The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

  
A woman is brutally raped and killed by psychotic Alex (David Hess) late one night. Afterwards he returns to work at a garage where his simple friend Ricky (Giovanni Radice) also works. When a young well to do couple come into the garage asking for help fixing their car and say that they’re going to a friends party, it kick starts a chain of events resulting in brutal murder and unparalleled mayhem. 

  
Ruggero Deodato was really at the height of his fame when he made this brilliantly sleazy movie. Ricky is easily led by the brutal Alex, as he just isn’t that bright, but still has (very) small elements of good in him. Alex however is just pure evil, resorting to satisfying his wildest urges, no matter how depraved. The group having the party are really put through the ringer, and you wonder just what will happen next. 

  
David Hess just really recycles his role from ‘Last House on the Left’, and it’s not really a far cry from many of the roles he played during his career. The makers of this movie were so desperate to have him on board that they actually gave him half the rights to the film. Giovanni Radice plays the part of the simple Ricky very well. With limited intelligence you can see he doesn’t really understand at first the magnitude of his actions, and you feel that he’s mostly doing it to impress Alex. There is a lot of nudity, some full frontal, and the violence is quite brutal. If that’s not your thing then it’s best to avoid this movie. Then again if you’re reading reviews about this movie, it’s probably safe to say that it intrigues you somewhat, and if so then I would say you should give it a go. 

  
The film is over 35 years old, so it is very dated in parts, particularly the fashion, but the content on show still manages to pack a punch. The violence, a lot of it of a sexual nature, is very near the knuckle. The acting on show really is top quality, and really helps in keeping you gripped to the end. 

Thank you to Shameless Screen Entertainment for letting me review this movie. It’s available now from their site via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/House-On-The-Edge-Of-The-Park.html

4/5

JM

  

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Horror Channel interview with The Ford Brothers.

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The Ford Brothers, directors of hit zombie movie The Dead and it’s sequel, recently sat down with the Horror Channel to discuss the perils of making the movie. The Dead gets its UK TV premier on September 27th at 22:50. Take a read of their interview below:

How do you two write? For example, does one pace the floor whilst the other types?

Jon: Ha that’s funny! You hit the nail on the head! Normally you will find Howard frantically writing away while I pace the room acting out the scenarios and shouting the lines like some demented theatre actor on steroids. The writing stage is one phase of the project where we work together very well. We are almost never in conflict with each other, each jumping in where the other got to in a particular scene but also bringing together our differing perspectives and weaving them together. We can’t always say the same for the actual shoot, but on The Dead there was normally some life threatening situation taking place, which does tend to add a bit of additional pressure.

Where did the idea for The Dead come from and why set it in a foreign location?

Howard: Jon had started writing script for The Dead, in the mid to late 1980s but we didn’t really push forward and finish the script until about 20 years later shortly before shooting the film. So in essence it is genuinely and old school zombie movie that just took a lot longer to reach the screen.

It was originally going to be shot in Morocco or somewhere like that but for those who don’t know The Ford brothers shoot TV commercials in between films. Anyway, while we were out on location in West Africa we came across places of unbelievable beauty and danger in equal measure. We realised the opportunities of setting this film in a place where no one has ever been or seen before, where there are no safe places to hide in or lock down, where survival is as dangerous as the zombies themselves. Also parallels can be drawn with starvation poverty and events like the Rwandan massacres, while investigating how other religions and cultures would react to such a pandemic.. That was when we realised we could make something really special and different.

The shoot for The Dead has been well documented and is famous for what went wrong as well as what went right. What is the most enduring memory you have form the making of it?

Jon: Yes the shoot itself has become quite famous for all the problems, but for me the more pleasant enduring memory is the driving. Even though I had contracted malaria and had what seemed like endless bouts of food poisoning and other tropical illnesses, so had lost about a third of my body weight. In fact I didn’t know if I would leave this place alive or not. Still as I drove across Ghana and Burkina Faso I will never forget the vast beauty of almost everywhere you look, words or even pictures cannot describe how stunning those places actually are. I though to myself if I die now, It was still nice to have seen such beauty.

