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Topic: Effects that Scare Them!
Message: Posted by: sbays (Mar 27, 2003 10:25PM)
Hi guys, looking to get some ideas from you all. What are some of the effects you use/know of that really scare spectators? You know the ones that just really freak them out. Looking to get into some dark theatre projects so any ideas would be great. Thanks all!
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Mar 27, 2003 11:12PM)
Effects don't scare people (nor do they make people laugh); presentations do.

In the right hands, the linking rings are scary. For me, "Ashes On The Hand" is one of the most emotional pieces of theater ever created.

If you'd like a good source of material that can be presented powerfully, I recommend picking up a bound copy of Invocation.
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Mar 28, 2003 01:33AM)
I have to agree with Necromancer. Effects don't touch people's emotions, on any level. It is all in the story and the presentation. A great ghost story with no or minimal effects is scary. The most horrific apparition standing alone is not. Reading through this forum should give you plenty of ideas.

:firedevil: :bat: :firedevil:
Message: Posted by: The Curator (Mar 28, 2003 02:14AM)
The "Immortal" may be VERY scary. :cuteangel:
Especially if you perform Zodiac before.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Mar 28, 2003 09:24AM)
As frightening as Mr. Chelman's suggestion may be, this is scarier:
Message: Posted by: Michael Peterson (Mar 28, 2003 03:55PM)
The Okito voodoo doll always gets a great reaction, I always save it as the last thing I do for people when I do magic. It never fails to freak people out :baby:
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Mar 28, 2003 11:17PM)
Neil is right on here. The scariest experiences I ever had were in live theater.

In one piece I saw, a single actor dramatized an H.P. Lovecraft story about a supernatural being that could not endure light being shut up in a church steeple by deranged worshipers. The actor/narrator acted out climbing the steps with a flashlight, the only source of light on the stage, held under his face. Just about the time that we could no longer take the fear of the thing that could not bear the light, the actor turned off the flashlight, plunging the theater into darkness. He spoke barely above a whisper. I had goosebumps over most of my body, and when he turned out the light, I was fairly sure that grasping tendrils of darkness sought me out.

As has been said often in the Café, suggestion is everything. There was nothing here but a good actor, a powerful script and a flashlight.

Over lunch one day in a sunlit atrium, I told a group of scientists about a puppet theater presentation that I had seen of a Japanese ghost story. By the end of my account, I could see the goosebumps on the arms of one woman, and she looked pale. Imagine what the theatrical experience was. This one was way better than the Lovecraft piece!

So it's the material, and the presentation. I would also add that even a modest live production is far more intense than anything on film, so that is working in your favor when you do effects.


Message: Posted by: WR (Mar 31, 2003 10:43AM)
Replace the ashes in "Ashes to Palm" with blood. Tie it into your best story. Look at an urban legends page to get some spooky ideas. Find what local ones are in your town. Most locals know the local stories. Here in UT we have the legend about a lady in red; who runs across the road if you honk three times by a certain cementary. Everyone knows the legend or has at least heard of it. Hmm, I could turn that into an effect...
WR :wow:
Message: Posted by: the levitator (Apr 1, 2003 10:45PM)
Well, when I first started out, I had this one. It started "take a card, any card....."
That one really scattered 'em!

Bwaaa haa haa haaaaa!
Message: Posted by: WR (Apr 2, 2003 03:11PM)
Your post made me think of one of NLT Bro. Gene's (Pause for rememberance) effects;
WR :wow:
Message: Posted by: Turk (Apr 2, 2003 09:54PM)
On 2003-03-31 11:43, WR wrote:
Replace the ashes in "Ashes to Palm" with blood. Tie it into your best story. Look at an urban legends page to get some spooky ideas. Find what local ones are in your town. Most locals know the local stories. Here in UT we have the legend about a lady in red; who runs across the road if you honk three times by a certain cementary. Everyone knows the legend or has at least heard of it. Hmm, I could turn that into an effect...
WR :wow:


I kind of like the suggestion about using blood instead of the ashes. As it stands now, I have difficulty doing "Ashes in the Palm" because of the pervasive anti-smoking laws that blanket the country.

