1-18-08 (aka Cloverfield, aka Slusho): a quick primer

Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 12:56 PM
In the last couple of days Paramount have posted in hi-def on the Apple site the much-blogged-about trailer for the next JJ Abrams movie. The trailer, showing prior to the Transformers movie, was creating such a buzz in US cinemas that folks were recording it with phones and posting the shaky results on YouTube, only to have them taken down at the request of Paramount.

But, given that the trailer (I guess it actually comes under that sub-category called 'teasers') doesn't actually name the movie, and it comes from a team who have worked on the oblique mystery drama Lost, it has fallen on the citizens of Blogopolis to try and figure it out. Some more successfully than others.

For example there arose a coterie who think that the viral marketing site called Ethan Haas Was Right is somehow connected to the Abrams movie, largely because of its apparent monster apocalypse end-of-all-things feel, but also because videos from the site being posted on YouTube were allegedly taken down at the request of Paramount. A couple of related blogs found themselves mimicked in a parody blog claiming to see through the promo smoke. Yet the link between the two seems to be merely urban myth from all I can figure. Ain't It Cool News even reckons to have heard from JJ, disavowing himself of the Ethan Haas conundrum.

The Red Interactive Agency have stated on their site that they are responsible for the Haas site, although they're keeping schtum about the client. But some keen sleuths have linked the Haas website graphics with a new RPG game called Alpha Omega from Mind Storm Labs. I bet Mind Storm didn't plan on their site going this viral, though they must be pretty pissed that most people think it's for something else - dare I say it - probably something much better than their game. Furthermore, the five Ethan Haas videos that can be found on solving the puzzles (or just find them on YouTube and elsewhere) point to a reveal of some kind on 1st August. I doubt we'll be learning any more about the movie as soon as then, but that sounds about right in terms of the launch schedule of this game. Finally, to get through the last of the Haas puzzles you use the cipher to enter "The Beginning is the End". You don't have to be a scholar of New Testament Greek to know that Alpha Omega represents Beginning and End.

So, what more can we actually know about the 1-18-08 movie. For one thing, it goes by several codenames, according to IMDB: Clover, Cloverfield and Slusho. Slusho offers some interesting trails. Firstly, in the teaser itself someone is wearing a shirt with a Slusho logo on it. Second, a Slusho website with correlating graphics and a strange back story have also appeared at the same time as the trailer. It's bit reminiscent of the Apollo candy bar website that was created as part of the Lost universe; an apparently benign food product possibly containing a mysterious ingredient. (BTW, ABC let ApolloCandy.com expire and now it's a porn site, natch.) And Slusho was the name of a fictional drink featured in Abrams' series Alias.

The official site doesn't have much there at present besides a interactive Flash thing with two snapshots supposedly taken on the night of the party featured in the teaser. But more geek sleuthing has revealed that the domain 1-18-08.com is registered to a "Henry Kelvin" at a dummy address in New York. But the technical contact is an "Albert Pike" at an address that corresponds to The George Washington Masonic Memorial. A secondary domain of 01-18-08.com is also registered at that address, but the registrant is listed as "In Hoc Signo Vinces", a latin translation of the phrase attributed to Constantine's vision but also adopted by the Scottish Rite branch of Freemasonry, a branch of the sect notably advanced in America of the 1800s by one Albert Pike, whose name also appears on the secondary domain registration, this time as Administrative Contact! And just to stoke the fires of intrigue Pike was a crafty fellow, apparently with links not only to Freemasonry but also the Illuminati and the Luciferian Society. Oh and the telephone number given on the domain registration belongs to The Barker Hangar, a soundstage at Santa Monica Air Center, formerly known as... wait for it... Clover Field.

An interesting sidenote in all this is how people keen to absorb themselves in the conceit are quick to make connections, often false connections, between apparently significant bits of data. Abrams and his ilk are very fond of exploring the innate human desire for cohesive meaning using a sort of psychological pattern recognition. The whole interconnectedness of the disparate characters and events in Lost is a good example of their ability to create a richly layered mythos. Witness the ease with which Ethan Haas was assumed into the Cloverfield universe by the willing neophytes. Apart from the fact they both surfaced around the same time, the link was the very name, co-incidentally the name of a character in The Class which starred Lizzy Caplan who has been linked to the movie. You can also witness this "finding meaning in the most insignificant little details" in the posts of people who are seeing demonic faces in the hair of the girls picture at 1-18-08.com, like the folks who saw the devil's face in the WTC smoke, or more pertinently, the Lostophiles who join the dots in ways that the writers never intended. It's why religious beliefs thrive with little factual basis, and it's why viral-marketing a JJ Abrams' flick is such an piece of cake; just press start and the collective faith of the internet feeds the machine.

But the truth isn't always as exciting as the myth. The fictitious Albert Pike, despite his promising symbolic clandestine connections, may in fact be nothing more than a webmaster's in-joke. Another website, sectorseven.org, set up as a viral promo tool for the Transformers flick, is also registered to Mr Pike and In Hoc Signo Vinces at the same address. It could simply be that a geek on the web team at Paramount with a fondness for conspiracy theories thought it'd be cool to register these domains to this dead occult legend.

