On May 23, 1984, besides turning 9 that year, the sequel to 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark came to theatres. Going to a Catholic school meant that we got out before the public schools did, so on our last day of school my mother brought us home and told us that we were going to the movies with our neighbors Michael and Joey. When we asked what we were seeing and my mother told us Indiana Jones, well, I flipped out. I began running around the house and pretending my tie was Indy’s whip shouting, “If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones!” For the rest of that summer Michael (who was a few years younger than me) and I would wind up playing Indiana Jones a lot, with me being Indy and him being Short Round. I’ll never forget those times running around our houses or neighborhood doing that.
While today I can easily say with no problem that Raiders of the Lost Ark and 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are the best Indy films ever, back as a kid, before Last Crusade came out, I really liked Temple of Doom. That’s not to say that I don’t like it now, but if I had to be honest, I think it was more that I saw it in the theatre, Indiana Jones was my hero, and I was watching this movie wishing I was Short Round, something I did every time I watched it.
While the movie was darker in tone compared to Raiders, something George Lucas wanted, people to this day will stay say the movie is too dark, something that both Lucas and Steven Spielberg will admit themselves. But as dark as it was, there was Indy doing so many exciting things, fighting on the catwalks above the mines, fighting that giant Thugee guard on the conveyer belt, the mine car chase which looked like the best roller coaster ride that will never be created, and of course the scene on the rope bridge. To this day I still like this prequel (that’s right, it’s a prequel, Raiders takes place in 1936 while Temple of Doom takes place in 1935) and will watch it if it is on.
Much like Raiders which had a toy line for the movie when it came out, so too, did Temple of Doom. Unlike Raiders, whose toy line was created by Kenner toys, Temple of Doom’s was created by a toy company called LJN Toys and only featured three action figure: Indiana Jones, Mola Ram and a Giant Thugee Guard. While figures for Willie Scott and Short Round were produced, they were never released, and I can honestly say I only remember seeing these in the toy stores once, and they only had the Thugee Guard on the pegs. These figures, unlike their Raider’s cousins, were very large and clunky, and had a “Battle-mattic Action secret lever that makes arm move!” according to the card. Indy came with a removable hat, bag, his whip and the sword to cut the robe bridge, Mola Ram came with a removable headdress, staff and dagger, and the Giant Thugee Guard came with a pick axe, sword and whip.
The card itself had a great image of Indy on the rope bridge, one of the more famous scenes used for stills from the movie. There were two versions of the Indiana Jones figure and the Mola Ram figure. One version of Indy had a darker shirt and pants while the other version was the lighter colors, and the Mola Ram figure, one version had a staff with a brown human skull on the top while the other had a white skull.
The next year when I started 5th grade, my lunch box was a metal Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one, something I still have to this day. I probably used it for half the year before I felt too old to be carrying a lunch box and started brown bagging my lunch. The lunch box itself is in got pretty beaten through the years and has many scratches on it but the lid still open and closes easily, the handle is still there, but is missing the thermos.
I had a Mola Ram poster hanging in my room that is long gone, but still to this day have a pair of Temple of Doom buttons. When 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, Hasbro created the toy line and had figures for all four Indiana Jones movies. The Temple of Doom line included: Indiana Jones without a jacket and shirt missing one sleeve, Short Round, Willie Scott, Mola Ram, Temple Guard, and Chief Temple Guard.
I also had the movie novelization to the film, which was one of the first books I read on my own, and as a kid who hated reading (but now as an adult who loves to read) to me that was a huge deal. I had the Nintendo video game, and I remember just one playing the movie arcade game of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but to this day I can only remember seeing it one time and that was it. I also had the VHS tape, I think the very first tape I ever personally owned, and watched it tons of times. The box got beat up from the tape being taken in and out of the shelf, but for the early days when VCRs where new, to have your own film on VHS was pretty cool.
So, while it might not be my most favorite of all Indy film, the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is very special to me for many reasons, and it’s true, “If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones!”
Until Next Time,