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Seven of the Deadliest Zombie Hordes

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In celebration of the DVD release of Exit Humanity (review here), the Civil War-themed zombie romp, we thought it would be a fine time to take a look back at some of the greatest zombie hordes throughout the history of the sub-genre.

As always, let’s start with some honorable mentions. The fact it’s Peter Jackson directed, and one of the goriest films of all time, means Dead Alive (aka Braindead) and its infected mob is certainly worthy of an honorable mention here. Also one of the unheralded all-time classics… and perhaps the zombie film with the greatest title ever…Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, directed by Bob Clark and featuring zombie Orville Dunworth and his undead friends, gets another nod. Also a big honorable mention to the underrated 2009 French film The Horde, which featured a very impressive group of hungry undead.

Now let’s get to the meat of the story *rimshot*

Seven of the Deadliest Zombie Hordes

“The Walking Dead” (2010 to present)
Inspired by the awesome comic, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has absolutely taken the world by storm. Destroying cable viewing records, “The Walking Dead” has gone from a six-episode experiment to one of the most popular shows on television. And much of it has to do with the amazing story behind our beloved survivors, but as much as we love the drama, the zombies regularly manage to steal the show.

With some of the most impressive make-up you’ll ever see, applied by some of the best artists in the business, the zombies in “The Walking Dead” are absolutely amazing. As for specific memorable hordes from the show, Sophia’s group emerging from Herschel’s barn was certainly one, as was the horde that followed the helicopter, and then ultimately Rick’s gunshot, to invade the farm and move our heroes on down the road at the end of Season 2. But the most iconic shot of the zombies thus far had to be the massive group that surrounded Rick in the tank at the end of the first episode of the show. As the group of undead got bigger and bigger around the stalled tank and Rick’s fallen horse, viewers got a clear picture as to just what a horrific situation the survivors were in.


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Dead Snow (2009)
Perhaps the sleekest looking zombie horde award should go to the group from Dead Snow, the 2009 Norwegian zombie film featuring a group of Nazi zombies. Nazi zombies…now there is a butt-load of trouble.

Writer/director of Dead Snow Tommy Wirkolav, in search of something even more evil than a zombie, came up with the idea of Nazi zombies. Well, to be honest, he didn’t actually create the idea of Nazi zombies (that was taken care of 25 years ago with the film Shock Waves), but they were damn impressive looking.

28 Days Later (2002)
Danny Boyle’s film makes this list for one huge reason. And yes, you’re going to tell me the creatures in this film were not true undead, but rather infected by…I know, I know. But they’re damn close enough to be called zombies. And what did 28 Days Later introduce to the zombie world? Speed. Goddamn fast zombies!

Yes, the godfather of the modern zombie, George Romero, is adamant that zombies do not run. He’s got a great quote that goes something like: “Try running when you have the flu…you think you’re gonna run when you’re dead?” But adapting these zombie-like creatures to be fast as hell makes them that much scarier. The 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake followed suit with the speedy zombies (which must have really frosted Romero’s ass), leading to an entire new sub-genre within the zombie sub-genre itself. Fast zombies. Consider the bar raised.


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Zombie (1979)
Also known as Zombi 2 (Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was entitled Zombi in Italy, and this Italian film, directed by Lucio Fulci, was a sequel in title only; the films were completely unrelated). This zombie horde knew how to throw down, and the film contains some quite memorable and horrific scenes. (We don’t need to remind you of the Zombie vs. Shark encounter, I’m sure…or the impaled eyeball…yikes!)

The Zombie horde was incredibly ugly (with the iconic worm-eyed zombie leading the way) and incredibly violent, initially leading to all kinds of bannings, “X” ratings and other efforts to keep audiences from this masterpiece of the macabre. In the end the public’s insatiable bloodthirstiness won out, and Zombie is now deeply entrenched in the history books as one of the most impressive undead offerings to date.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Video (1983)
How can you leave the most popular zombie video of all time off this list? “Thriller” is the definition of iconic, and that horde had some moves! The “Thriller” video sold 9 million units and became the first music video ever inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.”

And what a pedigree this 13-minute short film has. (And don’t think any differently; that’s exactly what “Thriller” is. It’s not a music video; it’s a short film). It was directed by John Landis, who certainly knew a little something about werewolves. Zombies were just the next logical step. Legendary F/X artist Rick Baker assisted with the make-up, and the voice-over was done by horror hall of famer Vincent Price. The zombies looked incredible and were easily the most viewed gang of undead of all time. “Thriller” was nothing short of historic.


