STUDIO: A&E Home Video
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 462 minutes
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
- Celebrity guests featurette
- Deleted scenes
It’s what David Blaine would be doing more of if he ever got his ass out of the glass coffin, or 100 foot pedestal, or glass box, or block of ice, or sphere of water, or gyroscope, or Fiona Apple, Josie Maran, Daryl Hannah…
Criss Angel, Melvin “Shorty” Rossi, Banachek, J.D. Sarantakos
“Currently the number of times I’ve ‘disappeared’ various offshore accounts come tax time…”
Showcasing the various stunts of magician Criss Angel, Mindfreak takes you from the top of Las Vegas’ Luxor pyramid as Criss levitates above it to the business end of a steamroller. Angel, who’s an award-winning illusionist, gives a more rock and roll feel to his own brand of street magic. Angel alternates from classic illusions to stuff that’s more hardcore, like escaping from ropes while being dragged behind and ATV, all in the name of freaking people’s minds.
I admittedly like watching good magic. It’s a gas to see people do things even though you have no idea how they do it, even though the collective experience always ends up being somewhat of a “screw you nimrod, figure that out”. Nevertheless, back when I was but a lad, I would enjoy tuning in to Doug Henning’s (God help me) TV specials. Everything was an illuuuuuuusion…. I also liked watching David Copperfield ‘s annual specials and watching him making things disappear. Of course this was before he allegedly made a woman’s virtue disappear in the Bahamas last year, but I digress. Later I moved on to Penn & Teller and David Blaine and enjoyed their shticks as well, although I wish Blaine would spend more time fucking over people’s psyches with his sick street magic rather than seeing how long he can stay underwater or in a block of ice.
Somewhere, right now, Siegfried has never wanted to be a construction machine more…
Even though magicians as a lot are just a bit off-kilter from the rest of us, Angel is in a league of his own, if not for his magic, then his personality at least. He’s Jon Bon Jovi if he ran away, joined the circus and did mescaline with the circus freaks everyday during his formative years. He’s part showman, part rocker, part drama queen. Nevertheless, he does some pretty amazing tricks, and also takes escapology into some new territory.
A typical show consists of setting up the big stunt at the end of episode and building it up to it with hype and smaller illusions in the interim. Some of his family life is mixed in, such as the recent death of his father and his mother’s hospitalization. His brother, J.D. is a frequent contributor as well. In terms of the stunts Angel does, well some of them are downright, well, freaky. In the opening episode, “Luxor Light”, he does a levitation above the apex of the Luxor pyramid on the Las Vegas strip. In the same episode he also took up a challenge from Dog The Bounty Hunter to escape from being tied to a chair and dropped into a jacuzzi. In another episode, “Steamroller,” he lies on broken glass in a parking lot and has a mini steamroller attempt to turn him into a human turnpike. “Screwed” found Angel doing a two-step over a gauntlet of upright screwdrivers. He also eats a live mouse and turns a little girl into a grown woman. Which is funny because R. Kelly has been working on the reverse of that trick for years.
No one was more pissed than Angel when he’d been doing this for over an hour and still no cocktail waitress…
“Motorhead” has Angel doing a disappearing act in a moving Lamborghini into just a puff of smoke. He also does some escapes, such as in “Underwater Car Escape”, “Quad Drag Escape,” and “Prisoner Transport Escape” where he has to get out of a mailbag sealed in a van with 100 lbs of explosives before driving off the edge of a cliff. On “The Criss Angel Roast”, Vince Neil, Robin Leach, Penn & Teller and others come together to give Angel a tongue lashing for his birthday. Angel also celebrates by making the Luxor hotel disappear. All fairly interesting stunts at the least and a couple of them mind-blowing.
“We’re live over the strip where I’m about to magically transform some poor slob down there from a man into meat sauce via this mystical fifty-pound barbell…”
However, if there’s one thing that ultimately brings down the show in places, it’s the goddamned melodrama. Dude, it comes in like the tide – in ever increasing levels and regularly. Magicians are melodramatic to begin with, which helps to sell their bits. It’s part of the whole experience and I generally can let it slide. But Angel serves it up by raw tonnage. If it’s not about his family, it’s about the mystical energy he’s invoking, the positive waves, the good vibrations, whatever it may be. You almost have to shower after some of it. Angel is at his best when he’s on the fly or doing his street magic, some of it just simply astonishing. But slogging through the emo build-up for some of the bigger stunts or asides of family tragedies is almost like having a one night stand with a succubus – something I’m pretty sure Angel has done on more than one occasion.
“Hi, Darlin’. You like magic? Wanna see my pants disappear?”
Nevertheless, the show is pretty entertaining and Angel will show you some stuff to make your jaw drop.
There are a couple of featurettes, one a 12-minute behind-the-scenes deal. There’s another on Angel’s celebrity guests, which include Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the Amazing Johnathan in a truly lame sketch, and another sketch where he portrays Doug Henning, who was an inspiration to him. There’s also 25 minutes of deleted scenes and a production notes-style biography.