I'd like to use the blood; and instead of using a voodoo doll presentation, I'd like to really freak "them" out by using a "needle thru back of hand". Are you aware of any fake "needle thru back of hand" effects that you could recommend to this chicken (who hates to even get a shot from the doctor)?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

Message: Posted by: cogliostro (Apr 2, 2003 10:28PM)
Separated from the presentation and thus reduced to mere trickery, Rick Maue's "Predestination" is a simply bit of card handling. But when properly presented; using a tarot deck, having the patter build up to a point where the spectator "believes" that the card they have in their hand controls their future, and having them discover they are holding the death card - it ALWAYS get 'em. The presentation makes all the difference.

Message: Posted by: Turk (Apr 2, 2003 11:16PM)

Where can a person find Rick Maue's "Predestination"? Is is a separate effect, or is it contained in a book or manuscript?

Message: Posted by: MillMagic (Apr 3, 2003 08:04PM)
Banachek's "Psychokinetic Touches" is incredible. You need to get caught a bit in order to do it well, but it is a real killer (no pun intended). It is a bit tricky to find, but go for it; it's worth it tenfold, maybe more.

DJM :firedevil:
Message: Posted by: Magickman (Apr 3, 2003 09:56PM)
You're right Turk,
Ashes just don't flip the bill anymore.
But, get a sugar cube and draw a pentagram in soft red pencil; and you got something to work with! Great for witch routines as well as werewolves. Nice thing is, you can even use it more than once!

Message: Posted by: cogliostro (Apr 3, 2003 10:01PM)

I have not yet bought "The Book of Haunted Magic" but I believe that "Predetermined" is in it. (Yes, I got the name wrong in the first posting.) But the effect can definitely be found in his video - "Haunted Magick - The Video."


I do this one trick about 250 times last October - it is a great effect for those working a line - and in the bright light of a noisy mall waiting to get into a haunted house, this effect spooked them EVERY time.

BTW - For those of you near Pittsburgh, Rick has a haunted house that he runs every year. Many of the people who have seen it describe it as a "walk-thru seance." He describes it as a slow cerebral haunting.


- Rob
Message: Posted by: CardFan (Apr 4, 2003 10:24AM)
I agree with the Curator. (Even if he stole Christian Chelmann's face). Zodiac's really a killer, in a good way.
Message: Posted by: WR (Apr 4, 2003 03:04PM)
He is Christian Chelmann.
No needle trick. Try Harry Anderson's "Needle Thru Arm."
WR :wow:
Message: Posted by: lyndonwebb (Apr 6, 2003 04:20PM)
I think one of the most powerful yet underplayed effects is the haunted key
esp if you can get a really good routine.
Oh yeah and get the key to turn in there hands
Message: Posted by: WR (Apr 7, 2003 06:08PM)
I love the haunted key. I start my shows with an effect with it. I am working on an effect where the haunted key opens a lock...
WR :wow:
Message: Posted by: R i c h T (Apr 8, 2003 09:27AM)
In the past I have had good reactions to Peter Marucci's 'The Ripper Strikes'.

The working of it is simple enough to let you really concentrate on your presentation. But the atmosphere is paramount to getting the reaction you want.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Apr 8, 2003 11:08AM)
As long as WR is talking about the haunted key and Rich T is talking about Peter, check out his beautifully eerie presentation of the haunted key, "The Key to the Borley Rectory," at http://www.online-visions.com.
Message: Posted by: cogliostro (Apr 11, 2003 10:54PM)

Okay, I could use a few pointers. Exactly where in Online Visions can that routine be found?

