[The guides encounter scary statues in the jungle and run away.]
For the viewers, everything in this movie so far has been foreign. We're in the 1930's. We were in a Shanghai nightclub. Now we're in the jungles of India. But when we see the way the native guide reacts to the statue in the jungle, we know we are entering territory that is foreign for the characters. And they're scared of it.
CHATTAR LAL: Captain Blumburtt and his troops are on a routine inspection tour. The British find it amusing to inspect us at their convenience.
India didn't achieve independence from Great Britain until 1947. During Temple of Doom, it was still a British colony. Lal's comments show us his distaste for being colonized—and who on earth can blame him?
CHATTAR LAL: The British worry so about their empire. Makes us all feel like well-cared-for children.
Here we have another barb from Chattar Lal toward the British. However, we will later learn he's a villain. Putting these lines in the mouths of a bad guy make it seem like only bad people would want independence from Great Britain.
BLUMBERTT: The Thuggee was an obscenity that worshipped Kali with human sacrifices. The British army nicely did away with them.
The word "thug," a word which is a loaded word for the "other" in modern society, comes from the Thuggee Cult, a group of brutish killers who performed thousands of sacrificial killings in the 1800's. That's one way to scare people from a foreign land – tell them that a dangerous cult is back.
INDY: The peasants there told us Pankot palace was growing powerful again because of some ancient evil.
CHATTAR LAL: Village stories, Dr. Jones. They're just fear and folklore.
Once again, the idea that Pankot Palace, and whatever is happening within its walls, is also foreign to Indiana Jones is reinforced.
DINNER GUEST: Chilled monkey brains.
The entire dinner scene is hilarious, as more and more grotesque food is brought out. But it's also rooted in a general fear of foreign cuisine.
INDY: It's a Thuggee ceremony. They're worshipping Kali. […] Nobody's seen this for a hundred years.
Well, except the people who are doing the worshipping. But since they're non-white, it doesn't seem Indiana Jones counts them. He's definitely an ethnocentrist. If a ritual happens in the jungle, and a white man isn't there to witness it, did it happen at all? Indiana Jones would say no.
WILLIE: I'm going home to Missouri where they never feed you snakes, before ripping your heart out and lowering you into hot pits! This is not my idea of a swell time!
Sweet home, Missouri. Wonder how Indians feel about such Missouri delicacies as the St. Paul sandwich?
INDY: I suggest you give me what you owe me, or anything goes.
From watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, we know Indy is no stranger to gunfights, swordfights, and whipfights. But it is startling to see him ready to skewer an innocent nightclub singer if he doesn't get what he wants. From the look in his eyes, it doesn't seem like he's bluffing either. Or is he just a really good actor?
[Indy throws a flaming skewer through a man's chest.]
We were startled when Indy poked Willie with a fork. We're really shocked when Indy throws a flaming BBQ skewer through one of Lao's men. It's a brutal way to go, and the movie is only going to get more violent from here on out.
[Indy punches a cigarette girl.]
Indy doesn't seem to care about collateral damage. He has no regard for any innocent bystanders when a gunfight erupts in the nightclub. And he punches a cigarette girl in the face. Maybe he mistakes her for one of Lao's men. Or maybe he needs to work out some aggression issues.
[A man is strangled by Indy's whip.]
Pro-tip: Don't try to do anything to Indiana Jones unless you want the tables turned tenfold. A man attempts to choke Indy in his room, and ends up getting Indy's whip around his neck. The whip gets tangled in the ceiling fan, which has the strongest motor ever installed in a fan, and it strangles him. Ouch.
[A man's heart is pulled out and he is lowered into lava and burned alive.]
Reminder: this movie is rated PG. PG! The violence walks a line between being cartoonish—the man's gaping chest hole closes bloodlessly—and graphic—we see the man struggling and screaming as he is literally burned alive. This scene is one of the reasons the PG-13 rating was invented.
[Short Round is whipped.]
Temple of Doom has no qualms—not one—showing violence against children, either. Not only are children shown chained together as slaves, but Short Round is captured and put to work, too. When he tries to save Indy, he's whipped as punishment.
[Indy backhands Short Round.]
The heart-pulling scene is shocking, but seeing Indy, our hero, hit Short Round in the face is even more shocking. It rolls together violence against children with the startling betrayal of Indy going to the dark side, even if just temporarily.
[Guard is crushed by a steamroller.]
