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Action movies are not normally notable for being frightening. The violence is usually far too cartoonish, the escapes from the bad guys too unbelievable. The good guy usually wins in the end and many, many gunshots kill too few people.

Then there’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. We’re swashbuckling along through most of the movie, flying a little plane over a map, and then all of a sudden they open the ark, the beautiful ghost turns into a skull and the next thing you know Nazis are melting. It’s arguably the greatest horror sequence ever to appear in a non-horror film. Since I saw it in the theater at age six, I’m sure it was the first such thing I ever saw, and probably was directly responsible for this blog.

I don’t even remember being disturbed by it, just fascinated. (I’m sure I was much more frightened by the trailer to The Shining the year before.)You don’t even have to feel guilty about being all like “fuck, yeah, carnage,” because the people getting slaughtered are Nazis. When I see the movie now I still back it up and run it again two or three times.

Three years later, I was freaked out by the guy getting his heart ripped out in The Temple of Doom because he is aware of what is happening to him, and yet my memory of seeing the movie is mostly the memory of the inappropriate crush my eight year old self had on Harrison Ford. The difference is that the ark getting opened is in a much better movie with a mostly non-annoying female lead. And you get to see Nazis melt.

I’d love to know what the Nazis’ camera captured. But all we get to see is this clip.

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