Posts tagged "vampires"

The Transfiguration (Review)

The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration
2016
Written and directed by Michael O’Shea
The Transfiguration
I got fists full of sweet, sweet cash and a break between classes and being sick to actually write, so it’s time to go to a bunch of films at the San Francisco International Film Festival! First up is the amazing vampire film, The Transfiguration!

The Transfiguration is about a disturbed teenager that is obsessed with vampires. Milo (Eric Ruffin) is not just obsessed, he lives and breathes vampires. Literally, as he’s started going out and stalking, killing, and drinking the blood of victims once a month. This isn’t a spoiler, he’s doing it in the opening scene. Exactly why he’s started doing this is slowly revealed as the film burns on. We learn more of Milo’s world view, his family tragedies and his harassment by local toughs.

There is no big bad vampire, the monsters are all in the mind, the demons that enslave us all. Milo lives with his adult brother, Lewis (Aaron Clifton Moten), both alone after their mother’s suicide. Lewis is perpetually on the couch watching television, not because he’s lazy but because he’s just been damaged by life. He used to roll with the gang, but left to go straight and spent time in the military in the Middle East, where he saw things that add to his haunting looks. He does care about his brother, but the only way he knows how to keep him out of trouble is dealing with the gang and the cops, and is completely in the dark about the blood drinking. Aaron Moten is amazing here, conveying someone with so much going on under the hood but still barely functioning because of all the past trauma.

Milo’s regular routine is thrown into a loop when Sophie (Chloe Levine) moves into the complex. Her parents are dead as well, and she’s living with an abusive grandfather. It’s damaged people finding themselves through each other. The more time Milo spends with Sophie, the less time he spends stalking prey and drinking their blood. But Milo knows he’s already gone to far, having a happy ending and normal life isn’t in the cards for him. But maybe he doesn’t have to be doomed to be all bad.
The Transfiguration
The film switches between the budding romantic film with Milo and Sophie and the dark and haunted world of Milo looking for prey, sometimes rapidly shifting gears in an uncomfortable manner. Milo is obviously uncomfortable about Sophie inserting herself into his life, but he also finds himself growing fond of her. And that begins to disturb him. The only topic that Milo is comfortable speaking about is the discussion of said vampire films. Milo rates the vampire films in term of how realistic they are, in that how accurate they are in depicting what he feels true, accurate vampires are. Sophie keeps trying to get him to read Twilight, and makes references to True Blood (which Milo dismisses as unrealistic!) Milo rattling on and on about them to Sophie begins to pull him out of what he is becoming.

Michael O’Shea’s vampire tale changes up the usual game. The vampires are just flavoring, Milo could be obsessed with any horror creature and acting out as them. The journey is Milo’s jump from embracing his vampire life to being offered a different path. The scenes of violence are brutal, but Milo finding himself gives a path of redemption. The Transfiguration is worth the buzz and worth checking out, just don’t expect the usual horror trapping.

(I’ll also put in a warning that they show real animals being killed in clips from the Faces of Death movies, so be warned if you are like me and not into that stuff!)

SFIFF 2017

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

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Rockula (Review)

Rockula

Rockula
1990
Written by Luca Bercovici, Jefery Levy, and Chris Ver Wiel
Directed by Luca Bercovici

Rockula
It’s the final of the three films in the Dean Cameron trilogy brought to us by Midnite for Maniacs (the others being Summer School and Ski School), and while Rockula doesn’t have “School” in the title, it does have a lot of songs, so if you ever wanted to see a vampire Elvis impersonator, Rockula has you covered!

Right off the bat (ha!) you know Rockula is going to be great because it has animated opening credits. Well, maybe not great, but it can’t be worse than Catalina Caper, the lowest-grade movie with animated opening credits of them all. Most others rate far higher, and Rockula is some fun fun cheese that if you saw while you were a young, impressionable child, you will have fond memories of for the rest of your life. If you are first exposed as a cynical adult, you’re probably going to be far less amused.
Rockula
I do remember Rockula from cable as a kid, but not overly so, it’s one of those movies that sort of blurred together with several other films to create a sort of super film that never existed. So Rockula can’t live up to the hype of the most memorable moments of a dozen or so films. But it does have its charm, and Rockula is a movie that deserves a chance.
Rockula
Ralph is a good vampire boy, in that he isn’t bloodthirsty, he can’t even stand the sight of blood, and just wants to play his music. Also he’s forced to relive a curse again and again because long ago he failed to save the life of his beloved Mona, and ever since history keeps repeating herself as she gets reincarnated, only for them to be destined to meet, fall in love, and for her to swiftly be killed off by a ham bone due to the reincarnated rage of a pirate. It’s a curse, except this time there is the added danger that he knows it might be the last time through.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 21, 2016 at 11:53 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rokto Pipasha (Review)

Rokto Pipasha

aka রক্ত পিপাসা aka The Vampire
Rokto Pipasha Vampire Bangla Rubel
2009BMDB Link
Written and Directed by Rubel

These vampires know how to have fun!

