Monthly archives for February, 2012

REVIEW: Bride of Monster Mentalism DVD by Docc Hilford

Hi all,

Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog. I had insane traveling the last couple of weeks, driving on average of 11 hours a day, followed by a plane trip to Florida for training. On top of all that, I became quite ill. Fortunately, I am ‘back in the saddle,’ so to speak and ready to write.

Big thanks to those of you who ordered my Corporate Magician’s Newsletter System. All orders have been shipped. Those of you who made the investment will surely appreciate the simplicity of the system along with the booking dollars it will generate. Additionally, I’ve also included an UNADVERTISED bonus in the course.:) If you have any question, shoot me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

On to this week’s review: Bride of Monster Mentalism DVD by Docc Hilford. It’s DVD number 3 in the 4-DVD series. It’s available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus.

Here’s the Ad Copy:
Volume 3 – Bride of Monster Mentalism

A dreadfully seductive beauty has emerged from the depths. She begins by humorously entertaining her victims and leaves them with an insatiable urge to believe in her awful abilities. This bride is dangerous. She is MENTALISM!

A Letter from the Future — A mysterious man risks everything to travel forward in time, gain information and prove he’s returned to the past. But will he live long enough to see his proof discovered? An interactive production that will draw you into every choice that either proves or disproves it’s not just science fiction.

Tridiction — When David was thrown out of a Tahoe casino, he vowed revenge. A Satanic pact gives him a weird power, enabling him to predict the outcome of dice, poker and 21! Now they would pay, but what would be the price to David’s soul? WARNING: This technique is described for entertainment purposes only!

Self Help — When evil genius Harry Lorayne created a nightmare in his basement, he never dreamed that its chains would be broken and the little terror re-trained to rip the eyes out of innocent tradeshow attendees. But that’s what happened. Come see the beast . . . if you dare. In 1992, a group of young college students were forced to participate in the following three unspeakable, psychic experiments:

Projected Force — A subject was psycholo­gically MADE to think of a playing card without any being present. NOTICE: This is the original method that became a famous UK mentalist’s favorite

Peek Book — Without a single book in view, another subject was instructed to merely think of a word. She never wrote it down, yet unconsciously made it evident to the experimenter. An apparent “bookless-booktest.”

ESPed — A subject was finally instructed to draw any picture he imagined on an index card. This experiment was conducted across the room and the experimenter never touched the card, yet he still had total knowledge of the design. Now the experimenter becomes the experimented! The required props for this full routine are as bare as the skeletons buried behind the laboratory. It’s shockingly direct!

“This is the closest thing to real mind reading I’ve ever seen!” — Dr. John Randolph, Miskatonic University Dept. of Psychology

As with previous releases, there is a lot to like for any serious mentalist as well as a few things I did not care for. Let’s look at each routine one by one…

A Letter From The Future: This is essentially a card prediction in which the selected card is very fairly selected and it’s shown that a letter from the past predicted what card would be selected.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a good, clean revelation of a predicted card. The actual work is embarrassingly simple, allowing you to concentrate on presentation. The letter itself and the way it’s constructed allows for some great psychology and if you perform this as Docc does, you’ll get credit for predicting more than you actually did.

Of course, you can use any method of having the card selected, but Docc’s looks very fair and the method harkens back to the boldness of classical mentalists such as Anneman and Dunninger.

The routine, like a lot of Docc’s stuff, is lengthy in terms of exposition. Your performing have to be up to snuff on this one.

I wasn’t blown away, but I did like this. 7/10.

Tridiction: This is essentially a one-ahead routine with some incredible Equivouqe work. (I probably spelled it wrong.) The routine itself is based on a gambling theme which is pretty common for such one-ahead three part predictions.

MY THOUGHTS: You may be thinking there is nothing new here, but Docc’s presentational approach and acting throws off those in the know because he does not present this as a scripted (pre-planned) 3 part test, but rather the success of earlier part(s) seem to motivate further tests. It sounds more complicated than it really is.

