Looking Back Five Years
By Dr. Milo
As we celebrate our five year anniversary here at the Forbidden Zone, we
thought we'd take a few moments to look back to where we started, pull back the
curtain a bit about what goes on behind the scenes, and offer a few thank-you's
to those who helped us get where we are.
The Forbidden Zone is a Leap Year baby, so we're either five years old or one
year plus, depending on how much of a stickler you are about such things. In
late 1995, I discovered the World Wide Web, graphical browsers, and such. Like
most first-time web users, I was fascinated by the world of information suddenly
at my fingertips. I was thrilled to find websites on the most obscure films and
topics. I've always been a "read more about it" type person and loved
to read books about movies and TV shows. After discovering the web, there was an
intense thrill going from topic to topic, seeing what I could find. It was so
much fun, I wanted to do my own web page. My first thought was to do one on
silent movies, which I collect and about which I knew a little. One day while
scouring the web, I ran a search on Planet of the Apes, sure there had to
be several amazing Apes web sites out there. I had always been a huge
Apes fan as a kid, had most of the toys (still have my trash can), and collected
the movies when they came out on video the first time. I couldn't wait to see
what new and fascinating info I would discover on some of the larger Apes sites.
Boy, was I disappointed. I only turned up two websites based on POTA, and
both were nearly identical, just episode guides of the TV series.
But, necessity is the mother of invention. I scrapped my silent movie website
idea and resolved to build an Apes website -- the kind of website I
wanted to visit. It was harder than I thought. I didn't have that much
information -- mainly just an article from Starlog Magazine about a book
that had never been published called PLANET OF THE
APES REVISITED (finally coming this June -- you heard it here first!). After
scanning the photos from the articles and assembling a few other bits and
pieces, The Forbidden Zone was officially launched on February 29, 1996. Our
first design was based on the New York of the first two films. The site was
sectioned off into the New York Public Library, Radio City Music Hall, the
Subway, and so on. We had grand ideas for the visual look of the site, but were
never able to make it happen. There are a few traces of the original design
still left, mostly in the file names.
We started on AOL, because we already had an account there and we got 2 MB of
space per screen name for a combined total of 10 MB. This presented a real
challenge in that the site was spread over the five 2 MB locations. Updating and
uploading was a real hassle (still is with AOL -- they have the worst FTP
program and have yet to update it), but things seemed to look up when AOL
introduced its Hometown AOL program, with a promise of 20MB of free space (in
one chunk!) to those who signed up early. They didn't tell you about that huge
blue banner across the top, and we never did find out if we got our extra free
space. We got sick of AOL's FTP program and moved over to Xoom.com, which gave
us lots of room and easy-to-use FTP. Xoom was purchased by NBCi last year, so it
looks like we changed ISPs again, even though we didn't.
For our fifth anniversary, we wanted to offer a new look that represented the
whole of the Apes series, "new kid on the block" (the Tim Burton film) included, which is why Attar and Thade
are featured in our banner. This is our third (and we think best) update of the
site's "look." A few people had pointed out previously that in our
previous banner, the photo of Cornelius was actually of David Watson playing him
in Beneath, which was not quite respectful of Roddy McDowall. We
certainly agreed, which is why, now that we've finally gotten around to updating
it, Roddy is featured on our front page with and without make-up. The least we
could do, considering Roddy McDowall's great contribution to the Apes
The Forbidden Zone has been a labor of love since its inception. While we do
earn a few dollars from our association with Amazon, the monetary rewards haven't even scratched the
surface considering the amount of time that's been put into it over the years.
Sure, it would be nice to have a real money-making site like AICN, but since POTA is
the sole intellectual property of 20th Century-Fox, we're happy to scrape by. Still, a big
thanks to everyone who's ever purchased anything via our site, especially the
person who purchased two copies of the Apes collection on DVD. That was a
very nice Christmas present for us, too!
The toughest period for the Forbidden Zone was early in 1998, as I recall.
We'd posted everything we could find on the Apes saga and updates were
few and far between. Hate to admit it, but we sort of lost interest in the site
during that period and actually considered giving up on it. Yes, the Forbidden
Zone almost bit the dust. But then, Fox announced that they were releasing the
entire sage on video again, and the site came back to life. For a time, there
were even daily updates. Now with the new film on the horizon, interest in POTA
is reaching an all-time high once again. We are needed. Hooray!
Our resolution for this year is the same as it always is: to make the site
better. We noticed recently that the photos in the gallery section are really
small (they looked a lot bigger back in the days of 640x480), and our video page
is still severely lacking (ironically, one of the reasons we moved to Xoom was
being able to offer more video). We can't make any promises of when, but we'll
get to it one day. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way sometimes, though we
do our best to keep the site current.
Running the site has afforded us a number of opportunities we wouldn't have
otherwise had. We got to interview Linda Harrison, who is extremely gracious,
thoughtful, and giving. Can't say enough nice things about her. She offered to
help us get an interview with Roddy McDowall just weeks before the announcement
came that he had cancer. Meeting him would have been a dream come true. We've
made a number of other friends, such as Joe Russo, author of PLANET OF THE APES REVISITED (coming in June,
plug plug), Luiz Saulo Adami, August (you know who you are), and many, many
others who have contributed material to the site. Another big thanks to everyone
who has visited our site and especially those who have contributed information.
The best thing we can say about the site is that its actually become what we
wanted in the first place - a trove of information on the Planet of the Apes
saga. We get quite a thrill when the occasional e-mail message pops up from a
first-time visitor saying how much they are enjoying the site. That's the kind
of site we wanted to discover, and are glad we have made it happen for other Apes
fans on the Net.
Thanks for visiting!