Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keeping up with Jones...


Welcome to my brand new blog that's all about the 80s. There's two decades of my life that I think were the most fantastic decades in the history of planet Earth... the 70s & 80s.
To me the 80s uniquely stands out for its' pop culture. It had awesome fashions, hair styles, music, dance moves,TV shows, art, and more.

I was born in 1968, grew up in the '70s and came of age in the '80s, attending high school from 1984-1987 in Southwest Louisiana. My favorite thing about the decade was probably the TV shows. I think this blog will mainly focus on Television and movies but I will cover other stuff along the way.

The title of this blog, "Raider of the Lost 80s" refers to two things: 1.) My favorite film of all time is 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' which came out in 1981 and 2.) I'll be raiding the '80s and digging up long forgotten stuff. Lost memories. Let's raid the 80s together and have a great time doing it!
I want this blog to be fun and informative. I also want it to be interactive, so please comment with your own stories.

Well, where should we start? I know...
I mentioned that the blog title reflects the title of my favorite movie of all time,
'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' (1981)

To me, Indiana Jones and Star Wars were the two biggest movie franchises of the '80s. That alone makes the '80s one of the greatest decades to be alive in. Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark" captured my imagination so much. I was 12 years old when the movie came out. I remember watching the trailers on TV and was so pumped to see the movie. It looked incredible.

I bugged my dad constantly to take me to see it. One Saturday he told me we could go see it and that I could invite a friend, but... LOL... I had to rake up all the pine straw in the yard and put it in one big burn pile before we could go. Doesn't seem too bad, except for the fact that we lived in a place called "Pine Acres!" and we lived on two acres of land that had many pine trees! This was going to take a long time. I invited my friend Lane who lived a couple blocks away. He even came over and helped me rake up the pine straw. It took us a few hours but we got it done and my dad took us to see it. That summer, at 12 years old, I saw the greatest movie I had ever seen since Star Wars in '77.

I remember the opening scene vividly... the mountain, the three men walking through the jungle, the one man pulling a pistol on the guy with the map, the guy with the map knocking the pistol out of the other dude's hand with a bull whip! This whip-wielding hero was Indiana Jones and for the rest of the film it was non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action. This was a hero for the ages!

I'm not the only one who thinks that either...

Recently, Total Film Magazine did a poll where they asked 8,000 readers who they thought was the number one film character of all time.

The character the 8,000 readers chose as "the greatest of all time" was... you guessed it.... Indiana Jones. Looks like the character had a huge impact on many others as well.

Some of the other characters that made the top 10 on that list of the 100 greatest movie characters of all time were Han Solo, Batman, and James Bond... who were also alive and well in the '80s.

If you were born after the '80s and never watched 'Raiders,' or maybe you were alive in the '80s and were under a rock and missed it, here's what the film was about:

An archeologist named Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. Government to find an ancient biblical artifact, the Ark of the Covenant, before the Nazis get it. The Ark is supposed to contain the power of God and can be used as a super weapon to help the Nazis win the war and conquer the world.

I remember playing Indiana Jones out in the woods by my house the rest of that summer. I had a khaki shirt, some khaki pants, a brown hat, a machete, a bullwhip I purchased on a trip to Mexico with my mom, and a bb pistol in a leather holster. I even had a hand drawn treasure map that I would stop periodically and read as I trekked along through the woods of Pine Acres. I wish someone would have taken a picture of me back then. That would be gold. LOL.
I would pretend that trees were bad guys and I would pop the trees with my whip, or fire a bb towards them as I ducked for cover, or even rush in and chop them with my machete. I. Was. Indiana. Jones. and that was a summer I will never forget.

My love for this character led me to collecting merchandise of the films such as posters, comics, action figures, statues, prop replicas and fedoras. I still wear a fedora to this day when out and about.

About once every couple of years a theater will screen 'Raiders' and I make sure to go. I've even seen it a couple of time blown up on an IMAX screen. Incredible.

In the '80s my Indiana Jones adventures would continue monthly thanks to Marvel Comics and the "Further Adventures of Indiana Jones" comic title which I was subscribed to.

Each month I would get a new issue in our post office box. It came shipped in a brown paper sleeve. It would be rolled up and shoved in the box. What excitement when it would arrive. This title lasted 34 issues, just two issues shy of a 3 year run, and I still have all of them.

More Indiana Jones adventure came to us in the late '80s when the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular opened at Disney/MGM studios in Orlando, FL.