The real beauty, however, was the extended “min’lecture” Docc gives on the old Magician’s Force, or Equivoque. His handling of this often abused technique is stellar and this one section of the DVD is worth it in my opinion. Simple stellar as he really makes the selection process look fair and above board with several layers to his approach I’ve never seen anywhere before.

Overall, I’ll give the routine itself a good solid 8, but the min-lecture on Equivoque gets my highest recommendation at 10/10. Simply wonderful.

Self Help: This is a multi-phase card piece. What more can I say?

MY THOUGHTS: This was OK, but again, for me to use card effects in either magic or mentalism, it really has to blow me away and while this was good in terms of airtight yet easy method, I just was not motivated to work on this.

This gets just a 5/10 from me.

Projected Force: The mentalist attempts to send a just thought of card to a participant. She is successful in that she receives his thoughts.

MY THOUGHTS: The description of the effect is just as it reads. You attempt to send a spectator a thought and she receives it. No actual cards are used, nothing is written down and there is no pre-show or stooges. Intrigued? This is GREAT stuff!!

The method has to do primarily with linguistics and a little NLP. With that in mind, I will say the method is not foolproof as many effects of a psychological nature are also not foolproof.

However, this is just so damn good that I highly recommend this DVD just for this routine. If you were to put this routine right before a sure-fire piece of mentalism that is foolproof, then this effect comes off as as a sort of pre-test, so if the end result is not spot-on, that’s OK. I LOVE this.

I’m giving this another 10/10.

Peek Book – This is just as the name implies, a peek book test, but Docc’s routine is structured in such a way that apparently the audience forgets a book was used, leaving the impression of a totally clean routine.

MY THOUGHTS: This was good. as always, Docc’s psychology is pot-on. Im not sure how well the notion of getting the audience to forget a book was ever in play really works with a modern corporate audience, but even if they pick up on the fact that a book was used, it’s still strong. I personally the book test in the previous DVD was stronger, but this was definitely worth exploring.

I’ll give it a solid 7/10.

ESPed – This is essentially a drawing duplication test in which everything is designed to look ‘above board,’ almost test conditions.

MY THOUGHTS: I felt this was the weakest piece on the whole DVD. If this “hits,” you’ve got quite amiracle, but again, with modern audiences, selecting the wrong participant for this routine means that you’ve got the potential for the person to blab out part of the method.

Plus, in a corporate environment, people can and do get asked all the time after a show about “what was really going on,” so while Docc’s psychology is sound, I personally feel there are stronger drawing dupes out there that offer methods in which the participant is as in the dark as the audience.

I’m only giving this a 3/10…not because it’s a bad routine. In actuality it’s a good routine, but the risk factor (to me) is too high. If I’m going to do a “risky” routine, I only make that choice when there are no other methods of accomplishing the effect I’m going after.

With that in mind, I’m going to give the DVD a very high 9 out of 10. Projected Force and the mini-lecture on Equivoque (Magician’s Choice) makes this DVD a must have in my view.

Next week I finish up the Monster mentalism review series with DVD #4 and a summation of the whole set.

Until next time…

Cris

REVIEW: Curse of Monster Mentalism

Hi Everyone,

This week’s review picks up where last week left off. We move to Volume 2 of Docc Hilford’s “Monster Mentalism” series of DVDs. It’s available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus.

Here’s the ad copy:

Docc Hilford is the crazed creator of the renowned Cassandra Deck, author of over 30 books on mentalism and consultant for a dozen television shows. He’s joined by professional mentalist David Alexander to discuss the psychology behind each piece. Monster Mentalism is an astonishing collection of useable effects and the diabolical methods that have made Docc Hilford infamous.

Volume 2 – Curse of Monster Mentalism

Mentalism is killing people — but not in a good way. Death by dullness. However a MONSTER is loose. A creature that’s set on revenge. Vowing to destroy a contemporary tediousness that’s growing like a cancer.

Tear away from the safety of your father’s mentalism. Give yourself completely to the curse. Become one of us . . .

Nightmare Coin — Have you ever dreamt you walked past an empty house at night? Have you ever been unable to wake up from a nightmare? From the acclaimed book, Band of the Hand, comes a chilling routine that turns a spectator’s ethereal dream into a solid, spendable nightmare!