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Return of the Living Dead (1985)
“More brains!. Return of the Living Dead had perhaps the most star-studded zombie horde ever! Undead legends Tarman and Half-Corpse crawled right out of Return of the Living Dead and into our nightmares. Additionally, one of the most overlooked zombies ever, the little person zombie (a personal favorite), is in there as well, shuffling amongst the horde.

Return of the Living Dead marked the first instance where zombies were looking for braaaaains, instead of just any living body part they could get their hands on. Not that they were overly fussy, but they did prefer grey matter. Again we have incredible special effects, but in Return of the Living Dead everything was enhanced by a great sense of humor. Return of the Living Dead is a treasure to the horror genre.

Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985)
The three greatest zombie films of all time? Yes, arguably. George A. Romero at his finest, directing the films that would introduce the unsuspecting viewing audience to a world of reanimated, undead creatures whose only goal was to eat living humans. Inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend, Romero single-handedly created a brand new monster.

And each of these three films are amazing in their own way. Night of the Living Dead is absolutely iconic. It started everything and spawned an entire sub-genre of horror that is flourishing like no other today. In Dawn of the Dead Romero was able to expand the production, resulting in a bigger and better story and many, many more ghouls to go around. And in Day of the Dead the humor and F/X took center stage. Howard Sherman’s portrayal of the zombie Bub was immensely funny and entertaining, and the F/X, most notably the mass zombie kills at the end of the film, were amazing with Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero doing the heavy lifting.

The zombie sub-genre of horror is basically still very young. If you consider Night of the Living Dead the birth of the modern zombie, then you’re talking about a creature that’s not even 45 years old yet. However, the zombie has come a long way in that time. Here’s hoping that Exit Humanity can follow in the footsteps of some of the great zombie hordes of the past.

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Fearsome Facts: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Fright Night (1985)

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Fright Night (1985) is to All Hallows’ Eve what A Christmas Story (1983) is to X-Mas: an opus which is worthy of its own 24-hour marathon and an ensuing all-night bacchanalia where blood is the life rather than alcohol. Filmmaker Tom Holland’s love letter to vampire films revitalized a subgenre of horror that was sadly rotting away not unlike an undead creature of the night.

Holland found inspirations in the scary movies that he idolized as a youth which included Hammer Film’s visionary retellings of the Universal Monsters. In fact, Holland based Fright Night’s sage Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) on his heroes: Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, House of Wax) and Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Mummy).

Fright Night made the vampire fashionable again in the 1980s, as it paved the way for other blood-sucking projects of that nostalgic-ridden era like The Lost Boys (1987), Near Dark (1987) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Most horror cognoscentes and critics alike know every frightening behind-the-scenes macabre morsel of Fright Night’s history. But there always those tiny tidbits that slip through the cracks.

With that in mind, here are 8 Things You May Not Know About Fright Night.

8. The Great Vampire Killer

Tom Holland and Roddy McDowall became friends after working together on Fright Night, but the esteemed actor was not Holland’s first choice to play the Cowardly Lion-like character of Peter Vincent. Rather, Holland tried to hire macabre movie maestro Vincent Price to take on the role. Sadly, Price’s declining health prevented him from participating in the project.

As wonderful a casting move as that might have been, Fright Night purist are likely to argue that everything worked out for the best. McDowall delivered one of his most enduring performances in what was an A-List career, as he also endeared himself to a whole new generation of fans.

7. Charley and Amy

Actors William Ragsdale and Amanda Bearse might have been playing teenagers in Fright Night, but they were much older than their characters of Charley Brewster and Amy Peterson. Ragsdale was 24-years-old at the time and Bearse was 27-years-old!

6. 1966 Ford Mustang

Charley Brewster’s 1966 Ford Mustang had one of the worst paint jobs possible, as it appeared to have been haphazardly executed with an offbeat mixture of red and grey coloring. The muscle car actually belonged to writer/director Tom Holland. Sadly, the classic Mustang was totaled 10 years later during an accident. The paint job couldn’t have been any worse, right?

5. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Holland’s cinematic masterpiece was obviously inspired by many vampire films of the past, particularly Hammer horror, but there is a thoughtful nod and a wink to the Golden Days of the Universal Monsters. During their final battle with Jerry Dandrige, Charley and Peter think they have the upper hand. Jerry flees after Peter shoots Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), but soon the zombie-like Renfield creeps up the staircase after our heroes. Holland admitted that Billy sneaking up on Charley and Peter, as he climbed the stairs, was an homage to Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) sneaking up on Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

4. Evil Ed

Amy (Amanda Bearse) and Evil Ed go to Charley’s house to see how the tormented teen is holding up. Once they enter Charley’s room, Amy and Ed find Brewster sharpening a stake and preparing for all-out war with Jerry Dandrige. Candles flutter in the darkness, despite the sun being out, as Charley has also utilized crosses to defend against Dandridge.

During the filming of that scene, actor Stephen Geoffreys was incredibly sick due to food poisoning. You’d never know it by his performance though, because the young thespian pulled it together to complete the day’s shoot. It’s a memorable moment, as that scene sparked Amy and Ed into action. Immediately after, they recruit Peter Vincent to aid their troubled friend.

3. Box Office Boffo

According to Holland, Fright Night wasn’t expected to do much at the box office in the minds of studio executives. But to the pleasant surprise of all involved, Fright Night scared up over $6.1 million on its opening weekend alone. In fact, the movie went and won the Silver Medal at the box office for all horror films in 1985. Fright Night took home over $24 million domestically, but A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge took the top spot with almost $30 million.

2. Peter Vincent

Peter Vincent’s Hollywood apartment was cluttered with all manner of motion picture memorabilia, including a noticeable nod to former Dracula (1931) icon Bela Lugosi. But look closely and you’ll see another hidden gem hiding among the furniture and antiquities. Indeed, one of Roddy McDowall’s own life-masks from the Planet of the Apes film series can be seen adorning Vincent’s home.

1. Fright Night Sequel

During an interview in 2015, Holland discussed his vision for a follow-up he’d liked to have pursued for Fright Night. His concept revolved around Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) being a single father with a couple of teenage children.

Charlie inherits his mother’s home and soon discovers something “evil” is squatting in the abandoned house where Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) used to cloak his coffin. Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) has taken up residence and he is trying to resurrect Jerry. According to Holland, this Fright Night sequel would have included most of the original cast members unlike the much maligned 1988 Fright Night Part 2.

For those fanatics of Fright Night who also enjoy documentaries about horror movies, check out Dead Mouse Productions three-disc tribute titled You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night (2016). Disc one is a Blu-ray of the exhaustive 3 ½ hour documentary that examines the making of both Fright Night and Fright Night Part 2. There is a second DVD disc included alongside the third disc which is hours of bonus features. This is a must-own for any Fright Night aficionado. You’re So Cool, Brewster is an Eerie Essential all on its own.

In conclusion, Fright Night is one of those rare films that stands the test of time from generation to generation. It is a must-see for all horror enthusiasts and an Eerie Essential to be enjoyed by all who dare take up the cross with Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent against the duplicitous Jerry Dandrige.

SEE or sNuB recommendation: Must-See!

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Which Fright Night facts were your favorites? Are there any other obscure tidbits you’d like to have seen make the list? Sound off on social media.

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Horror Movies to Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving

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After you’ve gorged on your Thanksgiving feast and the L-tryptophan is kicking in, you’re probably thinking about parking your carcass on the couch and watching movie after movie. But not just any movie – this is a holiday, so naturally you want to celebrate on-topic and gobble some gore.

We’ve got you covered with this curated list of choices from a 25-item menu of Native American-themed thrillers and chillers.

Death Curse of Tartu (1966)

A group of students on an archaeology assignment in the Everglades decide to throw a dance party one night. The spot they choose happens to be the burial site of an ancient Seminole shaman named Tartu. He returns from the dead to take his revenge on those who desecrated his grave site.


Stanley (1972)

A Seminole Vietnam vet (Chris Robinson) goes on the warpath when a leather goods merchant (Alex Rocco) tries to grab his pet snake Stanley to turn him into a belt. A William Grefe cult classic!


Hex (1973)

Set on the Nebraska prairie in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the story follows the spiritual clash between the daughters of a recently deceased shaman and a gang of ex-aviators. Christina Raines, Scott Glenn and Keith Carradine star in this largely unknown, bizarre body-count thriller.


Shadow of the Hawk (1976)

A Canadian Indian (Jan-Michael Vincent) and a newswoman (Marilyn Hassett) join his grandfather (Chief Dan George) on a tribal walk among evil spirits.


