- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

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

Online dummies

One of the creepier plot devices in horror films, a ventriloquist dummy that comes to life, rears its wooden head in the new movie “Dead Silence,” currently in theaters.

Its complimentary Web site (www.deadsilencemovie.net/) allows visitors to enter dead ventriloquist Mary Shaw’s workshop loaded with a collection of maniacal miniature mannequins shelved on a wall in the back. One of them is in the forefront of the screen with its green eyes moving while a chorus of moans and orchestral moments, with a slight ode to “Halloween,” set the mood.

A trio of interactive design elements give visitors a memorable experience within the film’s online realm.

First, horror fans can watch restricted multimedia content, after they provide a name, birthdate and ZIP code. That magical big brother database I often mention in this column confirms their age and allows them access to some nightmare-inducing images, an extended video clip and four more, R-rated streaming segments.

Next, one of the pint-sized stars can be part of a message sent to a pal in the Dumm-e-mail section that uses the same sort of slick audio technology found in a recent online promotion for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” DVD release.

After the sender selects from one of the three dummies and a background, he can either type in words that are magically translated into the talking dummy’s voice, can call an 800 phone number and his own voice message is infused with the ghoul, or he can select from some prerecorded messages.

The puppet’s mouth is in sync with the dialogue and his eyes follow the user’s mouse cursor to add to the creep factor.

Finally, some target practice can be found under the Game section as a player, armed with a shotgun, once again steps into Miss Shaw’s workroom. Through a first-person perspective, he plugs away at rows of dolls that transform into horrific spirits and try to attack the shooter.

Cyber chopper trip

The John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence-fueled biker film “Wild Hogs” continues its successful ride at the box office, and its official Web site (https://wildhogs.movies.go.com/) offers a bit of fun for the fan of high-powered, two-wheeled transportation.

Specifically the Games & Activities section offers a quartet of mindless fare to promote the hijinks of the quartet’s fateful road trip.

Under Activities, visitors will find a 10-question, multiple-choice quiz to determine which Wild Hog personality they most resemble and a “Build Your Hog” feature to construct the ultimate mean machine.

Mechanics choose from frames, engines, handlebars, wheels, body styles, paint jobs and exhaust pipes to assemble a bike. Appropriate sound effects are heard during the process. Once completed, it can be printed out or saved as a photo file.

For Games, visitors first get a side-scrolling, driving adventure called Hogs on the Run that requires a player outrun the dangerous biker gang the Del Fuegos. He must maintain high speeds and avoid crows, bouncing tires and running into a slow RV, all of which will damage the chopper.

Also, Burn Rubber is an exercise where the computer user spins the rear tire of a hog, with front brakes firmly applied, and tries to stay on the bike as long as he can. Players balance the machine with the left and right arrow keys and keep a silver orb under the tachometer in the middle of a meter. Lose balance and the rider flies off into the dirt.

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 to jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com). Mr. Szadkowski 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/romper room.htm.

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