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Official Article

Indiana Jones Memories

Harrison Ford is back in a big way thanks to reprising his role as Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Being part of a space fantasy ensemble is great, but to me his most iconic role will always be as Indiana Jones. The swagger, the humor and the death defying stunts left a lasting impression on my young self, for better or for worse. In 3 (and eventually 4) films Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took us on adventures the world over and made history cool for the first time ever. Today I’d like to share some of my memories of this whip wielding archaeologist through the 80’s and 90’s.

My first exposure to Indiana Jones was pretty traumatizing. My neighborhood friend Kelly had an older brother named Sean who liked to terrorize us. He was like every bully from an 80’s sitcom with the studded jewelry, spikey hair and ripped clothes. I distinctly remember him forcing us to come into the living room where he put a VHS tape in the VCR with an evil grin on his face.

It was the scene in Temple of Doom where the guy gets his heart ripped out. He was obviously enjoying the horrified look on my face as I covered my eyes and kept yelling at me, “What are you a wimp? Look at it!” There’s a reason this movie caused the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating. This harrowing experience happened in 1987, when I was 5 and as a result I didn’t go near an Indiana Jones movie until 2 years later.

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade from 1989 is my favorite in the series. I saw it in theaters with my Dad and still love the interaction between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. It always puts a smile on my face the way Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. shouts, “Junior!”, or when we learn that “Indiana was the dog’s name!”, to which Indy responds, ”I loved that dog!”. Then there’s the prequel opening sequence starring the late River Phoenix as Indy, which explains the complete origin of the Indiana Jones we’ve come to know and love. Everything is there, the fedora, the leather jacket, the whip, the fear of snakes and even his chin scar.

I also have a great appreciation for the epic Diet Coke commercial from the VHS release that played before the movie. Do you remember this epic ad where a woman is at home watching Raiders of The Lost Ark with her husband, but on her way to the kitchen she ends up going through a booby trapped maze of death? After nearly losing her life several times, with the help of an Indiana Jones double the woman eventually grabs a Diet Coke can from the fridge only to be greeted by the ancient Knight who guarded the grail declaring from the TV screen, “You have chosen wisely.” Click here to watch it now.

Having been born in 1982 and missing the original theatrical release by 1 year, I eventually caught up with Raiders of the Lost Ark on VHS around 1990, mostly because I wanted to see the original sequence that inspired the opening of Weird Al Yankovic’s movie UHF, which also came out the same year as The Last Crusade in 1989. From the exciting action of Indy being chased by the giant boulder, to the hilarious moment where he casually shoots the giant Arabian warrior who challenges him to sword fight, it’s a great movie that’s been parodied dozens of times over the years.

I only ever dared to catch up with The Temple of Doom in video game form for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. How could I resist playing the mine cart chase level when I noticed the cartridge laying around at my buddy’s house? It even opened me up to recording that scene during a heavily edited television airing. When I saw the film in its entirety as an adult years later with all its monkey brains and annoying female sidekicks, I realized I hadn’t missed much. But Short Round really deserved his own spin-off film, don’t you think?

Even when the film series was supposedly completed, Indiana Jones never really disappeared from popular culture. McDonald’s actually did another promotion in 1992 where you could buy all 3 videos in the trilogy for $5.99 each when you bought a value meal. This was so weird to me because in my mind, pizza was the official food of watching movies at home, not hamburgers. But, if they had come up with a McIndy Burger, I would have been thrilled. Plus, $5.99 was incredibly cheap for video tapes that usually went for $19.99 apiece on retail store shelves. 

Around that time as well there was The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series on the ABC network, which I never watched because it was seemingly too old timey and educational. To me it was like that Avonlea show they used to air on The Disney Channel, so boring. Lucasfilm really kept the mythology flowing with an endless supply of books and video games, but what they always seemed to be missing were the toys.

As a kid, movies and TV shows weren’t legitimate to me unless they had a toy line, but Indiana Jones was the exception. I think Kenner did some Star Wars style action figures for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but since that was before my time I had no access to them. Still, every piece of rope instantly became an Indiana Jones whip as I hummed the unforgettable John Williams theme.

