I adore the Fast and the Furious films as much as the next Vin Diesel Fan Club member, but none feature a practical stunt that I find as gutsy or hypnotic as Maut ka Kuan, or "The Well of Death," in Northern India. The concept is simple as it is dangerous: a handful of drivers speed motorcycles and cars around the walls of a large wooden barrel at an incline that approaches 90 degrees. The spectacle of colorful lights, zipping metal, and fearless humans spitting in the face of physics has, naturally, attracted its fair share of documentarians. This is a boon for those of us who don’t have the funds to make the trip.
The most recent mini-doc, Riders of the Well of Death, comes from director Erik Morales. It’s one of the more lucid docs about the stunt, spending most of its runtime getting to know the people who produce and perform this show each night.
In 2013, director Jim Demuth created a music video in the Well of Death for the song WOR by Django Django.
And YouTube has a surplus of raw footage and experimental docs, like this video from user Rudy Singh.
What I didn’t know until recently is that the Wells of Death operated in India are part of a larger global phenomenon called the Wall of Death. The fundamental components — speeding vehicles, steep circular wall — first appeared in Coney Island in the early 1900s, and have since sprouted across the world. Just this year, race car driver Guy Martin broke the speed record for driving on a Wall of Death, hitting 78 mph on live TV.