The Manitou (1978)

A psychic (Tony Curtis) recruits a witch doctor (Michael Ansara) to get a 400-year-old Indian medicine man off his girlfriend’s (Susan Strasberg) back…. literally. The demonic Native American spirit is a tumor trying to reincarnate.


Prophecy (1979)

When a dispute occurs between a logging operation and a nearby Native American tribe, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and his wife, Maggie (Talia Shire), are sent in to mediate. Chief John Hawks (Armand Assante) becomes enraged when Robert captures a bear cub for testing, but he’s not as angry as the mutant grizzly mom! George Clutesi plays an Original Person who believes the monster is the personification of the god Katahdin and is there to protect the land.


Nightwing (1979)

A policeman (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) and a scientist (David Warner) track vampire bats on a Maski tribe reservation. Abner Tasupi (George Clutesi) is the shaman who helps them.


Wolfen (1981)

A New York cop (Albert Finney) investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks. His hunt leads him to Native American high worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) to see if there’s any connection between the killings and old myths and legends from the area. Finney’s character refers to as “the Crazy Horse of the Seventies… the only one of our local militants left alive who’s not making money off of Levi’s commercials.”


Scalps (1983)

Hapless college science students go on a dig around a sacred burial ground for artifacts. Unfortunately, one of them becomes possessed by the evil spirit of Black Claw… and that means only one thing: Now he must slaughter all of his friends.


Eyes of Fire (1983)

Almost lynched in 1750, a preacher (Dennis Lipscomb) leads his followers (Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley) west to a valley whose dirt holds a devil of Indian origin.


Firestarter (1984)

Pyrokinetic protagonist Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore) is in trouble when an evil Native American named Rainbird (George C. Scott) wants to kill her because he is convinced her death would give him special power to take to the mystical other world of his ancestors.


Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)

The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces are not over. Whoops, looks like it’s another haunted Native American resting place!


Creepshow 2 (1987)

In the anthology film’s first vignette, “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” thugs who terrorize small-store grocers played by Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy are attacked in kind by the general store’s wooden Indian.


Pet Sematary (1989)

After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle into a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground.


Ravenous (1999)

Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is sent to investigate reports of missing persons at Fort Spencer, a remote Army outpost on the Western frontier. After arriving at his new post, Boyd and his regiment aid a wounded frontiersman, F.W. Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), who recounts a horrifying tale of a wagon train murdered by its supposed guide — a vicious U.S. Army colonel gone rogue… and who’s developed a taste for human flesh.


Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

In 18th century France, the Chevalier de Fronsac and his Native American friend Mani (Mark Dascosos) of the Micmac tribe are sent by the King to the Gevaudan province to investigate the killings of hundreds by a mysterious beast.


The Wendigo (2001)

Director Larry Fessenden movie uses the Native American Wendigo legend to tell an eerie and hallucinogenic tale about a family trapped in the woods with a dark force.


“Masters of Horror: Deer Woman” (2005)

A burned-out cop believes that a recent string of murders prove that the killer might be a deer-like creature in the form of a beautiful woman (Cinthia Moura) come to life from a local Native American folklore legend.


Skinwalkers (2006)

A 12-year-old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives. Based on the folk legend from Utah about the spirits of murdered Indians returning to seek revenge upon those who disrespect the land.


The Burrowers (2008)

A search party – played by Clancy Brown, William Mapother and Doug Hutchison – sets out to find and recover a family of settlers that has mysteriously vanished from their home. Expecting the offenders to be a band of fierce natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But they soon discover that the real enemy stalks them from below.


The Dead Can’t Dance (2010)

Three Native Americans discover they are immune to a zombie virus in this whacky indie comedy.


Savaged (2013)

After thugs brutalize a deaf-mute woman (Amanda Adrienne), the spirit of an Apache warrior takes over her lifeless body and sets out on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge.


Volcano Zombies (2014)

Danny Trejo as a Native American who warns campers about the legendary and very angry lava-laden “volcano zombies.”


The Darkness (2016)

Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife and their two children return to Los Angeles after a fun-filled vacation to the Grand Canyon. Strange events soon start to plague the family, and the Taylors learn that Michael brought back some mysterious rocks that he discovered inside an ancient Native American cave.


Mohawk

Mohawk (2017)

After one of her tribe sets an American soldiers’ camp ablaze, a young female Mohawk finds herself pursued by a ruthless band of renegades bent on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods, Mohawk youths Oak and Calvin confront the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers. As the Americans seem to close in from all sides, the trio must summon every resource both real and supernatural as the brutal attack escalates. Mohawk is a dark, political drama with horror undertones. “While set 203 years ago, Mohawk is unfortunately a timeless story,” says director Ted Geoghegan. “It’s about marginalized people being decimated simply because they exist and scared white men who fail to realize that their racism and bigotry will place them on the wrong side of history.

