First off, a HUGE plug for the Hocus Pocus Trade In Days! Each year I go through my stuff and find effects and props that for whatever reason just do not 'click' with my act. Maybe they don't fit in my new car (which I discovered to my horror with a large prop that, while cool, just did not fit into my new 2012 car) or maybe it's just the evolution of the act, but the Trade In Days concept is a great one - send Paul your unwanted magic in the form of a list along with what you're looking to get in store credit in return.
Paul will look it over and let you know whether he can take any of it. In my own experience, most of the time he has and the amount of store credit he gives is very generous indeed.
I just turned in some stuff and picked up a very nice chunk of store credit that I'm still figuring out how to spend.
A few months ago, I was able to pick up the John Kennedy Voodoo Doll - a pricey stage prop that's almost impossible to find - in near-new condition.
So, if you've got stuff you're not using, send your list of goodies to Paul. Rather than letting it collect dust, you can turn it in and get some stuff that may fit into your act...I have several times and it's always worked out very well for me.
On to this week's review: It's the final DVD of Monster Mentalism by Docc Hilford. It's Night of Monster Mentalism, available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the ad copy:
Volume 4 - Night of Monster Mentalism
It's a dark night when audiences scratch at your door . . . demanding actual entertainment. A single taste of your new mentalism isn't enough. They need more! Following you on the street, reaching through the hallways of restaurants or even breaking thewindows of your own home, what will you do when they cry for MONSTER MENTALISM?
Impossible Choice -- What's crazier than a mad street performer who sneaks off to a deserted coffee shop, transforms himself into a mutant half-mentalist, half-jellyfish and attacks college kids with his razor-sharp deck of death? Not much!
The Great Magazine Test -- Like the pounding of your heart . . . book tests . . . book tests. . . BOOK TESTS! A far as a man can run, he can't escape the unremitting beating of ubiquitous book tests. There's only two ways out -- either a razor to the wrists or the gentle love of a magazine. In this test, two people share more than mere words; they share a night of insanity.
Number of the Beast -- The ancient Egyptians knew the accurate, undying vibrations of numbers. The teachings of the adepts, long hidden in the dusty tombs of the past, are now revealed in a demonstration so direct, it's impossible to understand.
It's Personal -- Meeting new people is simple. But be careful. The night is filled with strange people. When one unsuspecting woman reads a personal ad, she finds that someone knows more than her selected card, he knows everything about her! A chilling example of depraved psychic phenomena ripped from the pages of your local newspaper.
Killer on Tiber Street -- A relentless, psychotic killer is pursuing innocent prey. The police are entirely bewildered because the slayer randomly selects his unsuspecting victims from a telephone book. Only you can use psychic abilities to discover the victim, decipher the address and prevent the murder; but will you be too late?
Invisible Dice -- In the world of fast gamblers and loose women, there's a secret tool that everyone desires. Rare and beautiful, when possessed they ensure wealth, power and all the luxuries that come along for the ride. Maybe you'll find the... INVISIBLE DICE!
What I like about this DVD more than the others was the focus of the DVD was street mentalism, so most of the stuff here was designed for real-world 'stand up' conditions. A lot of great gems here.
Let's examine each in turn...
Impossible Choice - This is a mind reading card effect that looks completely fair with a couple of spectators. This was yet another card effect that did not thrill me. As I said, I'm not fundamentally opposed to card effects in mentalism but they really have to blow me away to get my attention. That being said, this was solid and an acceptable card effect in which the physical work involved is minimal in terms of effect.
Good effect. 5/10.
The Great Magazine Test - This really is strong! Two spectators are involved and the idea here is that the mentalist and one of the spectators each pick the same word in a magazine. This is incredibly clean looking and can be done with a wide range of readily available magazines.
Docc goes into which magazines to avoid and why (has to do with page numbers) incredible psychology, audience management to keep one of the spectators from blowing the ending too soon (great lesson in audience management and pacing).
This is REALLY strong and workable for the real world, and certainly not just limited to street work. This will kill from stage and if your cost-conscious of the price of book tests (or just want to make a book test type trick on the fly if the airline loses your stuff) I highly recommend this.
Number of the Beast - Essentially, the spectator thinks of a three digit number and writes it down. You never handle the pad, there are no billets, no switches, no nail writers, and no impression devices. They write it down, you close your eyes and concentrate...eventually naming the number.
The method is really quite cool, something out of a James Bond movie in certain ways. It's also direct - my description is very accurate. Docc also gives you some great ways to 'stretch' the routine and get more meat of it rather than just naming the three digit number.
This is really strong and really easy. 8/10.
It's Personal - Essentially this is a card effect where the selected card appears in your local paper. Obviously this cannot be a spur of the moment effect, but this is a great version of the idea of using a newspaper to reveal a forced choice. This is another 'worker,' and if you're going to use cards in your mentalism show, this effect is worth your consideration.
Physically, the work is quite easy and most of the 'work' is presentation and build up.
Killer on Tiber Street - This is essentially a telephone book test with an incredibly commercial and goofy presentation. I LOVED the presentation and felt it was brilliant.
Unfortunately, I felt the overall method to be convoluted and difficult to get to. The BEST phone book tests (or any book test) has what appears to be a wide open and fair and natural selection process, like Bob Kohler's Human Phone Number.
Docc's method, which he says hails from Anneman (I haven't read it) felt unbelievably clunky and full of procedure. I cannot stress enough how much the procedure dragged down Docc's terrific premise. If this truly is Anneman's method, I feel it's one of Anneman's worst.
Buy the DVD, then you'll ethically have Docc's delightful premise...then find another phone book test method, like the incredible Bob Kohler one I mentioned.
10/10 for the premise, 2/10 for the method.
Invisible Dice - Essentially, this premise involves 'invisible dice' that are rolled and called out by the spectator...and shown to be the only two cards reversed in a deck of cards. In other words, if the spectator says his two dice rolled up with a 2 and 3, then the two reversed cards in the deck are two and three.
This blew me away when I saw it. Docc's gambling premise and explanation of where the word 'mark' came from in the trick's presentation was simply fabulous and the workings of the trick itself are so simple. It's actually based on a classic gimmicked card deck method but with some nice modifications and psychology thrown in.
THIS is a STELLAR card effect to add to a mentalism set and is highly recommended. I've used this and it really plays strong.
So this final entry has a LOT of great stuff in it and in terms of the number of effects I loved is easily the best DVD in the set, so I'm giving this DVD a 9.5/10. No duds and mostly really commercial stuff.
In terms of the entire set, while every DVD had its share of turkeys, overall I would qualify this as a must-have set so my overal rating for the entire set would be 8/10.
Until next time...