- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2006

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

The Net Has Eyes

The remaking of 1970s horror films continued with Friday’s release of “The Hills Have Eyes” from 20th Century Fox. Unlike the Wes Craven film from 1977, this violent movie has the promotional push of a fairly standard and occasionally creepy Web site (www2.foxsearchlight.com/the hillshaveeyes/home.html).

An opening montage of quickly cut video loads while a Geiger counter does its noisy job and “California Dreamin’ ” plays in the background. A desert environment has sign icons that highlight normal production information, a high-definition QuickTime trailer (in three formats) and a photo gallery featuring images tacked to a bulletin board.

The major reason to stop by the site can be found under the 3D Game section and Run for the Hills, which takes a player on a claustrophobic journey through a maze of mine shafts as he tries to reach the surface and escape from lumbering mutants.

This scary first-person shooting experience can load in three sizes, depending on the player’s connection speed. It uses keyboard commands and the mouse and is embellished with spooky sound effects and plenty of tight corners to deliver a mini-Doom-like experience.

Using a shotgun with unlimited ammo, a gridded map and a flashlight that slowly runs out of energy, the player must maneuver through barely lit corridors to find batteries and kill mutants to stay alive long enough to find an exit from the underground haunted house.

The Vault rocks

Wolfgang’s Vault (www.wolfgangs vault.com) is the place to view and buy incredible photography, poster art and promotional material highlighting some of the best bands from the 1960s to 1980s.

Using a collection culled from rock promoter Bill Graham’s estate of memorabilia, entrepreneur Bill Sagan set up the site, aptly named using Mr. Graham’s birth moniker (Wolfgang Grajonca), to give fans some incredible imagery and, obviously, make tons of money.

Visitors who can’t afford to pay $750 for a copy of a Van Halen photo taken by Joseph Sia in 1978 can simply enjoy a stroll through the virtual museum while listening to Vault Radio. The site’s latest addition, Vault Radio gives visitors a free broadcast of musical memories culled from the massive audio archives of shows purchased from the art estate.

The smorgasbord of sound streams at 128k and offers a continuous selection of tracks (roughly 80 to 100) that are changed every Tuesday morning to provide an unbelievable selection from rock history.

The player’s interface lists the name of the artist, song, venue and date it was played and also shows a photo rotating with facts about the performer.

A short list of the music I felt privileged to hear includes George Harrison performing “My Life” at the Los Angeles Forum on Nov. 12, 1974; Cream playing “White Room” at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on Oct. 4, 1968; Elton John pounding out “Honky Tonk Woman” at the Filmore West on Nov. 11, 1970; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing “Wooden Ships” at Roosevelt Speedway on Sept. 8, 1974; and the Grateful Dead playing “Samson and Delilah” at Winterland on Dec. 31,1978.

Lovers of classic rock will not find a better historical source for their favorite music anywhere on the Internet.

Ultraviolence action

Sony Pictures’ “Ultraviolet,” starring Milla Jovovich as a weapon-wielding heroine out to save her mutated race, opened to a lukewarm response last week but will live much longer online thanks to its colorful, interactive Web site (www.sony pictures.com/movies/ultraviolet).

Using an interactive comic-book format peppered with minor animations, sound effects and narration by Miss Jovovich to present part of the science-fiction story, the site also incorporates the Graphic Novel Game into the mix to offer a slick but unforgiving cel-shaded challenge.

A player must kill 10 guards to help free Violet and Dreads to continue their sequential-art journey. Clicking the mouse targets a guard and sets off an online power meter that must be stopped between 80 percent and 99 percent (with another click) to unleash a fatal, and often bloody, blow on the opponent.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washington times.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for The Washington Times’ Web site, where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washingtontimes.com/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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