Rasputin’s Secret — The man who couldn’t die! Rasputin used a palace as a playground. His unbridled lust and alcoholic gluttony knew no bounds. His surreptitious secret, and a special deck of cards, allowed him to know the past, the present and the future. Information that freed him from the mundane laws of society. Now you can possess his secret . . . his life style . . . and his deck! IMPORTANT NOTICE: This specialized deck still sells for $25. Tell no one.

For One to End — Do you believe that speaking certain words can influence a person’s thoughts? One man did and used his awesome ability to wreak havoc throughout a quiet seaside resort. Psychic expert Banachek declares Docc Hilford’s original technique to be, “. . . one of the strongest psychological subtleties in print today!” See the unedited, director’s cut.

40,000 Words — Like a brain that will not die, this hoax will assault your senses with a barrage of clandestine information. Psychically removing a mentally selected word from a spectator’s brain will propose no problems, but can it be done without des­troying the surrounding living tissue? You must see this!

Rhineless ESP — A quiet laboratory. A simple test between two people. And a mental power so astounding that when unleashed, it threatens to destroy an entire university. See this with someone you love so they won’t have to suffer through another night of the dreaded Two-Person-Code!

1 in 10 — See that man? He’s different. He makes remarkable statements, boasts incredible intelligence and successfully demonstrates his claims. But he has something normal men don’t — the incredible power to erase your memory, leaving only facts he wishes you to retain. Now even the simplest card tricks hold dreadful intensity. WARNING: This routine contains powerful concepts and is intended for use by responsible individuals.

As I wrote last week, this DVD series features effects performed in front of the ever-overacting L&L group. I should also point out that most of the time, the effects are presented out of sequence…in other words, in one sequence, Docc may be standing performing a parlor or ‘stage’ effect then the DVD cuts to a crowd reaction shot of applause and then we see Docc seated at a table preparing to perform a close up set. This is a tad unfortunate because from my perspective, seeing a pro transition from one effect to another in a set list would be invaluable in addition to seeing said performer perform and get a sense of why s/he puts their routines in the sequence they do. (As we had the opportunity to do with Max maven’s Nothing performance).

Be that as it may, there are some gems in each DVD as well as a few things I did not care for.

Let’s go through each effect in turn…

NIGHTMARE COIN: Essentially, this is a story-telling routine that links to three invisible (as in just talked about) coins and one real coin is produced from thin air, the one a spectator chooses.

From a story telling standpoint, this routine is terrific. The effect, a production of a coin selected by a spectator, is an OK effect. It didn’t blow me away but it was very nice. This routine is anchored by a strong story which illustrates why Docc is so charismatic.

The workings of the routine from a technical standpoint are not difficult at all. Good effect, better routine…this is one I’d probably find a different “trick” to use with the story. Docc’s was just fine, but to my tastes, all of the build up could be better spent on a more appealing effect. I should also point out that I’m not a coin guy. Other than a good 3 Fly routine, most coin work bores me to tears, so I’m not exactly objective.

My rating: 5/10. Four of the points were for the story and Docc’s acting.

RASPUTIN’S SECRET: This is a mentalism card effect wrapped around the tale of Rasputin. Honestly, if I try to recap the effect, I’ll just muck it up, so I’ll skip to the chase and say it’s a mind reading trick done with a gimmicked deck. I don;t mind spilling the beans on that because Docc’s ad copy mentions that the trick deck is still sold for $25. He tips the workings here, so you can decide for yourself whether to buy it or make it.

Honestly, after watching the effect several times, I personally felt it was a bit on the convoluted side, so I’m even habing trouble recalling it.

I am also not opposed to mentalism with cards, but I feel the most straightforward effect possible is preferable. I did not care for this at all. Docc has a much better card effect on this very DVD that I loved.

My rating: 2/10.

FOR ONE TO END: This effect is based on that old psychological force where you tell someone to name a number between 1 and 4 and most of the time a person says “3.” Then you turn over your little card and it says, “Why does everyone pick 3?” (In more crass versions, the card says something like “Why do all jerks pick 3?” Ugh.)

