society DVD 001When this film appeared in the 80s I had thought it was going to be a normal sort of horror film and for most of the film it certainly seems that way but then this film turns into an over the top comedy about the parasitic nature of the ruling class in society with one of the sickest most depraved endings in a film that isn’t an experimental art house feature.

The film opens to the tune of Eton boating song, a song that really stinks of upper class privilege here in UK and is sure to set the teeth of any socialist on edge. Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) is a typical high school jock in Beverley Hills with a stinking rich family who seem to only tolerate his existence. The jocks aren’t the bullies at his school: instead it’s the filthy rich kids who run the school but even though he’s rich Billy just isn’t “one of them.”

Bill becomes aware that something strange may be going on when his sister’s ex-boyfriend David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) plays him a tape-recording that he made of his family taking about her coming out party. This is the tradition in the European upper classes of parties to present the available breeding stock of the next generation to the rest of society. What is on the tape is extremely perverse with hints of free for all sexual shenanigans that certainly seem to include incest. Bill’s anger at Blanchard for making the tape rapidly gets turned into disgust and anger towards his family but leaves the tape with his.

While Bill would rather keep away from the rich brats his nagging girlfriend Shauna (Heidi Kozak) wants to get invited to their party so Bill has to do some kissing up to the obnoxious Tad Ferguson (Ben Meyerson). He is getting even more suspicious of them but still can’t help getting turned-on by Clarisa (Devin DeVasquez) who openly flirts with him in front of Shauna. At the party Bill has a run-in with Ferguson but leaves with Clarisa. After having sex with Clarisa he wakes and is shocked to see her legs twisted into an impossible posture but she just laughs at him. Earlier he thought had seen an equally impossible posture by his sister when she was showering

Blanchard turns up dead and this makes Bill even more paranoid but no-one takes him seriously since the only person who would is now dead but his best friend Milo (Evan Richards) agrees to go along with him for now. They go to see Blanchard’s body before the funeral and Bill accidentally pokes a hole the face, revealing it to be fake. This might be justified but is another sign of something strange going on.

Bill gets a call from Petrie (Brian Bremer), the rich brat competing against Bill for class president. He hints at being able confirm Bill’s suspicions and agrees to meet him. When Bill gets there he finds Petrie’s car off the road as if he has crashed and Petrie is dead with his throat slit.

When he tries reporting it to the police the body is gone by the time they get there, as is the car and the police have more interest in arresting Bill than investigating Petrie’s death. Next day Bill tries telling the whole school about his suspicions and Petrie’s death but his passionate rant sounds even crazier when Petrie himself appears, apologising for running late. Bill starts doubting his sanity but Milo had followed him to his meeting with Petrie and saw some very strange coming and going that confirm Bill’s story.

Bill goes home and the rich and powerful are all there. Bill start his ranting again but he gets seized by two paramedics and drugged by his psychiatrist. He gets taken to the local hospital and Milo follows. Milo tries asking for Bill at the reception desk only to be told that he’s dead. Bill wakes up in a hospital bed and leaves, meeting Milo outside who tries to convince Bill of how dangerous this all seems.

Bill knows he’s being set-up but returns home. This is when the deep weirdness starts and this is all a spoiler from here so if you haven’t seen it lets just call it body horror with some really sticky looking 80s special effects from Screaming Mad George .

All the rich are really hiding in dark waiting to catch Bill. The rich are all a disgusting separate parasitic species and they consume poor humans in a process they call the Shunt. They all get naked and rub each other in some jelly that makes their flesh plastic and malleable and they do this to their victim too which the merge with bodies melting together and they engage in all sorts of perverted sexual coupling too. It turns out Blanchard is not dead but is their first victim so Bill has to watch them consuming and absorbing him.

Clarisa manages to get Bill free and he escapes only to see his family having their own twisted perversions in their bedroom. This includes seeing his mother walking around with his dad’s arms for legs and his sister coming out of her vagina; meanwhile Dad has his face coming out of his arse and makes fart noises as Bill runs off.

Bill gets caught again and dragged down to the disgusting orgy. He challenges Ferguson to a fight over Clarissa which the parasites think sounds hilarious and to be fair Ferguson smacks the shit of Bill. Bill pulls out one desperate move, shoving his arm right up Ferguson’s arse and pulling him completely inside out. He then escapes with Clarissa and Milo while the parasites seemed unmoved by the death of one of their own.

There’s an obvious element of social satire in the set-up but to honest I don’t think a film that goes so over the top is making any deep social commentary. The rich are a filthy inbred amoral protean mass and they have to steal anything original and special from real humans and that is exactly how the film portrays them.

