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Strait-Jacket (1964)
7/10
nice little corker
27 October 2005
Pretty decent old time chiller with some axe murders and Joan both camping it up and giving it her gusto. At 1 point, she's as vulnerable as your granny might be; the next, she's belting out her dialogue like a diva. She always was a very watchable actress, even in B thrillers like this, which, nonetheless is well photographed and goofily entertaining, despite its over-lurid plot. Diane Baker went on to play the Senator that Hannibal Lector toyed with in Silence of the Lambs. Here: she's barely out of her teens. Or at least is 20 years older than her character is supposed to be from the beginning. Her and Crawford have believable chemistry as mother and daughter. You really can't guess how it's going to end. When it does, you'll be giggling in disbelief. Fun time during the spooky season of October and AMC recently aired it with commercials and didn't ruin one second of it. Hop along for the ride. Makes a nice companion piece to Lady in a Cage...
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8/10
Nice fluff despite the off kilter warbling
1 September 2005
This is one of Allen's oddest pieces because it takes a while to get used to. I needed a third viewing over time to get past the musical numbers and discover how sweet this really is. The old grandfather is the funniest character and Alan Alda has probably the best dialogue. And the autumn and Venice scenery here is well photographed. Actually, all the seasons are filmed with poetic breath taking photography, to enhance the rather goofball story. The entire cast is likable, despite representing the bored wealthy elite so over the course of the picture, even their lies and mannerisms become endearing. Goldie Hawn and Julia Roberts stand out, and yes Woody makes himself appealing to both of them; the running gag of having beautiful women fall for him still going strong as he ages... Not "great" but great to look at. Even for people who usually cringe, like I do, when movie characters break into song and begin dancing.
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Another Woman (1988)
10/10
One of Woody's finest dramas
1 September 2005
The great Gena Rowlands has a fine narrative voice and in fact, it is her voice that you'll remember long after this is over. Voices in fact come into play a lot in this picture, from the sad stark voice of Mia Farrow whom Rowlands accidentally overhears in therapy, to the soft voice of John Houseman recalling his life, to the harsh voices of Sandy Dennis and Betty Buckley, in both real and flashback time. Allen shows some nice touches here as he uses visual and theatrical tricks to flesh out key parts of Marian's past. Nothing is wasted film wise as the editing is smooth and keeps everything finely constructed like a novel. Regrets and mistakes soon haunt everyone in the story and Marian comes to identify with a stranger (in Farrow) as she realizes most of the people in her small world never really knew who she was. Not as emotionally heavy as Allen's 2 dramas, this one allows you to admire the careful writing and the sometimes selfish motives of the characters, who don't always resonate with likability. Gene Hackman and Martha Plimpton offer pleasant support, perhaps the only 2 connections to solid love Marian has experienced... Worth repeated viewings, as all of Woody's movies are...
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September (1987)
10/10
moving, excellent
31 August 2005
I'm probably in the minority here but i find this to be one of Allen's top ten masterpieces. Every scene works and the more you watch it, the more searing it becomes. No doubt you need to be in the right frame of mind to see it, but it's like a great night watching a play unfold. So many deep secrets, betrayals and unspoken feelings, finally, all coming to a head by the time the power comes back on after that thunderstorm. It feels way too real and may be why it makes most audience members uncomfortable. I liked this the first time I saw it and continue to hold it in high esteem years and almost 2 decades later. To preserve the great Elaine Stritch on film forever is enough to recommend it but the acting is painfully truthful to the point of awe. Woody's 3 dramas: this and Interiors and Another Woman form a great triangle. They should be looked at and admired now for the fine ensemble casting and the pinpoint writing. Whether they rip off Bergman or not, is rather pointless to argue. Each of them stand up as potent films on their own. Waterston and Wiest re-united on TV's Law And Order, and Stritch as well went on to win an Emmy on Law, so it shows how intuitive Allen was when it came to choosing great actors for his scripts. I found Farrow's character to be highly moving. Then again, I liked everything she and Allen did together. You became almost spoiled by the high quality. As a lifelong Allen viewer, I still think this is fine stuff and will stick by my high opinion every time I re-see it.