In Docc’s version, he’s added some nice psychological subtleties to guarantee ‘success’ even when another number is named. The degree of perceived ‘success’ depends on which number is named, but there are outs for every number. The entire presentation is wrapped around the idea of subliminal advertising. It’s a fascinating topic, one I explored for a couple of projects when I was in college.

It’s easy to see Docc put a lot of work into this and the premise is fasconating, but ultimately, it’s a one out of four choice. I wasn’t blown away, but I didn’t hate it. Ultimately I was not motivated to work on this myself, so to me it’s a miss.

If you’re hanging around a group of people and your are the psychological type of mentalist as opposed to a ‘psychic’ in terms of presentation, you may want to work with this.

My rating: 5/10.

40,000 WORDS: In essence, this is a book test done with a dictionary that is gimmicked. You must gimmick it yourself and once you get into it, you’ll see that this gimmick is not something you can whip out in a couple of minutes. It’s a pain in the butt not because of any technical demands but only because it will take time and Docc almost admits as much, but once done, you’ll have a helluva book test. The presentation is masterful, too.

To add even more intrigue, the chosen words can be different every performance – in other words, no force.

Docc gives a lot of great tips on when to do the dirty work, the psychology, even where your eyes look. Great, great stuff here. Reviewing it again, I really MUST put one of these together as I enjoy book tests.

I’d give it a perfect 10, but it does have some angle issues so instead I’ll bump it down to…

My rating: 9/10.

To expand on those angle thoughts, you can mask the ‘issue’ fairly easily but I would not try it surrounded. If you’re in a parlor or stage situation and you’re not surrounded, you’ll be fine. From my standpoint as a working pro, I’m just fine with it, but I know a lot of people are looking for things you can do informally for your friends and this most assuredly will NOT fit the bill as no way can this book test be examined.

Honestly, this is so good it’s worth the price of the DVD.

RHINELESS ESP: This is a simple effect with ESP cards and a very simple two-person code. It’s so simple that this is one of those things you could teach the CEO of a company to do with you on stage. I personally am against trying to teach a member of an adult party anything (too much distraction, booze, etc) but the idea of the CEO reading minds during your act has great marketing potential.

The flip side is adults in corporate situations love to blab, so if you’re going to do this, you’ll really have to do your best to convince him not to blab the secret.

Of course, if you have a partner with you, all of this is moot as you have a pretty cool two person mindreading routine you can do just about anywhere. Zero angle problems and it’s really easy to learn.

You can apply this to other effects, but due to the nature of the system, your list of possible choices is limited….in other words, you can’t do this with all 52 cards out of a deck of cards but the principal could be applied to another small list of 5 or so objects, potentially, though it’s really designed for an ESP deck.

1 IN 10: This was one of the highlights of the entire series for me. Essentially what happens is a spectator simply thinks of a card (really, no force) and you think of a card. You spread a deck of cards face up and give the spectator 10 chances to pluck your card out of the spread. Of course the spectator fails and then you spread the deck facedown on the table and reach down and pick up the spectator’s card.

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? It is.

Granted, as with all things Docc Hilford, there is a lot more going on than what I just described, but if done correctly, all the spectators should perceive is what I typed. This is really a master class in spectator management in terms of what they recall, how you can influence them to forget things and so much more.

I LOVED this routine. Docc took around 10-15 minutes explaining the nuances of this routine in the explanation section and there he claims when he does this in a lecture setting, it’s an hour just on this routine. I’d LOVE to sit in on that hour!

The only potential drawback is that the routine is long and the whole process of the spectator trying ten times to pick your card could draw out too long in the wrong hands, so this routine requires your “A” game in terms of pacing and management. The physical work is very easy. I feel this is a classic.

My rating: 10/10.

Once again, there were highly rated items on this DVD and low rated items. Be that as it may, I’m going to give the overall rating of this DVD a 9 out of 10. Despite what I felt were a few “misses,” the 40,000 Word routine and 1 in 10 are sooooo worth the asking price. Rhineless ESP is pretty good too.

Next Week: Volume 3 of Monster Mentalism!

Best,

Cris Johnson