Wednesday, April 29, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 3)


We started going to the cinema a lot more often after Star Wars. My parents seemed to enjoy the sudden surge in cool and exciting blockbusters, and maybe it was because I was taking such an enthusiastic interest in movies. I remember us going to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Empire Strikes Back a couple of times. Though I have a distinct memory of my grandparents coming to stay with us for a week, bringing my (step?)uncle with them. He was a couple of years older than me, and the first weekend of their visit I went with him into the city to see Clash of the Titans during its final run. That was cool, but the end of the week, before they went back, we went to see this new film that I knew very little about on its opening weekend - Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I saw a trailer or two on TV, and it just seemed to be a bit of an action movie and it had Harrison Ford in it. As he was so cool in Star Wars, I was happy to go along.

I remember the opening sequence was cool and sucked you straight in really quickly, but the skeleton on the spikes was pretty gruesome... and then poor Satipo met the same fate. Ew... I didn't do well with horror movie stuff as a kid, and by the time we got to the burial chamber sequence through the wall in the Well of Souls I knew I was feeling a little off.

And then there was the finale. Opening the Ark of the Covenant, and the pesky Nazi's horrific fates. You know that moment when you can feel something snap - like you're either going to pass out or throw up? Luckily, I did neither, but it was certainly burned onto my memory for a while.

But like those horror novels that tried to lure you in (yes, I'm talking to you Stephen King's IT - getting me hooked on reading every Stephen King novel) there was something that fascinated me. And talking of novels, I bought the novelisation of the movie (with a red foil cover, which I still have somewhere - they brought it out with multiple different colour covers for some reason).

I didn't go back to the cinema to see it, but Raiders was one of the first movies that came out straight to retail on VHS at a sensible price. £19.99 if I remember correctly? And after we'd gained a VHS player, I was becoming more desensitised to the horror a little. Still freaked me out a bit, but I could watch it, and paid up the cash for my own copy on VHS. And I watched the whole movie A LOT. So damn cool.

The first thing on the VHS of Raiders of the Lost Ark was a trailer with a little red line on the map, just like in Raiders, saying that they were filming across the globe to work on the next instalment in the Indiana Jones saga - Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

To be honest, while Raiders had a massive impact on me, I love Temple of Doom more. I remember choosing the scene in the trapped room in Pankot Palace from the novelisation of Temple of Doom as my verbal English exam piece - you had to read a passage out to the class to prove you could read and give it comprehension and emphasis.

Temple of Doom was definitely my favourite, and when it came out on VHS it was a horrifically expensive price for Rental only. I talked to my local video store and agreed to pay them in instalments until I finally paid the £80 for a copy of Temple of Doom the moment it came out. I still have that somewhere too.

Of course, when the RPG came out for Indiana Jones I was in my element. I wrote a whole bit about it a while ago when I dug out my battered copy for a nostalgic read.

And then, in an act of weird synchronicity, I ended up working for the archaeology department of our county council. Absolutely nothing like Indiana Jones, but there was a moment after a dig when I got to see where they filed all of the bits of broken pottery and bone that I'd spent weeks drawing and recording. It was just like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A massive warehouse where everything was tagged, numbered, filed and then stored in boxes.

Let's face it, most of the stuff we ended up digging up wasn't anything too exciting, and certainly didn't "belong in a museum" like Indy said...

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