Thursday, October 14, 2010

Harry Anderson's Improved Needle Thru Arm

Hey everyone!

Cris Johnson here, back with a SPPOOOOOOKKY review! (Yes, the cheesiness continues!)

I'm on limited time (October is CRAZY busy!) so no house keeping this week - other than I'm still taking sign ups for my free ezine, "Cause & Effects," which features articles each month for the professional performer. Sign up today by emailing me at

OK, off to this week's "Halloween - themed" review! I'm tackling a REALLY old product, one that's been out forever - Harry Anderson's Improved Needle Thru Arm! It's available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus and the ad copy is here:

One quick note: the reason why I love this month's Halloween theme is that it allows me to delve deep into some older products. Just because it's been around for a while doesn't mean it's not still relevant and that's the case with this product.

EFFECT: You show a long needle and shove it into your arm! The spectators can see your skin stretch and then the wound bleeds! To finish, you wipe the stage blood off the wound and show you have no lasting hole in your skin!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The needle and bulb (which is removeable to contain stage blood), written instructions and suggestions. The package comes in a sturdy cardboard box to protect the needle.

QUALITY OF PROPS: The needle is very well made and looks great, even up close. Due to the nature of the prop (the needle is hollow) it is somewhat delicate. I've kept mine in the box between performances for about 13 years and my needle still works great.

DIFFICULTY: From a sleight of hand standpoint, I'd rate this around a 1 or 2, but the crucial 'move' needs some serious 'motivation' to cover and unfortunately, the instructions give you ZERO help here. Over time, I've come up with sufficient motivation in my scripting, but be aware that it will require work on your part. This brings me to...

QUALITY OF DIRECTIONS. Eh. It tells you how to do the trick and there are some good tips as far as getting into and out of the effect, but overall, the instructions are rather sparse. Additionally, two 'secret substances' are recommended. The first, which many of you probably know, is found easily. The second is something I was never able to find. Granted, I never tried the Internet, but initially, no such luck. I'd rate the instructions as a 5.

MARKETS: Do I even need to mention this? Adults or teens ONLY, please! I only perform this effect once or twice per year, usually at a night time teen event and ONLY after I clear it with my client first. This is NOT something to break out for 99% of gigs out there, ESPECIALLY in this PC era!

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Despite the lack of decent instructions and despite the lack of me being able to find the second 'substance,' I still like this effect. It packs a wallup and is something that looks incredible, even up close. I know Harry has put out a deluxe version for nearly three times the amount of this, but quite frankly, I don't do the effect enough to warrant spending the money.

This is best as a parlor effect, (maybe 50 people) as from stage, (100+) not everyone would be able to appreciate the illusion.

The funny thing is, if you don't know how it's done, when you first hear the secret, if you're like me, you'll immediately think, 'there's no way that's going to work,' but the fact is, it does! People are blown away by this effect. It looks so real...and disgusting.:)

I'll rate this as an 7 out of 10 - great of my all time favorites... hampered only by insufficient instructions and (at the time) my inability to find the necessary 'something' that allows you to clean up the effect and show your arm unmarked at the end of the routine.

Until next time...

Cris Johnson

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