DNDF: Parasites And You: You’re Never Really Alone!

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

DNDF: Parasites And You: You’re Never Really Alone!

Parasitism is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.  Traditionally parasite referred primarily to organisms visible to the naked eye, or macroparasites.  Parasite now includes microparasites, which are typically smaller, such as protozoans, viruses and bacteria.  Some examples of parasites include the plants mistletoe and cuscuta, and animals such as hookworms.

Unlike predators, parasites do not kill their host, are generally much smaller than their host, and will often live in or on their host for an extended period.  Both are special cases of consumer-resource interactions.  Parasites show a high degree of specialization, and reproduce at a faster rate than their hosts.  Classic examples of parasitism include interactions between vertebrate hosts and tapeworms, flukes, the Plasmodium species, and fleas.  Parasitism differs from the parasitoid relationship because parasitoids generally kill their hosts.

Parasites reduce host biological fitness by general or specialized pathology, such as parasitic castration and impairment of secondary sex characteristics, to the modification of host behavior.  Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival, e.g. food, water, heat, habitat, and transmission.  Although parasitism applies unambiguously to many cases, it is part of a continuum of types of interactions between species, rather than an exclusive category.  In many cases, it is difficult to demonstrate that the host is harmed.  In others, there may be no apparent specialization on the part of the parasite, or the interaction between the organisms may be short-lived.

And this is one of the reasons that you should only drink bottled water when travelling outside your home country, not just because of parasites but because other countries have different degrees of what is called “clean” water.  They may not filter out certain minerals or use a chemical for purification that your digestive system may not be accustomed to thus giving you “tummy troubles”.  I supposed you could say that when travelling if you drink the local water you were gambling with your health, or to put it another way maybe someone would say you were about to…

-   S P I N   T H E   W H E E L !   -


They Came from Within (1975)

  • Original Title: Shivers
  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: David Cronenberg
  • Produced:
    • Don Carmody 
    • John Dunning 
    • André Link 
    • Alfred Pariser 
    • Ivan Reitman 
    • Peter James
  • Written: David Cronenberg
  • Starring: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik, Barry Baldaro, Camil Ducharme, Hanka Posnanska
  • Music: Unknown
  • Cinematography: Robert Saad
  • Editing: Patrick Dodd
  • Studio:
    • Canadian Film Development Corporation  
    • Cinépix 
    • DAL Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Cinépix Film Properties  
    • Trans American Films  
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Astral Video  
    • Avalanche Home Entertainment  
    • C/FP Video  
    • CIC Video  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • Vestron Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 10 October 1975 (Canada) 
    • 6 July 1976 (United States)
  • Running Time: 87 minutes
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English

Shivers (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites; alternate titles: The Parasite Murders, They Came from Within, and Frissons for the French Canadian distribution) is a 1975 Canadian science fiction body horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg.  Cronenberg won "Best Director" at the 1975 Sitges Film Festival.

Dr. Emil Hobbes is conducting unorthodox experiments with parasites for use in transplants, however, he believes that humanity has become over-rational and lost contact with its flesh and its instincts, so the effects of the organism he actually develops is a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease.  Once implanted, it causes uncontrollable sexual desire in the host.  I know, Cronenberg making a film with some sort of weird sexual element in it is so unlike him.

Hobbes implants the parasites in his teen-aged mistress, who promiscuously spreads them throughout the ultra-modern apartment building outside Montreal, where they live.  Hobbes, unable to undo the damage he caused, kills his mistress and then commits suicide.  The police are called and the crime looks to be open and shut.

As the story develops, one of Hobbes' mistress' sexual partners begins to feel ill and returns from work.  Here we see the parasite emerge from its host and escape into the building where it emerges and attacks a number of people.  The story takes a quick pace here where the community's resident physician, Roger St. Luc uncovers something of the research that Hobbes had been working on.  St. Luc encounters an elderly resident who has been attacked and burned by the parasite.  St. Luc, along with his assistant and girlfriend, Nurse Forsythe, move the elderly residents to their room.  They attempt to stop the parasite infestation before it overwhelms the city's population.

