Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You’ve got to wonder whether Temple of Doom is a reference to Kate Capshaw’s twat, as her character in this film is abominable – she plays a screaming, squealing, pouting tart, a woman who would have most men running for the hills and devoting themselves to a lifetime of bumming and cocksucking. But Indiana Jones isn’t a mere mortal. He puts up with this silly bint and then later embraces her. I just hope the sex was worth it.

Of course, according to Willie Scott (the character Capshaw plays), she’s most certainly worth it. In one scene, where Indy and Willie are deciding who’s going to swallow their pride and make the first move for a night of shagging, she says to herself that she could have been his greatest adventure. Yeah, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail kind of pale in comparison to knobbing some bimbo.

But as annoying as she is in this film, maybe Kate Capshaw’s character serves some purpose. Without her the film would be pretty grim, as Temple of Doom is unrelentingly dark.

The image I always think of when I think of Temple of Doom is of the man having his heart ripped out. Okay, this is a kid’s film and a man is having his heart ripped out and he’s being sacrificed and then we see the main bad guy laughing as the man’s heart beats in his hand and catches fire. This is the stuff of nightmares.

I’m actually quite amazed that I wasn’t scared for life by that scene as a child, but maybe my tolerance of it can be explained by the fact that I only ever got to see the censored version. Here in Britain, rather than get a 15 certificate, the scene was cut so that we didn’t get to see the image of Mola Ram digging his hand into the guy’s chest so that he can extract his heart. We also didn’t get the prolonged image of the screaming man catching fire. We got a sanitised version, one that was still pretty hardcore for a young child.

Other crazy shit in this film includes children being whipped by burly psychos, blood being poured down the neck of Indiana Jones via a scary looking skull with a nasty tongue lolling out of it and crocodiles tearing people to shreds. No wonder it prompted the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.

But there are also lots of little details in the film. For instance, there’s the statue that holds the stones that has people’s severed arms hanging from it. Then earlier on there’s another statue that is covered in fingers and blood. I’d kind of missed this stuff as a child – maybe I didn’t notice – but now I’m amazed that Speilberg and co got away with it.

But that really isn’t a criticism of the film. Its darkness is what saves it. Otherwise it’s just kind of silly. And yes, it’s meant to be lightweight genre film, but it doesn’t have the excitement of Raiders of the Lost Ark or the heart of Last Crusade. So therefore the horror elements are what keep me going back to the film.

That being said, even though the action isn’t anywhere near as good as the action in Raiders, I do love a couple of the sequences. The scene with the spikes coming from the ceiling is fantastic – it’s full of tension, yet it’s also incredibly funny. In particular I like Indy’s berating of Willie for not being able to help him properly. In order to save them she has to pull a lever, but because it’s full of bugs she’s understandably reluctant to do it. So as she dithers we first see Indy shaking his fist at her through a small hole, and then Harrison Ford mugs like crazy for the camera as he says, ‘We are going to die.’ It’s a line delivery that has made me laugh since I was ten.

Another very enjoyable sequence is the opening teaser. We see Indy bargaining with some hoods as he tries to sell a valuable antique to them. He eventually makes a sale and then celebrates by having a drink. We then find out that the drink is poisoned and that the vial one of the hoods is holding contains the antidote. First off, I love the silliness of the revolving table. Secondly, it cracks me up that Indy has a sidekick who gets killed in ten seconds. But most of all I love the fact that the villains carry an antidote with them. Surely if you’re going to poison someone, you want to keep any antidote about a million miles away. You don’t want to give them a chance to live. But no, like fools they bring it along and wave it in Indy’s face. Oh, and another thing. I love the fact that one of the hoods gets killed when Indiana Jones spears him with a flaming kebab skewer. Shish kebab anyone?

And this leads to the magnificently silly sequence on the plane where the pilots jump out and leave our heroes alone without any parachutes – I love the way that the pilot, as he’s making his way out of the plane as the heroes sleep, cackles to himself and the way that the co-pilot dithers. And then you have the way that Indy and co jump out of an aeroplane on an inflatable dingy, and the way that it doesn’t turn over in midair. It’s ridiculous and over the top, but it’s done with such gusto that you can’t help but fall for it (pun not intended).

The other action sequences are fun, but they’re not quite as good. I mean, during the minecart sequence I’m always thinking to myself, ‘why would you build a rollercoaster?’ when you’re trying to find some scared stones. For some reason, in that sequence, I can’t suspend my disbelief. And the bridge sequence is pretty good, too, even though it’s far from being the best set-piece. In particular I like the way that Mola Ram sacrifices his own men in a bid to escape – when he’s climbing the broken bridge he ruthlessly rips his men free and feeds them to the crocodiles. What a guy.

But on the other hand there are things that annoy. The little Maharaja is prissy beyond belief. My ears bleed every time I hear him say, ‘This will never happen again in my kingdom.’ Short Round should have put his brain to sleep at the end rather than wake him from the black sleep of Kali. And the bug dinner is on the wrong side of stupid.

But one tiny thing still pleases me all these years on. Listen to one of the villager’s voices – the underling of the head villager. The man who says, ‘They took the stones from here.’ It sounds like he’s been inhaling helium. Having watched the film loads of times on TV and video, it still fascinates me.

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