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November 7, 2016

Movie Review: Raiders! (2015)

One of the biggest movies of the 1980s was Radiers of the Lost Ark. The entire Indiana Jones series (barring the shots taken at The Crystal Skull) has been an action/sci-fi mainstay for my generation. For one group of kids, it became an obsession that lasted seven summers. Friends Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala led a group that reshot the entire movie scene for scene and practically frame for frame.

It's actually a pretty amazing feat for a bunch of kids with a VHS camera.What's even more amazing is the fact that they were able to hold everything together for so long in spite of all of their difficulties. One thing they were never able to complete was the scene where Indy is getting pummeled by a shirtless goon who ends up being chopped to bits by an airplane propeller. Finally, in their adulthood, they got the opportunity. For one last weekend, the boys would get together to complete their homage.

Of course you expect some drama throughout the story. Eric shares some dark things about abuse in his home. This lead to drug usage, bad relationships and other chaos. Through it all, his friend Chris stayed loyal. That is, until it became a thing that he could no longer handle. Eric went far off the deep end. Friendships were shattered, and the crew didn't have much contact for a very long time. When they got an investor to help them complete the movie, they decided to patch old wounds and work together again.

The documentary isn't just about the making of the film. It's about the making of a cult legend. Through cameos from Eli Roth, Chris Gore and Harry Knowles, we find out how a VHS copy was passed around, eventually landing in a film festival, leading to some notoriety for the kids.

The movie moves somewhat slowly. It's an interesting story, but it could have been presented in a shorter format. To me, the highlight was seeing the side by side scenes during the end credits. They boys really did do a great job on their version. It would make Gus Van Sant jealous. Raiders! has some nice moments of hope and redemption. If you know the kids' film, you should check out how it happened. I'd recommend it to any die hard cult fan.

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