Howard: For me it was the journey back from Ghana to Burkina Faso after the whole crew had flown out from Ouagadougou airport and I felt like ‘at least no one had actually died’ and suddenly the pressure was off my shoulders. It had felt like I had been carrying a crippling weight, no disrespect to the fantastic cast and crew but even though we were out of cash, food, without even enough fuel to get back to Ghana where I had to fly out from with the remaining cans of film, that journey was like entering heaven..

The actors are just superb and add much to the story, how did you go about casting the movie?

Jon: Thanks, yes the actors are great but all the more so for doing it in high stress and dangerous situations, or while actually suffering from malaria or typhoid while doing their art. I fondly remember Halimata, the woman with the baby, being so kind and supportive while actually dressing the fake baby and doing her costume herself, then with seconds left of light, delivering one of the greatest performances of terror I have ever seen!

Howard: We cast Rob Freeman in the UK where he was living at the time. In fact he lived virtually down the road from us which was nice as we were able to get to know him a bit and rehearse scenes together before flying out to Africa. We like to ‘know’ our key players personally rather than just meeting them in a casting session as it’s a big commitment to work together like this. We asked an ad agency we had worked with in Ghana to look for actors matching our description and Prince David Osei was one of the first we saw, It took all of one milli second to chose him. Strangely, we had worked with Prince before on an ad but just didn’t know it until he told us. We had both had our heads and shoulders covered during the commercial shoot in the heat of Africa and he thought we were Arabs so was very confused when we turned out to be Brits!

What sort of budget did you have as the effects are quite something?

Howard: We haven’t revealed this before but The Dead was actually shot for $150,000 which is ridiculously small for a movie shot on film in exotic locations around the world and we were advised not to mention this and others claimed the movie was shot for several million hence we missed out on any kudos for getting it in the can (literally the can, not a digital drive) for so little. To put that in context, another film that has been publicised on the basis it cost very little; ‘Monsters’ which is praised for being a low budget miracle shoot. It was apparently shot for $400,000 on digital with just 2 pro actors with a well-established production company lining things up and local support in each location as they went, which, don’t get me wrong, is still very impressive, but we had absolutely no back up at all and were trying to use as many physical special effects and real stunts as much as possible. Plus we were using our own money (life savings). It was a battle all the way financially and physically without any safety net at all.

Jon: The special effects are a big thanks to Dan Rickard and Max Van de Banks. What makes it really impressive is the total lack of budget resources and time. Most of the time the effects were created on the spur of the moment. It makes us laugh sometimes when you see awards being given to people who had all the money time and resources in the world. What Dan and Max achieved on virtually nothing is truly amazing! And this was after most of the fx materials had perished due to the 5 weeks we waited to get our equipment and props out of customs in Accra whilst they melted in the daily heat.

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My Soul to Take (2010)

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Years ago the town of Rivereton, Massachusetts was stalked by a serial killer known as The Ripper. At the start of the movie you see that the Ripper was a family man with several personalities. When he is put to rest it is thought that his souls or personalities inhabit the bodies of seven children who are born the same night he dies. Years later the kids gather together on the anniversary of the Ripper’s death to make sure he doesn’t come back. It’s seen as a silly ritual but soon takes on a more serious tone when one by one, the teenagers are slain.

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Bug (Max Thieriot) is seen as the most vulnerable of the group. He is mercilessly bullied by Brandon (Nick Lashaway) and his own sister Fang (Emily Meade). He is chosen on the night to be the one that banishes the Ripper back in to the river. However he panics and doesn’t go through with it. He thinks it’s his fault that people are dying and that the Ripper has returned. He teams up with his friend Alex (John Magaro) to find out the truth about the Ripper and to discover who exactly is committing these murders in the Ripper’s name.

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I really enjoyed this movie. It feels like the sort of enjoyable movies Wes Craven used to do back in the 80’s. I think part of my enjoyment came from the fact that this movie got panned by critics and some movie goers alike. So my expectations were low. I stumbled across it on Netflix and I enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s a great popcorn flick, with some good scares and great gore. Max Thierot is brilliant as the naive Bug, who steps up when the time comes.

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I really recommend it. It’s worth watching and not listening to the nay sayers. Watching this made me realise that Wes Craven still has the talent when he puts his mind to it. He needs to stop doing the Scream movies and instead put his talents to use in nurturing stories like this. Very good.