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8/10
cute ride and very funny
31 August 2005
Nice re-pairing of one of cinema's best comedy duos, has great location shooting, an amazing visual ending and some of Allen's best one liners. Alan Alda and Angelica Huston provide feisty support, especially Alda, who's quite playful here. While this is basically a long running gag about being nosy and suspicious, there is an undercurrent of seriousness below the goofy parts about growing older and livening up the duller routines of life. While it's not recommended to spy on your neighbors to see if they're killers or not, having an adventure with the person you've been married to a long time is something to consider; be it just around the corner or somewhere unfamiliar. That aside, this is a lively counterpart to Allen's previous Husbands and Wives, which was filled with bitterness inside its rich comic moments, as well as a pleasant diversion. It's really refreshing seeing Allen and Keaton together as a lovable couple, with no one cheating on each other, although a few slight scenes do discuss some hidden jealousies and insecurities. Keaton has some of her best bits being a snoop here and this may qualify as one of her better comic roles. Plus she always has the best clothes. Only she could carry off that wardrobe of hers. Look briefly for that Zach actor from Scrubs in a very small scene as the couple's son. You might blink and miss him.
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The Brood (1979)
7/10
brutal bit of pulp
26 August 2005
This has to be a cult classic by now; it's so twisted and effectively disturbing. Real blunt violence too, that makes you inhale and wince: the work of a strong director. Baby-making jealousy gone awry. One of the few times Oliver Reed has been bearable on screen. He's a campy presence here, as always. Playing his typical hammy authority figure. I doubt he could ever pull off a nice father role, showing him tossing the football in the back yard... The usual Cronenberg trademarks are all present; body distortion, internal rage and gross blood letting, etc... Decidingly the child actors in the picture probably required therapy after filming. Scarier than both a Grimms fairy tale and a Michael Jackson video
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Last Night (I) (1998)
8/10
my favorite end of the world movie
26 August 2005
Stark, original piece set in Canada has a really depressing, terrible feeling behind every scene, but how else can you make a movie about the last day of human survival? Every character is sadly, gloomily interesting, especially the great, under-appreciated Sandra Oh, who gives the picture most of its immediate emotion. Her character is married to a key figure in the story played by David Cronenberg, who just happens to be the best film maker Canada has ever produced. His plot is just as upsetting as everyone else's, although McKeller's rather sexy buddy seems to be having the most exhausting fun. He's going out in style with pleasure. Hint: he even hits on poor gloomy Don for one last experimental thrill... tho Don wimps out and turns him down...Another great actress, Genevieve Bujold, plays a nice role in several stories. She still looks stunning as she ages. And her accent. Probably worth hearing as the world is slowly dying. Outdoor scenery is mesmorizing. Indoor scenery is quiet and unsettling. You definitely need to be in the mood to watch this. It always leaves a rather brutal impression...
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Radio Days (1987)
10/10
well photographed trip in time
25 August 2005
Woody's best " memory" piece has great set designs, a sad and funny script and the usual great, well chosen cast, including a very young Seth Green playing Allen as a boy. Diane Wiest and Julie Kavner excel strongly in the female leads, Allen's voice narrates the whole picture, and Mia Farrow squeaks deliciously as a bimbo cigarette girl who gets a culture make-over. This is the only Allen movie that both Farrow and Diane Keaton appear in (she has a very brief cameo singing a song in a night club.) The final scene on top of the roof is almost bittersweet, altho it is nice to see a landscape filled with wide eyed people, before the world was dominated by television. The story becomes even more poignant as you age. Watch it repeatedly over different stages of your life...