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Three 1970’s Horrors That Remind Us Why We Enjoy Getting Mental at the Movies

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Crazy is always creepy in horror movies, and it usually comes in two forms: insane escapees or the sane among the crazies.

It’s one storytelling technique when a mental patient escapes and enters our own ordered, peaceful world. It’s quite another when a film drops us in the middle of an asylum to cope with crazy people who, in those movies, always seem to want to stab us.

First off, let me say the mentally ill are one of the most misunderstood and scapegoated minorities in movie history. Other stereotypes have disappeared from the silver screen over the years, but it’s still convenient to blame a killing rampage on an escaped mental patient. We’ll just chalk this up to lazy writing and move on.

Yes, “mentally ill” has become shorthand for “bloodthirsty and lacking in social etiquette.” Kudos to “American Horror Story’s” second season, subtitled “Asylum,” for adding some subtlety to that convention. Seventies horror movies, though, were riddled with stereotypes, enough so that when we travel back to that groovy and dangerous time, we can merrily ignore them and enjoy the scare.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is a fairly standard who-is-the-killer flick that turns terrifying in the last 20 minutes, when all hell breaks loose and the inmates, quite literally, take over the asylum. There is a nice, icy buildup throughout.

The populace of a small town are suspiciously nervous when a local mansion that had once been a mental institution goes up for sale. Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul) plays it numbingly cool throughout, until the climax, adding punch to the big reveals.

Also known by Night of the Dark Full Moon and Death House, this film is directed by Theodore Gershuny and written by Gershuny, Jeffrey Konvitz and Ira Teller. It’s always a good sign for consistency of vision when the director is also a writer.

I don’t know a lot of people raving about this film. It’s certainly not perfect, but a solid effort in that ’70s B-movie category, seriously creepy, and worth watching. Recommended.

Asylum (1972) has everything I enjoy about well-done, early ’70s horror: a fairly simple premise, creepy sets, and solid acting. The anthology setup works well here, stringing four Robert Bloch stories together. Peter Cushing and Herbert Lom show up along with Britt Ekland and Barbara Parkins.

The effects are not at all bad. Hope you view a cut of this movie that shows a stagehand rather obviously moving a prop in the “Frozen Fear” segment because those kinds of mistakes are fun to see.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Asylum delivers like any of the Amicus horror movies: similar to Hammer in that you know you will be entertained. Recommended for classic pre-slasher horror movie fans.

Then there’s Don’t Look in the Basement (1973). I was smart enough to see this in a theater when it came out… but dumb enough to bring a date. What a terrible first date movie!

On the other hand, Don’t Look in the Basement is a very creepy horror film due to several elements that come together beautifully:

– First, it has that grainy, cheap look to it like many early ’70s B-movies that, for me, adds to the mood. That look tells me positively this is not a big studio production. “Oh, this is one of THOSE movies,” says my head. “Anything can happen!” Tension builds.

– Second, it has an obviousness to it that can be unnerving when filmed correctly. Hitchcock used to do this well: We in the audience know the danger, but the hero on screen is completely clueless. We know from the minute the blonde nurse accepts her new job she shouldn’t be there — heck, we knew she shouldn’t even have come into the house!

– Third, most all of the characters may be insane, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own distinct stories, personalities and phobias. Crazy is not random. As Grant Morrison wrote in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the thoughts of the insane are not unpatterned. Each person has his or her own complex view of reality, no matter how wrong that perception might be.

There’s also a good deal of blood. And a surprise reveal. Don’t Look in the Basement has been recognized as a B-movie classic, and I enthusiastically recommend it here.

Three 1972 to 1973 horror movies and all three recommended! You may or may not disagree, and if so, I want to hear why! What are your favorite asylum flicks? Comment below or on social media.

Gary Scott Beatty’s graphic novel Wounds is available on Amazon and Comixology. Is madness a way to survive the zombie apocalypse? The strangest zombie story ever written, Wounds throws us into a world where nothing is beyond doubt, except a father’s concern for his wife and daughter. If you enjoy that “What th-?” factor in graphic novels, you’ll enjoy Wounds. For more from Gary Scott Beatty, visit him on Twitter and Facebook.

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