Written by: Jonathan Lipman, CC2K Staff Writer
There are plenty of reasons Indiana Jones held such a fascination on us as young boys and girls. There were, of course, the thrilling action set pieces, which remain masterful examples of moviemaking, decades after CGI has made it possible to blow up more stuff bigger and faster. There was the witty, sexy dialogue (well, if you cover your ears and hum during Temple of Doom). The bullwhip.
But if you were an adolescent or pre-adolescent boy, a major part of the draw was simply that people got killed – very killed. Killed quite dead. Killed in a way markedly different from the way they were killed in Star Wars, where they just fell down and maybe cried out a little. Killed in a way markedly different from the way they were killed in cartoons – if they were ever killed in cartoons. Villains in Indiana Jones actually bled when shot, bled a lot, bled out of the mouth. Sometimes they were stabbed, or squished. Or, surprisingly often, horribly disfigured by a divine power.
Unless you busted into your dad’s stash of R-rated Schwarnegger flicks, this was the only time you saw stuff like that. And it was just … too… cool.
So in honor of Indy week, we revisit the …
Indiana Jones’ Trilogy’s Top 5 Greatest Kills.
5. Coke vs. Pepsi? … He chose poorly. (Last Crusade)
Although it was terribly weakened when co-opted into a Coke vs. Pepsi campaign, the end of Last Crusade featured one of the creepiest pre-CGI special effects we’d ever seen when bad guy Julian Glover gets instantly zombified by choosing the wrong Holy Grail. This was genuinely very terrifying for me as kid. It was like all promise of eternal youth that was implied by childhood was instantly erased by the visual representation of tangible age. Also, he wouldn’t let go of the hot girl, and she looked scared.
4. Squishy, melty, boom. (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
The original classic Indiana Jones ending. The one you watched from behind your hands, just daring to peek through your fingers. Two Nazis and Belloq the Anti-Indy open the Ark and that old Hebrew God does his Hebrew God thing. One Nazi’s face is squished in an invisible vise, his bones poking out of his cheeks and his eyes bursting. The second one gets his face melted off, the shape of his skull revealing itself behind a mask of pure blood. And then Belloq’s head just pops like a balloon. It is disgusting. It looks incredibly painful. It’s the kind of death that only a true villain deserves. Also, Indiana Jones saves himself and Karen Allen by mysteriously knowing how to appease the Hebrew God’s magic with no fucking clue whatsoever.
3. Making a Nazi daiquiri. (Raiders)
Indiana Jones gets in a fist fight with Nazi the Hulk around the weirdest/coolest Luftwaffe flying wing plane you ever did see, as the plane gets ready to fly the Ark to Berlin, where it will presumably be used to summon Hellboy to fight for the Third Reich. First of all, the start of this fight is classic Indiana Jones – Indy is climbing onto the plane towards the cockpit, where he hopes to surprise the pilot. This humongous, shirtless brawler of a soldier is standing on the ground beneath Indy and beckons to Indy to come down and fight him. Indy sees the guy, and he winces – winces! – and slowly climbs off the plane with a resigned expression. “Crap,” we can read on his face, “why do they always want to fight?” It’s just a lousy job being Indiana Jones sometimes.
This humongous dude lays out Indy with one punch and while Karen Allen proceeds to massacre Nazis with the plane’s machine gun, Indy proceeds to get his ass kicked. The fight seems to be going badly for Indy until the last moment, but the plane’s wheels are unblocked and it’s rolling slowly and the brawler doesn’t see until the last second when he turns around and omigod the propeller is right there and he screams a terrified young boy’s scream as the huge blade comes right in his face and …. Eew. Blood splatters all across the wing. It is entirely clear what has just happened. You have seen your Mom’s Cuisinart do it. It’s Nazi salsa.
2. Om! (Temple of Doom)
Ok, you’re an innocent villager captured by a bizarre cult of fanatics who worship a member of the same pantheon you worship, but clearly did not go to Sunday school, because their Kali looks nothing like your Kali. (Or, you’re being portrayed by a gifted but slightly xenophobic American director – see my wife’s essay). Now, this kind of sucks. Then you’re marched out for what is clearly your standard Sacrificial Ritual. Bad.
But they don’t just stab you. No. This guy pulls out your fucking heart. And even better – that doesn’t actually kill you. No, you can see it beating, in his hand, but you’re fine. As fine as you can be with your heart not being in your chest. So then you’re lowered, slowly, into a rather improbably placed pool of swirling hot molten lava. Your fucking heart, which you may recall is not in your chest but in a guy’s hand, beats faster and faster. You scream, you scream, but the heart-taking-guy just laughs louder. You ignite into a ball of living flame and even though the cult members can’t see you directly they know what’s happening because your fucking heart bursts into flame 20 yards above you, where that dude is still holding it.