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9/10
really sweet romantic comedy
24 August 2005
I really like Marsha Mason a lot in this movie and felt her role was much more complex than Dreyfuss's often clumsy and irritating one. He's a bit over the top here, but then his character is supposed to be> I just felt he was trying too hard and Mason was the more enjoyable of the 2, specifically because she seems to grow more and has the less manic personality. Plus she cries and screams better and has the better comic timing. A shame her and Diane Keaton were both nominated in the same year for a Best Actress Oscar, delivering as they did, 2 of the richest comedy performances of the 70's.

Neil Simon was always rather cutesy with his writing but he found a great trio of actors to round out his story here and they all play well off each other. Quinn Cummings was never better on screen as Mason's world weary young daughter, Lucy, and it was nice to see her nominated, along with Dreyfuss and Mason; Dreyfuss, who beat the odds and went on to nab the Best Actor prize away from movie giants like Richard Burton (Equus) and Woody Allen (Annie Hall). The romance builds nicely, too, so it's not forced, and by the last emotional shot, things have come full circle, and you realize just how sweet the whole thing was...
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Annie Hall (1977)
10/10
'romance in all its many insane stages...'.
24 August 2005
The more you watch this, the more you realize that nothing changes. Captures the absurdity of love and, as well, the heartbreak after it's over. So many pieces to this have been analyzed, it would be pointless to re-hash them. You either get them or you don't. Falling in love is as complex as it gets in life. And this has to rank right up near the top as one of the best relationship pictures ever made. The anger, bitterness, jealousy, frustration, manipulation, selfishness, wonder, awe, beauty; everything is shown and dissected with Allen's superb use of the "cut up" technique. Fragments all bunched together in different time frames and points of view. To make up a whole. The humor found here inevitably somehow always turns sad. It's the first of Woody's comedies that casually mixes the funny with the poignant, so you're left both choked up and amused. Probably his best cast, with a glowing Diane Keaton at her daffy infectious peak. A shame she had to be up against Marsha Mason in the Goodbye Girl the same year: 2 of the best female roles of the 70's.
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10/10
perfect allen
23 August 2005
Very funny comedy has one of Woody's all time best casts. Dianne Wiest is the best; glowing, neurotic, irritating and vulnerable, within minutes. Michael Caine is the most touching, Mia Farrow, as always, close to heartbreaking. I think it's her voice that does it. Nice scenes with her and her real-life mother, Maureen O'Sullivan.

Like Manhattan, this picture looks beautiful; NY in all its many breath- taking colors. The relationships of everyone on the screen are perfectly woven, and Woody has the best sight gag of the film when he takes a bible and a crucifix out of a paper bag (to find religion), and follows them up with some Wonder Bread and mayonaisse. Hilarious!

Deserving of its writing and supporting actor Oscars, it's too bad everyone in the movie couldn't have won. They're all believable and enjoyable to watch. My favorite: Max Von Sydow as the very cynical, older Frederick. He should have had more moments. Imagine him at one of the Thanksgiving dinners...