Bangladesh does their own version of Blade, all Bangla-ed up with plenty of fighting, yelling, dr4ama, people with giant swords, singing, child endangerment, ridiculous vehicles, cheap effects, scratched film, excitement, and only lacking in the budget. Rokto Pipasha is amazing cinema, and deserved a larger audience, especially in the West. Since the current audience in the West seems to be just me (There is currently literally nothing about this film written in English!), it’s time for TarsTarkas.NET to do what it does best, exposing obscure foreign fun to the masses. And as Rokto Pipasha is all over YouTube in a format where it doesn’t look too bad, there is really no excuse not to track it down. Rokto Pipasha does not have subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! You also don’t really need them to figure out what is going on. There are some vampires, some vampire hunters, and a lot of fighting. The villains are obvious, the heroes spend much of their time tracking them down or arguing amongst themselves, and the action sequences are rather well choreographed.

For those of you uninitiated with Bangla cinema, their action movies feature a lot of the things common in action cinema in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. There is a lot of yelling and boasting by heroes and villains before they fight. There are dramatic zooms. A lot of dramatic zooms. In one sequence, vampire hunter Mr. T argues with four other vampire hunters, and we get a reaction zoom to Mr. T, then the first hunter, then Mr. T, then the second hunter, repeating for all. This happens multiple times throughout the film. The action is over the top, bringing in elements of martial arts and super heroes. The characters do punches and kicks that would kill normal people, but because they fight others who are super powered, they often do little damage, except for on whichever character is slated to die in that fight. All the main vampire hunters have a huge weapon, either a ridiculous sword or a scythe or something, and they walk around carrying the giant hand weapon in a world where guns exist. The soundtrack is packed full of stolen music. Rokto Pipasha came out in 2007, so there is no excuse. It’s yet another movie with the James Bond theme, as a weird remix pops up randomly during scenes where characters are looking cool. I also recognized tracks from Gladiator, Star Wars, Jaws, and various Westerns.
Rokto Pipasha Vampire Bangla Rubel
Most of the action either takes place in the middle of nowhere or in giant warehouse studios with large hand painted murals as set decoration. There are one or two actual sets that might be part of a hotel or something, unsurprisingly some of the musical numbers also take place here (as those parts will have higher budgets than the rest of the film). And even those locations have walls covered in huge paintings. I would also wager that if I watched more low budget Bangladeshi films, I would recognize some of the paintings.

One thing that isn’t common in Bangla cinema is the characters drive around in ridiculous custom monster vehicles. The cars would be 1000% not street legal in the US, and the vehicle choices make you obvious targets for whoever is hunting you. They also look ridiculous, even though they are awesome. Just check out the wealth of images I took of these monstrosities and try not to instantly want to watch Rokto Pipasha! Another thing that is rare is Western-style monsters like vampires, though films “borrowing” plots from American cinema isn’t that rare in Bangla film. Rokto Pipasha has concepts lifted directly from the Blade movies, but follows enough of its own path that it isn’t a straight ripoff, it just owes a heavy debt.
Rokto Pipasha Vampire Bangla Rubel
As Rokto Pipasha is obscure as heck, this will be another classic TarsTarkas.NET longread where I go over everything. Those of you who hate reading will enjoy the large amount of photos and gifs, and everyone will have a good time. Or else I’ll stab you with my vampire sword! The lack of subtitles means the character names are guesses, though I’m pretty sure I’m right about the main vampire hunter Blade ripoff played by Rubel being named Mr. T. The villain vampire in love is definitely named Romeo.

