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The Ring; Signs, Master of Disguise, Possession, Red Dragon, Spy Kids 2

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last updated 8/6/02
Some movie sites (some official, some not-so-much) are almost like interactive works of art. Others... well, only after they've finished loading do you get to see how crappy they are. What's worth your download time? Read on to find out.

(Know of a website we ought to look at?
Let us know.)


The Ring

Ooh, this is a good one. It reminds me a lot of those creepy, stuffed-to-the-gills-with-fictional-history sites like Memento, Donnie Darko, and The Blair Witch Project. A slight caveat: If you know nothing about the original Japanese movies, you will be pleasantly freaked out and perhaps a little confused, which is a normal reaction to any kind of puzzle. And by "puzzle" I mean "puzzling," not an actual game, because I don't think there is one; it's more like the Blair Witch back-story site than the A.I. murder mystery. If you do know anything about or have seen the Japanese movies, you'll be pleased by how closely the filmmakers have reproduced some of the original elements. Final note: It seems to me that no matter what point you start at on the site--X-rays, "mother," "patient," "child," if you click through any one all the way, you'll eventually see everything. Go through it once and let all the Flash load. Then go through it again, with all the images loaded. Trust me, you'll want to go through twice anyway.


Signs (

AHHHHHH! Okay, this is another hijack-your-screen site, which is an immediate point off in my book. Beyond that, though, it's a pretty cool, loaded site. Features: "Brilliant remixes" of the score; online collectors' cards (I saw these a few months ago--they're of crop circles, hee), the trailer, and a promised online chat with Shyamalan on Monday (8/05).The menu on "Is it a sign?" is pretty cool--it floats down from the "sky" and when you click on it, expands into a cluster of UFO shapes--and gives you a field full of little movies to play. (Sample/hint: if you play the one with the phone-looking-thing--I guess that's the baby monitor in the movie--you have to drag it up to the top of the window, and you'll be treated to some snap-crackle-and-pop alien talk. I guess.)  Downside: I have a 56k modem. This is not a site designed for 56k modems. You will be here a long, long time. Also, the long waits kill the mood. Still, you could play around here for hours. Especially if you have a slow modem.

Master of Disguise

People, I really took a bullet for you on this one. Poor, poor Dana Carvey. He deserves better than this. Anyway. There's a slow-loading, très hokey Flash teaser intro. And then I couldn't get past it. Like, I'm hitting "skip" and all it does is replay the stupid intro ("Dana Carvey IS...") over and over and over. I've heard there's a lot more than meets the eye to this one--someone compared the atmosphere vaguely to Harry Potter (?)--but I'm not willing to listen to that intro one more time to find out.

Okay, you know what? I'm not a quitter. (You guys really owe me for this one.) I managed to pull out the URL the site was trying to reach-- movies/masterofdisguise/nest/nest.html, and you will thank me for that one later--and look, it's "The Disguisey's hidden workshop!" The Disguisey? WTF? Anyway. There's a dozen different things to click on, all of which load as slow as Christmas: Train against the slapping dummy! Hear more "Disguisey sounds"! See more Disguisey disguises! Have your questions answered by the "Ball of Knowledge"! Also, the website's cheery challenge, "Move over, Lon Chaney!," just makes me sad. This whole site makes me sad. I'm gonna go back to the Signs site now.

Possession (

A sort of Flash "teaser," which touches on issues (The Past! The Passion! The Melodrama!) similar to the trailer, but nothing else: "Website coming soon."

Red Dragon

Holy God, could that MPAA pop-up window be any bigger? (VIOLENCE, GRISLY IMAGES, LANGUAGES, SOME NUDITY AND SEXUALITY!! Dude, it's a Hannibal Lecter movie. Greetings from the Land of Duh.) Anyway. Despite a new trailer (in exclusive Streaming Crap format at Yahoo for the moment...grrrrrr) and a new poster, it's basically just got the the same-old Entertainment Weekly photos, the trailer, and a teaser-poster wallpaper: "Official site coming soon." Well, what's this, chopped liver? (Don't answer that.)

Spy Kids 2

Features: Trailer, poster, original site--sweet. It's set up like a spy command center, which is cool, and there's a whole section just for "spy training" games. Also, you could win prizes. Then there's the movie itself--photos, downloads (including the "R.A.L.P.H screenmate"), trailer, cast, and--"gadgets." I have a strange feeling that this is the site that "Master of Disguise" wanted to be.


