Graphic of a two-headed lizard from eXistenZ

Transcript: Scanners: Exploding Head

STEPHAN DUPUIS: The famous exploding head, which we tried different models of… We had a plaster one, if I can remember correctly. We had a wax one. And then we had the gelatin one.

RONALD SANDERS: It was a Louis Del Grande formed head. Just before it goes, you can see it. It’s a little shiny, but, again, you have to sell it in the editing.

MARK IRWIN: They filled the head with shell macaroni and vermicelli and all blood. It was great. But, they couldn’t – we did this test and every time we put a squib in there, you’d see the spark.

STEPHAN DUPUIS: When it exploded with the explosives, there was a massive amount of smoke. It looked more like the Death Star than, you know, a human head exploding. (CHUCKLES)

RONALD SANDERS: There were many, many tries. Probably, the one where it sort of vaporized would’ve been the most realistic, but it didn't look very good.

MARK IRWIN: So, what would we do? And Gary Zeller was the effects coordinator.

STEPHAN DUPUIS: We were in this big warehouse. Gary laid down on the floor with a shotgun,

MARK IRWIN: And Gary crawled underneath the chair that this dummy was in, put a double-barrel shotgun to the back of its head...

STEPHAN DUPUIS: Pointed it to the back of the head. We all headed for the hills except for the camera guys. And he just shot it. It was fantastic. It’s just like... the image was mind boggling.

(HEAD EXPLODES)

(PEOPLE SCREAM)

STEPHAN DUPUIS: You see the teeth, the eyeballs just shooting out and everything. All in, like, perfect detail. (CHUCKLES) So, there you go.

MARK IRWIN: But ironically, Pierre David, who was well aware of American culture as well as the kind of the NC-17 version of what... Well, actually, in those days, it was an X. He stood up in dailies and said, “It’s perfect. We’re screwed. We’ll get an X. We have to re-shoot it.”

And everybody was, “What? No, no, no.”

So, the next weekend we were back. We had three dummies, as I recall. All made by the French Canadian crew and Pierre was on their back. “Do this, do this, ... .” (GRUNTS).

Alright, same deal. Everyone – turn on their cameras and hide in the trucks. Gary pulls out his shotgun and blows the scene and the first one is solid plaster. Just like a marble head blew up.

“OK, oh, c’est dommage. Let's go again. I'm sorry that didn't work. Try the next one."

And, same deal: click, explosion. Filled with mint jelly. Bright green jelly flying everywhere. (CHUCKLES)

“Oh, I don’t know what happened there. Let's go again, we've got one more!”

And the third one: filled with confetti. (EXPLOSION SOUND)

So, they were trying to tell – none too subtly – tried to tell Pierre, “We’re not going to this again. We had it perfectly.” And that’s the one that’s in the movie. And it didn’t get an X.

RONALD SANDERS: I mean, it wasn’t difficult to pick the right one, but it was performance. And, you know, we picked the one. And if you look at it in slow motion, it’s quite amazing. The head, the face sort of falls down like a flap. And the stuff comes out. I had the fourteen frames of it on my cutting room bulletin board for years. I don’t know what happened to that, I wish I still had it. I’ll have to find an old print somewhere and cut those frames out. But I remember it was fourteen frames, from beginning to end. Pretty cool fourteen frames.