Aside from the toys, I’m actually more surprised that they never made a cartoon series out of Indiana Jones. In an era where Rambo and Robocop had their own animated shows, I can’t believe Lucas and Spielberg didn’t try to cash in on their more family friendly creation for Saturday Mornings. At least artist Patrick Schoenmaker recently put together some ideas for what it could have looked like. Click here to see more.

In 1995 Disneyland introduced the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of Forbidden Eye ride, which was a huge deal. Being from Southern California, I remember going to experience it for myself during the opening months when they gave you a card as a key to decipher the writings on the wall while you waiting in line for hours. The old-timey projector film of John Rhys-Davies as Sala instructing you on how to fasten your seatbelt and the importance of avoiding the eye of the statue was a nice touch.

I also appreciated the little interactive moments they worked into the line experience. For example, there was a bamboo pole attached to the floor and ceiling of one section that you could pull to make it seem like the ceiling was caving in with rumbling rock sounds effects. Then there was a rope going down into a well that you could shake to activate a voice that sounded like you had caused a man inside to splash down into the water.

Of course the ride itself was just like being inserted into the films, especially when you entered the large cave set with the pillars of fire illuminating skull like rock formations and a giant, menacing cobra. They tried to give you this idea that by entering different doors to begin the journey you would get a different experience, but I never really noticed a difference. Did any of you ever see something beyond the poison blow darts, insect shadows and the animatronic Indiana Jones scolding you for looking at the eye and causing all that trouble?

Things were fairly quiet from 1995 until 2008, when we eventually got Harrison Ford reprising his role in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it just wasn’t the sequel we were all hoping for. So what would have been a more satisfying take on the further adventures of Indiana Jones? Luckily the SequelQuest podcast is here to help you out with that.

That’s right, yours truly and my team of “expert” sequelizers over at SequelQuest are back in action for 2016 and our first episode of the new year is all about discovering a plot for the 5th film in the Indiana Jones franchise. Where in the world will we send Dr. Jones this time? You have to listen to find out. The fact that I actually recorded the show in full costume should speak volumes about our excitement for this discussion. The episode is available now, so swing on over to www.sequelquest.com, click here to find us on iTunes or check out the Podcasts section of Retro-Daze now.

So what are your memories of Indiana Jones?

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Jan 11, 2016 at 11:01 PM

@echidna64 Thanks for giving us a listen. More retro movie fun to come this week.

@vaporman87 Noah's Ark, we totally blew it. That's the perfect artifact for the next sequel. The biblical ones are always a hit.

@NLogan That's awesome that you were in the middle of the Indy storm.

echidna64 Posted on Jan 11, 2016 at 09:12 PM

Great job Hoju and I really dug your podcast! Indiana Jones straddles a fine line between reality and fiction. I think part of the reason why Crystal Skull sucked was because there wasn't a shred of realism. The mcguffin needs to be a real historical artifact.

NLogan Posted on Jan 11, 2016 at 04:20 AM

I am old enough to have seen all of the films in the theater with my dad. For Raiders of the Lost Ark I caught a re-release in 1982. I love the trilogy films and the ride at Disneyland. I went as Indiana Jones this last Halloween. I remember the DietCoke commercial but not the McDonald's advertising. LJN made Temple of Doom toys but I never did find them as a kid. I do have a Temple of Doom lunchbox and one Temple of Doom collector's glass from 7UP although I don't remember where I got it from. Maybe Godfather's pizza as that is where I got my Goonies ones. I also had Tops cards as a kid for the Raiders and Temple of Doom.

echidna64 Posted on Jan 09, 2016 at 07:22 AM

Lol imagine all of the snakes on Noah's Ark!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 09, 2016 at 05:24 AM

I had always liked Raiders of the Lost Ark. Temple of Doom... not so much. I think it had to do with the lack of an actual relic of some significant real world interest being sought. Who wouldn't want to find the Ark of the Covenant? But some goofy stones? Meh.

Then came The Last Crusade. Ah yeah. That's better. Gonna find us that Holy Grail for realz! (Did I just type that?) Anyhow, it was a fun ride, and was not far behind Batman as my favorite movie of that epic film year of '89.

And, in keeping with the pattern, those morons decided to once again go after some artifact that has no real world following or significance. An alien skull? UFOs? This movie should never have happened.

If I were making another sequel, there's no way I'm sending Indy after anything but Noah's Ark, or some other biblical artifact.

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