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10/10
crack open the Bergin and dive in
23 August 2005
The greatest alcoholic movie ever filmed, is more influenced by booze than a lesson on the perils of drinking. Should be a warning more on who NOT to marry. Or more aptly, who NOT to invite to the house at 2 in the morning. Many people like to discuss what film has the best dialogue of all time, but this classic should be considered a top 3 contender. You could quote the entire screenplay. Liz deserved her Oscar and it's a shame Burton didn't get to share one with her. It would have been the nicest husband and wife moment in Academy history. Even more astute and entertaining when you watch loaded yourself, don't take a copy over to anyone planning on walking down the aisle soon. You'll shatter their illusions after 10 minutes. Not only a dark comedy,it's also an honest look at the underbelly of social climbing and game playing that rule many of our finest college campuses. I'm sure there's Marthas and Georges at every small university in the country, if not as extreme, then pretty darn close. The acting here is at the highest level and will make you yearn for lots of re-fills, so keep plenty of ice cubes on hand in the freezer... Beats every other Drunk Movie out there by a mile
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Anything Else (2003)
8/10
has some wry, insightful moments
23 August 2005
Watch this for 2 reasons: a superb supporting part by Stockard Channing and Woody Allen's best supporting role, playing Jason Biggs' more than cynical "mentor". Every line Allen recites here is a humdinger. I think it's one of his better characters. Nicely, Woody chooses not to be on screen that long himself, although that might not be a good idea, cuz Biggs seems to be trying too hard in the Woody imitation department. Christina Ricci is both irritating and unusually sexy as the screwed up love interest. She dominates most of the picture. It's like Allen drew her after one of Thomas Hardy's more insane heroines. She'll get on your nerves and turn you on in spite of it. There's future doom for you in a nutshell. Not a great movie, but it does have a lot of nice scenes in it and NY looks like a fun place to live as it always does, perhaps too ideally, in any Woody story. Again: Stockard Channing as Ricci's selfish mother is a bona fide hoot and steals the whole picture whenever she's on screen. She's like a tornado. Danny Devito as a way too lovable schlep will elicit sympathy by being too nice for his own good. Rare, seeing him play a guy who ISN'T somewhat oily first. Character driven more than plot driven, with typically keen one liners to remind you, that this isn't the usual Hollywood dreck. Hit and miss. Biggs is the weakest link, and Jimmy Fallon isn't around long enough to have an impact. (I think Fallon would have made the better lead.)
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Manhattan (1979)
10/10
woody loves a city with more ease than he loves a woman
22 August 2005
Manhattan, the actual city itself, is shot beautifully here because it's seen thru the eyes of someone who is hopelessly in love with it. There's no crime here, no real noise, no violence. Maybe a wry comment on how hard it is to find a parking space. That's about it. It's all filtered thru an optimistic lens, even as the characters drive each other nuts with indecision and selfish behavior. It's because the characters DON'T have to confront crime, poverty or violence, that they're left pretty much dealing with their screwed up emotions. The big irony here is that Mariel Hemingway's 17 year old Tracy is the most mature main character in the story. The grown ups all act like adolescents. The real adolescent is the more stable of the bunch. Funny stuff... Comments have already been made on how nice the picture looks. It's almost crisp. Like a fall afternoon. But lacking the color of a fall day. Maybe the only true way to capture the scenery? Great cast, as always, in every Woody piece. Seamless acting. Fine writing. Well chosen music. And humor that sneaks up on you. It never grows old...
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Coming Home (1978)
10/10
strong without forcing it
2 June 2005
Without a single scene of combat footage, this story manages to convey, in realistically painful terms, how much Vietnam scarred the landscape of America. And this is only a fictional viewpoint. The true life accounts must be gut wrenching. No one returned from the war the same person. To suggest a film be made showing an unaffected soldier would be incredibley unbelievable. When attitudes change and characters grow from harsh realities, you can't help but be caught up in their struggle. People you would never expect to protest a US -involved conflict, or even question it, did so with Vietnam. The Jane Fonda Sally character is such a person. She begins the picture somewhat naive, easily trusting, and sort of tied to her straight laced military existence as the wife of an enlisted man. But then she sees an entirely different world when he's gone, and over months, falls for his total opposite, symbolizing how much she can never go back to the woman she was at the beginning. It's very subtle and deeply felt acting that can achieve this and both Fonda and Voight deserved their Oscars for their moving and expert performances. Bruce Dern is the hardest to sympathsize with on the surface, but you realize he's been scarred by what he's seen too, and what has happened to him in his absence, so his world becomes more bitter as everything he once knew shatters around him. The 3 experiences, his, Voight's and Fonda's merge together at the end, in a series of heartbreaking realizations, until you're left as broken as the country was after the war. You can't NOT be affected by what happened in Nam. It's impossible. And this film clearly shows why. It's the most personal and touching of Hollywood's Vietnam treatments. And certainly the deepest acted. Buy a copy and judge for yourself...
