Sometime during the 1980’s in Mississippi, two buddies decided that shooting their own faithful version of Raiders of the Lost Ark was what their teenage years needed to consist of. Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos(who would star as Indy himself) embarked on a shot-for-shot remake of the 1981 classic, presumably over countless discarded packages of Fun Dip and Ecto Cooler.
When they began to grow into fine young men in the latter parts of the decade, the pair moved out to Hollywood and found their own ways, falling off of each others’ radars. Failed attempts to break into the movie industry left each battered, exhausted, ruminating back on a simpler time, when your biggest worry was a videocassette running out of time. But what they left behind, almost unbeknownst to them, was an astonishingly near-complete rendition of their beloved movie, as well as the most badass sentence regarding an unfinished piece of film: it was missing a huge fight scene that culminated in a Nazi plane blowing plum up.
Admittedly, the footage from the project looks akin to something that an errant, woody-unsheathed Ron Jeremy would wander into mid-scene, but the fanboy touch and love put into it is unmistakable.
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Somehow, though the friends had parted ways, the amateur film began to take on a life of its own. It began being passed around Hollywood much like Pam Anderson, and soon had famous fans in the form of Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and then received an ultimate nerd-boner appraisal from none other than O.G. director Steven Spielberg. What Spielberg thought of the work was most likely a sage, grandfatherly “yeah, that’s kinda cool. Awkward and clearly shot with the same device that captured a family’s Christmas morning, but super-cute” kind of feeling, but the fact that he even acknowledged its existence would make most fanboys’ back teeth chatter.
When the teenaged video clearly began becoming a cult movie, the two friends began a reunion tour of sorts, appearing in a Vanity Fair piece and screening the movie for loads of hipster bandwagoners. So while their aspirations of becoming Hollywood directors ultimately didn’t pan out, they did remember that their masterstroke was missing exactly one NAZI PLANE EXPLOSION, and they set out, via Kickstarter, to rectify that immediately, thus validating their film and their own personal existences.
The Kickstarter quickly netted them a cool $58,000 and they set out to finish their tribute. But it was not without tribulations. The duo quickly encountered their own personal small-scale Apocalypse Now shoot, falling prey to production issues, missing and quitting actors, stolen goods, but they persevered, intent on showing the world that a few stoner kids with chutzpah can make a grainy appropriation of an iconic action movie:
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The first ten minutes of the remake have been officially released to the world, and we can glean one thing from the footage, it’s that 1980’s camcorders have basically aborted all of our childhoods. Why does everything have the same consistency and ominous visual tone of a Faces of Death entry?
We have yet to see if the classic Nazi face-melt scene was reconstructed using Play-Doh and a spare My Buddy, but chances are it will hold up better than Karen Allen. Oh, how you had us for those few short years…
Written by: Justin Crockett