It's difficult to tell if Indy tries to rescue the guard who is being pulled into the rock crusher, or if he is just trying to get away and not get pulled in with him. Both this guard and the guard strangled in the ceiling fan are accidental deaths. Indy doesn't kill them purposefully in such a gruesome manner. Perhaps Spielberg doesn't want us to see Indy as a ruthless killer, but it's hard to forget the flaming-kebab-through-the-chest scene at the beginning of the film.
[Mola Ram is torn apart by crocodiles.]
Although the villains of Raiders of the Lost Ark die a gruesome death—getting their skin melted off by the Ark of the Covenant—it's almost instantaneous. Not Mola Ram. Not only does he falls down the side of a cliff, bouncing off it in a way that defies physics, but he also crashes into a river and is torn apart by crocodiles. No mercy for Mola Ram.
ELDER: Now there is a new maharaja, and again the palace has the power of the dark light. […] The evil start in Pankot, then like monsoon it moves darkness all over the country.
Early on, it's difficult to tell if the Village Elder is just superstitious, or if something truly supernatural is happening in Pankot Palace.
WILLIE: I don't understand how one rock could destroy a whole village.
Willie's skeptical about the powers of the rock. Because Indy has seen crazy stuff before, he decides to give the Elder the benefit of the doubt.
INDY: He's saying when the sacred stone was taken, the village wells dried up, and the river turned to sand. The crops were swallowed by the earth, and the animals laid down and turned to dust. Then one night there was a fire in the fields. The men went out to fight the fire. When they came back, the women were crying in the darkness. Children. He says they stole their children.
Okay, this is all a little extreme, except for the children part. Even though the stones do have a mystical power of some sort, there appears to be some superstitious embellishment involved in telling this story.
INDY: I think that somebody believes the good luck rock from this village is one of the lost Sankara stones.
The Sankara stones are likely inspired by Shiva Lingam stones, which some believe can boost a man's virility and fertility.
WILLIE: Magic rocks? My grandpa was a magician. He spent his entire life with a rabbit in his pocket and pigeons up his sleeves. He made a lot of children happy and died a very poor man. Magic rocks. Fortune and glory. Sweet dreams, Dr. Jones.
Willie is used to "magic" being a sideshow act. However, there is no rational explanation for the events she will witness in Pankot Palace. They are all supernatural in nature.
INDY: The legend says when the rocks are brought together, the diamonds inside them will glow.
Because diamonds don't actually glow (at least not until Kay Jewelers makes a scientific breakthrough), this line sets up the stones are something magical. Plus, it foreshadows the incantation Indy will chant at the end, making the stones not just glow but burst into flame like hot potatoes.
SLAVE: Please, let me die. I pray to Shiva, "let me die," but I do not. Now...now the evil of Kali take me. [...] They will make me drink the blood of the Kali. Then I'll fall into the black sleep of the Kali ma
Okay, we have magical stones, guys who can rip hearts from chests—and leave the person still alive, and now we have brainwashing too. What other crazy supernatural stuff could happen in this movie?
[The Maharaja stabs a Voodoo doll of Indy.]
Now we add Voodoo to the mix. Right. Although Voodoo is traditionally Afro-Caribbean, it is sufficiently foreign enough for Lucas and Spielberg to have the Maharaja to utilize it in Temple of Doom. Plus, it ties in to the mind control motif. In the caves, a person can be controlled, or pain can be forced upon them. Scary stuff.
WILLIE: I hate the water, and I hate being wet, and I hate you!
We need to put emphasis on the "man" in "man and the natural world." Indy, who's an archeologist and male, is comfortable with anything nature throws at him. The one woman in this movie is not a fan of nature.
[Willie puts perfume on an elephant, which knocks her into the water.]
Willie is comically inept when it comes to anything nature. You'd think she's never been outside in her life the way she acts. She teaches us to leave animals alone and let them do their business.
INDY: Those aren't big birds, sweetheart. They're giant vampire bats.
We don't think there are any cuddly animals in the jungles of India. It seems like everything might kill you at a moment's notice.
WILLIE: I was happy in Shanghai. I had a little house...and a garden. My friends were rich. We went to parties all the time in limousines. I hate being outside! I'm a singer! I could lose my voice!
We're not sure why Willie doesn't just stay in the village if she hates being outside so much.
WILLIE: I hate that elephant.
In a bit of irony, Willie mistakes a snake for an elephant's trunk and she simply flings it aside. And you know how Indiana Jones feels about snakes. It's a funny bit of accidental bravery on her part.
WILLIE: They're all over me!
Unlike the dinner scene with crunchy beetles, the bugs in the cave are real. Over 80,000 bugs were used in the cave. The actors freaking out over the bugs? That's not acting. (Source)