Ladies and gentlemen, what I personally believe to be the most terrifying of all escape acts without having to utilize any additional implements to increase tension: the buried alive act. One of the stunts forever attributed to Houdini, and apocryphally linked to his untimely death (If you read my bit on him in a previous post, you would know this isn’t true.).
I don’t think I even need to describe how dangerous and traumatic an experience it is to have one’s self buried alive. In my estimate, the above video is actually a much more sanitized version of the escape because if something goes wrong, it’s easier to crack the apparatus open than it would be to dig out a guy buried six feet under the ground. Many magicians have attempted to do the buried alive stunt, and some unfortunate souls, such as this guy, have paid the ultimate price.
It’s no secret that being buried alive is a terrifying prospect, but some of the most bullheaded performers just insist on doing something so shocking, so terrifying, that they just might end up regretting it. This routine is something I’m personally very afraid of doing, as I’d sooner have myself hoisted up three hundred feet in the air to do a straightjacket escape upside down than get myself six feet under by choice.
And this is considering I’m deathly afraid of heights. Ultimately, my chances of survival are a lot better at escaping a straightjacket than having nine tons of dirt poured all over me and a plexiglass coffin that may not even sustain the sheer weight of the dirt pouring all over it. The minute that coffin cracks, so do you. There’s simply no two ways about it, and I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this stunt really is. When you have a skilled and popular performer like Banachek willing to teach his secrets for free to people who wish to attempt this stunt in hopes of keeping them from getting themselves killed, you just know how many people fear and respect the buried alive act for the dangerous performance that it truly is.