The acting is very variable in this story with poor Billy Warlock a bit overstretched but he is better in the scenes near the end. The special effects are just what you’d expect from an icky 80s horror film. The film does drag on a bit before it gets to big climax. There’s not much gore in this film but much more fleshy and slimy fluids. The delightfully depraved imagination that went into recreating The Shunt is really what make this film stand out as a must see but it’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Wolverine

The Blu-Ray Shelf

The Wolverine Bluray 001I didn’t catch this at the cinema but I got it on Blu-ray as soon as it came out. I had heard the reviews and it was generally positive and certainly more positive that the other Wolverine film. I’m glad to say that is a major improvement in many ways and I enjoyed the film a lot more than I expected to. The story has a smaller scale to it though it’s still full of highly improbable, highly enjoyable action scenes.and is a more intimate story for he most part though the comic book antics do get a bit carried away at the end

We see Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is a prisoner in Japan during the Second World War when he rescues a young Japanese soldier called Yashida (Ken Yamamura) when the atomic bomb gets dropped on the nearby city of Nagasaki. Yashida is fascinated by Wolverine’s mutant ability to recover from the heat blast from the bomb and is extremely grateful to Wolverine for saving him.

Forward to the present or a least some time after X Men Last Stand and Wolverine is dreaming about being with Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) the woman who he loved but was [SPOILER] forced to kill to stop her destroying the world (or San Francisco – they never did quite get the cosmic scale of the comic book Phoenix). Wolverine wakes from the dream and he’s really somewhere cold and mountainous in North America living like wild mountain man. He’s give up on being an X Man and just wants to be left alone but when he has a run in with group of dangerously incompetent hunters he has to get involved. This is when a young Japanese woman that was following him comes to his aid taking on the hunter’s friends. Her name is Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and she has come to find him with a message from Yashida who is dying and wants to see Wolverine one last time

The rest of the film is set in Japan in a world that is a paradox of ultramodern technology but with deep roots of family and tradition especially when it comes to Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) and his family. Yashida is one the wealthiest and most powerful men in Japan but he worries about will happen to his empire when he dies. Yashida tells Wolverine that he can give him the gift of death while taking from him the curse of eternal life. Wolverine rejects his ‘kind’ offer very quickly but Yashida asks for one more favour: he wants Wolverine to protect his grand-daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto).

The reason Mariko needs protection is that Yashida has left everything to her in his will, enraging her father Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada). Wolverine is going back home next day but that night while he sleeps he gets a visit from Yashida’s tall blonde doctor Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) who poisons him with a kiss. That night Yashida dies so Wolverine is obliged to stay for the funeral.

At the funeral is where the shit really kicks off when Yakuza assassins dressed as monks go all out trying to kill Mariko while Wolverine, Yukio, Mariko and a mysterious ninja bowman called Harada (Will Yun Lee) fight off the assassins. This is when Wolverine notices that he’s not instantly healing from his wounds. It’s the old “hero losing his abilities” trope that has often been used in superhero films but then it is also a frequent theme in the comics too and Wolverine’s powers do need to be taken down a few notches to make the human threat even look plausible. There is a long exciting chase through Tokyo with Mariko and Wolverine fighting off the Yakuza but they get away and hold up in a “love hotel”

The middle section is Wolverine and Mariko trying to keep away from the Yakuza and includes an over the top fight sequence on the top of a bullet train. This part of course has the obligatory scenes of Mariko and Wolverine alone and the relationship moving from mistrust to affection for each other and Wolverine even considers allowing himself to love again.

The film does a have big comic book climax with Wolverine in a showdown with the Silver Samurai and while it’s not terrible it is a bit of a let-down after the big build up. Treachery is revealed and alliances shift as choices are made. Overall I thought it was a great fun film that gives Wolverine the showcase he deserves but didn’t really get in the Origins film. Hugh Jackman inhabits the role of Wolverine so well once again. The supporting cast is convincing enough though Viper was like an evil baddie from Saturday morning cartoon series. I liked the scene at the end that was a major set-up for the X-men Days of Future past film and it made me a little bit more excited about it..

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: You Can’t Kill Stephen King

The DVD Pile

you cant kill stephen king DVD 001This low-budget comedy horror film tries very hard and you can certainly see it was made with people with a passion for the film they are making but the writing is not very good and the comedy suffers from perhaps not really being bold enough.