Rubel aka Masum Parvez Rubel stars and also directed and co-wrote the film, along with some writers that I couldn’t find names for. He also delivers the explaination in the beginning and seems to be a big fan of the Blade series. According to a text blurb he put in the film, he “committer himself to give you a good commercial film”, so few films declare their intentions nowadays. Besides Rubel, actor Shakil Khan has a featured role as a villainous vampire in love. Actor names I couldn’t connect with roles include: Bipasha (is this Bipasha Hayat?), Moumita, and Elys Kobra. There is also a cameo appearance from Bangla action star Sohel Rana. The lack of English information in general on Bangla film is a big problem that I hope gets solved someday, and it is made exponentially harder by the few cast members that are mentioned in talk about the film just having a single name. I am eagerly awaiting someone to chime in down in the comments for who is who.
Rokto Pipasha Vampire Bangla Rubel

Mr. T (Rubel) – Mr. T is a loner, a rebel, a guy on a motorcycle who kills vampires all night and broods all day. So of course he hangs out with a ten year old girl that he kills vampires with. That makes logical sense. Carries a gigantic sword and is master of kung fu, wearing sunglasses, and shooting guns.
Karmila (???) – Karmila hangs out with the vampire fighting brothers and slays as many of the bloodsuckers as she can out of revenge. She also goes wandering off by herself at night all the time, often running into Mr. T and having long conversations that turn into romantic interests, though the vampire slaying comes first. Karmila seems to have the power to sense vampires. Karmila carries a big sword. She’s often called Mila.
Romeo (Shakil Khan) – A vampire lord who has discovered love, and his love for his Girlfriend has tempered his vampiric bloodlust, though he occasionally flashes fangs. Is served by the Four Snake Villains, and drives around in a giant monster car.
Scythe Brother (???) – Member of the vampire killing brothers who carries a big honking scythe as he kills vampires. Lives the longest of the brothers.
Sword Brother (???) – Member of the vampire killing brothers who carries a big honking sword as he kills vampires. The least developed of the main three brothers.
Arrow Brother (???) – Member of the vampire killing brothers who carries a big honking bow and arrow as he kills vampires. Also occasionally uses other weapons. The most rash of the brothers.
Random other Brother (???) – Member of the vampire killing brothers who spends most of the movie in bed and off screen, only occasionally jumping into battle to tackle a big opponent. Injects himself with some sort of drug, it seems like he was turned into a vampire and represses it or something, but isn’t on screen enough for this to make a difference in anything.
Girlfriend (???) – Romeo’s Girlfriend, who is still a human but loves her vampire boyfriend. Possibly named Karina. Mr. T is hired by her father to retrieve her from Romeo.
Partner (???) – Mr. T battles vampires with the help of a tiny girl, because bringing a young child into constant danger and murder scenarios will always end well. She ends up some vampire dinner! Oh, Partner, you were destined to die from the moment you appeared!
Three Idiots (???) – It’s not a movie unless three unfunny guys randomly show up to annoy characters.
Random Ghost (???) – Thankfully the Three Idiots are later harassed by this Random Ghost. Anyone who harasses the Three Idiots is a winner in my book!
Four Snake Villains (???) – The Four Snake Villains serve Romeo and battle the Vampire Fighting Brothers. I don’t think they are vampires, they are just fighting masters who may serve Romeo because they are evil or because they will get vampire powers at some later date. Or would, if they weren’t killed one by one as the movie progresses.
Dancing Villainess (???) – She starts out as the item girl for tiny vampire guy Lukanda, but ends up ruling his empire and attempts to destroy Romeo and Mr. T, possibly because they won’t date her.
Lukanda (???) – A partying vampire lord who spends most of his time dancing to his girlfriend singing, hanging out with scrawny guys, and being carried around and having weapons put into his hands. Often found on top of pedestals. Wears skull shirts, because of course he does. Has magic pelvis thrusting power. Do not stare directly at the pelvis!

Rokto Pipasha Vampire Bangla Rubel
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

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Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo

Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo

aka Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman

1973
Written by Alfredo Salazar
Directed by Miguel M. Delgado

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
We slept so long our clothes are in style again!

Unlike the prior Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters, Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo is a slower paced and more methodological monster film. Instead of celebrating B movie creatures and having monsters inspired by Universal classics, Dracula and the Wolf Man here are more patterned after the Hammer horror films. The creatures are still deadly, there is still a huge body count, and even major side characters die! Things just go real.

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
Rounders: The Lucha Years

The lower budget causes more sets to be noticeably sets and not real locations. Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo tries to offset this by having more things take place indoors or inside of caves. The few brief outside at night shots feature lighting of an unnatural blue, which eerily mimics to bright blue and red colors of the stadium backgrounds during the wrestling matches (which are also obviously on a stage and not in a real stadium!) The use of bright colors even extends to the opening credits, where bright red is the tone of choice. The atmospheric score is largely piano with some organ parts. The bright colors contrast with the black and white Santo films that gave off a more Gothic horror feel. The bright color but serious tones doesn’t match the campy drive-in approach of Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters, moving vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo in between the camp and the attempts at serious horror. The dichotomy gives an interesting feel to the film, making it just playful enough that you fall into a lull of disarmament, making the deaths of major characters more shocking.

