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Entries from February 2011

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

February 18th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Aw, c’mon how’s a person supposed to not enjoy THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF? You’d have to be quite the Smurf kicking curmudgeon. Yes, the werewolf wears a turtleneck but decapitations, even if enacted off-screen, have to count for something. This 1973 PG-rated affair was the last film directed by NATHAN JURAN (ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN) and although it’s about as menacing as a bag of pink marshmallows, it’s a clever enough kiddie telling of the werewolf mythos and you don’t have to scratch too hard to sense heavier themes beneath the surface obstinate as ingrown hairs. For a film directed toward the younger set it refreshingly resists dunking its paw in sugar coating. Little Richie Bridgestone’s parents are getting a very un-Brady-like divorce and although Richie loves his dad, he’s thinking it might be a good idea to snitch on pop for frequently turning into a savage monster and pushing occupied vehicles off of cliffs. The movie says, “Werewolf”; I smell gin.

I’m not sure where this thing was filmed but the locations will probably look familiar to anyone who watched television in the seventies. I think most of us grew up in the haunts shown even if only via boob tube portal. There are some nice subtle references to UNIVERSAL studios more famous lycanthrope movie in the form of Dad’s trusty cane and with this being set in 1973, somebody cleverly transformed 1941’s THE WOLFMAN’s resident gypsies into hippies. The band of hippies really liven the movie and their love power is even shown to have a detrimental effect on the werewolf curse. Now that’s just adorable. Man, I wish I could have been a hippie but by the time I was old enough to join their ranks, everybody had already figured out that humans were hopelessly awful….dratz!

Another very cool thing about this movie is that it was released in a double feature with SSSSSSS. One thing that I’ve learned while working here at Kindertrauma is that there are exactly seven S’s in that title, so I don’t even have to look it up. Apparently it was the last double feature UNIVERSAL ever did and I missed it by being a stupid baby. THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF is not available in any format for some unknown reason, so I caught up to it on YouTube sporting Spanish subtitles. That means I got to learn a little extra Spanish while I watched and you can ask me what “Hombre Lobo” means and I’ll have the answer.

Like THE GATE or MONSTER SQUAD I think this movie makes a great horror starter kit for monster fans in training wheels. The transformation scenes are stagnantly old school but the resulting make up effects courtesy of TOM BURMAN are not bad at all (all turtlenecks considered.) I guess some will only see a campy howler here but the SHINING-esque parent-paranoia element does have some bite and it at least it takes its whiny protagonists dilemma seriously. If you can look beyond its corncob datedness (Dad dropped Mom for being a career gal!) it makes a fine companion piece to 1996’s BAD MOON. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this one but like most things in life, it’ll probably help. Adios amigos!

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Tags: General Horror · Repeat Offenders · Tykes in Trouble

Kindertrauma Funhouse: You’re Not Out of the Woods Yet!

February 18th, 2011 · 17 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Name That Trauma A Go Go :: Grokenstein on Four (Count ‘Em) Four Freaky Films

February 17th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Hi!

I’ve been holding onto these for too long because they aren’t exactly horror-movie-type traumas; they range from artsy dramas to crime thrillers from the ’40s, but they all have something in common: they all disturbed the hell out of me at some point (as a child or as an adult), and Googling accomplishes nothing. I hope you can help!

Thanks in advance,


Grokenstein

1. Made in South Africa? Dysfunctional black family moves into a suburban neighborhood. At one point, Mother is excited by dresses given to her by a clueless but well-meaning white lady neighbor. Angry daughter, offended by this “charity,” throws the dresses in a metal drum in the backyard and sets them afire; Mother tries to save the dresses and gets burned. (White lady is watching from her window, horrified.) Daughter is pregnant, perhaps through rape; has baby then kills it by deliberately dropping it on floor. Father and Mother decide to move. Father goes to retrieve the family’s life savings, but on the way home runs into “old friends” and comes home hours late, having gambled it all away. Mother yells at him. He slaps her. They pick up their few remaining possessions and start walking. THE depressing END. Late ’80s or early ’90s.