Six friends in a minivan drive up to a small town in Maine for a break and we get a caption to introduce them just like happens in a couple of better known films. It’s a bit unnecessary since it really doesn’t take long for the characters to be obvious. There’s the slut Nicole (Kayle Blogna), the jock Iraq war vet. Monroe (Monroe Mann who is one of the film’s writer/directors), the girlfriend Lori (Kate Costello), the sister Hilary (Crystal Arnette), the black guy Lamont (Justin Brown) and the nerd Ronnie (Ronnie Khalil another writer/director)  who is a Stephen King fan. Ronnie is really keen to meet the man himself but they find the locals turn a bit hostile and unhelpful when Stephen King’s name gets mentioned.

Monroe and Hilary’s late grandparents own a house by the lake so they want to hire a boat and have some fun playing on the lake but the boat warden tells them to go to the next lake and won’t rent them a boat. He agrees to rent them a boat after Nicole uses her breasts to persuade him.

Lamont goes to get fuel for the car and drive up to the house while the other five are going by boat. Ronnie gets serious travel sickness so Monroe drops him off at the house while they have fun water-skiing around the lake making lots of noise until they get pulled up by a cop in a boat for making too much noise and going too fast.

Next the film moves into the main plot of killing off these annoying college kids. I think they may have had the ambition to make kills like some of the more memorable kills from King stories but their budget for effects have limited them to less familiar but easier to film kills.

There’s a lot of references throughout to Stephen king stories as well as elements from other horror films in the soundtrack. There’s even a dream sequence that is really crude parody of scenes from the Shining. It reminded me of the type of stuff from those terrible parody films with shallow jokes that are based on caricatures of films based on their trailers. Stephen King has such a familiar style that it is ripe for comedy but this film never really gets beyond the few scenes and references. Monroe has couple of funny bits when the film decides to take the piss out of the war vet clichés but the bits with Ronnie just annoyed me. This film was just not to my taste though it wasn’t completely incompetent and is filmed quite well.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Twixt

The DVD Pile

Twixt DVD 001This film seems to have just appeared out of nowhere with no publicity despite being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is more of a supernatural mystery thriller than a straight horror film but the story seems to be just a series of things happening with no real sense of urgency to tie them together or have them make sense.

Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a struggling horror writer touring around the country trying to publicise his latest book and he gets to small town where the locals seem completely uninterested. The local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) fancies himself as a writer and wants Hall to co-write a book based on an idea has based on series of murders. He offers to show Hall the body of the latest victim, a young girl with a large wooden stake stuck into her chest.

There was a terrible murder in the town in an old hotel where a paranoid religious freak that cared for bunch of young orphans murdered all the children to save their souls from corruption because he thought one boy had run away to join the vampires who live across the lake.

That night Hall has a dream that seems to have been inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. He meets a young girl called V (Elle Fanning) which is short for both Virginia the girl’s given name and Vampirella the girl’s nickname. He also goes to hotel which isn’t empty and abandoned like it is in the real world but has two people a strange old man who insists on fixing a clock and a woman who wants to serve him breakfast before picking up a guitar and singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.

V appears at the window and the woman tries to sneak out to catch her but V bites her and gets away. Hall starts following her but when he turns back to hotel he sees a dozen young children emerge from the hotel basement with a man who plays with them. V tells Hall that they are the dead kids so clearly that means the man is their murderer. Hall follows V in to the woods but she vanishes. Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) appears so Hall asks him for help writing his story but that’s when Hall wakes up in his motel room.

The dream sequences are highly stylized with everything in subdued monochrome but there are splashes of red while V and the other children seem to be more brightly lit. Hal goes into this same dreamland a few more times, mostly to talk to Poe for advice on writing his next book.

Hall’s wife is desperate for money so Hall gets in touch with his publisher to beg for an advance which the publisher agrees to but only if Hall sends an outline with a fully fleshed-out ending. Hall’s search for a decent story with an ending is the main driving force of the plot and the murders really seem to only be a subplot.

Hall is so desperate for a story that he actually takes the idea from the outline LaGrange gave him and agrees to co-author the book with him. This is a strange decision because even if Hall is desperate LaGrange seems a bit unstable and even has model of a vampire execution machine that he has thought up for his story inspired by the stake murders.

It is a strange film that kind of wanders around feeling a bit disjointed before settling down to a bizarre ending that didn’t really wrap things up. I liked the dream sequences but the film did have a lot of them. The film features red quite a lot in the dream sequences and there are clocks all over the place which I’m sure is very symbolic.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Thor – The Dark World

Cinema 

1185066_386159968178782_1116796319_nOdin (Anthony Hopkins) gives us a potted history of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and the Dark Elves in a voiceover with the battle on the screen. Basically they existed before light came into the universe and Malkieth wants to return the universe to darkness and they have created weapon called the ether to bring it about during the conjunction of the nine realms. Odin’s father Bor destroyed the dark elf army and forced Malekith to withdraw into hiding. Bor could not destroy the ether so he hid it on the empty world of the dark elves.

