All our favorite 1990s films are getting sequels and reboots, making us look back with rose-colored glasses on the earnest, un-ironic excitement we felt for these movies back when they first came out. BUT the 1990s were a time when official movie websites and breathlessly devoted fan pages were the norm -- and most of these websites are still out there, unchanged by time and spectacularly crappy by modern standards.
Sure, we remember the release of Independence Day and The Lost World: Jurassic Park as being a uniquely magical time of totally warranted youthful enthusiasm, but a quick look at the websites we all made back then proves that the Internet fan culture of 20 years ago was just as goddamn silly as it is today.
Jurassic World comes out this summer, marking the first Jurassic Park sequel in 14 years and the first sequel in any series to just combine the titles of the previous films. Oddly, Jurassic Park never had a stronger Internet presence than it did in 1997, on the eve of the release of The Lost World. Universal built an elaborate official website, disguised as an InGen employee portal (the dinosaur-cloning company from the movies) peppered with hidden Easter eggs about the upcoming film. It's shockingly boring, even by late '90s Internet standards, and it is 100 percent still up and available for viewing for anyone who feels the need to spend hours hunting for teaser content from a movie that came out 18 summers ago.
An actual screenshot from the official website of one of the biggest action-adventure films of all time.
Seriously, try clicking around. It is exhaustingly well-constructed -- there's an HR section with an employee handbook just as dull and barren of dinosaurs as the one for your real job. There's a "Lost And Found" page with only two entries: "Lost -- Spanner wrench used to raise and lower Catwalk -- contact Ted Garvey. Found -- Roll of rare Indian Head nickels -- contact Kevin Davis." They went all-out constructing a thrilling Jurassic Park universe full of memorable characters like the Indian Head nickel-loving Kevin Davis, who apparently kind of sucks at his job:
The marketing section has fluff like "Kudos to Megan Odell, whose brilliant ad campaign has carried those stuffed Compsognathus dolls all the way to the bank." You can also head to the Systems section and read everyone's super boring emails, which are just out there for anyone to see. That might be another piece of subtle universe-building, as Jurassic Park has always had trouble with security.
The Lost World website stands as a testament to how strong the hype surrounding that first Jurassic Park sequel was -- they could afford to put up the most boring shit in the world (which they did) and people were so fucking excited to see more dinosaurs that they ate it up. Again, this website isn't archived -- it totally still exists on Universal's servers, which means that either they're preparing to revamp it for the impending release of Jurassic World or that they've utterly forgotten it exists.
Either that or Dennis Nedry made sure it could never be deleted as a final piece of revenge.
20th Century Fox
Today, virtually any movie that has any sort of fan base will instantly spawn an ocean of fan fiction, a disproportionate amount of which will be uncomfortably "erotic." Until the dawn of the Internet, we were mostly spared from that unique form of expression. But luckily for us, Independence Day was released just at the right time in Internet history to have an entire fan fiction site dedicated to an alternate take on the film set in Britain, heroically titled ID4UK.
Don't laugh. Ben Towse is now in the House Of Lords.
As you might have heard, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich is currently making explosion noises with his mouth in preparation for Independence Day 2, so there's literally been no better time than right now to revisit this immaculate piece of literature that is absolutely still available on the frozen timeline of horrible decisions that is the Internet.
Essentially, ID4UK is identical to the original film, except with British landmarks blowing up instead of American ones. Also, the whole July 4th thing (you know, both the title and theme of the film) is totally lost, because Independence Day is 100 percent not celebrated in any fashion in England, for pretty much the same reason that the day the War Of 1812 started isn't a national holiday in America. However, Bill Pullman's President Thomas Whitmore still plays a role in ID4UK, routinely calling the British prime minister to keep him updated on the situation in America (a phrase here meaning "relaying the plot of the actual film").
The queen disappears into a helicopter and presumably returns, guns a-blazin', in the climax.
Sadly, ID4UK was never finished. It was abandoned and left standing to confound future generations like the monolith in 2001. The story ends with a haunting "To Be Continued" and a link to the author's unofficial Frasier fan site, as was custom for all websites in the 1990s.
Along with a broken hit counter.
View Askew Productions
Kevin Smith recently announced that he's writing a sequel to Mallrats, and unless he's just writing it for himself and has no plans to ever actually film it, we can assume that more mall-based adventures for Jason Lee, that London twin, Joey Lauren Adams, and a bunch of other people we never saw again are coming soon. Truly, never has a movie about twenty-somethings hanging out in a mall been more relevant than 2015, a year in which nobody goes to malls anymore.
View Askew Productions
We still make fun of Ben Affleck though. So there's that.
The official website for the original Mallrats still exists, both as a time capsule of when the future was blindingly bright for Kevin Smith and as a shrine to Kevin Smith's inexplicable hatred of DVDs and clear preference for LaserDiscs.
Kevin Smith's hatred of DVD as a format was well documented in his early career, and is preserved here on the Mallrats official website for all time. For example, he originally recorded commentary for Chasing Amy on LaserDisc, which he partially used as a soapbox to shit all over the very concept of DVD. However, when Chasing Amy was eventually released on DVD, they just used the same commentary track. So one of the first things Smith says in the DVD commentary track for Chasing Amy is, "Fuck DVD." Apparently Smith just prefers both his hockey jerseys and his physical video formats to be three or four times larger than necessary.
Did a DVD call him an asshole or something?
So the site has several instances of Kevin Smith attempting to rouse fans into getting a LaserDisc release for Mallrats, even imploring them to fax the distributor, which is one of the most precious sentences ever written.
Go yell things outside their building and hold up signs!