2. Two men scuffle in the off-limits area of some sort of large indoor aquarium, and one ends up being drowned. There is a wide shot from the inside of the aquarium in which we see the drowning man’s face screaming soundlessly at the top of the shot as a fish watches from a respectful distance. After the deed is done, the killer rolls the body into the tank with a big splash. Quite probably ’40s or ’50s.

3. Spy thriller? Mystery? Go-Go dancer meets her boyfriend, who is (unbeknown to her) a killer looking to set up the hero. Boyfriend knocks out/kills dancer with a karate chop (!) and throws her down some stairs. The hero finds the dead dancer just in time for the dancer’s co-worker to show up. Thinking the hero did it, she flees back to her room with him in pursuit. She pulls a gun on him and they struggle while he tries to explain. The gun goes off. The co-worker slides to the ground, fatally shot. As she dies, she whispers, “Explain this.” Definitely ’60s.

4. Euro-drama about a nanny/governess who bonds with a wealthy woman’s young daughter, to the increasing dismay of the girl’s emotionally-disturbed mother. The mother eventually fires the nanny to reclaim her role. The distraught little girl tells Mother that she will never love her. Mom responds by taking the girl’s doll and wrapping it in plastic. The hysterical girl screams that “(doll’s name)” won’t be able to breathe. Nevertheless, Mom puts the doll (still wrapped in plastic) away out of the crying girl’s reach. Cut to the nanny, walking away from the home with her bags; she narrates for a little bit (some soothing nonsense about how things eventually got better) and then the credits roll. Late ’80s/early ’90s again.

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Mansion of the Doomed (1976)

February 16th, 2011 · 6 Comments

While reading up on LANCE HENRIKSEN for our VISITOR post, I noticed he was in a horror film from 1976 called MANSION OF THE DOOMED. I might not have given it a second thought but the film also featured GLORIA GRAHAME and VIC TAYBACK who both appeared in 1971’s BLOOD AND LACE which I now love. Happily I found MANSION on YouTube and so I attached my speakers to the computer, turned off all the lights and got to viewing. The quality of the image was not the best, but sometimes I need a little gritty fiber in my eyeball diet and we all know that films from the seventies look swell dressed in scratches and un-mastered rags. My head is a car and the laptop is the drive-in.

MANSION is like a Grindhouse EYES WITHOUT A FACE. RICHARD BASEHART (‘77s ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU) plays Dr. Leonard Chaney who, due to shitty driving, causes his daughter Nancy to lose her eyesight. Feeling like a schmuck he decides with the help of his loyal wife Katherine (GRAHAME) to drug his daughter’s fiancé (HENRIKSEN), surgically remove his eyeballs, stick them in his daughter’s head and then keep the poor eyeless guy locked in a cell in the basement. The new peeper plan works out super for a while but then fails, so Chaney tries again with another victim and then another. The basement begins to fill with eyeless prisoners and his daughter’s face begins to look like Scrapple and everybody gets trapped in an unhealthy eyeball operation loop because the Doctor refuses to abide by the laws of his profession. “First, do no harm” and “Second, do no drugging, eye theft and prisoner keeping”!

For a film not spoken of often, MANSION has a notable pedigree. It’s the first horror film produced by CHARLES BAND and it was directed by character actor MICHAEL PATAKI who would direct the RAINBEAUX (LEMORA) SMITH semi-musical, soft-core flick CINDERELLA the same year. The score comes courtesy of ROBERT O. RAGLAND (ABBY, GRIZZLY) and the special and rather convincing absent eyeball effects were done by none other than a STAN (ALIENS, PUMPKINHEAD) WINSTON. The cinematographer was ANDREW DAVIS who went on to direct THE FINAL TERROR among others. I know trivia does not a worthwhile film make, but yay to the film that feeds my IMDb addiction.