Instructing the elderly couple to wait and lock themselves in, St. Luc continues to the basement where the residents told him they had disposed of the parasite.  St. Luc is attacked by a caretaker and manages to defeat the caretaker by bashing in his skull.  Forsythe leaves the safety of the elderly residents' room and continues after St. Luc, where she is attacked, but is rescued by St. Luc.  Meanwhile upstairs it is clear the parasite has spread the infection and more and more of the residents start to act out.  The scene closes with the elderly couple's apartment broken into by the infected.  Downstairs the security guard is infected and the auctioneer showing the apartment is slowly entrapping other unsuspecting guests.

St. Luc escapes to the parking garage and Forsythe is attacked by an infected resident.  St. Luc appears to rescue her and get her to his car.  However as they attempt to crash through the gate to the parking garage another car rams them.  St. Luc helps Forsythe free and they escape to a remote area in the resident block.  At this stage Forsythe starts to act out showing that she too has become infected.

St. Luc is forced to leave her and forge on to escape but at every turn he is trapped.  Eventually he finds himself trapped in the swimming pool and he is attacked and eventually infected.  The closing scene is one of the residents happily exiting the residential block in their cars.  The viewer is left to believe that Hobbes' plan to infect the world is under way.

Sex Crazed Old People!

Parasite (1982)

  • Original Title: Parasite 3D
  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Charles Band
  • Produced:
    • Charles Band 
    • Richard Marcus 
    • Michael Wolf 
    • Irwin Yablans
  • Written:
    • Alan J. Adler 
    • Michael Shoob 
    • Frank Levering
  • Starring: Robert Glaudini, Demi Moore, Luca Bercovici, James Davidson, Al Fann, Tom Villard, Scott Thomson, Cherie Currie, Vivian Blaine, James Cavan, Joannelle Nadine Romero, Freddy Moore, Natalie May
  • Music: Richard Band
  • Cinematography: Mac Ahlberg
  • Editing: Brad Arensman
  • Studio: Embassy Pictures
  • Distributed:
    • Embassy Pictures  
    • Wizard Video  
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Cult Video  
    • Entertainment in Video  
    • New World-Mutual  
    • Paramount Home Video  
    • Shadow Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 12 March 1982 (USA)
  • Running Time: 85 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English


One thing is for certain, MMTV would have much less to talk about if the world were denied Charles Band.  Parasite is a 1982 horror/science fiction film starring Demi Moore in her first major film role.

In the near future, an atomic disaster has reduced the world to poverty.  Instead of a government, America is run by an organization called the Merchants, who exploit the degenerate remains of society.  In order to keep control of the populace, the Merchants force Dr. Paul Dean to create a new life form, a parasite that feeds on its host.  Realizing the deadly potential of such a being, Dean escapes the Merchants with the parasite, infecting himself in the process.  Now on the run, he travels from town to town, studying the parasite so that he can find a way to destroy it, all the while keeping one step ahead of a Merchant named Wolf who is hunting for him.  While resting in a desert town, he is attacked by a gang of hooligans led by Ricus, a former slave of the Merchants.  The gang steal a silver canister containing the parasite, not realizing what it is, and it escapes and infects one of the members.  Meanwhile, Paul befriends a pretty young lemon grower named Patricia Wells, who promises to help him destroy the escaped parasite.  Ricus, trying to save the life of his friend, comes to Paul for help, only to be confronted by Wolf.  Patricia, Paul, and Ricus manage to evade Wolf, but when they return, the parasite has spread to another member and grown into a fleshy worm with a mouthful of deadly teeth.  Ricus becomes a turncoat and attempts to help, but ends up getting killed by Wolf.  A friendly diner owner, named Collins, comes to aid the group.  After Patricia helps kill the parasite bonded to Paul, which they electrocute, the worm attacks Wolf who is then blown up by Patricia, Paul, and Collins.

Band, Charles Band–Maker of movies, killer of dreams.