Forward to the present and on Asgard they are dealing with the consequences of Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) actions. First for what he tried to pull on Earth Odin puts Loki into a cell where only Frigga (Rene Russo) his adopted mother visits him. Next Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three battle long and hard to restore peace to the nine realms now that Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge has been rebuilt.

On Earth Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is hard at work dating Chris O’Dowd but the date gets interrupted by Darcy (Kat Dennings). She has actually been working and this is first time she took a break. Now Darcy is here with one Jane’s instrument that keeps beeping, indicating an anomaly just like the ones she detected before that turned out to be Bifrost.

Darcy has got herself an intern called Ian (Jonathan Howard) who has found something very strange. It’s out in some abandoned industrial zone where gravity is behaving very strangely and there seems to be wormholes around the place. They have all sorts of fun playing with the wormholes so it’s obvious something bad is going to happen. Jane falls through another wormhole and finds herself on an empty dead planet. It turns out that this is the world of the Dark elves and Jane seethe ether which enter her body.

Thor had been talking to Heimdall (Idris Elba) when Jane went into the wormhole. Heimdall saw Jane vanish from his sight so Thor heads to Earth to look for her. Jane comes back to Earth through another wormhole and is shocked to see the police there but she’s been gone for five hours so Darcy had no choice. Thor arrives just then and Jane is happy to see him but pissed off that he didn’t come to see her last time he was on Earth. When the ether energy inside Jane strikes out suddenly Thor realises that this dangerous and so he grabs Jane and whisks her off to Asgard.

Odin is not at all happy about Thor bringing Jane to Asgard and though he sounds like an arrogant old bigot he may be thinking of the problems of relationships between long-lived Asgardians and humans but he still doesn’t have to be such an old prick about it. He changes his mind when he discovers the ether inside Jane which the Asgardian doctors say is killing her.

When Jane got filled with ether Malekith and his dark elves were awakened. He launches an attack on Asgard to get to Jane and retrieve the ether. The Asgardians defend themselves and drive off the elves but at the cost of many Asgardian lives. This sends Odin into a rage and he wants vengeance so knowing that Malekith will return for Jane he imprisons her.

This time it is Thor who has the cooler head and comes up with a plan to take the battle elsewhere and lessen the potential for death. For that he needs the help of Heimdall, Sif and the Warriors Three and he also needs Loki’s specials skills. Thor frees Jane and they head off to take down Malkeith.

I think this was a better film than the first which was only really an introduction to Thor and the world of Asgard. This film we get a lot more of the characters doing things and seeing how they relate to each other. Odin is not all the harsh but wise king, he makes mistakes and is conflicted between what he wants to do as a father and what he feels bound to do as a king and I‘m really glad they have Anthony Hopkins in the role. We get to see a bit more of Jane Foster and Eric Selvig and Darcy does the comedy relief. We see the complex relationship between Loki and Thor a bit more in this film when they are reluctantly forced to work together yet there’s a sense that both want to. The only weakness in this film is the one note villains. They want to destroy the universe because that’s what they want to do. Overall I had a good time with this film but I doubt it is going to convince anyone who didn’t like the first film.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Smiley

The DVD Pile

Smiley DVD 001There have been a few films that have played around with the story concepts in this thriller but even naming them would probably be a spoiler. I have been very unimpressed by attempts by film-makers to tackle internet culture and social media and despite a few accurate sounding name-drops and cultural references this film doesn’t really buck that trend. It starts out quite well but I got a bit fed up by the middle and the ending was a total face palm.

Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) is just starting college but her father is not sure if she is ready because she has been getting treatment for bipolar disorder after her mother died. She is sharing a house with another student called Proxy (Melanie Papalia) and that name is little on the nose. Proxy is pushy and brash and talks Ashley into coming to a party.

This party is for people who met on-line on a message board and Proxy drops the names 4chan and Anonymous when she explains it to Ashley but Ashley is unfamiliar with those names. The host is a real sleaze called Zane (Andrew James Allen) and the other guests are bunch of self-centered nasty little pricks except one guy called Binder (Shane Dawson) who gets kicked out of the party for having some moral standards. There are people on a computer using some anonymised chatroom application and talking about Smiley. This is a highly derivative urban legend where someone is chatting with someone else and they type “I did it for the lulz,” three times then Smiley appears and kills the other person and we see this apparently happening. Proxy actually lampshades the original Bloody Mary legend when describing it.

