Be it for claim to fame or the thrill of achievement, there are plenty of people that risk life and limb to perform jaw-dropping stunts for incredible feats which are highly choreographed and rigorously rehearsed for hours, days, and even weeks before a performance, as onlookers watch the madcap attempts in awe and amazement.
Pyrotechnics Stunt exhibition by “Giant Auto Rodéo” Ciney Belgium.
Seasoned professionals will commonly treat a performance as if they have never done it before, since the risks in stunt work are tremendously high. Every move and position must be correct and perfectly timed to reduce risk of injury from accidents.
Performers of vehicular stunts require extensive training and may employ specially adapted vehicles.
Fire breathing “Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band” Chassepierre Belgium.
Freestyle & Stunt Show 2007, Landrévarzec.
The following mind-blowing images taken of staggering stunts are the works of American photo-journalist Jeffrey R. Werner — the results of a 30-year career spent traveling across 60 countries which are featured in his new book, “Incredible Stunts.”
“I try to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible, but once in a while things go a bit awry.” says Jeffrey.
“Like when a stunt man was rocketed into the air, got the angle wrong and crashed into my head — that was quite a bloody mess.”
Dubbed the “Da Vinci of Daredevil photography,” Jeffrey’s photos cover the high velocity drama and mayhem of high octane stunts of stuntmen and daredevils. His book reveals the planning, time and trust it takes to choreograph and execute the feats for those who risk their lives and limbs for honor.
Driver Steve Hudis jumps a 28,000 pound bus flying 109 feet (33 meters) through a giant fireball and over 15 motorcycles before crashing to earth, and miraculously survives. He broke a world record at this stunt filmed in Las Vegas.
Stuntman Reno Jaton is dragged along a pavement, trailing behind a 14,000-horsepower jet car for a quarter of a mile at 236 mph (380 km/h), all the while enduring the 698F (370C) flames of the jet engine for a world record.
From a distance of 25 feet (7.6 meters), John Richmond shot a melon off his brother Ken’s head. Had he been off his mark by a quarter of an inch, it would have meant certain death for his brother. Both fortunately lived to see another day.
Richmond claims to have shot at his brother Ken over 100 times — hitting objects off his chest, face, and the top of his head.
Dennis Pinto from North Carolina crashed his motorcycle into a parked van at 60 mph (100 km/h) to make himself airborne. To make the stunt even more challenging, he donned a flame-retardant outfit and set himself on fire. He landed on a pile of cardboard boxes, amazingly unscathed.
Escape artist Rick Meisel risked drowning and a battering while wriggling his way out of 6 pairs of handcuffs and 2 leg irons whilst spinning in a sudsy soap-filled washing machine. Meisel went to lengths of being surgically altered in order to fit better into the machine.
Traveling at 126 mph (200 km/h), stunt cyclist John Holland hoped his motorcycle would propel him 256 feet (78 meters) over 50 parked cars toward a ramp for a clean, parachute assisted landing.
But seconds into the leap he realized that there was no chance of gaining enough speed, and his only chance of survival was to open the chutes in mid-air which sent him crashing into the cars. He spent nearly a year in hospital recovering from massive injuries, and his stunt career was ended for good.
English stuntman Eddie Kidd jumped the Great Wall of China, adding to the challenge a blind landing on a crude bamboo ramp perched precariously over the deadly river far below.
Miscalculation or a sudden gust of wind could have caused him to plunge 600 feet (183 meters) to his death, but the former James Bond stuntman successfully hit the ramp with only inches to spare.
Spanky Spangler flew over the Rio Grande River at a height of 25 feet (7.6 meters) in a rocket-powered truck. The vehicle was airborne for 150 feet (45 meters) before crash-landing into a sacred Indian burial ground on the far shore. The stuntman escaped without injury within 10 feet (3 meters) of his intended landing spot.
Werner also photographed Spangler in a mid-air collision with another car. Both stuntmen were strapped in their cars to withstand the equivalent impact of hitting a brick wall at 120 mph (193 km/h) and the 2 drivers walked away uninjured before a crowd at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. They owe their lives to incredibly strong strapping, special crash protectors, and a case of fortunate luck.
Stuntman Doug Danger took on the entire 160 foot (49 meter) wingspan of a large-body L1011 passenger jet. To make the jump, he had to reach a pre-calculated speed of 73 mph (117 km/h) to launch himself off the 120 foot (36.5 meter) long narrow ramp, straight up and over the parked plane.