That’s a bad way to go.
1. I got sick and made history. (Raiders)
You know when there’s a funny bit in a movie and you’ve laughed at it a million times and then you go back to see it years and years later and it’s just not funny any more? This is not that moment.
If you’ve never seen this, well first of all, get off this website. Seriously. You don’t belong here. But in case you haven’t guessed which moment I mean, I mean the moment in Raiders where Indy confronts the guy with the big sword. Marian gets kidnapped in a basket (hilarious!) and Indy fights off four knife-wielding assassins trying to protect her. Chasing after her he faces more and more of these guys, all dressed in the same white tunics. He races through the sandstone corridors of the city and into the market square, tipping over straw-colored basket after basket, as all these villagers in their white and khaki robes protest. Indy’s whip cracks and his fists fly. Then the crowd parts and a guy in a black tunic suddenly appears – pops visually with incredible effect. This guy is THE obstacle. He has a truly ridiculous sword, huge and heavy, wickedly curved. With a deep, confident laugh at the bullwhip-armed Indiana Jones, he starts to twirl the sword in a complicated pattern around his body, demonstrating just how quickly he will dispatch this hapless American.
Indy looks at him, resigned, tired. Then he nonchalantly pulls out his revolver, and shoots the guy in the chest. Indy turns away in disinterest before the body hits the ground.
You may have heard the Hollywood legend/possibly true story about this. That there was, in fact, a complicated fight planned out but Harrison Ford had dysentery and was dreading the prospect. The cameras roll and a practical Harrison pulls out the gun that’s already part of his costume and just mimes shooting the guy. Because, Jesus, why wouldn’t Indiana use that?
This scene gets top honors because it’s cinema history, because it’s great visual storytelling that holds up so well with time, and because it’s classic Indiana Jones. He gets into incredible adventures, but it’s not because he wants to. He’d really rather just take the easy way out. And sometimes you just have to shoot the guy.
The Complete Tally of Indiana Jones Kills
Old rotting corpses don’t count. Death of characters we met, even if death not directly observed, do count.
1. Greedy Alfred Molina impaled on spikes. At least one through forehead, one through throat. Should have thrown him the whip.
2. Unknown traitorous dude killed by dozens of poisonous blow darts by natives working with Belloq.
3. Nepalese thug shot in forehead by Indy while burning to death from Marian’s booze. Shouldn’t have worked for Nazis.
4. Nazi shot by Indy with Nepalese thug’s gun.
5. Nepalese thug shot in back by Marian.
6. Egyptian assassin skewed by colleague’s sword while lunging for Indy. That gag gets them every time.
7. Black-clad Egyptian sword master with badass huge scimitar is shot by a bored Indiana Jones (as played by Harrison Ford with dysentery). Cinema classic. Best part is the way Indiana Jones turns away before the guy has even hit the ground.
8. Egyptian driver of truck full of explosives shot.
9. One Nazi and unknown number of henchmen blown up when truck comically full of explosives and ammunition and with dead driver (#8) at the wheel careens out of control and blows up.
10. “Bad dates.” (A traitorous monkey kill)
11. Marian takes out at least one Nazi with the tail gun of the crazy experimental-looking Nazi plane.
12. Another tail gun kill.
13. Marian’s good with this tail gun. Seriously.
14. Propeller to the face. Serious blood splatter. Another classic moment from childhood.
15. Pilot in Nazi plane is blowed up. Bet you missed that one.
16. First of three Nazis in chase car driven off very convenient cliff by Indy in truck.
17. Second Nazi in car.
18. Did I mention the three Nazis?
19. Badass German sergeant run over by Indy in truck after almost kicking Indy’s ass. Surprisingly, the only soldier on the truck to get visibly killed. The rest are just knocked off the truck, but this guy pissed Indy off.
(CAN I just interrupt to say how ridiculous it is that he stowed away on a U-boat? Do you have any idea how F-ing cramped those things are?)
20. Nazi General (Dietrich)’s head squished by Invisible Hand of God.
21. Nazi Spymaster/Torturer’s face melted off by Invisible Blowtorch of God.
22. Belloq’s head blown up like a watermelon at a Gallagher show by Invisible Air Pump of God.
23. – ?: Innumerable Nazis zapped through the chest and eyes and then wiped off the face of the Earth by the Very Visible Lightning Bolts and Divine Breath of God.
