Temple of Doom and audience reactions

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by LucasFan1974, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. LucasFan1974 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 29, 2013
    I'm new here, so please forgive me if this post doesn't belong in this forum. But I'm a film history reseacher looking at the origin of PG-13 and how audience reactions to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (and to Gremlins) played a role in the creation of the rating. I believe this subject was raised before in a different manner on this forum, which is why I'm inquiring about it here.

    My main interest is in collecting testimonies from fans or others who remember going to the theater to watch TOD in 1984 and recall negative reactions to the film. Does anyone remember seeing people leave the theater during a screening? Did anyone go to see it as a child only to be taken from the theater during the movie in protest of its violent scenes (i.e. the "heart ripping" scene)? I'm looking to document these kinds of memories of the film because too often in the historical literature on PG-13, it is claimed that the film upset parents and caused a negative reaction and protest, but very little is ever offered in the way of evidence to back that up.

    Once again, I'm mostly interested in hearing from those who remember seeing the film during its original release in 1984.

    If anyone can help with this project, it would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance!
  2. darthfettus2015 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2012
    star 3
    This film is the only film I ever remember being given a standing ovation by a cinema audience...I was 12. Tho I still prefer Raiders and Crusade. I should mention that this was in a smallish town in Northern England
  3. Rowboatcop Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2011
    star 1
    I was a kid then and my perception is that its been way overstated. I remember some news reports about it but it seemed like a handful of angry soccer moms made a big racket, roughly the same time they were saying rock music was leading our kids to hell. I saw it 4 times that summer and I only remember it being a big crowd pleaser, kids included.
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  4. Blur Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 1999
    star 4
    Saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a kid (middle school) in the theatre back in 1984, and loved it. I don't remember any negative reactions to the film at the time, nor do I remember any walk-outs, etc. I only heard about the negative reactions much later, and also it wasn't until much later that I realized this film was the main reason for the PG-13 rating.

    Also saw Gremlins in the theatre back in '84, and enjoyed that film as well.
  5. Carbon1985 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2013
    star 3
    I saw Temple of Doom in the theaters in 1984 (11 years old), and I actually enjoyed it. The one thing that did creep me out at the time was the guy pulling people's hearts out, as maybe that is why it got a PG-13? I will say that all the PG-13 rating did back in the 80's was make me want to see it more as a kid, because you felt there was a reason they invented the new rating and I was curious to see what it was for each movie.

    I will say (among my friends) that Temple of Doom and ESB were not loved more then Raiders and Star Wars in the early 80's, because they were much more darker movies. We all loved Star Wars and Raiders, then Jedi and Crusade, and Empire and Doom were our least favorites. As we got older (probably around highschool/ early 90's), that is when the shift started and ESB and Doom started to get more beloved. Now we all love Empire just as much as Star Wars and Jedi the least. Whereas Raiders is still the best, but Doom inches up to #2, while Crusade is #3.
  6. LucasFan1974 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Thanks folks. I'm trying to think of how to collect testimonies of people protesting the film, walking out, etc. A fan forum for Lucas movies may not be the best venue to get at this data, although I'm certainly open to the possibility that the hype was over-stated, and that these audience protests of TOD and Gremlins were not widespread.

    In the meantime, if anyone does run across personal anecdotes of parents taking children out of a Temple of Doom theater in 1984, I would very much appreciate the link or citation! (I have found one blog from someone who worked at a theater when Gremlins was playing and remembers families walking out, but beyond that I haven't found much.)
  7. Dinos4Ever Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2013
    star 2
    I never saw it in the theaters, but I watched it as part of my grandfather's old VHS trilogy box set when I was about 7 or 8. I remember I freaked out when Mola Ram was holding the flaming heart and had to turn it off for a couple minutes to catch my bearings before I could resume watching it. I believe that is the only time I've ever done something like that while watching a movie besides 8 Legged Freaks (and that was because I have severe arachnophobia).
  8. ObiAlKenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2012
    star 2
    I saw it in the theater when I was 14. I remember the audience cheering, laughing and getting very involved with each scene. I saw no one walk out. Then again, this was in Brooklyn, NY. We are tough lol.
  9. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    This is what I remember as well. I was 12 when it was released. And hated Tipper Gore for trying to censor Prince.

