It’s late. It’s dark. You’re out in a cemetery with a buddy looking to snag some swag off a couple corpses and hoist it on the local pawn shop in the morning.
You and your buddy unearth a casket, begin to pry it open and BLAM! You realize that something from inside the coffin has just shot you in the face!
Sounds like the opening scene of a Sam Raimi film. It’s not. It’s an absolutely real thing called a ‘grave gun’ or more commonly a ‘set gun’.
Originally the guns were used to protect a particular area around a campsite to prevent any kind of intruders from entering the camp. The gun’s business end was typically very wide and one to three trip-wires were then strung from the trigger of the gun and anchored at the other end to trees. When someone entering the area hit any of the trip-wires, the gun would fire effectively disabling hte intruder.
Around 1700, the original set-gun design went through a little redesign and began turning up inside the coffins of the more important individuals who’d died.
Once word spread about the ‘grave guns’ being inside random caskets? Grave robbing saw a drastic decline.
One of the last, and quite possibly, the most in your face version of the grave gun was created in the late 1880s. Called a ‘Coffin Torpedo’, the next-gen grave gun was basically a sawed-off shotgun attached to the underside of the coffin’s lid. Once you opened the casket to peer inside? SUPER-BLAM! as a sideways rain of 36-caliber lead balls raced to kiss your face.