Everyone else is laughing it off but Ashley thinks it might be real. Later back their house after convincing themselves that it can’t be Proxy and Ashley decide to test it out to see if it is true. They choose some sleazy guy who insists on baring his flesh to the camera and wants them to do the same. Ashley types the words three times and they giggle at his reaction. Their giggles come to abrupt halt when a masked figure kills the man and leers at them. They are freaked out and though there is still room for some doubt they are convinced the guy was really killed.

Ashley wants to go to the police or the FBI but Proxy convinces her that they have no evidence. The anonymous protection on the chatroom means they don’t know who was killed or where. Ashley agrees not to tell anyone but she has nightmares about Smiley.

Ashley visits a psychiatrist and tells her about her anxiety but avoids telling her the details of what is making her anxious. She also talks to Binder who has some strange ideas about what Smiley is. At least he seems to believe her.

Zane contacts Proxy and Ashley and it turns it he is just as scared as they are since he can’t get in touch with many of the hackers in their group. They think Smiley is coming for them and Ashley tries turning to the police but just as Proxy had said earlier they have no bodies and no evidence any crimes were committed.

The climax of the film is the most disappointing part of the film and I really hoped they wouldn’t go with the ending that they used. I really wanted to see something different instead we get a twist that wasn’t too surprising. The film didn’t have lot of big budget effects but the deaths looked real enough. This film reinforces exaggerated fears about the internet and social media rather than offering any real insight into it and It’s just another schlocky thriller.

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Halloween

Horror Journal

The theme is Halloween night and the celebrations, dressing up in costumes, going trick or treating, watching scary films and telling spooky stories.

Satan’s Little Helper

This low budget thriller has a dark sense of humour. It’s set in a town on Bell Island which only has small police force so really isn’t able to cope when serial killer comes to the island. A young boy  Dougie Whooly (Alexander Brickel) is obsessed with an electronic game called Satan’s Little Helper is really excited about Halloween and his mother Merrill (Amanda Plummer) has made him a costume just like the character in the game. His older sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick) is coming back to celebrate Halloween with him. Young Dougie seems to have problem with the difference between reality and fantasy that might be normal in a younger child but he look about 8 or 9. He thinks Satan is real and just like the character in the game but later Dougie thinks real murders are part of a game.

When Jenna brings home Alex (Stephen Graham), a boyfriend from college, Dougie is jealous and storms off in a huff to look for Satan. He spots a figure in an impressive devil mask putting dead body out on porch seat and thinks it is just an impressively realistic prop. He follows the Satan man (Joshua Annex) and sees him laying out another real body in a garden but still thinks it is another prop.

Satan man is very happy to go along with Dougie being Satan’s Little Helper when they boy invites him back to his house. Satan man slaughters his way through the locals while Dougie thinks it’s all just a game and his family think the man in the mask is really Alex. When they realise the truth they have to battle to escape the silent unknown killer.

Halloween

Eight year old Michael Myers stabs his older sister to death on Halloween night. Sixteen years later Michael escapes the secure psychiatric hospital where he had been kept and returns to his home town of Haddonfield to kill several teenagers and terrorise Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Michael’s psychiatrist Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is only person who seems to recognise how dangerous Michael is and he tries to alert to local police but they seem helpless or hopeless and Laurie has to battle Michael for her life until Loomis arrives.

I like that they don’t try to explain Michael at all – he is just  an evil malevolent force that can’t be killed. The isn’t very much gore in this film that inspired so many violent slasher films but there is plenty of suspense.  

Trick ‘r Treat

I loved this anthology horror film set on Halloween night from the first time I saw it and I’m surprised that it seems to have treated so poorly by the company that produced it. It celebrates everything that the day is about which is not just one thing

There are four stories in this film, all blended together so that characters and events from one are seen during other stories.. Through them all is little Sam Hain (Quinn Lord)  a round-head kid with a simple creepy mask made of sackcloth who is guardian who is the spirit of Halloween.

Sam is brutal when protecting Halloween traditions when they are disrespected  but he’s not the only one since there’s a serial killer living in town and he just loves Halloween. There’s as grumpy old loner who hates people and especially Halloween trick or treaters. There are kids out for good time telling  creepy stories and trying to scare each other and of course there’s the group of college girls out hunting for boys to take to a party later. I don’t really want to give to much away but the film has a vampire, werewolves and  the dead coming back to tear the living apart

This is just a fantastic film and I’m glad to hear that it is getting a sequel so maybe word of mouth is ensuring that this film gets the audience it deserves..

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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