Sadly, there’s not much particularly striking here on a visual level unless you include the mansion’s cobalt blue shag rug. There’s one neat shot that represents a crystallized memory of the Doctor’s as a floating pinhole image but much of the direction is too perfunctory. In addition, I don’t think the film did a very good job convincing me of its reality, but then again I spent a lot of time worrying about where all of the prisoners who are trapped in a ten-foot by ten-foot cage were going to the bathroom. On the storytelling front, the film cheats a lot and hopes that you don’t notice and what happened to TAYBACK? He shows up, acts suspicious and never comes into play again. These issues curb my affection but I have to offer some amount of applause to MANSION simply for being consistently grim and unapologetically gruesome. One scene of an eyeless woman stumbling about suburbia begging for aid to zero avail is still lodged in my brain, menially shot though it may be.

There’s something here about a rich man callously exploiting more and more unfortunate classes to diminishing returns but it’s not examined as much as it could be. I did find myself intrigued though by the doctor’s ability to perform such evil deeds whilst always maintaining his view of himself as an honorable man… ain’t that always the way? Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that MANSION was a bit too shuffling and coarse to compete with BLOOD AND LACE in my heart but that does not disqualify it as a similarly underrated treasure in the cult oddity department. Maybe there are a handful of opportunities regrettably ignored but they certainly were not avoided due to timidity. Perhaps my expectations were unfair. It’s unlikely I was meant to “enjoy” my experience and I have to admit that I find myself having a hard time scraping MANSION from my psyche which alone is a mark of success. In any case, I’m thankful having stopped by the joint if for nothing more than its inclusion of what has to be one of the most kindertraumatic lines of dialogue ever spoken… “Hey, this isn’t the way to Disneyland!”

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Tags: General Horror

Traumafessions :: Reader Bigwig on Forced Feeding Cartoon Nightmares

February 15th, 2011 · 21 Comments

We loved cartoons, but nothing manic like today….the old Merry Melodies, TerryToons and the like were our main staple.

These cartoons would commonly borrow themes from each other, sticking different characters in roughly the same situation.

One moralistic theme was redone again and again, with early Porky Pig, and I think Andy Panda, and even with Gumby….that of the little kid glutton.

In this theme, a pig (or panda, or green slab of clay) is shown eating far more than he should during the day, obsessing over food, and gets reprimanded by adults, to no avail. He doesn’t learn.

Later they have a nightmare, where they are abducted, and force-fed in horrible ways by someone, until in the end, they are a distended, obese monstrosity. They wake up and either recognize the error in their ways, or not.

Similarly, there was a rash of cartoons which dealt with kid smoking in the same light, along with the nightmare of forced over-indulgence, but the worst thing that would happen was the kiddie victim would turn green and sick. In these food cartoons though, the objectifying of the piggy as something that can be “stuffed”, rather than as a little kid (I know…pig), always had me feeling ill, and would come to haunt my dreams. They were helpless and physically being modified against their wills, to the amusement of someone else. I think the fact that someone derived pleasure from “fattening” someone up to incredible levels felt so unbelievably wrong in our minds that I couldn’t shake it.

I remember one paraphrased line, where the pig is strapped in a chair and fed tons and tons of food as part of an assembly line by a mad scientist. The scientist laughs and says, “Had enough?,” to which the pig, stutters, y-y-yes, sir”….and instead of it ending, he cranks the machine on high, laughs, and says something along the lines, of “We’re just getting STARTED! Ha Ha HA….”

Oy.

Needless to say, neither my sister nor I were ever heavy.

We were watching SLITHER the other night, and the ridiculously bloated girl in the barn, filled with the parasites to the point where she was unrecognizable really got to me, and made me turn the clock back to this.

Another similar ill feeling came as Pink Floyd’s THE WALL kids marched into the meat grinder.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Dante Tomaselli :: The Kindertrauma Interview

February 14th, 2011 · 4 Comments

UNK SEZ: Why can’t there be more artists/filmmakers/composers like DANTE TOMASELLI (DESECRATION, HORROR, SATAN’S PLAYGROUND and the forthcoming TORTURE CHAMBER)? Here is a guy who absolutely follows his own macabre compass and the results are always fascinating. He is a devout horror fan and yet is able to avoid the pitfalls of pastiche by fearlessly diving into the darker waters where many of his contemporaries meekly wade.

