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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Movie spoilers, music recommendations, songs in commercials, dark rides and a movie-villain quiz. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
/ Source: msnbc.com

• Aug. 6, 2004 | 6 a.m. PT

Five-link Friday

• Yesterday I ranted a little about my frustration with “The Village” and its ending. If you’re the kind of person who can’t stand surprises and wants to know a movie’s ending before you see it, is the site for you. It gives away the endings to dozens of films, so if you’ve managed to get this far without knowing what “Rosebud” was in “Citizen Kane,” you can finally find out. Hours of spoiling goodness. (Link via Metafilter.)

• So you like Death Cab for Cutie, and you’re interested in finding other bands like them. Sure, you could ask your friends, or check out recommendations from AllMusic.com or Amazon, but you could also use the very fun and colorful . Type in a band name and the site will pop up other recommendations. (Thanks to Scott!)

• I think I’ve mentioned this site before, but with our recent discussion of commercials, it seems fitting to mention again. keeps a list of songs used in various commercials. Don’t expect the site to be all-inclusive, but it does cover the most popular ones out there, and might help you finally put a title to a tune.

• What’s a dark ride? It’s exactly what it sounds like: The kind of ride at an amusement park, carnival, or fair that takes you through some kind of dark building while riding in a car or other vehicle. While I’m not exactly in the market for a for my backyard, it’s still pretty fun to poke through , which pictures various dark rides that are for sale. In the words of the immortal Homer Simpson: “Carnies built this country -- the carnival part of it, anyway.”

• And just because I haven’t linked to an online quiz in a while, here’s a well-done one: I’m…Hannibal Lecter? Yikes. Pass the Chianti.

• Aug. 5, 2004 | 9:50 a.m. PT

Life in ‘The Village’

First: Did you see our feature where we revealed the winners of our best and worst commercial contest?

Now, on to a new topic: I admit, I was looking forward to M. Night Shyamalan's I love spooky movies, adored "Blair Witch Project" and Shyamalan's "Sixth Sense," and I've often sat through an entire film peeking through hands slapped over my eyes. I purposely avoided reading any reviews of the movie before going to see it — something that's hard to do, when you work as an entertainment editor. I didn't want to be spoiled, as we know say when we mean we didn't want the ending of a movie to be ruined before seeing it.

(And fair warning: If you have not seen "The Village" yet, you might want to bow out of this column now. Come back tomorrow for a spoiler-free Five-link Friday. If you stick around, you've been warned.)

I was incredibly disappointed in "The Village," and I kind of think of myself as its target audience. Like to be scared, attuned to like Shyamalan's way of thinking, don't mind the quirky twists that often pop up in his films.

At first, I was willing to go with "The Village's" otherworldy setting, the old-fashioned language and antique feel Shyamalan seemed to be striving for. The glimpses of the monsters who supposedly lived in the woods were fleeting and scary, the idea that they shunned anything red felt novel and full of chilling possibilities (the blind Ivy, played by Ron Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, has red hair...will she be a victim?).

But then the monsters were revealed, too early...before the fear had a chance to build up. And the more I saw them, the more they looked to me like potatoes that had gone to seed, with spindly roots growing through them. It's tough to be afraid of potato people, even if you're a wimp like me.

And when Shyamalan's final twist was revealed, and the Village exposed for what it was,  you could almost hear the collective sigh of "Huh?" from the audience I was with. It felt like a cheap parlor trick, like every half-hour "Twilight Zone" episode ever seen. Remember Rod Serling's many trick endings? The people are really just dolls in a Salvation Army bin! Or: the main character is an astronaut in a sensory deprivation tank! Or: She's the beautiful one, but everyone else on the planet thinks she's ugly because they themselves look like pigs!I have seen worse, but I think from Shymaylan, we expected better.