The stunt show featured grand sets and spectacular stunt work as actors recreated key scenes from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' in front of a live audience. The show was complete with moving vehicles, gun fire, whip cracking and lots of explosions. It surely lived up to the name.

I attended the show 5 times over the years and I heard that it is now closed, making way for the new Star Wars attractions in the park coming in 2019.

'Raiders of the Lost Ark' had two sequels in the '80s, 'Temple of Doom' in 1984 and 'Last Crusade' in 1989. I saw both of these films with my dad who has been my movie watching buddy since I was a toddler. I liked both of the sequels, but 'Raiders' remains my favorite Indy movie.

There were a few TV shows that tried to cash in on the Indiana Jones popularity in the '80s...

"Tales of the Gold Monkey" (1982) was a very cool series about a bush pilot and adventurer named Jake Cutter who operates out of the Gold Monkey bar in Boragora in 1938. The island attracts thieves, pirates, Nazis, spies and other dregs of humanity. Jake and his one-eyed-dog, Jack, pilot a Grumman Goose amphibious plane called the "Cutter's Goose" on inter-island flights looking for fortune and glory.
The series had lots of two-fisted action and plenty of adventure.
Stephen Collins starred as Jake Cutter.

Although it cashed in on the Indiana Jones fame, it was written before 'Raiders' but was turned down by several studios. After the success of 'Raiders' Universal recalled the script and a series was quickly ordered.

Sadly, it only lasted one season. It was one of my favorites.

"Bring 'em Back Alive" (1982) was another Jones-ish series about a pith-helmeted, two-fisted "great white hunter" named Frank Buck (based on the actual Frank Buck who was an animal trapper and trainer who sold exotic animals to the circus and zoos) who operates out of the Raffles Hotel bar in Singapore during the 1930s fighting all kinds of badguys in pre-war Malaya.

The series starred Bruce Boxleitner (Tron) as Frank Buck and Cindy Morgan (also of Tron) as Gloria Marlowe. I enjoyed this series but it wasn't as successful as "Tales of the Gold Monkey" and was quickly cancelled mid-season.

After the 80s, the genre continued to flourish in TV shows and movies such as "Tomb Raider," (based on a video game but very much inspired by the Indy films) "The Librarians," and actually more Indiana Jones adventure with the series "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."

There were dozens of Indiana Jones rip-off movies in the years to follow. Most were extremely low-budget. Some, like 'Romancing the Stone' were decent, but most were barely watchable. I've listed a few of these below. Maybe you've seen some of them...

'Romancing the Stone' (1984)

'Jewel of the Nile' (1985)(sequel to Romancing the Stone)

'Firewalker' (1986) (starred Chuck Norris and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett, Jr.)

'King Solomon's Mines' (1985) (starring Richard Chamberlin and Sharon Stone)

'Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold' (1986)(sequel to King Solomon's Mines)

'High Road to China' (1983) (starred Tom Selleck who was originally considered for the role of Indiana Jones.)

'Jake Speed' (1986)

'Bloodstone' (1988)

'Hunters of the Golden Cobra' (1982)

'Jungle Raiders' (1985)

'Mines of Kilimanjaro' (1986)

'River of Death' (1989)

'The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck' (1988)

'Ark of the Sun God' (1983)

'Treasure of the Four Crowns' (1983)

'The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik-Yak' (1984)

'The Treasure of the Amazons' (1985)

'Sky Pirates' (1986) (aka Dakota Harris)

'Biggles: Adventures on Time' (1986)

'The Treasure of the White Goddess' (1983)

A 4th Indiana Jones film, 'The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' was released in 2008. Critics and fans didn't receive the film well, but I thought it was another great Indy adventure.

What does the future hold for the Indy franchise? Well, Spielberg had been planning a 5th film for many years now and wants the now 75-year-old Harrison Ford to star once again. Disney, who now owns Lucasfilm and the rights to Indiana Jones has also been talking about rebooting the franchise with a much younger actor to bring new adventures to a new generation of film fans. 

I guess we will just have to wait and see what the future holds for the character. Whatever is brought to the table you can bet your behind that I will be there, Large Popcorn and drink in hand, marveling at the adventure, the memories and the grand entertainment experience.

Thanks for reading my blog and keep your eyes peeled for my next fantastic 80s blog entry. Please leave feedback and a comment or two.

Fortune and glory, Kid. Fortune and glory...

- Patrick Shawn Bennett. 

1 comment:

  1. Neat idea for a blog. We homeschooled our 6 kids so they grew up with the music we liked and our youngest's favorite era is 1980's music. Huge fan. And thanks for comments on my blog. Well done.