"We weren't here to watch the race, though. We were here to watch Hopper blow himself up."
August 23, 2010 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Remembering an Explosive Encounter with Dennis Hopper. Edited video footage and brief account of Dennis Hopper's performance(?) of the "Dynamite Death Chair Act" in 1983. Another account of the event.
posted by unknowncommand (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My estimation of Wim Wenders continues to go up.
posted by koeselitz at 3:52 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Possible history of the Russian Dynamite Death Chair act:
"Back in the old days we saw an act they call the Coffin of Death, where a stuntman would blow up the coffin he was lying in. And we came up with the Russian Dynamite Death Chair after I picked up a magazine in a motel in Idaho that told how the White Russians would get rid of a political undesirable: they would invite him to dinner and actually blow him up while he was sitting there. I thought that was kind of neat, and wondered how we could recreate it so that someone could actually walk away from it. Then one guy, kind of a drifter, showed up in the early '50s and said, "I know how to do this stunt. I won't do it, but I'll tell you how." He told me what he knew and I thought about it over the years and finally tried it. I lost an eardrum on that one because I didn't have it quite right. So, you know, you learn and sometimes your learning is costly."
-- From stuntman Olie Anderson.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:11 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

"The guy's a little bit wasted, but... he know what he's doing."
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2010

"Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again."

Only from Hopper would I accept the qualifier "one of the craziest" in regards to literally blowing oneself up with dynamite. Only from Hopper.
posted by el io at 4:32 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

and that it was weeks before he could hear again.

Well then you have to wonder how he is having a conversation on camera immediately after at normal volume. It's crazy and all, but there's always a certain degree of mythology when looking back on these things after the fact.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2010

cool. thank you.
posted by captainsohler at 10:55 PM on August 23, 2010

True story: I tried to do this myself. Last year I pitched a science TV show called "Kill Frank" which would centre around me in various deadly scenarios using science to save myself (kinda like a British MacGyver).

We looked into what could be done, and the producers liked the dynamite death chair most of all. My concept was simple: place all the sticks in a circle, and the forces would cancel one another out. However, the explosives experts I spoke to told me this wasn't exactly true: they would only cancel out "once you were crushed to the size of a pea".

Ultimately we didn't perform the dynamite death chair, opting instead for the 500kV lightning bolt to the chest. I ended up staying off-camera, and we zapped rugby star Gavin Henson instead (see "Human Guinea Pig" on Bravo).

I'm not saying it can't be done, or what Hopper did wasn't brilliantly dangerous, but his stunt co-ordinater certainly knew something we didn't.
posted by SciencePunk at 1:14 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I miss him.
posted by gonzo_ID at 3:14 AM on August 24, 2010

Knows. Jeez. I went a whole day without seeing that.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:50 AM on August 24, 2010

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