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Interiors (1978)
10/10
Mannered look at the destructive nature of too many manners
27 May 2005
Vey controlled movie doesn't have one wasted scene to it. Makes you wonder how the characters survived as long as they have with all the baggage and pain they're carrying around. Symbolism is everywhere: Especially when Pearl breathes life into Joey. She becomes the new, less severe mother here. The family will slowly be healed by her presence, if only because she's the only one in the story who isn't afraid to feel. My favorite visual moment is Page's Eve applying black duct tape to the white walls right before she turns on the gas for her suicide attempt. (she runs out of duct tape too and has to apply white gauze...) Interiors is a perfect title to call this piece. The apartments are all designed and put together with more care than the people in them. The movie opens right away with discomfort. Eve interrupting Mike and Joey to force her taste on a room she doesn't live in herself. Much has been said about the whiny nature of the dialogue, but it's the end result of years being under the thumb of a harsh judgemental woman, who is so tightly coiled, she can't even stand to see a lamp in the wrong place. Page gives a strong performance here of a mother and wife gradually losing the last thread of her sanity. The 2 writer characters in Jordan and Keaton are a very well drawn balance. Conflict and competition: the male feels threatened by the woman's success and succumbs to his own failed brutality. He wants praise for his work more than an actual great book. Even his wife's flattery makes him angry. Note: most of the characters never really say what they want to, except at the end, when Joey finally does, it's such a big epiphany, it changes everything forever... Keen and disturbing writing. With sentences so stark, you almost wish they had been tempered a little. But that would make this something different. Things have to be painful here so the characters can eventually overcome them. It takes a "vulgarian" to end the perverse cycle of malicious glee Eve began decades ago, while choosing taste and art over emotion. She's left scars on everyone in the family.
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"For Christ's sakes, get them out of the garden!!"
18 March 2004
Totally toss out every disgusted notion you have about child abuse and strap yourself in for a fun time at the anal retentive corral. A beyond campy look at a truly scary control freak. Manages to resemble an over exaggerated episode of Dynasty, mixed in with a dash of Frankenstein. At certain points of her type A personality mania, Mz. Dunaway seems to resemble a cross between the monster from Alien and Casper the very unfriendly ghost. It's hard to believe the real Crawford was this comical. Maybe her old movies? But once the cameras stopped rolling? One can only wonder how daughter Christina felt at the premiere, watching this gay icon merriment unfold before her upset eyes. All that's missing are Dorothy and the flying monkeys. Dunaway can't even jog up the driveway without causing belly aches. For sheer, drawn out amusement, pause her extreme facial movements on the VCR or DVD. Pure comic hilarity!
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Femme Fatale (2002)
WOW!
30 December 2003
Sexy and very watchable Depalma visual-fest, also contains a very David Lynch like script. Antonio is a bit silly in places but this is still a knock out, proving that indeed a hot babe like Rebecca can deliver a real beauty of a performance with the right director. This thing rips off so many other movies, it's almost sinful. Enjoy!
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another wild ride
28 December 2003
I like to think of this as a comedy because that scene of the old people smiling stupidly in the taxi cab comes back to me as the key early hint of the movie not to take it seriously. Note: these same 2 old fuds return at the end of the flick, too, but in a more menacing but still hilarious tone. Like Lost Highway, reality and dream are spliced together, but Lost begins in reality and drifts toward dream. This begins as dream and shifts toward reality, until both collapse. It's fueled by lots of hidden jealousy and in fact, both this and Lost... are swimming in jealousy, which bring key characters to fits of rage and violence. More great images (nobody films color and lights like Lynch can)and surprisingly, easy to follow. It's about waking up after wishing your life could be better. The Jitterbug opening credits juxtapose nicely with the final fade out. Overall, a very enjoyable and often hysterical roller coaster ride.
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Lost Highway (1997)
fantastic
28 December 2003
First of all, you gotta see this movie twice because it will drive you nuts the first time. The second time it will all make sense then you will realize what a great movie this is; maybe Lynch's best since Wild at Heart. Force yourself thru the initial viewing, wait a while, then see it again. You will have a moment of clarity like a religious epiphany. The work of a true master.
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Mortal Kombat (1995)
A real hoot
18 December 2003
I've never laughed so hard watching a bad, video game influenced movie in my life> Definitely give it the Mystery Science Theatre ridicule it deserves. Every scene is an unintentional riot. Tho' many sequences will cause you to do a Danny Thomas spit take, my favorite has to be Linden Ashby, fighting in what looks like a wardrobe from the Gap, punching that tall, evil monster in the groin. I had trouble hearing the rest of the flick after that. Game cast includes Pete Sampras's wife, and the duke of bad films, Christopher Lampert, who makes his Highlander outings seem like Shakespeare by comparison. Did he even try to speak above a bored monotone here? You have to wonder how expensive some actors rent and car payments are when they agree to star in junk like this. I've seen more realistic violence in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
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Hilarious
2 July 2003
Some of the one liners here are so hysterical, you will think about them long after the movie ends and still roar. This is a very funny movie and plays right into the audience expectation Allen is mocking in his script. After the war in Iraq, Woody's comment about "Thank God the French exist" is even more amusing than when he first wrote it. Yes Thank God for the French, they've made some funny movies too. And Thank God for people like Woody Allen. The world needs him. I love how his running trademark showing him with younger women still continues to upset certain members of both the public and critical elite. I think at his age, Allen can pretty much do and write what he wants. Personally, I enjoy the fantasy; it's a sly little dig against the morals of American culture, especially in the Ashcroft/Bush JR era. Older men and younger women have been around forever, and Woody definitely isnt the only one experiencing this condition, so get over yourselves, uptighters, and learn to laugh at life. The dumbing down of society (referred to often in the screenplay) is highly evident after the negative reactions this has received. It's only a movie; it's not the end of the world. You either get it or you don't.
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Scotland, Pa. (2001)
great one liners
24 April 2003
Ideal time frame to set an update of Macbeth against. Clever digs at society, including the fast food culture, plus another energetic, hilarious supporting role by the always entertaining Christopher Walken. For those who watch ER, Tierney's foul mouthed Lady Macbeth will be a relevation. I especially liked the rather gruesome way she handled the "out damn spot" dilemma. Really good ensemble piece with many diverse characters, and the Bad Company sound track is inspired. Final fade out with Walken's Macduff cop in a new career is hysterical...
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perfect
15 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
How anyone can be cynical enough to put down this movie is beyond me. Richard Farnsworth had one of the best voices ever to grace the silver screen. The scene where he's sharing a glass of milk with a beer drinking war veteran (like himself) was one of the most moving moments I think I've seen on film. It should be required for anyone who blindly supports war as gung ho revenge. (hint: soldiers return from combat plagued by guilt and trauma that never go away.) Every word Farnsworth speaks is simple and eloquent and he never lets anyone get the best of him. (Spoiler? I love the part where those 2 lawn mower repairmen twins were trying to swindle him and he turns it all around on them to remind them how important family is.) Truly one of the best American films in years as well as one of Lynch's best efforts, this is also a fine swan song to one of the most flawless natural actors since probably Spencer Tracy. As for one reviewer claiming Alvin's journey made no sense, watch it again and hear how he explains why he's doing it. It's to atone for the way he behaved in the past. All very easy to understand.
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Sisters (1972)
enjoyable pulp
13 February 2003
Great accent on Kidder makes the whole movie, besides Depalma's superb use of the spilt screen technique. Filmed in and around lovely Staten Island NY, with a haunting shot of the then standing twin towers from the back of the SI ferry. Sure, the blood looks fake and many things are left deliberately confusing, but the Pyscho rip off music is a howl.
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