There’s just something authentically nightmarish going on in his films. It’s not necessarily something you can rationalize, it’s something you feel. Let’s face it, anyone can play in the horror sandbox but here is a rare character that one senses authentically “knows” horror not as a removable badge but something inexpugnable from the soul. It was my recent privilege to talk to DANTE and the best part was I knew that I wouldn’t have to explain the concept behind Kindertrauma to him at all. What can I tell you, this guy is the real deal…

UNK: Your latest film TORTURE CHAMBER centers around a possessed 13-year-old boy. Can you tell us a little about the film and the ideas that inspired it?

DANTE: I needed to conjure a psychedelic demonic possession horror film. I needed to fill the film with an atmosphere of disintegration and decay. And beauty. Beauty and horror…different sides of the same coin. I saw the glowing, sinister images like slides projected in my mind. These images came from the deep pit of my unconscious. This was the netherworld I needed to explore. 13-year-old Jimmy Morgan is a pyromaniac and disfigured from experimentation with drugs. His mother is blind due to an accident involving Jimmy and a shard of mirror glass. God-fearing, the woman believes her son is possessed by a demon. Jimmy’s older brother is a Catholic priest who tries to exorcize him. Sometimes they keep Jimmy in an animal cage. This is a religious family in deep psychic pain…bathed in guilt and sin. When Jimmy escapes from a mental institution, he discovers an old abandoned castle with a secret passageway to a cobwebbed torture chamber.

UNK: What is the first horror movie or TV show that you remember being really scared of as a kid?

DANTE: Horror Express. It was the mid ’70s. I was 5 and on my parents bed, burning with a high fever, hallucinating. I was all alone in the room and on T.V. was the Spanish film, Horror Express. The Jesus-like figure with glowing red eyes pushed a deep button in me. I was absolutely terrified. I was freezing. It was not a good feeling.

UNK: As someone working within the field of horror how much do you think your childhood experiences with fear influence your work today?

DANTE: My films are about…the reverberations, or psychic reverberations…of childhood trauma. The gradual realization that something truly blasphemous is happening or happened. The unfolding. The peeling back layers of pain buried deep in the unconscious. The interior journey. I was a frightened child, as were many other children in this world, of course it’s all relative. I was a happy kid too, definitely, but there was so much inner sadness. This sadness dominated my world unconsciously because my dreams were…endless nightmares…endless.

UNK: Can you give our readers the names of three horror films that you think are vastly underrated or deserve wider recognition?

DANTE: The House of Whipcord by British director Pete Walker. It has the kind of circular storyline that I love and it creates its own unique world of ’70s paranoid madness. Let’s see…The House With Laughing Windows by Pupi Avati, another ’70s shocker. It’s an Italian horror movie about a religious painting in a church that holds gruesome secrets. The ending is shocking. And there’s a film by David Cronenberg that is underrated in my opinion, The Brood. I’m in awe of The Brood. Children of rage.

UNK: The Earth has been destroyed. Aliens have offered you an escape ride on their ship but you can only bring one horror movie with you. Which film do you bring?

DANTE: Alice, Sweet Alice. My cousin, Alfred Sole, directed this movie and I love every square inch. It’s mysterious. That mask! It’s an ethereal movie you can revisit over and over and find new interesting details. Plus of course, there’s the nostalgia I hold for this film. I remember all the promos hanging around our house. I was only 6 or 7. The promo ads had a white-veiled little girl in a Catholic communion dress holding a crucifix dagger! Unforgettable. I grew up on Alice, Sweet Alice…originally titled Communion. It made its world premiere in 1976 in Paterson. All my relatives were there. Many were extras in the movie. My Aunt Matilda stands out in the funeral scene. Both of my grandmothers were from Paterson and I was born in Paterson General Hospital. Visiting my relatives, I was in Paterson a lot. The movie perfectly captures the weird, melodramatic atmosphere…the ever-present Madonna and Child statues and religious iconography…eerie Italian Catholic guilt.

UNK: And lastly, what would be your definition of a “successful” horror film?

DANTE: A transcendent horror experience. Something, a movie that changes you, chemically, forever. You know which movies they are. It’s those horror films we all keep grabbing back for…PsychoThe ExorcistCarrieHalloweenRosemary’s BabyThe BirdsNight of the Living DeadThe OmenThe Texas Chainsaw MassacreDon’t Look NowSuspiriaDeep RedThe ShiningThe Evil DeadPhantasmAlienJawsThe Cabinet of Dr. CaligariFriday the 13thNosferatuThe EntityCreepshowMother’s DayPlay Misty For MeCujoThe Brotherhood of SatanThe SentinelThe Pit and the PendulumBlack SundayThe BeyondA Nightmare on Elm StreetLet’s Scare Jessica to DeathTales from the CryptManiacChristineTourist TrapHellraiser….We keep watching them over and over again…on every format…until the end of time.

UNK SEZ: Thanks again DANTE! Remember folks, keep your eye out for TORTURE CHAMBER at its official home base HERE!

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Tags: Kinder-Spotlight · Kinterview · Special Guest Stars

Stream Warriors :: Carriers, The Offspring & Candyman

February 13th, 2011 · 14 Comments

Ugh, I hate the name “Stream Warriors” it makes no sense. What was I thinking? Here are three more movies currently available on Netflix streaming which you can watch if you want to.

CARRIERS

Thank God my friend STEPHEN KING texted me about this movie (or wrote about it in EW-who remembers?) otherwise I would have never given it a proper chance. It is the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine-a-lly ready to forgive PIPER PERABO for COYOTE UGLY. If you are already missing THE WALKING DEAD and you don’t mind a movie that seems like a zombie movie but has absolutely zero zombies in it than this is for you. CARRIERS made me really care about its characters even (and in particularly) PIPER and that is nothing to sneeze at. If you feel that you must sneeze at it though, please wait for me to put on my hazmat suite. Read more HERE.

FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM

I always knew this fellow as THE OFFSPRING but if wants to go by this title, I’ll try to support it even though now I’ll have THIS ICICLE WORKS song stuck in my head all day. I guess it’s better than “Keep ‘Em Seperated” in the long run. Here we have another horror anthology and don’t you just love those? Alright I don’t remember all of the stories here but one is the Readers Digest version of CHILDREN OF THE CORN and one stars CLU GULAGER and you can’t even tell it’s him because he’s such a chameleon. The syrup on this stack of flapjacks is a wrap around soiree featuring VINCENT PRICE and my own personal Jesus SUSAN TYRRELL. I don’t have to sell you on the PRICE, you either adore him or you’re bonkers so let me just say that any movie with TYRRELL in it must be watched. If she didn’t become a horror household name after her performance in NIGHT WARNING I guess she never will, but in this fan’s head she sits on a throne. If you like the idea of an AMICUS style treasury dipped in a little eighties flavored squish, it’s time to head to the wacky town of Oldfield. Read more HERE.

CANDYMAN

Just as in the case of VINNIE PRICE, I know I’m preaching to the choir by throwing CANDYMAN into the bag. The question isn’t whether you’ve seen CANDYMAN but when was the last time that you did so? Did you know this movie gets better every year? It’s like wine or cheese or that Q-BERT game. Contrary to what you may have heard February is Black History Month. Why not spent it with somebody who has a hook for a hand and bees swarming out of his mouth? For a more complete Black History Month experience eat a peanut butter sandwich while watching the film. Peanut butter was invented by Geroge Washington Carver who was also black but without the hook and bees thing. Read more HERE!

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Tags: Stream Warriors

Traumafessions :: Reader wellyousaythat on British Public Information Films

February 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

I was frightened by the old British Public Information films of the seventies. They told of a world where not only stepping out of the front door meant entering a world of danger, but they emphasised that staying in could lead to electrocution, sudden death by slipping and that frankly it wasn’t worth getting out of bed in case you died.