Does Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo fulfill the required Santo obligations? We have Santo and Blue Demon both wrestling opponents in matches that the movie shows in full. Instead of a mad scientist, we got a mad Satanist (some would argue that’s the same thing, but fuck those people!) Monsters? Check! Santo dating someone whose family is intertwined with the monsters in a complicated revenge plot? Check! Blue Demon knocked unconscious? Check! References to past heroic deeds of Santo and/or Blue Demon that aren’t from any film? Check! Blue Demon captured by the enemy and rescued by Santo? Check!

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
When Satanists do the wave…

One thing Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo does different is the police don’t believe Santo’s crazy story. In any other film, Santo would be called in to deal with the monsters and the police would give him leeway to do whatever he or Blue Demon want. Here, the police laugh at their outlandish tales of Dracula and the Wolfman. Haven’t they paid attention for the last 20 Santo films???

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
When will Blue Demon find…his endless love???

Santo (Santo) – Santo is friend to all…wait, that’s not right. Santo is that famous wrestler you may have heard of. Perhaps. He’s once again dating a girl whose family is cursed with monsters seeking revenge. Heck, one time Santo dated the Swiss Miss girl and had to kill Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and even Yummy Mummy.
Blue Demon (Blue Demon) – Blue Demon is friend to all Santo. He’s another famous wrestler you may have heard of. Blue Demon once again plays second fiddle to Santo, despite being in the title. Poor Blue Demon…
Drácula (Aldo Monti) – Dracula is in Mexico because that’s what he does and he’s been dead dead for 200 years, but is brought back to life by the power of Satan. And revenge. Now, he’s got the evil eye for Santo and Blue Demon, and anyone who makes fun of his cape!
El Hombre Lobo/Wolfman (Agustín Martínez Solares) – You can’t have Dracula without the Wolfman, so here he is, ready to join his life partner in evil doings.
Rufus Rex (Agustín Martínez Solares) – This wolfman’s got nards, and swagger, as he runs around in human form as Rufus Rex and seduces Laura Cristaldi to her peril.
Lina (Nubia Martí) – Santo’s girlfriend. Professor Luis Cristaldi is her uncle, Laura Cristaldi is her cousin, and Rosita is Laura’s daughter. All are cursed. CURSED!!!
Eric (Alfredo Wally Barrón) – Just your average Satanist who brings Dracula and Wolfman back to life to steal their gold or something.
Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
All these boxes are filled with more Santo sequels!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

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Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos (Review)

Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos

aka Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters

1970
Story by Jesús Sotomayor Martínez and Rafael García Travesi
Screenplay by Rafael García Travesi
Directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares

The most popular hair salon in Transylvania…

When it’s night time and fright time, and things are going bump in the night, the monsters come out to play. A whole football team full of monsters! Luckily, the world has Santo and Blue Demon to do what they do best: Kicking monster butt!

Santo films started out like Cerebro Del Mal where they were more low key and just science fiction influenced capers. Santo played more of a supporting role at first. Many of the Santo films that followed would feature influences from horror flicks of the drive in, as Santo battled female vampires, zombies, a spooky wax museum, and stranglers. But by the time Santo fought the Martians, the Santo films were emulating the 1950s and 60s American B movie pictures that were lighting up the night skies at drive ins across North America. Santo would become more science fiction, engaging in spy episodes, running around with famous comedians, and even battling a famous movie monster or two. Influences would continue, and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos is no exception, the large amount of classic movie monsters present shows a clear influence from the Universal Monster movies.

It’s hard for a super-intelligent brain alien like me to find a girl, what with being an abomination against nature and all…

Even though there are influences, there are differences and odd themes. Wolfman, Vampire, and Cyclops all have big ears for some odd reason. And the Cyclops acts like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, acting as a surrogate for that missing member. Mummy barely appears in the film, wandering around and acting lazy. He also needs to eat a sandwich. Frankenstein looks like he’s tripping on mushrooms, which I think might have been how the film’s concept was dreamed up. The mad scientist Dr. Halder also has some green thugs that are called zombies but some sources, though I just dubbed them Frankenthugs. The large amount of monsters adds energy and a fast pace to the film, as it rushes to try to give everyone enough screentime, and the pace is rather quick for a Santo film.

According to Jim….lives again?!?!?!

Unfortunately there is a lot of cost cutting in this flick, it’s obvious what little budget there was went towards setting up the monster lineup. Most of the sets are sparse, and there is only one real scene that feels like it takes place at an actual place. There is even an extended sequence at that location that is obviously a stage play filmed for some other reason, and added here for padding and flavor. Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters features lots of shots that are shot in the daytime but set at night. Normally movies get around that by applying a blue filter to the movie, but that must have cost too much because they didn’t bother to do it all all.