In case you haven't heard, Hollywood recently determined that enough time has passed to move forward on an I Know What You Did Last Summer remake. It's been almost 20 years since the original, and all four of its stars have quietly retired to television, including Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., who has spent the intervening years aging like a president.
He also changed his name to Friedrich King Methuselah.
Luckily, a fan page for the original I Know What You Did Last Summer (and its brilliantly titled sequel I STILL Know What You Did Last Summer) still exists in archived form to help you get amped up for the reboot. It has lain dormant and untouched beneath the sands of the Internet like Indiana Jones if he had stayed in the Well Of The Souls. There, preserved for all time, is a free-speech argument that raged some time between the afternoon of Nov. 10, 1998, and the morning of Nov. 11, 1998.
Good thing nothing even remotely comparable happens anywhere on the web today.
Apparently, some jokers got a hold of the webmaster's guestbook and wreaked havoc, which very nearly resulted in the I Still Know What You Did Last Summer website being taken down for good. We're glad this did not happen, as it would have robbed future generations of fan speculation over a 17-year-old horror sequel with a 7 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Spoiler: The secret is that it sucks.
This same dedicated follower of '90s teen horror made fan pages for Scream, Scream 2, and a partial page for Scream 3. He apparently gave up on that one, which makes sense, because that's exactly what the filmmakers did. This hero also correctly guessed the twist ending of I Still Know and that there would eventually be a Scream 4 with all-new actors (that second one was only partially true).
He even had a link to supposedly send an email to Jennifer Love Hewitt, which we can only assume meant that he had to suddenly abandon his official I Still Know What You Did Last Summer administration duties because of some kind of protective order.
It is important to note that "Jennifer" is in quotes.
The remake of The Crow finally has a new Eric Draven in the form of Boardwalk Empire's Jack Huston, so now's a perfect time to check out some vintage Crow fan sites, like this one, which was written by a person who somehow managed to be incredibly enthusiastic about The Crow while apparently failing to understand the movie on every possible level.
He/she nailed the color scheme, but after that, everything fell apart.
The Crow has a relentlessly depressing view of life and death -- it treats both as being equally burdening and inevitable, and even the deaths of the film's most odious villains are given emotional weight. It's a pulpy navel-gazing action movie that was accidentally made more significant by the death of its star. But the webmaster of TheCrow.info had a slightly different reading -- The Crow is basically Death Wish if Charles Bronson were a ghost clown with a bird sidekick: "Although The Crow is a very violent film, it is basically a love story. It says that love knows no bounds and can even reach out from beyond the grave. The violence is entirely justified -- Eric is not killing just for the sake of it, he is seeking revenge for what was done to him and his beloved Shelley."
"Also, Winston Zeddemore shows up to try to ghostbust him."
That's admittedly not very far off the mark, but things go completely off the rails just one paragraph later: "There are many comic moments in the film, some of which are histerically [sic] funny, but at the same time also sinister. Much of the 'comedy' comes from Eric and his very theatrical appearance, stance, and movement, while at the same time being dark and gothic."
It is impossible to decode the meaning of that last sentence, or what film inspired its construction. Because you certainly wouldn't arrive at that conclusion after watching The Crow unless your sense of humor can be described as "diseased." There are funny moments in The Crow, but Brandon Lee's appearance is absolutely not meant to be one of them. Maybe this was a subtle prediction of future comic-cons, because everyone who dressed up like The Crow after the film's release was an avatar of unintentional comedy.
New Line Cinema
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the legendarily ridiculous sequel to the dumb but enjoyable Mortal Kombat, is perhaps the only direct-to-video movie in history that was actually released in theaters. If you've never seen it -- which is likely the case, as it is a terrible movie that was released two decades ago -- try to imagine the worst episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ever produced, inexplicably lasting for 90 minutes. Then hire someone to break into your house and set all of your belongings on fire. That's approximately what it is like to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
New Line Cinema
Also, this happens. No, we're not going to explain it.
Wisely (or unwisely, depending on how you choose to view things through the lens of history), Warner Bros. is rebooting the Mortal Kombat film franchise, a process that has already begun via two seasons of an Internet series. There has literally been no better time than now to revisit the official Mortal Kombat: Annihilation website (archived for all time by the anonymous heroes of the Internet) and read the hilariously depressing call to arms that was desperately issued in a vain attempt to rescue the film's cancerous box office receipts.
The whole thing reads like a 12-year-old boy's response to harsh criticism of the epic 12-part Mortal Kombat story he wrote on the backs of a bunch of old math worksheets. It is utterly cringeworthy, made more so by the fact that this is the official movie website.
New Line Cinema
This is the literary equivalent of open sobbing.
Let's dissect the above passage. First, they hammer on Rayden's "sleeker, cooler" new look, which you may recognize as two words that catastrophically out-of-touch people use to vaguely describe something they think young people will enjoy. Also, the filmmakers somehow determined that "sleeker and cooler than Christopher Lambert" translated to "James Remar with a buzzcut." This is incorrect.
New Line Cinema
The creative minds behind Mortal Kombat: Annihilation then posit the bold question: Sindel's sonic blast "destroyed a whole canyon of ancient temples. Did you get this?" Both the intent of and the expected response to this question cannot possibly be determined.
It rambles on and on, a quagmire of passive-aggression pleading for someone to acknowledge all the fan service they forced into the film. If you've got a few extra minutes, read through the entire thing; it's truly remarkable (again, and we cannot stress this enough, this was the official website for a major Hollywood production). It ends with the filmmakers straight-up begging people who had already seen the movie to go see it again, and save all of the careers thrust into grievous jeopardy by their involvement in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Also be sure to check out 6 Movies That Didn't Realize They Let The Villain Win and 5 'Jurassic Park' Plot Holes With Horrifying Implications.