4/5

JM

MP1107D My Soul To Take DVD

Absentia (2011)

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Well this was a strange one. The story begins with Tricia (Courtney Bell) wandering around town posting flyers regarding her husband who has been missing for seven years. When she returns home she finds that her sister, Callie (Katie Parker) has returned from her travels to stay with Tricia. Callie has issues of her own which soon becomes apparent, haven’t been dealt with. Tricia is still having a hard time regarding her missing husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown). She is pregnant by another man and is trying to move on with her life. The only real thing she has left to do regarding her missing husband is to declare him death in absentia. Which is when the trouble starts.

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Tricia begins to have terrifying visions of Daniel. Her psychiatrist believes them to be linked to the fact that she is declaring him death in absentia, and also to the fact she is moving on with her life. Callie also begins to see strange things, all linked to a mysterious tunnel opposite Tricia’s house. I don’t really want to say any more as it would spoil the story.

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The acting is good for a movie that has been made on a tight budget, the effects are reasonable enough and there is a poignant cameo from the always brilliant Doug Jones. I didn’t like the film myself. That has no bearing on the actors who all do an admirable job. I think my feelings stem from the impression laid upon me due to the piss poor marketing. The cover, of which I haven’t used at the bottom of this page, gives a misleading view of this movie. It gives the impression that this is a film chock full of gore and scares. It isn’t. It has the odd jump scare which is effective, but as another reviewer buddy of mine Andy Catsu mentions (http://thegoresplatteredcorner.com/2014/07/05/dr-catsu-reviews-absentia-2011-uk-blu-ray/), it deals with other serious issues. I didn’t get that impression from the movie myself. Not because they weren’t present, but because the marketing just didn’t even give a hint that this was that type of movie, so I just wasn’t giving it my full attention. That’s down to me, and I’m sure my view will change on repeated viewings.

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I was also very careful about what images I attached to this review. Firstly so I don’t make the same fuck up that the marketing folks did and give you a different impression of this movie, but also so I didn’t really give too much away. Like I said the acting is good and the storyline is interesting enough. Should my views change I will come back and update this review. Enjoy.

3/5

JM

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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

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Vincent Price has always been the go to guy for strange and kooky roles. He’s dependable and doesn’t mind hamming it up on occasion. He does so with real gusto as Dr. Phibes. Dr. Phibes is a tortured genius seeking revenge on 9 people he deems responsible for the death of his darling wife on the operating table. He devises a devilish scheme to exact the most painful and fiendish deaths on the his targets.

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Using the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt in biblical times as a template, Dr. Phibes, with the help of his glamorous assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), goes about his ghastly business. I won’t spoil the death scenes, as they are very inventive, almost displaying a creativity not seen till the Saw movies came out many years later.  Hot on Dr. Phibes’ trail is Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) who slowly begins to unravel the evil plan and Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten), one of the men Dr. Phibes seeks to kill.

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The whole movie moves along at a fairly brisk pace and doesn’t hold back on the hideous leftovers of the victims once they are attacked. There are some very funny moments too, and cameo roles from many famous faces of yesteryear. Vincent Price is brilliant as Dr. Phibes, really letting loose and genuinely having fun in the role. Peter Jeffrey is great as the world weary Inspector Trout, always one step behind Phibes and also suffering the wrath of his inept superiors. Joseph Cotten is great as Dr. Vesalius, really getting into the role when things heat up.

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The transfer from Arrow Films is nothing short of astonishing. The picture is beautifully crisp, really letting you appreciate the wonderful set design. Although the sound is only Mono 1.0, it is still clear as a bell and I never once felt I had to put the volume up. I do recommend this film for all horror and Vincent Price fans, you won’t be disappointed. This copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes was provided by the very kind folks at Arrow Films. You can get the box set containing this film and Dr. Phibes Rises Again now over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk.

4/5

JM

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Tremors (1990)

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Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are two handy men who live in the small, quiet town of Perfection. They get by doing odd jobs, but after one nasty accident involving sewage, they decide it’s time to move on to pastures new. However something is under the ground, something large and very hungry. When people begin to disappear or are found dead, Val and Earl begin to investigate what exactly is going on. Together with seismologist Rhonda (Finn Carter), they discover that there are large, subterranean worms living underground. These large worms can detect the smallest sound and have decided to call the town of Perfection their hunting ground.