The Deadly Spawn (1983)

  • Genre: Sci-Fi – Horror
  • Directed: Douglas McKeown
  • Produced:
    • Ted A. Bohus 
    • John Dods 
    • Ron Giannotto 
    • Jonathan Neil Harris 
    • Susan Harris 
    • Rita Hildebrandt 
    • Tim Hildebrandt 
    • Jeff Kimelman
  • Written:
    • Ted A. Bohus 
    • John Dods 
    • Douglas McKeown 
    • Tim Sullivan
  • Starring: Charles George Hildebrandt, Tom DeFranco, Richard Lee Porter, Jean Tafler, Karen Tighe, James L. Brewster, Elissa Neil, Ethel Michelson, John Schmerling, Judith Mayes
  • Music:
    • Paul Cornell 
    • Michael Perilstein 
    • Kenneth Walker
  • Cinematography: Harvey M. Birnbaum
  • Editing: Marc Harwood
  • Studio: Filmline
  • Distributed:
    • 21st Century Film Corporation  
    • Continental Video  
    • Synapse Films  
    • Cinema Group Home Video  
    • VEC  
    • Video One Canada Ltd.
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 22 April 1983 (USA)
  • Running Time: 81 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The Deadly Spawn is a 1983 science fiction horror film directed by Douglas McKeown and starring Charles George Hildebrandt.  In some territories, the film's title was changed to Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn or The Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn in an attempt to cash in on the worldwide success of the Ridley Scott 1979 film Alien.

It follows the story of a crash-landed alien that finds refuge in the basement of a house and grows to monstrous proportions, eating those unlucky enough to venture down.  A handful of teenagers try to survive the onslaught of the creature and its young.

Two campers are nearby when a meteor falls to Earth.  When they go to investigate, they are attacked and eaten by a bizarre life form that emerges from the crashed rock.  Nearby the crash site is a large house located on a rural plot of land.  The house is the home of Sam and Barb, and their two children, high school–age Pete and his younger brother Charles.  Visiting are Aunt Millie and Uncle Herb. 

Sam and Barb rise before anybody else is awake; they have an unspecified trip planned, which Barb hopes can be put off because of the incessant rainstorm.  Sam insists, and he goes downstairs to check the basement for flooding.  When Sam goes into the basement, he is eaten by the bizarre monstrosity.  Barb suffers the same fate when she goes down to see what happened to Sam.  Aunt Millie is awakened by screaming, but she attributes it to the horror movie that Charles is watching on TV in his room.  When Aunt Millie returns to call Charles to breakfast, he surprises her by wearing a scary mask and costume and setting off flash powder when she opens the door.  Pete fancies himself a scientist, and he sets up a study date with three classmates, Ellen, Frankie, and Kathy.  Aunt Millie has plans to have lunch with her mother, Bunny.  Uncle Herb, who is a psychologist, is interested in talking with Charles about his interest in the macabre.  Herb asks Charles how real the monsters are to him, and if he ever thinks he'll see one in real life.

Uncle Herb falls asleep in the living room, and Aunt Millie heads over to her mother's house to help set up the luncheon.  An electrician arrives to investigate a problem with the circuit breaker box in the basement of the house, and Charles sees an opportunity to scare somebody.  Slipping on his mask, he creeps down into the basement, which is flooded with several inches of water.  But he discovers the basement is swarming with small tadpole-like creatures, the size of small fish.  Charles follows them silently until he finds the electrician's body in a corner, with hundreds of the smaller creatures feasting on it.  The creatures are all of varying sizes, from the small fish-sized tadpoles, to arm-sized worms, and there is a huge one, presumably the original, that has developed three different heads.  The smaller ones seem to be spawn given off by the adult monster.  The creatures have no eyes, and Charles discovers they are sensitive to sound.  The large three-headed creature almost eats him when he snaps his fingers.  Adding to the horror, he sees Barb's disembodied head lying on the cement floor, partially consumed by spawn, and realizes that the creatures have killed his parents.  Charles stands motionless against a basement wall.

Meanwhile, Ellen and Frankie have discovered one of the creatures dead on the way over to the house.  Frankie hypothesizes that the creature could be from outer space, but Pete is hostile to that idea and dismisses it as ignorance.  Ellen reminds Pete that to make suppositions, scientists must have some imagination.

