Every summer from ages 11 to 18, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala worked on their $5000 shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nothing much came of it after they premiered it to a local Missisippi audience in 1989, but Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation found a second life at the turn of the century. By 2003, the imitation reached Steven Spielberg—he sent the filmmakers a letter of congratulation. Producer Jeremy Coon (Napoleon Dynamite) wants to tell their story.
Coon optioned Alan Eisenstock‘s book Raiders!, that documents the behind-the-scenes from the genesis of the idea to the boys’ eventual falling out. Coon intends to start with a documentary as he works to set up a narrative feature. More after the jump.
Coon describes some of the craziness to Deadline:
“They shot the Nepal bar scene in Eric’s basement and lit the whole thing on fire. His mom saw what they’d done and she was not having any more of that. They had to get an adult, an extra in the original George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead who was less responsible than they were. The scene that got me most was this; one of the kids learned everything about special effects and did a mold face on Eric so they could recreate Bellog’s face as it melts after he opens the Ark. They did it with plaster, they put the ball in Eric’s mouth so he would appear to be screaming. Five minutes in, Eric starts sweating, and he can’t hear or speak. They used construction plaster, which gets hot when it hardens. And they couldn’t break the mold. His mother comes down to see them trying to cut through it with a hacksaw. The hospital finally got it off with a cast saw, carefully working around his head with this little circular saw to free him. The plaster ripped out the eyebrows and every eyelash on this poor kid. He had to pencil on some eyebrows to go back to school.
Some of it is just charming. Their first Marion, a blonde, moved to Alaska and all her scenes had to be reshot; they had no monkey to replace the one that gave the Nazi salute and ate the bad date, so they used Chris’s dog. They tied a spring to his paw so he would salute. If you took the first 20 minutes of the movie Super 8, and played it as comedy, that’s how I see this.”
Here’s the book trailer for Raiders!