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Realising that trying to escape is out of the question, the townsfolk decide to tackle these worms, or Graboids as Walter (Victor Wong) calls them. Together with local gun nut Burt (Michael Gross) and his wife Heather (Reba McIntire), Val and Earl begin to formulate a plan on distracting and dispatching the deadly threat.

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This for me, is one of my all time favourite movies. It has everything. Action, comedy, horror, some excellent lines and is just an all out joy to watch. I have seen this many times since it’s release and it never gets old. The sequel (Tremors 2) was also worth watching, and I will do a review of that in due course. However I would say to steer clear of Tremors 3 & 4 as they are dire. For me this is one of Kevin Bacon’s best roles. He brings warmth and heart to a role that would have probably just been a one dimensional hick in the hands of a lesser actor. Fred Ward is also hilarious as the gruff Earl Bassett. You can see there was some great chemistry between him and Kevin Bacon as it really shines through in the film. I also loved Michael Gross as the gun obsessed Burt Gummer, however I wish he had of given up the role after Tremors 2 as he really just phones it in in the later sequels and subsequent TV series.

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Like I said it’s one of my absolute favourite movies, and is definitely worth a watch. If you have never seen it then you owe it to yourself as a film fan to get it and watch it. It is a classic in every sense of the word and is perfect entertainment for a Saturday night with a drink and some popcorn. Seriously, get it.

5/5

JM

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Tourist Trap (1979)

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Five friends are travelling along the back roads of America looking for tourist spots to hang out at and enjoy. After one friend goes missing whilst looking for a spare wheel to replace a flat, the other four friends get in a car and go look for him. As they’re driving they come across a small hidden oasis on private property. Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) who owns the land the oasis is on, finds them and asks where they have come from. He invites them into his home, telling them they can wait there while he helps repair their car.

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Mr. Slausen also runs a roadside museum, full of an assortment of wax dummies. He tells the group that he used to run it with his brother who left long ago to make dummies for some of the bigger companies. He asks that while he goes with one of the group, Jerry (Jon Van Ness), that the girls don’t wander off and poke around the property.

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Which is just about the time things take a turn for the worse. A masked maniac with what appears to be telepathic powers, begins to stalk the girls, slowly making them apart of the roadside attraction. This is the sort of movie killer that just happens to always be in two places at once, whatever could it mean? Yes that was sarcasm. This is a dire movie by all accounts. Chuck Connors is good as the elderly farmer Mr. Slausen, but the rest of the cast really just can’t act. The opening 10 minutes of the film was creepy I will admit, but it rapidly goes downhill from there. The voice of the ‘killer’ is just ridiculous, and jettisons any hint of fear or menace the killer may have brought to the film. Going the Michael Myers/Halloween route and keeping the killer silent would, in my opinion, have been the better way to go.

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As with all these films, the scantily clad ladies are all dispatched in variously gruesome ways, but as a viewer you really don’t care. I did hear that the blu ray version is actually five minutes shorter than all the other versions, due to some underhanded tactics by Charles Band and the group at Full Moon. That said, I really fail to see how an extra five minutes of footage would make this abysmal film any better. One for the bargain bin I feel. This copy of Tourist Trap was kindly provided by the very kind folks over at http://www.88films.co.uk.

1/5

JM

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Dolls (1987)

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When little Judy Bower (Carrie Lorraine), her father David (Ian Patrick Williams) and step-mother Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) become stranded in a storm after their car gets stuck in the mud, they seek solace in a nearby mansion. The owners of the mansion, doll maker Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his wife Hilary (Hilary Mason) tell the family they are more than welcome to stay the night until the storm passes. Suddenly another group of people burst into the house from the storm. Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee) and the two hitch-hikers he picked up, Isabel (Bunty Bailey) and Enid (Cassie Stuart) are also told they are welcome to stay the night.

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Gabriel tells Judy of the elves that also live inside the house, telling her they are not to be feared as they like to play with children. Judy, who has a vivid imagination listens intently. But as the night goes on Ralph and Judy begin to see that Gabriel is not lying, and that those who would seek to to bad things, will suffer the wrath of the dolls.