TEMPLE OF DOOM
1. Indy’s friend Wu Han shot by Chinese gangster when champagne corks distract him. Being friends with Indy is dangerous.
2. Indy kills gangster in revenge with – no kidding – a flaming skewer off the Pu-Pu platter.
3. Indy shoots gangster driving chasing car.
4. Indian assassin strangled by lethal and accidental combination of Indy’s bullwhip and ceiling fan. Note to bad guys – avoid rooms with ceiling fans when attacking heroes with bullwhips.
5. Ok, so poor Indian peasant sacrifice dude gets his heart ripped out – does NOT die – and is then lowered into the pit of lava to burn alive while his heart is beating in the hands of the evil priest. And his heart bursts into flames. That is just plain badass.
6. Thugee Cult Fanatic (TCF) tossed into lava pit without Kali’s blessing after Short Round woke Indy with the old “burning torch to the abdomen” trick.
7. Indy tosses second TCF into lava pit.
8. Huge Thugee brawler flattened by big mechanical rolling pin that is apparently needed for mining purposes. Indy tries to save him.
9. Thugee Cult Fanatics chasing Indy and company in mining cars careen to their death. 1 of 3.
10. 2 of 3.
11. 3 little cult fanatics all in a row.
12. Bridge full of Thugee Cult Fanatics sent to their watery, crocodile-infested graves when Indy, after atrocious dialogue, cuts the bridge. 1 of 6.
13. 2 of 6
14. 3 of 6
15. 4 of 6
16. 5 of 6
17. 7 of 6.
18. Three more TCFs buy it when bridge hits cliff and they are shaken loose.
19. 2 of 3
20. 3 of 3.
21. Evil Thugee priest knocks another minion off bridge.
22. Evil Thugee priest throws a minion at Indy.
23. Evil Thugee priest gets himself et by crocodiles after a wicked fall from cliff.
1. Seaman overboard
2. White hat collector guy killed when the Coronado explodes
3. So is his second henchman
4. So is his third henchman
5. So is his fourth henchman
6. Members of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword smooshed and exploded when they try to drive their Venice pleasure boat between two freighters in pursuit of Indy and Ilsa. “Go between them, are you crazy?”
7. Second dude in boat
8. Third dude in boat.
9. Indy machine guns two Nazis to death
10. 2nd Nazi. “Don’t call me Junior!”
11. Nazi possibly killed when Indiana Jones, defying basic material sciences, uses a wooden stick to jam the metal motorcycle wheel of pursuing Nazi, sending him airborne. Motorcycle appears to land on top of Nazi after they both fly 20 feet into the air, so if he lives, it’s a bad day.
12. Messerschmitt pilot, after proving to be the worst marksman in the Luftwaffe, blows up after his wingless plane chases Indy and his dad through a tunnel. Don’t understand why the plane blew up THEN and not before.
13. Birdified Messerschmitt crashes. “I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne.”
14. Nazis vs. Brotherhood! A full on rumble!
15. Second of four Brotherhood soldiers killed in initial Nazi counterattack.
16. three of four
17. four of four
18. Two more Brotherhood members killed by Nazi hand grenade.
19. Two of two.
20. Three Brotherhood members machine-gunned down.
21. Two of three
22. three of three.
23. Our lead member of Brotherhood dies while cursing Nazis. Don’t worry dude, after another 6 years, they get theirs.
24. At least two Nazis in car blown up by a tank gun at point blank range thanks to soulless Nazi general. The car, you see, is impaled on the tank gun and therefore in his way.
25. Second Nazi in car.
26. Tank gunner killed when Indy stuffs rock into secondary gun.
27. Three Nazis killed with single bullet from Luger. Indy is incredulous.
28. Two Nazi.
29. Three Nazi.
30. One Nazi run over by tank after Indy punches him.
31. Daddy Jones takes out literally an entire truck of Nazis with one shot of the secondary gun. No telling the body count, but it’s at least 10.
36. Henry Jones nazi bloodbath bodycount continues
42. Tank driver shot in head by stray bullet from Nazi soldier after Marcus dings him on head. Wacky Marcus.
43. Evil Nazi general plummets to his death still riding his desert tank. Becomes a ridiculous rubber puppet at the bottom.
44. Bet you didn’t think of it, but the Nazi soldier Marcus knocked out was still in that tank. Also toast.
45. “Volunteer” soldier decapitated by Grail Challenge #1. Not penitent enough.
46. “He chose poorly.” Bad guy gets zombified by the Grail.
47. Ilsa, tempted by the Grail, plummets to her death.
48. Grail knight is presumably swallowed up by collapse of temple.