- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

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

More cyber ‘Saw’

The serial killer Jigsaw spreads holiday “cheer” again this year with another round of life-challenging tests for his victims from “Saw III.” The continuation of Lions Gate Entertainment’s film franchise has become a Halloween event for fans, and the film’s official site (www.saw3.com/index.html) translates the nightmares from the silver screen to the computer screen through a very grisly vision.

Three teeth hung by a metal wire and a bit of creepy music greet visitors, who can choose to look at the film trailer, read a synopsis, download some wallpaper or learn about the locations for the third annual Saw Halloween blood drive, supported by the filmmakers.

OK, so maybe life doesn’t seem so scary at the “Saw III” site, but wait. Visitors who enter their name, date of birth and ZIP code in the Legend of Jigsaw area reveal the rotted meat of the cyber-stop. Visitors approved by the site as 17 years old and older will find a multimedia retrospective of all that the modern-day Dr. Phibes-like murderer has accomplished.

Flashes of mechanical torture devices, low-resolution videos of the victims and the killer’s spooky puppet, screams, lightning sounds, and humans in distress will greet the visitors, all this after a trip to Jigsaw’s design shop, outlined in blood.

A controller pulled from an industrial assembly line offers four buttons to help visitors navigate through the unsettling imagery, which is short on text but full of clips from all of the films and plenty of cries for help.

Each area visited presents enough graphic, mature content to make even a butcher queasy, and each has multiple hot spots to lead visitors down a new path of terror.

Take the case of a laboratory filled with mannequin parts and some video monitors highlighted in “Saw II.” Click on a key to see a death scene. The key also turns on video monitors that when clicked upon lead to, yes, another gross death scene.

Other rooms offer the chance to zoom in on sketches of Jigsaw’s torture devices, while another has a photo gallery from the latest film.

Homer’s horror

The Simpsons are quite the jovial group until Halloween arrives and things get a bit more sinister for America’s favorite cartoon family.

‘Tis the time for the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode, and the series creators present a way for fans to take part in the madness. They can develop a 30-second promotional segment for the show and enter their masterpiece into a sponsor-judged contest for a chance to see their spot on the Fox network and hang out at “The Simpsons” 400th-episode party.

The work begins at the Treehouse of Horror site (www.thesimpsons. com/treehouse), which allows access to a special video-clip editor developed by the animated extraterrestrial Admiral Kang and his sister, Kodos.

Amateur animators use a drag-and-drop timeline to control video, music and special effects as they choose among 21 clips from previous Treehouse episodes, 12 sound tracks and six transition effects. They even can create and insert title cards.

Once finished, they post the clip to the Treehouse site and can view hundreds of other entries. Finished promos must be submitted by tomorrow to be eligible to win.

Fans not interested in the part-time animation job still should stop by the official “Simpsons” Web site (www.thesimpsons.com) for an exploration of Springfield and a special Halloween-themed treat.

A load of information about the show can be found as visitors click on the town’s buildings to find character bios, an episode guide and background on the creators.

Additionally, visitors who are not frightened away by the lightning strikes and ominous laughs of Kang’s minions will appreciate the Zombie Shoot Out found in the Springfield cemetery. The player initially has 10 bullets to use to blast the undead down to their skeletal remains. Take out a knife-wielding Krusty the Clown and get extra ammo.

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, D.C. 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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