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Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) this film moves along at a fairly brisk pace. It’s also not the longest of films, clocking in at just 77mins. Stephen Lee who plays Ralph does so with a real childlike innocence, which when you see the movie was most probably the point. He brings charm to the role and it’s a shame he doesn’t do more mainstream work. The two hitch-hikers Enid and Isabel are woefully acted, so it’s not exactly surprising that the two actresses in question never made more than 5 films between them. Their English accents are atrocious and one would think they learned their accents at the Dick Van Dyke School of Linguistics.

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The SFX of the dolls is actually quite impressive and almost comical at times. There are moments when you see the dolls discussing something that really made me laugh. I think special mention should also go to 101 Films who have done a sublime transfer for the blu ray. Sadly the release is devoid of extras, but is still very much recommended and worth picking up for fans of 80’s horror. This copy of Dolls was graciously provided by the kind folks over at http://www.101-films.com, and is available now from all good stockists.

4/5

JM

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Black Water Vampire (2014)

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Investigating the crimes of alleged serial killer Raymond Banks (Bill Oberst Jr.), four friends find a lot more than they bargained for. Every ten years, the bodies of lone females have been found butchered, lying in the woods. The man arrested and charged for the murders was Raymond Banks, however Danielle Mason (Danielle Lozeau) believes that he was coerced into making a confession, and that all is not as it seems. Together with 3 others, they head into the woods and down to Black Water Creek to find out what really took place.

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This film plays out very similar to The Blair Witch Project, the grandaddy of all found footage movies. You have the obligatory banging at the side of the tent, plus the ominous signs being painted on the trees. For the most part this film is reasonable enough. The acting and production values are quite good. However with Blair Witch, it’s strength’s lay in not revealing the hidden menace in the woods.

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Sadly in Black Water Vampires case, they just can’t resist showing you what is the cause of all the trouble. Which is sadly it’s undoing. I always say that the unknown is scarier, as it lets your mind conjure up something far more terrifying than what is eventually shown. Keeping the monster hidden and just out of focus would have done a lot more for this movie. It would have given it a far more tense feel and could only have been a good thing.

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Though it’s not for the want of trying. Everyone one of the main cast give it a good go, but it just isn’t enough. The reveal of the vampire is a bit of a let down. It doesn’t make you jump at any time during the movie, and for some strange reason is out in the daylight too. Sadly Black Water Vampire just can’t create the scares it so desperately seeks. The ending does come out of left field but just doesn’t do it. It tries to give the movie a Twin Peaks vibe that doesn’t quite fit. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s just not that great either. Worth a watch if there is nothing else on.

2/5

JM

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Stir of Echoes (1999)

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Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a hard working husband who seems to be grinding his way through life. He and his wife Maggie Witzky (Kathryn Erbe) are invited to a party where the sceptical Tom his asked if he would like to be hypnotized. Tom believing hypnotism to be a joke, agrees, thinking nothing will happen. However to his surprise he completely goes under. When he awakes from the hypnotism, he tells his sister in law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) that it worked, that she managed to hypnotise him.

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However something has awoken in Tom. He is seeing things that he doesn’t want to see. Having reoccurring dreams, and some very disturbing visions. He asks Lisa to reverse the hypnotism, to turn it off, but it’s too late. Now Tom must use his new ‘gift’ to solve a crime. One that is a little closer to home than he’d like.

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There is a lot going for this film that I really like. To begin with the story is very intriguing. Based on a novel by Richard Matheson, and written and directed by David Koepp, this really is a supernatural mystery you’ll want to get behind. It was released around the same time as The Sixth Sense and Blair Witch, when all of those types of movies were really getting peoples attention. Sadly Stir of Echoes was lost amongst the bigger names, which is sad as it’s definitely the better movie. Kevin Bacon is fantastic as Tom. Playing the everyman role fabulously and really reacting like you’d imagine someone would in such strange circumstances. The supporting cast are also really good, with a lot of faces you’ll recognise.

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I have never been hypnotised myself, so I can’t say if it actually works. But the premise is played out quite plausibly, and doesn’t seem too far fetched.  There are some cracking scares, and the whole thing is quite creepy. I would definitely suggest giving it a watch if you have never seen it before.

4/5

JM

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