- Rob
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 11, 2003 11:21PM)
The Key to Borley Rectory is in my Bizarre Bazaar column in Visions.
Message: Posted by: chrismatt (Apr 12, 2003 01:48PM)
Any good "Jack the Ripper" routine will do the trick. Docc Hilford has a good one (BTW, have you thought about a toe-switching automated cell phone to do the dirty work?), as does Keith Lack/Arlen Studio (the Dear Boss letter).
Message: Posted by: Anverdi-museum (Aug 23, 2003 07:51AM)
I use a great routine around Halloween time. The old "Dead and Alive" test. I go a little further as the piece of paper that has the deceased persons name on it actually moves! You can accomplish this a few ways. First is with an invisible thread reel, the thread on these things is near invisible. Another seldom seen method is with a "mexican jumping bean". You will find these sometimes on display at novelty shops, etc. Secretly drop the bean into the deceased persons paper square, tightly crunch it up and drop on the table with the others, this "drop" should wake up the little fellow in the bean, he will make the paper move slightly. Try it, it is great!!! :cucumber:
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Aug 23, 2003 10:28AM)
After much trial and error, I have to say that needle thru arm works great. I personally do it through my throat. That really makes the specs nervous. I added some voodoo patter about the dead feeling no pain. Try the ashes on the hand anyway, even if you have to keep a stash of ashes with you. Then write the name of a deceased character (from your story, maybe) on a small piece of flash paper and have it burn in your hand, then have the spec open their hand.

The threaded razor blades or needles is a doozy too. While "threading" the blades in your mouth act like you nicked yourself inside and the either spit out a little blood or let it run out of the corner of your mouth and then whipe it away. They always squirm at this.

I'm trying to work on a bit where I nail the specs card to my forehead. A little blood wouldn't hurt there either.

Also, check out Andrew Mayne's Shock FX. That stuff is full of creepiness!

Good luck!

Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Aug 23, 2003 06:10PM)
Thrice Drawn Circle (my routine in Invocation, vol 2, or in the Complete version) works VERY well for me.

Basically a CT, I use it to reveal the name of a person who the volunteer wishes would stay away from them, forever, in the context of creating a spell that will protect them FROM that person.

Plays quite well, if I do say so myself.

I used to do another one using a bit of stage blood, a small chunk of red Jell-O and a TT to produce a blood clot, but I had too many people get sick or faint to keep using it! Not to mention, it was a pain to carry from table to table in restaurants! :lol:

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: CENDRE (Aug 25, 2003 03:09AM)
The effect that really scares me !...

The linking ring...

I'm horrified when I begin to hear :Kling ! Kling ! And now, Kling ! And then Kling !
... sorry

But I agree with C. Chelman : His routine "The Immortal" in Urban Legend is very well made and can be very scary if the spectator begins to identify himself to the protagonist of the story.

But generaly speaking, when you really succeed in getting your spectators involved in your story (to make them a little more "actor" than "spectators"), you can scare them.
Message: Posted by: daminfell (Aug 31, 2003 08:06PM)
I agree with chrismatt. Docc Hilford's stuff is full of creepiness
Message: Posted by: PyroDevil (Sep 1, 2003 01:05AM)
Funny how none said in this post The Web by Jim Pace. This trick literally gave my mum a heart attack when I first showed it to her. This is the effect I use to really scare people. :baby:
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Sep 9, 2003 09:26AM)
On 2003-09-01 02:05, PyroDevil wrote:
Funny how none said in this post The Web by Jim Pace. This trick literally gave my mum a heart attack when I first showed it to her. This is the effect I use to really scare people. :baby:

Yeah. I saw Copperfield do this to Cindy Crawford on her short-lived show. She screamed and almost belted him in the chops.

Too many people have phobias about spiders (I used to have one myself, but I got help) for this to be in the "fun-scary" category.

Not to mention that you almost invariably have to go chacing the little spider all over the room when the victim flings it into the air!

Try the Potsherd Trick (lately done as ashes in the palm) using Heba Haba Al's idea of using a sugar cube that you mark with a soft eyebrow pencil for the source.

Similar effect, more personal, especially as you can use an occult symbol. And no one will be going catatonic on you if they ARE phobic (which is the extreme reaction - and one which I have seen happen twice to people performing this effect).

Just my 2 cent's worth.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: mystic shriner (Sep 10, 2003 12:08AM)
The most frightening experience you could ever give your client; the most horrific experience is to.......