If the missive to Ain't It Cool from Abrams is true, then there's clearly more to come in terms of related web teasers. But as that note also says
...if the movie doesn't kick some massive ASS, who gives a rat's about what's online?


Quite. Here's hoping that the movie delivers on the promise of the teaser.

[UPDATE: The official site has added another photo. The story continues...]

[UPDATE UPDATE: Little bit more for ya here.]

17 comments

  1. Shawn Says:

    1-18-08.com now has 3 photos.

  2. Neven Mrgan Says:

    That's a very nice summary. Thanks for posting it.

    The number one fan-tease from J.J. Abrams is still "Lost", and while the show has managed to stay intriguing and original (for the most part) some fans are still cautious about just how awesome and unpredictable the finale will be. Can it ever live up to the hype? If not, can it at least be great?

    That remains to be seen. With Cloverslush (tm) J.J. has about ninety minutes to take us from comfort to discomfort to intrigue to mind-blowing. I wonder if the resolution of the movie (just what exactly is throwing the Statue of Liberty around?) will be shocking.

    Most people I've talked to so far are fairly confident that it's either an alien invasion or a mega-monster. Those seem obvious enough, and I guess this is where we get to see what J.J.'s sensibility really is regarding these things: will it, indeed, be a giant monster, one completely unique in some way? Or will it be something completely unpredictable (a magical-realistic materialization of New Yorkers' fears and anxieties or some such thing)?

    Or will it turn out that the trailer has little to do with the actual premise of the movie (the events in the trailer could be tangential, imagined, or otherwise irrelevant)?

    Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to seeing what he thinks constitutes a good payoff on such titillating hype.

  3. Forest Says:

    "in hoc signo vinces" is also the motto of the sigma chi fraternity.

  4. Forest Says:

    "in hoc signo vinces" is also the motto of the sigma chi fraternity

  5. karan Says:

    Pardon my Lost-influenced paranoia perhaps, but does the date say anything with the numbers? i.e. 1, 18 and 8... are they something along the lines of the Lost numbers? (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42, for reference)

    something to ponder perhaps :)

  6. samaBlog Says:

    CTHULHU!!!

    The Shusho site tells a story of how the soft drink if flavored with the tastiest thing in the world, harvested from the bottom of the world's oceans. Sounds like the premise to an HP Lovecraft movie. The Great Old Ones have been disturbed.

    Link for the confused:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu

  7. Daniel Says:

    This is somewhat reminiscent of a scene from Alan Moore's Watchmen, where an alien being is transported into the heart of a major city and it's connection to a sound stage in a remote location. The product placement angle was an entire subplot of the series, illustrating the ubiquity of one character's presence/influence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen

  8. Scott Says:

    www.theeighteenth.com

  9. Scott Says:

    www.theeighteenth.com

  10. Mr winker Says:

    if u go on themonstrousmovie.com it's been registeered alredy by albert pike as well, i just learned this

  11. jukebox360 Says:

    I flipped one of the pictures over on the official site.
    Note on the back says, "Don't forget who takes care of you, Love J."

    I wonder if there are others with notes...

    There are now 5 pics up.

  12. jukebox360 Says:

    Yes... There are more with notes on the back.

    Kinda hard to flip it takes some wiggling.

  13. andrewmmaa Says:

    The slusho slogan is "You can't drink just six." (head to slusho.jp to see) typing in "youcantdrinkjustsix.com" brings you to http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents/acoustics/sounds/bloop.html

    which is random at first, but when you think about it, correlates with the whole slusho tale of underwater-ness.

    clue? lead? maybe.

  14. Just wondering if anyone noticed this on the main 01-18-08.com site...

    If you right click, and check your settings for Adobe Flash, it has options for aloowing it to access your mic, and webcam, along with how much space it's allowed to store things on your hard drive...

    interesting stuff, or am I just a total noob?

    as I type this, I have the site up in IE, and I've been on it for about 5 minutes... all of a sudden, there was the roar of the monster... strange...

  15. http://www.bloopwatch.org/thebloop.html

    SEE: "Bloop_realtime.wav: Now, the original file is slowed down 16 times to attempt to give as accurate a reproduction as possible. WARNING: This file is rather large - 2.5 meg"

    Waddaya Think?

  16. Jared Says:

    WOW.
    So i've been covering this for a while, and just for fun i went back to 01-18-08.com and there was a 6TH PICTURE!!
    It was of this weird looking japanese chef and on the back was what looked to be a recipe, but it was in japanese so I couldn't read it.

  17. Mandee Says:

    Can anyone read what that says in Japanese, I've been following the website as well. Very interesting and I've been noticing the same things all of you have.

Hosting: Blogger | Original design: Acid Rain | Modified to death: Montyfood