Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb, Eli Roth, Harry Jay Knowles, John Rhys-Davies, Angela Rodriguez, Scott Lionberger
Written by: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen, based on a book by Alan Eisenstock
Directed by: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 06/17/2016

Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Indy Filmmakers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

To recap, there were these kids who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in a Mississippi theater in 1981 and decided to make their own a shot-for-shot remake. Eric Zala directed, Jayson Lamb provided effects, camerawork, and other technical skills, and Chris Strompolos played Indiana Jones. Their work took seven whole summers and resulted in a VHS videotape. Years later, that tape was passed around and became a fan favorite. This wonderful documentary tells the story of those boys, their film, and their attempts — as grownups in 2014 — to film the final elusive scene, the "airplane" scene.

Because of rights issues with the music and other myriad legal issues, their film can never be officially released, but the new documentary Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2016) offers plenty of footage from it, as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff. The new interviews, by directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen, are remarkably insightful and even moving, as the filmmakers' friendships flame up, fade out, and re-ignite. In the end, the doc captures that magical way that movies can speak to us and transport us, and how, for some, that feeling becomes a way of life. Filmmaker Eli Roth and critic Harry Knowles, who both had a hand in the remake's film festival success, are interviewed, and actor John Rhys-Davies (Sallah from the original Raiders) provides some onscreen narration.

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