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The Cursed Videotape is a fictional item in the Ring cycle series of books and films. Seemingly a normal home-recorded videotape, the tape carries a curse that will kill anyone who watches it, within seven days (thirteen days in the television series). In the earlier Japanese films, it is explained as a traditional curse, though given a far greater explanation in later films and in the novels. The American and Korean versions largely follow that of the earlier Japanese explanations.
The videos are a series of jumbled images, often grotesque. The Japanese, Korean and American film versions all differ in the particular images, but have the same final image of a well and similarly disturbing effect. In the American movies, soon after the video is watched, the nearest telephone will ring and, when the watcher answers, a voice will declare, "Seven days," before hanging up.
In the Japanese film, the method of death associated with the video curse is not explained. The corpses are discovered with looks of unearthly anguish on their faces, so it could be concluded that they "die of fright". With minor differences, The Ring Virus, The Ring, Rings, and The Ring Two use this explanation, though in the American movies the victims' faces are more warped and are greenish-gray in color, giving it an almost zombie-like appearance.
In later installments of the book series, the curse is explained in detail, and is stated to in fact be a virus. When someone watches the cursed tape (or something else carrying the curse) some of their cells' DNA is psychokinetically infected by the Ring Virus. The virus travels through their body and (in most cases) causes a sarcoma to form on one of the arteries of their heart. If the conditions to cure the virus have not been met by the seventh day, the sarcoma detaches from the artery and clogs it, causing heart failure. It is also discovered later in the book that every victim killed by the virus was looking at their own reflection at the time of death, or in the case of two who died together, were looking at each other.
The curse does not occur if the curse manages to reproduce itself. Originally, the only way for this to happen was to copy the cursed videotape. When the videotape is copied, the Ring Virus is replicated onto the copy. Whether the new copy of the virus comes simply from copying the video tape or from the already infected individual is unknown. However, there are other ways for the virus to reproduce, as mentioned below.
A later way for the virus to reproduce is by infecting a woman who is ovulating. In this case the Ring Virus finds the woman's ovum and inseminates it, acting as a phallic device for Sadako. In the case of Mai Takano her mind was replaced by Sadako's while she was pregnant; however, this may not always be the case, as Mai may have lacked the willpower to resist Sadako, and a stronger individual might have remained in control. When the new Sadako is born it seems the mother dies, as was in the case of Mai. This ability allows Sadako to clone or resurrect herself, albeit in a parasitic and viral fashion.
It also should be noted that the virus itself takes on a life of its own, expanding beyond the initial tapes to anything made about it.
- the ringworld – a comprehensive fansite covering all aspects of the Ring series and movies.
- she-is-here.com – Originally a popular DreamWorks viral marketing website for The Ring Two movie, users share their unexplainable experiences with the Cursed Videotape.
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