    I can't stand the movie but the ripped heart has nothing to do with why. And my 8-year-old son has seen it several times.
  10. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    I was six at the time I saw TOD, in 84. We were visiting my mom's best friend in high school, for the weekend. Her sons had seen the film more than once that summer. My brother, sister and myself went along with the younger sister of my mom's friend to see it. They boys had neglected to mention the heart rip and the dinner scene. Because of my age and the girl, the younger son had to take us out for a little bit until it was okay to go back in. But beyond that, there weren't any nightmares and no letters of complaint. I have no memory of anyone else going out and didn't know of the controversy until about ten years back.
  11. Darkslayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2013
    star 4
    Well I never saw it in theaters, since I wasn't born at the time lol, but when my dad showed it to my siblings and I we were 10, 8, and 5 years old. And we were facepalming the whole time. [face_laugh]
  12. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Poltergeist had a similar effect towards the creation of PG-13.
  13. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Poltergeist scared the hell out of me when it was released.
  14. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
  15. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4

    There are some who consider Raiders to be just as dark as Temple of Doom. They only view the third and fourth movies as lighter.
  16. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 8
    I liked Temple of Doom but could have done without Willie's screaming.
  17. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    I have heard the stories of walkouts. I thought they were only stories told to frighten children!

    Seriously, I was a kid when I saw it premiere. Yes, it and Gremlins were the reason for the PG-13 hysteria. Was it justified? Eh, maybe. It was and is pretty intense. To this day I have to look away at the heart ripping scene. But the movie is relentlessly violent and dark.

    I loved it though, and still do.

    Interestingly, I remember my old country grandma went to see it, and I was shocked to hear she absolutely LOVED it.
    Mr. K likes this.
  18. Jango_Fett21 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2002
    star 3
    I've always loved Temple of Doom even though Raiders was the first Indy film I watched, and I honestly believe that it's the second-most underrated of the four films in the series (behind Crystal Skull, which is my second-favorite of the series behind Temple).

    I can't speak to initial audience reactions as I never saw it in theaters (being only 3 at the time), but did notice something as I was watching the movie on DVD last night: the cut that was released as part of the four-film "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventure Collection" box-set carries a PG rating rather than the PG-13 rating the film was originally released with. I'm not quite sure what that means, exactly, but it did strike me as interesting.
    Last edited by Jango_Fett21, Dec 26, 2013
  19. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    Unless I've missed something, the first two films retain their PG rating and it is only the last two that have PG-13. I don't think that they were resubmitted to the MPAA.
  20. fuzzbox77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 31, 2008
    star 1
    I only got to see the BBFC approved UK version of TOD in 1984 at the Birmingham Odeon and even then it was 1 minute shorter. It wasn't until the 1985 CIC rental cassette error where I got to see it uncut and even then it was a little too much. The cassettes were pulled from circulation a week later but low and behold - an umpteenth generation VHS copy circulated not long after. But saying that - it was a country where we were told what we could watch and we'd just got out of the Video Nasties craze that almost destroyed the independent video store market in England as a result.

    Can I find the '85 UK uncut error tape anywhere... nobody can.
  21. Darth Maul Apprentice Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2014
    star 4
    I saw it as a kid, and didn't hear of any walkouts or protests. I just remember seeing that scene where he pulled out the heart and it made me stop eating my popcorn. Today it wouldn't have bothered me, but it was a real treat to see that on the big screen with my friend Jason. Ah, the joys of youth.
  22. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
  23. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    The gross-out feast was what did my head in (snake surprise, chilled monkey brains etc) - I saw it for a friend's birthday party, afterwards we were being driven to a Chinese restaurant, and one of the other kids suggested going to an Indian restaurant instead, which got a big laugh.
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  24. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 8
    The bug scene with Willie creeped me out. Not a fan of creepy-crawlies.
  25. DantheJedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2009
    star 5
    I was eight when I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (in the theater, no less, with the whole family) and I wasn't too bothered by it (the fact my younger brother and I wore out a Betamax copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark watching face-melting Nazis probably helped), but even at that young age I knew it wasn't real, or that you could have your heart ripped out and live for a short time afterwards (I was confirmed by this several months later when I saw a "making-of" special-effects movie thing on PBS for ToD that showed the guy who got his heart ripped out being an animatronic when he was set on fire.)