At Bunny's house, Millie arrives and helps her set up for her guests; Bunny is unaware that the spawn have reached the house and are lurking in her kitchen.  One of them gets into her food processor, tainting the vegetable sauce she is making.  When her guests arrive, all of them older ladies, they are horrified when they taste the sauce with the dead spawn in it, and the arm-sized creatures suddenly come at them from all angles, biting at fingers and toes, latching onto their legs and arms like small leeches.  The women fight back and smash and kill a number of the creatures, all of them barely escaping with their lives in Millie's car.

Back at the house, Pete, Ellen and Frankie seek out Uncle Herb to get his opinion on the strange creature they've found.  They find Herb's body in the living room, with hundreds of spawn eating him from the inside out.  The three-headed adult creature confronts them in the hallway, and they run upstairs to Charles's bedroom.  Charles, who understands that the creature will chase after them because of the noise they are making, distracts it with a radio, which it eats.  Before the creature can find Charles and kill him, the doorbell rings—Kathy has finally arrived at the house.  Pete and the others try to warn her from an upstairs window, but she doesn't hear them and goes into the house anyway.  The monster nearly grabs her in the hallway outside Charles' bedroom, but she escapes its huge mouth.

Desperate to summon help, the teens devise a plan: they will make a dash for Pete's bedroom, where there is a telephone, and they'll call for help.  But the monster ambushes them in the hallway.  Pete runs to another room, Frankie and Kathy run upstairs to the attic, while Ellen stays in Charles' bedroom and slams the door.  The creature, attracted by her shouting, knocks the door down and rushes at her.  Before Ellen can escape out the window, the monster bites her head off and her headless body falls out into the front yard of the house.

Pete climbs out onto the roof and sees Ellen's body on the ground below.  He also notices his parents car, still in the garage, meaning they never left.  Kathy and Frankie see Ellen from the attic window, too, and Pete eventually climbs in through the small opening.  He is in shock and is delirious, telling them "Ellen's really scared."  When he tries to open the barricaded door, Frankie tries to stop him but Pete becomes unhinged, fighting with Frankie and screaming for Ellen.  Frankie knocks him unconscious, but it's too late, his shouting attracts the creature.  Fortunately, Charles has concocted a plan.  Rushing to his bedroom, he assembles a hollow head full of flash powder, embedding a frayed electrical cord in the explosive material.

As the creature advances on Frankie and Kathy, Kathy is hysterical and screaming.  Charles rushes up the stairs and tells them to be quiet, then he baits the creature with the fake head.  At first it refuses to eat it, until Charles gets the idea to scream.  The monster immediately devours the head; with the dangling power cord hanging just outside its mouth.  Using extension cords, Charles lures the creature closer and closer until he is close enough to an electrical outlet to plug it in.  However, one of the arm-sized spawn creatures lands on his right shoulder from the above rafter and begins biting into him.  Charles is forced to use a screwdriver to stab at the spawn attached to his shoulder until the three-headed mother spawn approaches and inadvertently eats the wounded spawn creature from Charles' shoulder, thus freeing him.  Charles manages to get at the extension cord and plugs it into an outlet, and the three-headed spawn creature instantly explodes in a gory shower of alien blood and body parts all over the attic interior.

The threat no longer a secret, a massive hunt for the spawn has been mobilized at the house and the surrounding areas as dozens of townspeople converge on the area.  Aunt Millie arrives back at the house and cares for the wounded and shaken Pete and Charles as best she can, while policemen and volunteers scour the surrounding woods and bushes for spawn, which they stun with cattle prods or stab with shovels, picks and axes.  The creatures are dumped onto various bonfires that the locals set, and are disposed of, including the remains of the three-headed eight-foot mother spawn.  Frankie and Kathy are also shaken but alive, and are taken away in an ambulance.

In the final scene, several hours later, night falls.  The house, now deserted except for a posted patrolman, seems to have been cleared of all the aliens—that is, until the patrolman hears a rumbling in the ground.  It seems as if an earthquake is hitting, until the entire hillside next to the house erupts with the head of a gigantic spawn, even larger than the house itself.

All the parts of Alien that sucked, nothing less and nothing more.


Meatball Machine (2005)

  • Original Title: Mîtobôru mashin
  • Genre: Action – Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed:
    • Yudai Yamaguchi 
    • Jun'ichi Yamamoto
  • Produced: Yukihiko Yamaguchi
  • Written:
    • Jun'ya Katô 
    • Yudai Yamaguchi 
    • Yukihiko Yamaguchi 
    • Jun'ichi Yamamoto
  • Starring: Issei Takahashi, Aoba Kawai, Kenichi Kawasaki, Shôichirô Masumoto, Shôjirô Suzuki, Toru Tezuka, Ayano Yamamoto
  • Music: Unknown
  • Cinematography:
    • Shinji Kugimiya 
    • Shu G. Momose
  • Editing: Unknown
  • Studio:
    • King Record Co. 
    • NTT Learning System
  • Distributed:
    • Bio-Tide Films  
    • King Record Co.  
    • 4Digital Media  
    • Asian Crush  
    • Digital Media Rights  
    • TLA Releasing
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 14 October 2005 (Japan) 
    • 1 April 2006 (USA)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: Japan
  • Language: Japanese

Meatball Machine is based on a 1999 film of the same name written, produced and directed by Jun'ichi Yamamoto. The 70 minute theatrical version was released in Japan on May 22, 1999 and starred Toshihisa Watanabe, Akiko Sasaki and Rino Sōma.  The special effects, special makeup effects and moldmaking for the NecroBorgs were done by noted effects artist Yoshihiro Nishimura who would go on to do effects for The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police.  The DVD was released in Japan on February 7, 2007.  The USA version of the DVD with English subtitles came out June 5, 2007.  The DVD releases also contain the original 1999 version of Meatball Machine edited down to a 13 minute short, a making-of featurette and another short Reject or Death which expands on the side plot of the scientist father and his daughter.

Yōji is a young lonely factory worker who falls for an equally lonely girl co-worker, Sachiko, but is unable to tell her of his interest.  After he is assaulted in a theater by a crossdresser, Yōji finds what looks like an alien insect and hides it in his room.  The next night, he comes across Sachiko being sexually attacked by another fellow worker.  He attempts to come to her aid but is beaten.  Sachiko feels sorry for him and returns with him to his apartment.  During this encounter, Sachiko is attacked by the alien object which penetrates her and turns her into a bio-mechanical monster, a NecroBorg.  These parasites take over human bodies and use their flesh to create weapons which they use to fight each other.  Yōji is also infected and the plot eventually leads to a showdown fight to the death between the two would-be lovers.  A side plot concerns a father who is out to kill the NecroBorgs who have also infected his daughter.

Some reviews called the film a mediocre rip-off of Shinya Tsukamoto's classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man but the Severed Cinema reviewer calls Meatball Machine the superior of the two movies, "a super-gory hodgepodge tongue-in-cheek ultraviolent video game monster mash misfit movie with ... charm and silly sweetness".  Another reviewer, however, labels it "a resume reel" and "a difficult movie to defend" although the Dreamin' Demon review says it is "one of the more entertaining B-Movies I have watched in a while."  A further review praises the special effects and makeup effects but not the movie.  Two of the reviewers mention that the film's plot of doomed lovers who cannot connect can be taken as a metaphor for the difficulties and dangers inherent in expressing feelings and how emotional issues can be transformed into something monstrous.

But if you like Tokyo Gore Police then you will love this.


The Thaw (2009)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi – Thriller
  • Directed: Mark A. Lewis
  • Produced:
    • Trent Carlson 
    • Sidney Chiu 
    • Blake Corbet 
    • Ian Goggins 
    • Stephen Hegyes 
    • Rob Neilson 
    • Brad Pelman 
    • Andria Spring 
    • Mary Anne Waterhouse 
    • Ki Wight 
    • Shawn Williamson
  • Written:
    • Mark A. Lewis 
    • Michael Lewis
  • Starring: Val Kilmer, Alexandra Staseson, Brad Dryborough, Greg Rogers, William B. Davis, Garry Chalk, Peter Kelamis, Brenda Crichlow, Anne Marie DeLuise, John Callander, Lamech Kadloo, Kyle Schmid, Steph Song, Aaron Ashmore
  • Music: Michael Neilson
  • Cinematography: Jan Kiesser
  • Editing: Rob Neilson
  • Studio:
    • Anagram Pictures  
    • Etch Media  
    • Artifact Films  
    • Brightlight Pictures  
    • Téléfilm Canada  
    • Corus Entertainment  
    • The Harold Greenberg Fund  
    • Thaw Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Ghosthouse Underground  
    • Lionsgate Home Entertainment  
    • Maple Pictures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 1 September 2009 (Canada) 
    • 6 October 2009 (USA)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country:
    • USA 
    • Canada
  • Language: English

The film begins with a video documentary by Dr. David Kruipen, a research scientist in the Canadian Arctic.  This is followed by a flashback to when David, his assistant Jane and two other researchers tranquilize a polar bear, then discover the frozen remains of a wooly mammoth.

They transport the polar bear to their research station.  David calls his daughter Evelyn and pleads with her to visit the research station.  Their relationship has been strained since the recent death of her mother.  Meanwhile, a group of students, Ling, Freddie and Adam, are selected to join David's research team; Evelyn decides to come.

Days later, David's research team begins feeling the effects of a strange illness, and David tells helicopter pilot Bart not to bring his daughter Evelyn to the station.  However, Evelyn insists, Bart ignores David's orders, and brings her to the station along with the students.  In the meantime, Jane shoots and apparently kills David and another researcher.  The students discover the body of the polar bear, and Bart is bitten by a bug while touching it.

Evelyn is awakened in the middle of the night by an ATV approaching the station.  When she goes to investigate, Jane falls from the helicopter.  Jane has destroyed the helicopter's control panel, eliminating any immediate chance of escape.  Ling wakes up with many bug bites on her face and torso, and Jane dies in Evelyn's arms.  Realizing Ling is sick, Freddie calls in a helicopter to rescue Ling.

Attempting to find David, Evelyn and Adam discover eggs in the brain of the mammoth.  Assuming her father has been infected, Evelyn and Adam deduce that something has made the group sick.  Evelyn decides to cancel the rescue helicopter and quarantine the group until a better-prepared team can rescue them.  Freddie, discovering he too is infected, goes berserk and destroys the radio.

The bite on Bart's arm is infected and he has Adam and Evelyn amputate his arm at the elbow.  The group decides to destroy the facility and wait things out in the helicopter.  Ling is attacked by bugs who have made their way in through the ventilation system.  Bart discovers that the amputation was useless as his upper arm is now showing signs of infection; he opts to stay behind with Ling.  They deliberately overdose on morphine and fall asleep as the bugs swarm over them.

Freddie comes running out, refusing to be checked for infection, then turns on Evelyn and David.  As he is about to shoot Evelyn, he is shot from behind by David.  David insists they destroy the research station.  Evelyn finds a video David recorded and discovers that David has intentionally infected himself, preparing to set the bugs loose to teach humanity a lesson about global warming's effects.

As a rescue helicopter comes to pick up David, Evelyn and Adam are locked up by David, but they escape.  Adam tries to hang on to a helicopter skid but falls to the ground.  As the helicopter starts flying away, Evelyn shoots at it, causing it to crash into a building previously doused in gasoline.  David and the helicopter crew die in the resulting fire; Evelyn finds Adam, who dies in her arms.

The following day another rescue team arrives, finding the destruction and Evelyn, the sole survivor.  Later, as a radio station airs information based on Evelyn's reports, a hunter calls his dog away from a dead bird the dog has been eating.  Bugs emerge from the bird's body.  The closing scene shows the hunter's truck heading towards a large city.

"Ice", the eighth episode of The X-Files did it better but without Kilmer.

 

Sources:

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