Just for fun, check out our "exclusive" Chat with Swimfan4u (subtitle: Abuse of a Poorly-Programmed Chatbot).


Feardotcom (
Dammit, I hate Flash sites that take over my computer. You know, they go full-screen--even covering up the task bar at the bottom? So you have to hit control-alt-delete or even the "Start" menu just to get to something else? Yarrr. Feardotcom has one of those sites. And so you're going to get a bit of a rant about it. Also, it's hell to navigate and twice as slow to load. There's plenty of atmosphere and snazzy graphics, but really--there's a "body puzzle" that's kind of disturbing, the standard trailer/screensavers/photo gallery features, and... that's it. Which resulted in the following exclamation over IM to Friend of Digest Valerie:

"Awww, man! This is just like that movie The Ring I've been doing all these pages on, only it's not a videotape, it's a website, and it's not seven days, it's 48 hours. So now, apparently, having gone to this site, I'm gonna die in two days, yada yada yada. Well, at least this means I'll die before the cursed videotape gets me in five days."

In fact, the site keeps a running tally of how long you have to live. Strangely, it took a bit more than half an hour for my 48 hours to run down, at which point the site informed me that I had "lost the game! Start over!" Game? What game? There was a game?

So, in closing, my feeling was that the site was a well-intentioned waste. To be fair, though, it's also really hard to take a horror movie site seriously, scary rumbling noises and all, when you have "Time of My Life" from
Dirty Dancing playing on your MP3 player in the background ("You're the one thing... I can't get enough of..." "URRRRRRRR, YOU HAVE FORTY-SIX HOURS TO LIVE!" "So I'll tell you something... This could be love..." "URRRRRRRRRRRRR!").

Valerie: why are all horror movies threatening to kill their viewers now?

Cleolinda: I just saw a thumbnail of a monster picture and decided to maximize it and--oops, that's just Stephen Rea, my bad

Cleolinda: yeah, I don't know. Maybe it's kinda like those movies in the 50s-60s with nurses on call in the theater in case somebody dropped dead OF THE HORROR

Cleolinda: you know, the horror of a guy in a "mant" suit

Valerie: the horror!

One Hour Photo (
Be warned: It's full of different components that take time to load, but if you're a sucker for well-developed movie sites (the spookier the better), you'll like this one. Unlike Feardotcom, for example, it's wonderfully navigable and cleanly laid out. The centerpiece is a series of 24 flash-animated snapshot sequences--a full roll of film, ha!--set to various clips of weirdly atmospheric music, snippets of dialogue, and Robin Williams' in-character ruminations ("You don't take pictures of things you want to forget"). (Note: Not all 24 are up yet, but a gracious plenty of them are.) I have to say, they've done a really good job of letting you see what this character's like--"I process these photos," he intones gently, eagerly, on the "Abandon" sequence, "as if they were my own." Which is a great work ethic, and yet, in the way he says it, really sad. But then you go to "Reason," and it's his picture flashing all over the page. (Tell us how you really feel, filmmakers!) And then there's "Prey." I think you see where we're going with this. Also, be prepared to look at a lot of pictures of Michael Vartan and Connie Nielsen. Not that that's torture or anything.

Swimfan (
Heeeeee, it's made up to look like a teenage girl's home page. (Lord, what is it with reviewing stalker-movie websites today?) It's the website of "Madison Bell," the Erika Christensen character--a wonderfully cluttered (but not realistically cluttered, if you want to know the truth--the design skills are far too advanced to belong to a real teenage girl) and quick-loading site. Features: one quiz for now ("Madison" loves quizzes, so "she" will post more), a "Which boy do I look cuter with?" poll, poetry (as a former college lit-mag editor, I'll tell you: it isn't good poetry, but I've seen much worse), Madison's properly depressing song dedications, and a photo gallery. You can also add her to your AOL buddy list (!) and sign up for emails from Madison. I took one for the team and signed up for email (I don't use AOL messenger, frankly), and the first one I got was a little discouraging--all about how "I or Fox will not use your personal information." In other words, totally dry and out of character. Maybe once she gets an in-character rip on, it'll get better.

A bunch of features are "coming soon," but right now it opens with a "typing test" (hee!) and the trailer (which is reviewed today on Trailer Park). It shows some signs of nascent creativity, however, so we'll check back later.
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On this page:

The Ring

Master of Disguise
Red Dragon
Spy Kids 2

One Hour Photo