Show them their bill. :wow:

Sorry, it seemed like this thread somehow needed an anti-climax..... :bg:
Great thread! I can't wait to read Pete's article!
Message: Posted by: irossall (Sep 10, 2003 10:17AM)
Because I do effects for many children as well as many adults who are afraid of spiders, I am replacing my "The Web" effect with "Caterpillar Love". I have not recieved my "Caterpillar Love" yet but I will still Exercise caution when I perform it for children. I don't do scary Magic much so I am not fully informed as to what is the scariest effects.
Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Sep 11, 2003 10:17AM)
On 2003-09-10 01:08, mystic shriner wrote:
The most frightening experience you could ever give your client,the most horrific experience is to.......

show them their bill. :wow:

Sorry, it seemed like this thread somehow needed an anti-climax..... :bg:
great thread! I can't wait to read Pete's article!

Well, at least you're not just another pretty fez! :rotf:

Couldn't resist...

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: montz (Sep 11, 2003 11:18AM)
May I suggest selling your spectators soul to the devil? VERY scary...

Check out Mark of the Devil at Bizarremagick.com

Message: Posted by: Kenn Capman (Sep 12, 2003 12:26PM)
Doing effects that temporarily 'grant' paranormal powers to the spectator can be disquieting to them as well.
Message: Posted by: bootweasel (Oct 16, 2003 10:23AM)
I read Mark of the Devil (I have performed shriek of the mutilated for many years and I still love it) and it got me thinking.

How about accidentally selling the spectator's soul? There's a mix up, the wrong piece of paper gets used, it has their name on it.

The spectator suddenly finds they can cut to the aces in a deck, roll a six on a dice every time... etc.

I also had an idea that could make someone's blood run cold. On display you have a painting, something classical of souls in torment, people behind bars with the devil as the gaoler, that sort of thing. You refer to it in your story to set the scene. They have the 'accident' and realise that they are now lucky.

"Erm, how upset would you be if I told you that you had appeared in the painting...?"
Subtly, in the background, in one of the cells.

You'd need to play this very seriously to make it work. I think if you had one of those exceptionally scary satyr's skulls that http://www.fiendishcuriosities.com advertise, you could begin to make someone doubt their accepted beliefs before you scare them witless.

I hope you like it, I call it. Faustian Facsimile.
Message: Posted by: preston91 (Oct 17, 2003 07:35AM)
I'll be performing walk-around at a "Spooktacular event this month and will be performing Peter Marucci's Key to Borley Manor, Salem's Lot,Vampire Bat, and Finger of Fate.
( Great stuff Peter!!) Also Voodoo Doll, Gadabout coins (with a Gypsy story line)and Glorby.
Message: Posted by: Chad Sanborn (Oct 17, 2003 11:49AM)
The idea of the jmping beans as a method reminds of another scary and offbeat method/effect. That of the 'crawling bill'. Where a dollar seems to crawl accross the table on its own. The method used was a bug waxed to the bottom!

Message: Posted by: Mina (Oct 17, 2003 11:09PM)
The scariest of all is me without make up!! Yuck

Ashed to hand never fails to make arms wave and jaws drop

Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Oct 18, 2003 10:53AM)
I'm sure you're just as stunning with out make up Mina.

Kindest regards,

George Tait
Message: Posted by: Mina (Oct 18, 2003 03:39PM)
Heehee awww thanks George..also another effect that scares them....Needle thru arm!!!

have a spooktacular Helloween

Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Oct 18, 2003 04:41PM)
It's a little hard to do, but I have used the adhesive side to attach a flea to a piece of cigarette paper. Another goodie is to use micro glass beads to move books, etc.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Oct 18, 2003 04:55PM)

Excuse me if I'm just haveing a mental block moment, but what are you talking about?

Kindest Regards,

George Tait
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Oct 18, 2003 10:57PM)
George, I'm talking about scary effects... Did I miss something? The art is in the presentation, or at least it used to be!
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Oct 18, 2003 11:11PM)
Hi Mina!!!

Good seeing you in here!!!

You're right about ashes to hand is jaw dropping.

Tarbells Volume 2 has a couple of effects listed which would be appropriate for Halloween:

Ghostly Card in the Dark,Date on Borrowed Coin,Spirit Answers, Phantom Tray, Evil Eye, Spooky Lights, Apparitions of Spirit Articles, Ghostly Faces, Ectoplasm, Ghost Materialization to name some. :eek: