Posted by Peter Hall - May 21st 2008 @ 7:31 pm

I normally do not introduce Sayer’s reviews, but I must say that I recommend reading this one in full. It is long; like Dirk Diggler long, but much so worth it. And for that reason I am publishing it earlier than his other reviews. That and I’ll be vacationing in Austin this weekend, so no new posts from me for a few days. If it is as awesome as everyone claims, chances are good we’ll be living there next year.

Well, I’m off. Enjoy:

Guest Review by R.J. Sayer

Directed by Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow, 1982
Written by Stephen Carpenter, Stacey Giachino, Jeffrey Obrow

Let me make one thing very clear right off the bat.

I have seen a lot of Slasher films. To be specific: a Metric Fuckload. Plus a Dozen.

And if you add up all the ones I’ve watched with all the ones I’ve heard of but haven’t gotten around to watching, there aren’t many left. That is to say, there aren’t many I’m not aware of. It’s a very rare occasion when somebody name-drops a Slasher and I’m like, “wha?”

And when that does happen, I’m typically already about to watch it. The ridiculously few other times, i immediately do some research on the title. More often than not, my findings reveal the film to be unworthy of the effort necessary to track down a copy. Poor user ratings on IMDb or bad reviews from friends or internet critics lead me to shut down the search before it’s even really begun. Every now and then, against my better judgement, I continue my pursuit anyway. And live to regret it.

So I offer a simple thesis: There’s a very good reason the really obscure Slashers are still really obscure. They suck.

There are, indeed, exceptions to this rule, as I was recently made aware of by catching a screening of a print of FINAL EXAM. However, they are few and far fucking between.

HALLOWEEN and BLACK CHRISTMAS are genre forerunners. Trailblazers. Classics beyond compare. Films that have such a legacy they’ve virtually transcended the very categorization of Slasher. BLACK CHRISTMAS doesn’t quite get the huzzah it deserves in the mainstream, but you can be pretty sure that anyone who praises HALLOWEEN will eventually have their hat handed to them by its predecessor (typically courtesy of an annoying know-it-all friend such as myself).

FRIDAY THE 13th is a classic because it deserves to be. Its recognition and legacy are well-earned. It is, quite simply, a fucking magnificent gem of Slasher filmmaking.

THE BURNING is not quite as good, and is, therefore, a little less well-known. I still think it’s criminally underrated, but it has its following. And it earns that following.

Same goes for MADMAN, THE PROWLER, TOURIST TRAP, PROM NIGHT and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. They don’t measure up to the big boys in the ring, but they thow their punches with a certain flare and deserve the applause they get.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and APRIL FOOLS DAY received their cult status by fucking with genre expectations and pitching crazy curveballs at the end. They’ve been given their due.

Then we have THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. A film few people have heard of. And even fewer have seen. And even fewer have any sort of respect for.

There’s a reason for this: The movie sucks.

My thesis stands.

When I reviewed THE KINDRED, I got all excited to discover that the filmmaking team of Obrow and Carpenter (Stephen, not John) were also behind two other 80s horror movies – THE POWER, which I’d wanted to see since I was a kid, and THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (also called PRANKS for some reason or another), which I think I’d only ever heard of once. I was psyched to watch and review them. And after my laborious viewing experience with this one, I think I’ll put off THE POWER for a little while. Get my mojo back and what-have-you.

Because the few weaknesses I found sprinkled lightly over THE KINDRED seem to be the main fucking ingredients of this goddamn kitchen disaster.

You see, in its hey-day, the Slasher sub-genre consisted, basically, of three types of films: those that defied or improved upon conventions, thereby raising the bar and carrying the whole team to a new level; those that played by the rules and offered nothing new but were solid teammates nonetheless; and those shameless charlatan motherfuckers that just kept the bench warm and collected a check, cashing in on the sweat and rep of the MVPs.

The films of the era are judged and placed into one of these three folders by a battery of characteristics. To keep it simple, I’ll go with atmosphere, gore, story, characters, fright, and fun.

Atmosphere. HALLOWEEN is the king of this fucking realm. And it’s a key category. It is to a Slasher movie what “tough on crime” is to a politician running for office. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. You either have it, or you don’t. And god help you if you don’t, pal.

DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD has zero atmosphere. Remember that lack of geography that fucked up some of the scenes in THE KINDRED? Well that shit is all over the place here. None of the spaces used are established (except for the title building itself – once or twice – which doesn’t help considering that pretty much the entire film takes place in a myriad of rooms in said building, and one room that never actually comes into play). The lighting is bad. Like, high-school-video-project-for-extra-credit-in-Spanish-class bad. The shots are poorly composed. Too many awkward singles of people talking almost directly to the camera and WAY too much head-room in just about every frame. Yo, Stephen, your actors are DOWN HERE, tilt that fucking tripod, guy.

Also, half-assed art direction (what’s with the fucking rainbows on the wall everywhere?) and paint-by-number set dressing (single digits mostly) do not help matters. Hell, we don’t even get any implied atmosphere from the script. Sure, there’s some blah-blah here and there about the building being old and they’re closing it down and there’s some weird frizzy-haired dude who wanders around or whatever, but it all falls real flat. No spooky stories or alleged hauntings. No motivating backstory to speak of. There is absolutely nothing creepy or dreadful about this stuff.

Actually, wait, there is a little atmosphere here. And it all comes from Christopher Young’s score. True horror geeks may remember him as the guy who composed the pulse-pounding, bone-chilling music for THE COUNTRY BEARS MOVIE. His notes work here, nice melodies and some suspenseful strings, but they aren’t underlining anything.

Okay, so that’s a 0.67 of a point for Atmosphere (on a scale from 0 – 7 billion). Moving on.

Gore. A lot of Slashers that eat shit in the Atmosphere category can more than make up for it with Gore. Gimme some slashed throats, hacked off fingers, hanging eviscerated corpses, and maybe an eyeball poking or two, and I can maybe see my way to overlooking the oversights made in the lighting and all that shit. But give it to me onscreen, and with plenty of sauce.

There are two nouns in the title of this film. Dorm. And Blood. Okay, so we got the dorm (sort of), fair enough. But where’s the fucking blood, dude? For a place that is supposedly dripping with the stuff, I’m having a hard time finding it. I mean, I’ve looked in most of the rooms. Is there maybe a Slumber Party I should check out? Or perhaps there’s a Sorority House nearby…

Now, it’s not that there’s NO gore. Just not nearly enough of it. And certainly not enough to make up for the lack of atmosphere. Frustratingly, the film opens with some random, nameless dude getting his hand sliced – mangled even – in a very brutal way. And it’s pretty well done. And I’m thinking “Oh Fuck Yeah!” Actually, I’m not thinking it, I’m yelling it, with joy, at the TV screen. Trying to encourage it to give me more. Simultaneously, he’s being strangled. And it looks like the dude’s head was replaced with a fake for this shot. Which leads me to believe that maybe something more violent was planned, and subsequently cut. Of course, that’s pure conjecture and I could be totally wrong.

Because there isn’t much evidence in the other kills to support that theory. There are some interesting ones. Some REALLY interesting ones. But they just aren’t put into action well. There’s a pretty sweet bit of a chick under the wheels of a car. And a baseball bat gag that starts off nice, but should’ve gone further. There’s also a kill that’s just totally fucking off the wall, involving a giant steamer or boiling pot of some sort. It’s weird enough an idea that it almost makes up for the utter lack of ingenuity in its execution. Almost. Not quite.

And the rest is just Tamesville, USA. Lame, guys. Real lame.I mean, yeah, there is some blood. But it doesn’t flow. It doesn’t even drip, really. I just kind of, trickles a tad here and there. Like the worst kind of sex, the hand-job at the beginning is as good as it gets. OH SNAP!

Ouch, DORM. Whiffers on both Atmosphere AND Gore? Things are looking pretty goddamn grim for you, guy.

Story. I covered this a little bit while discussing Atmosphere. No backstories. No spooky legends or curses or anything. Just a woman who has to clean out a dorm to get it ready to either be torn down, or converted into an apartment complex (both possibilities are mentioned, neither really followed up on). I think she’s like, the head RA of the dorm or something. It’s never really fully explained just who she is. But she’s got some other people to help her. Students, I guess. So, yeah, they have to clear out the building, get it ready or whatever. They don’t. They just spend the whole time talking about bullshit and playing pool and shit. Two of the guys are seen taking out wood at one point. But as far as I recall, that’s about all they do in the way of accomplishing the mission stated in the beginning. When the murders start up, there’s no apparent rhyme or reason to them. Remember the guy at the beginning who gets his hand mutilated? Wonder why it happened? Me too. And that’s pretty much the standard operating procedure here until the big reveal at the end. The killer’s identity and all that shit. And I guess it sort of makes sense, but in a really convoluted kind of way. And when he explains why he’s been doing all the manglin’ and stranglin’ (relatively bloodlessly, of course), you realize that there hasn’t been anything earlier in the film to telegraph this motive. Like, at all.

Put a check mark in the “Bogus” box under Story.

Characters. I don’t think I even need to tell you guys about the joy of Slasher characters.And to be honest, I don’t feel like even getting into the archetype shit. You know what i mean. And yeah, DORM kind of touches on some of that here and there. But it goes from Tamesville on the Gore train and make their connection in Bland City when it gets on the Character bus. I mean, I couldn’t even remember any of their names until near the end. So I just made up my own. Let’s see, we have Boring, her boyfriend Closet Case, Moody, Doofus, Canadian Tuxedo, Creep, and Daphne Zuniga. No idiosyncracies. No real development. Nothing to make any of them truly stand out. Okay, so what about drugs and whoring? Ther’s a little drinking and some mild flirtatious banter. But nope. Nothing fun. Moody has a couple sociopathic lines and moments here and there. And his performance near the end is super hammy, which is nice. But it’s too little, too late. The most interesting character is Canadian Tuxedo, who calls Boring (our semi-virginal Final Girl lead) at TWO IN THE FUCKING MORNING to see if she wants to “get some drinks and get to know one another” while is girlfriend is in the next room. But again, he’s not enough to save this shit. Jesus Christ you are not, Canadian Tuxedo. Sorry, Existentialists.

The other problem is there are too many goddamn Red Herrings. I mean, I get it. In that era (before the Big Three franchises had really started to dominate the scene) part of the formula for Slashers was to mislead the audience, play the Who-dunit game. But fuck, this is just overboard. Is Closet Case – claiming to be away on a ski trip – the murderer? Is it the obvious, ubiquitous Creep? Is it Moody? Is it Daphne Zuniga’s ex-boyfriend? Is it Canadian Tuxedo? Whatever. Knock it off.

Even with the utter lack of motivational exposition, and lack of any real distinction among the characters, I called it in the first twenty minutes. Nice try, Carpenter and Obrow, but that was pantyhose you pulled over my eyes, not wool.

Obviously, they learned their mistake from this one, judging by all the unique traits sported by the cast of THE KINDRED. So that’s good. But before you can walk, you gotta crawl. And this shit is crawling at its most humble beginnings.

Frights. None.

Fun. Here’s where I reach a dilemma. See, I’m not really one to be into the whole “so bad it’s good” thing. If I like something, I like it. I’m not – for the most part – amused by or taken with inept filmmaking. Yes, I appreciate the charm of something crude and naive. The painfully sincere, even. Like this hoplessly nerdy Polish kid at my high school. He used to wear this green t-shirt (in the mid-90s, mind you) with a picture of Frankenstein on it, asking “May I be Frank?” I loved that fucking shirt. And I loved that dork for wearing it. Not because I thought it was stupidly funny. Or because it made him look all Special Ed. But because I thought it was FUCKING AWESOME. I wasn’t making fun of him with my laughter. I was acknowledging his joy. Chuckling WITH. Not poinging and cackling AT.

I treat my Slashers the same way.

And sure, there are some gems of conversation and my favorite kind of movie fist-fight (the early 80s style of little-to-no-choreography, all awkward and sincere, like REAL fist-fights) and that crazy-eyed scenery-munching at the climax (which is, by the way, the LONGEST SLASHER CLIMAX EVER, or at least feels like it). And the very ending is GREAT. Different from its brethren in the sub-genre, and therefore a little refreshing. But I just don’t get the sense that most of these people were having any fun with the production. If they were, it certainly doesn’t come across on the screen. The kills are all grand teases. The characters (aside from Moody and Canadian Tuxedo) are wet blankets thrown over the limp pasta of the story.

So, if you like to be vindictive about your “fun” you might get one or two yuks out of this. But I can still think of about 764,320 titles you should watch first.

All in all, THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD was such a disappointing experience for me that I don’t even feel like fact-checking my info on the character names with a leisurely cruise over to IMDb, let alone verifying its home video release.

I think the UK put it out on a Region 2 DVD under the title PRANKS, which makes no fucking sense to me. There are NO pranks in the movie. Really. None. Moody makes some little joke at one point, but I wouldnt’ call it practical.

Obviously, there are some people who like this thing. Brian’s friend. A couple people on IMDb (if I remember my research there last week correctly). Maybe Daphne Zuniga. So I can’t say that I hope it never gets a proper Region 1 DVD release. That would just be mean. But I’ll tell you one thing, I won’t be checking it out. My VHS copy will be busy-as-fuck scraping together an impressively huge dust collection for the next decade or so.

We can go ahead and slip THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD into the “Shameless Charlatan Motherfucker” folder. Case closed.

Sorry, Dorm, you didn’t drip Blood. You dripped Suck.

comments are closed
  1. Brian
    May 22nd, 2008 | 1:42 pm | #1

    I think the only reason my buddy likes it is because of the ending. He doesn’t really have the best taste anyways.

    That being said, I would buy the VHS cover art in the form a poster any day (in addition to some of those already mentioned on this site). Somebody needs to starting printing those ASAP.

  2. R.J. Sayer
    May 22nd, 2008 | 1:54 pm | #2

    Oh man, yeah, that fucking cover art is BEAUTIFUL. and is also – quite possibly – the most tragically frustrating thing about the film. Because it is SO misldeading. it kind of has this haunted house vibe about it.

    like, maybe the killer is the restless spirit of some seventeenth-century witch or some shit. but no. no. not at all.

    and i can see your buddy liking it for the ending. it really is a fucking awesome ending, the more i think about it. but i just can’t see my way past the rest of the bullshit to it.

    if i ever find a poster of that, i’ll let you know, though.

  3. Sean
    May 23rd, 2008 | 7:56 am | #3

    It’s always nice meeting new people who’ve seen more horror movies than I have.

    You dropped a couple films that I haven’t seen, and you seem to have the same problem I do with movies: I dont really care if theyre gory (like fucking hostel) because the story wasn’t there.

    This makes me want to go dig through the used book store’s horror VHS section and go try to clean out my VCR. :P Awesome review.

  4. R.J. Sayer
    May 23rd, 2008 | 12:49 pm | #4

    Sean – thanks a lot, man. i appreciate you taking the time to read it. for real. it’s a long one.

    and i highly recommend taking a little journey through that VHS section. you never know what kind of gems you might find.

    but, i’d like to ask a favor of you, if you do. since i’m always on the lookout for more titles to review, could you maybe make a list or something and let me know what they have? if not, i totally understand. it is, actually, kind of a lot to ask.

    but there are still tons of titles i’m searching for, and i’d always rather go the “used book store” type of route than take ebay avenue.

    again, thanks for reading. and thanks for the compliment.

  5. Sean
    May 24th, 2008 | 1:52 pm | #5

    I’ll see how long I can stand listening to the trekies go on and on about how nothing matches Star Trek these days while writing it down.

  6. R.J. Sayer
    May 24th, 2008 | 4:45 pm | #6

    oh man, Trekkies.

    Godspeed, lad. Godspeed.

  7. Sean
    June 2nd, 2008 | 1:39 pm | #7

    I just want you to know, R.J., that I hate you.

    4 pages of notebook paper scrunched from top to bottom later, and I’m ready to start typing it up.

  8. Sean
    June 2nd, 2008 | 2:25 pm | #8

    13 Ghosts
    13: Game of Death (I think this is 13 Beloved)
    28 Days/Weeks
    8 Horror Classics
    A Dead Calm
    Acts of Death
    Alien Versus Predator 1 and 2
    Alone in the Dark
    American Haunting
    Amityville Remake, Original, 2
    Angel Heart
    April Fool’s Day (remake?)
    Army of the Dead
    Automaton Transfusion
    Autopsy: A Love Story
    Bats: 1 and 2
    Behind the Mask
    Bela Lugosi King of the Undead
    Beyond the Darkness
    Black Cat
    Black Dahlia
    Black Sheep
    Black Water
    Black Water Valley Exorcism
    Black Woods
    Black X-Mas (remake)
    Blair Witch
    Bless The Child
    Blind Fear/Bone Daddy
    Blood Lines
    Blood Moon
    Blood Rayne 1-2
    Blood Relations
    Blood Suckers
    Bog Creatures
    Bone Snatcher
    Borderline Cult
    Bump in the Night
    Buried Alive
    Cabin Fever
    Campfire Tales
    Carnival of Souls
    Case of the Whitechapel Vampire
    Castle of Blood
    Children of the Corn
    Child’s Play series
    Chupacabra Terror
    Crazy Eights
    Creepy Crawlers
    Cruel World
    Curse of Black Dahlia
    Curse of Zodiac
    Cut Throat
    Damned Thing
    Dark Ride
    Dark Town
    Dark Water
    Darkness Falls
    Dawn of the Dead
    Dead Birds
    Dead Silent
    Death Row
    Deaths of Ian Stone
    Dementia 13
    Devil in the Flesh
    Devil Joy (I think, or Devil’s Joy Ride)
    Devil’s Rejects
    Dracula 3000
    Dracula and his Vampire Brides
    Dracula and his Vampire Brides
    Dracula’s Widow
    Dream Catcher
    Ed Gein
    Eight Legged Freaks
    Elvira’s Haunted Hills
    Enemy Mine
    Evil Dead 1 and 2, Army of Darkness
    Exorcism of Emily Rose
    Exorcist 1-3, Dominion
    Expecting Mercy
    Eye of the Beholder
    Eye of the Storm
    Fair Haired Child
    Fear X
    Final Destination 1-3
    Final Examination
    Final Stab
    Flesh for the Beast
    Formula for Death
    fourteen oh eight
    Friday the 13th Series
    FW (Wut? I dunno lol)
    Ghost Ship
    Ghosts of Mars
    Glass House
    Gothika/Queen of the Damned double Feature
    Half Light
    Halloween Series
    Hangman’s Curse
    Hannibal/Hannibal Rising
    Harvest of Fear
    Heebie Jeebies
    High Tension
    Hills Have Eyes 1-2 and Original
    Hip Hop Witch (WITH EMINEM YO)
    Hood of Horror
    Horror Hotel
    Horror Rises From the Tomb
    Hostel 1 and 2
    Hotel Hell
    House by the Cemetary
    House of 1000 Corpses
    House of Dracula/Frankenstein
    House of the Dead
    House of Wax
    House on Haunted Hill
    House Where Evil Dwells
    Howling 1,3,5
    Hunt for BTK Killer
    Hunting Humans
    I Know Who Killed Me
    I still/always/Know what you did last summer
    In Dreams
    In the Spider’s Web
    Innocent Blood
    Interview With the Vampire
    Into the Fire
    It Waits
    It Waits
    Jack o’ Lantern
    Jason X
    Jaws The Revenge/1/3
    Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2
    Joy Ride
    June Cabin
    l…something of Blood
    Lady Vanishes/39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock Double Feature
    Lake Dead
    Land of the Dead
    Last Juncthion
    Leather Face
    Legion of the Dead
    Lethal Dose
    Loch Ness Terror
    Lost Boys
    Lost Souls
    Lost Voyage
    Lucky Modu (I think?)
    M movies is where my hand writing starts to fail
    Man Thing
    Mary Shelley’s Frakenstein
    Masters of Mayhem
    Mick Gerris
    Monster Squad
    Monster Squad
    Mortal Fear
    Mothman Prophecies
    Mr. Hell
    Mr. Jingles
    Murder in the Night
    Night Breed
    Night Flier
    Night Listener
    Night of Living Dead
    Night Stalker
    Nightmare Man
    Nightmare on Elm Street Series
    Nightmare Series Encyclopedia
    Number 23
    Omen 1-3, Remake
    Open Water
    Party Line
    Perfect Creature
    Perfect Witness
    Phantom of the Opera
    Pick Me Up
    Pihranha 2
    Planet of the Apes
    Premonition (japanese AND sandra bullock one)
    Red Dragon
    Red Serpent
    Relative Evil
    Rest Stop
    Return To House on Haunted Hill
    Riding the Bullet
    Right To Die
    Ring Around the Rosie
    Rockville Slayer
    Roger Corman’s Creature Movies
    Rose Red
    Safety In Numbers
    Salem’s Lot
    Saw 1-4
    Scream 1-3
    Scream Bloody Murders
    Screwfly Solution
    Secret Window
    See No Evil
    See No Evil (With the chick from The Shining)
    Serial Chillers
    Serial Killing 101
    Serpent and the Rainbow
    Serpent’s Kiss
    Seven Mummies
    Seventh Sign
    Shades of Darkness
    Shadow Puppets
    Shape Shifter
    Silence of thee Lambs
    Silent Hill
    Skeleton Key
    Skeleton Man
    Skkin Walkers
    Sleepaway Camp
    Sleepy Hollow
    Snow White:A Tale of Terror
    Somebody Help Me
    Stay Alive
    Stir of Echoes
    Stories of Lost Souls
    Storm of the Centory
    Storm Warning
    Storm Watch
    Stranger Beside Me
    Subject 2
    Suspect 0
    Taking Lives
    Tale of the Mummy
    Tales from the Darkside
    The Bat
    The Cell
    The Cottage
    The Craft
    The Cutter
    The Damned
    The Dark
    The Deep
    The Eternal
    The Fog (remake and original)
    The Forsaken
    The Gathering
    The Grudge 1-2
    The Haunting
    The Jacket
    The Killing Hour
    The Mangler 1 and 2
    The Order
    The Return
    The Shaft
    The Terror
    The Terror
    The Thing From Another World
    The Undead?
    The Woods
    Thing Below
    Thirty Days and Thirty Nights
    Tooth and Nail
    Tooth Fairy
    Tremors 1-4
    Trick or Treat
    Twelve Days of Terror
    Universal Horror (such as Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc)
    Unskeakable Horror
    Urban Legends
    Urban Massacre
    Valerie On the Stairs
    White Rose?
    Wolf Creek
    Wolf Creek
    Wrong Turn 2

  9. Sean
    June 2nd, 2008 | 2:26 pm | #9

    Doesnt seem like much to show for 2 hours of scribbling.

  10. R.J. Sayer
    June 2nd, 2008 | 4:32 pm | #10

    Holy shit.

    I had no idea.

    When you said, “VHS” and “used bookstore” i was thinking, like, a handful to one shelf at most.


    and these are VHS? or DVD?

    i’m pretty sure a bunch of those aren’t available on VHS. just DVD.

    regardless, i have a question… is that Hotel Hell? or Motel Hell?

    just making sure.

    thanks, man. i’ll peruse…

  11. Sean
    June 2nd, 2008 | 6:52 pm | #11

    Hotel Hell. If it was motel hell, I would have gotten it.

    It’s VHS and DVD. The VHS had slim pickings.

  12. June 2nd, 2008 | 9:50 pm | #12

    And yes, that is 13 BELOVED, and yes you should own it.

  13. R.J. Sayer
    June 2nd, 2008 | 11:09 pm | #13

    which “The Dark” is that?

  14. R.J. Sayer
    June 2nd, 2008 | 11:11 pm | #14

    oh, and is that the RAGE with George C. Scott?

  15. May 29th, 2010 | 5:17 am | #15

    I made this movie. Ask me questions or pillory me.

  16. R.J. Sayer
    October 22nd, 2010 | 11:57 am | #16


    is that SERIOUSLY Steven Carpenter commenting on my review of his shitty movie?

    because, if so, i don’t wanna ask any questions about DORM (except maybe: Where can i get a poster of that fucking cover art?)… i wanna ask questions about THE KINDRED.

    because THAT movie is goddamn awesome.

  17. March 22nd, 2013 | 11:16 am | #17

    I actually enjoy this 3.5 out of 5. Final act gets a bit rough on who the killer is. Well more by how they were so normal now totally insane. But regardless I found this fun.

    As for the rainbow flag. I believe those are the gay colors. No idea if the filmmakers are gay or not, but the rainbow flag is common among the gay community.

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