Thanks,

wellyousaythat

AUNT JOHN SEZ: To read more by wellyousaythat on British Public Information films, be sure to check out his blog posting HERE.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Kindertrauma Funhouse

February 11th, 2011 · 23 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

February 10th, 2011 · 20 Comments

Director CHARLES B. PIERCE, who happily spoiled some slumber in my youth with ‘72s THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, is also responsible for sibling pseudo-documentary THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. I have to give praise to PIERCE, he did so much with so little and his influence on horror films directly or indirectly is mucho grande. I sometimes wish that TOWN was more traditionally structured than it is, but who is to say how much of its hemming and hawing contributes to the segments that auspiciously burn? I’ll be honest with you, my brain has a slight tendency to fog and twiddle its mini brain-thumbs when subjected to police procedurals and this movie spends a smidge too much time with the men in uniform for my taste, but when it indulges the weird workings of its “Phantom Killer,” it hits a raw primal nerve. Horror fans weaned on the actions of silent, masked eighties killers may find the scares here borderline commonplace but I pity the poor souls who saw this one in a drive-in in 1976. What a ride home that must have been.

TOWN is loosely based on the true story of the “Moonlight Killer” who murdered five people and scared the crap out of countless more in Texarkana, Arkansas circa 1946. Although the film isn’t a slave to the facts it presents itself as a documentary with a voice over and a statement that only the names have been changed. Ingeniously the film breaks from its doc-identity whenever the hell it pleases and it’s almost like having someone telling you a story and then pushing you into the room where it is currently taking place.

PIERCE tends to walk an indirect line and I’m not sure if all of the film’s multiple back and forth tonal changes work for me. The director himself, in the role of patrolman “Sparkplug,” plays foil to BEN JOHNSON’s straight shooter Capt. Morales as quirky comedy relief (or perhaps to illustrate the sweet natured goodness of the town) but once you get a taste for the movie’s darker talents, the levity can be distracting. In the end though, that may just be a matter of my own taste. Because it could, I’d rather that the movie just drag the viewer through the mud but I’d hate to pull a card and watch the whole house come down. As is, the film delivers when it needs to and perhaps it is its sometimes-sunny disposition that makes the moments of terror feel like such authentic invasions on everyday tranquility. Indeed PIERCE may have known exactly what he was doing. How else to explain the clever casting of perceived “girl next door” DAWN WELLS (GILLIGAN’S ISLAND’s Mary Ann) as a victim? What better way to cut to the chase when visualizing the heart of a small town being attacked?

Anyway, my impetus for this post is really to point you as soon as possible to the fact that THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN is on YouTube as we speak in rather amazing looking widescreen form. Rumor has it that some nice gent grabbed a French DVD and the sound from an English language VHS tape and mashed them together to wondrous effect. T.T.D.S. has never been on DVD and the VHS edition is croppy/crappy and excessively dark in places so this may be your best shot at viewing this movie adequately. I know YouTube is not the best way to watch a movie but it’s the best way to watch THIS movie right now. If you’ve only seen the VHS you will be impressed by the film’s sharpness and the fact that PIERCE really does have a good eye for composition. Scenes previously hard to decipher are now sufficiently clear. Turn off the lights, hook up earphones or a speaker, press the “Full Screen” option on the right corner of the YouTube frame and sit back and enjoy HERE. Who knows when it’ll get yanked?

Due to trauma-stalgia I think I might enjoy the swampy styling of BOGGY over DREADED but there’s much to appreciate in PIERCE’s later film too. Both films have that legend-being-told-over-a-fire vibe and capture a recognizable quiet night community-shared paranoia. As I said I feel this one jumps the tracks at intervals but there is an overall sense of mystery (the killer was never caught) and a wonderful lost in time rural landscape to consider too. Plus the killer, with his eye-holed sack hood looks an awful lot like one of the genres most famous horror icons…John Merrick. Ha, you thought I was going to say Jason Voorhees in F13:P2 didn’t you? Curve ball!

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Tags: General Horror · Repeat Offenders