Strongman Tom Owen supported a truck packed with 20 kids, weighing an estimated 6,500 pounds, as it drove over his stomach. After the stunt he went straight to hospital emergency with broken ribs and internal bleeding.
Ricky D cheated death by jumping through a 900F (482C) wall of fire at 55 mph (88 km/h). He mocked the inherent danger by wearing a $1,300 US (£700) Pierre Cardin tuxedo while performing the stunt.
Granny Mary Ella McLivain wears only a sun dress without protective harnesses as she strides across the wing of a biplane 1,000 feet (305 meters) in the air above Vancouver. She says she did it because she was tired of being a deskbound secretary.
Stunts That Have Gone Wrong
Stunts play a major part in countless action movies, and stunt-work accounts for over half of all film-related injuries, with an average of 5 deaths for every 2,000 injuries. From 1980 to 1990 there were 37 deaths relating to accidents during stunts, 24 of which involved the use of helicopters.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Margaret Hamilton was badly burned during a scene in which her character ‘vanished’ in a burst of flame and smoke when a delay in activating a trap-door caught her in the pyrotechnic device. Her stuntwoman was also injured in a scene involving a smoking broomstick.
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
Stunt pilot Paul Mantz was killed, and another stuntman seriously injured when the title plane failed to clear a sand dune and crashed.
A.J. Bakunas died doubling for George Kennedy in a fall from the Kincaid Towers in Lexington, Kentucky, for the movie. Bakunas had successfully performed a fall from the 9th floor of the construction site, but when he learned that Dar Robinson had broken his record high fall for a non-movie related publicity stunt, he returned to perform the fall from the top of the 300 foot (91 meter) construction site. Bakunas performed the fall expertly, but the airbag split and Bakunas was killed.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
While filming a high speed chase in the bobsleigh-run, the 4-man bob came out of the run at the wrong place and hit a tree. One of its occupants — a stuntman named Paolo Rigon — was killed.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1982)
The making of the movie Twilight Zone had consequences that overshadowed the film itself. During the filming of a segment on July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and child actors My-Ca Dinh Le (aged 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (aged 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter being used on the set.
Without warning, it spun out of control and crashed, decapitating Morrow and one of the children with its blades. The remaining child was crushed to death as the helicopter crashed.
Cannonball Run II (1984)
Stuntwoman Heidi van Beltz is left a paraplegic after being thrown from her car during a crash.
Top Gun (1986)
Stunt pilot Art Scholl was killed in an aircraft crash.
Armour of God (1986)
During the filming of a scene which called for Jackie Chan to jump from a wall to a tree branch, unhappy with the first shoot, he performed a second shoot that went wrong as his grip on the branch slipped and Jackie fell 15 feet to the ground below.
He landed hard on his head, causing part of his skull to crack and shoot up into his brain. He was flown to the hospital and was in surgery 8 hours later. He now has a plastic plug, a permanent hole in his head, and is slightly hard of hearing in one ear from the fall.
Million Dollar Mystery (1987)
Stuntman Dar Robinson dies in a motorcycle accident.
Hired to Kill (1989)
Stuntman Clint Carpenter dies in a helicopter stunt.
The Crow (1993)
In one of the most high profile stunt deaths, Brandon Lee, the star of the The Crow was killed 8 days before that film’s completion. Prop Masters working under time constraints had failed to notice that the previous firing of a cartridge with only a primer and a bullet in had caused a bullet to lodge in the forcing cone of one of their revolvers.
When the first unit used this gun to shoot the death scene, the chamber was loaded with blanks which had no bullets. But there was still the bullet in the barrel, which was propelled out by the blank cartridge’s explosion. Despite being rushed to hospital Lee died within a matter of hours.
Gone Fishin’ (1995)
Stuntwoman Janet Wilder is killed and four other people are injured when a speedboat misjudges a ramp and lands in a crowd.
World Wrestling Federation Event (1999)
Professional wrestler Owen Hart died in May 1999’s WWE/WWF PPV Over the Edge after he was scheduled to glide down from the rafters for a ring entrance. The stunt was botched and Owen fell over 50 feet (15 meters) to the ring below.
Stuntman Harry L. O’Connor was killed in an accident when he failed to rappel his parasailing line to land on the submarine. He impacted a bridge at high speed and was killed instantly.