Director Gilberto Martínez Solares was one of the best directors of early Mexican cinema, working often with Tin Tán, but his star began to fade and he soon was directing schlock like this and even worse things after. Though I think the Santo films and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos in particular are important features on the Mexican cinema landscape, they aren’t considered quality work, and Solares must have been phoning it in as his trajectory waned.

The Vampire is too cheap to turn the AC on during July!

Despite the budget woes and quality issues, Santo and Blue Demon vs the Monsters still ends up being a fun flick, and is among the Santo films you should see first just to get your toes wet. If you can handle Santo and Blue Demon punching their way through a castle filled with people in bad masks, you are ready to expand your journey. This is one of the easier titles to get, and is visual enough that even if your copy is minus subtitles, it won’t be a big loss.

No, keep your eye on the BALL, not the bat! Ball, BALL!!

Santo (Santo) – Santo the great hero braves all the evils that threaten the good people of Mexico. And also threaten relatives of his girlfriend, which happens far too often to be a coincidence. Santo must be seeking these girls out just so he can beat up monsters! What a freak…
Blue Demon (Blue Demon) – Santo’s best buddy in fiction if not reality, Blue Demon is captured early on in Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos and replaced by an evil double.
Otto Halder and Gloria Halder (Jorge Rado and Hedi Blue) – The brother of the evil Dr. Bruno Halder and his daughter, Gloria, who Santo is dating.
Dr. Bruno Halder (Carlos Ancira) – A mad scientist who has gone crazy with rage and unleashes monsters upon the world, because he’s a jerk or something. He doesn’t really have any motivation besides being evil. But isn’t that motivation enough?
Waldo (Santanón) – Loyal servant of Dr. Halder and also a hunchbacked little fellow, like every film needs. Famed actor Santanón is best known for being Stinky the Skunk in another Monstruos flick. Maybe not really best known, but I declare it so now.
The Mummy/La Momia (Fernando Rosales) – A very lazy mummy who is just there for most of the flick.
The Cyclops/El Ciclope (Gerardo Zepeda) – Cyclops acts like a Gillman, but with big ears! This suit is left over from La Nave de los Monstruos (Ship of Monsters). Gerardo Zepeda also played one of the three zombies/Frankenthugs. He played goons and thugs in dozens of movies, including Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy
Frankenstein/Franquestain (Manuel Leal) – Even Frankenstein (or Frankenstein’s Monster for you purists!) joins the fun of getting punched by Santo and Blue Demon! Manuel Leal played the lead evil zombie Satan in The Mummies of Guanajuato
The Wolfman/El Hombre Lobo (Vicente Lara) – The Wolfman took time off from begging for change at a highway offramp to menace Santo and Blue Demon.
El Vampiro (David Alvizu) – Even vampires are trying to get into the fun, especially vampires with big Spock ears like someone “borrowed” just that element from Nosferatu.
Sonia the Vampire Woman/La Mujer Vampiro (Elsa María Tako) – The Vampire spends his time making vampire babes like Sonia here, who always walks around in her bra and panties and also tries to seduce Santo. There is another briefly seen vampire lady named Fabiola (Yolanda Ponce) but she does nothing important.
Evil Blue Demon (Alejandro Cruz/Black Shadow) – Blue Demon is captured and replaced by an evil duplicate who does evil stuff that is evil. Until Santo kills him! Spoiler… Though the credits are a bit hazy, it is believed that Alejandro Cruz/Black Shadow played the Evil Blue Demon duplicate.
Ship of Monsters Saucer Man (???) – This Invasion of the Saucer Men-style brain alien is another refuge from from Ship of Monsters, though all he does in this film is stand around in Dr. Halder’s lab and look weird. An important job!
Will Santo and Blue Demon defeat the monsters? I’m on the edge of my seat!!!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 1, 2012 at 5:06 am

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Vampire Dog

Vampire Dog
Vampire Dog. It’s real.

Ace is just like any other new kid at school, until his grandfather from Transylvania dies at age 96 and sends him his dog Fang. Ace soon discovers that Fang is a vampire dog – and he speaks English! Mad scientist Dr. Warhol (Amy Matysio!!) and her bumbling assistant Frank try to capture Fang and steal his DNA in hopes of developing the latest anti-aging technology, but lucky for Ace the vampire dog manages to stay one step ahead of his pursuers. Along the way an enduring friendship forms when Ace and Fang discover that together they are unstoppable. – Written by Vampire Dog Productions Inc.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

Categories: Movie News   Tags: ,

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