MSRP:  $19.95
RUNNING TIME:  96 Minutes
Bonus episodes of the series

The Pitch

“He’s like David Blaine – only gothy and with an actual personality!  Oh, and he’s good at magic.”

The Humans

Criss Angel and his host of merry sideshow freaks.

The Nutshell

Criss Angel has a show on A&E – Mindfreak – in which he performs street magic and a few bigger illusions.  It’s another of their highly successful half-hour format shows.  At some point, they decided to give him an hour-long special and it aired on Halloween (on the 79th anniversary of Houdini’s Death – spoooooky!).  He spends 50 minutes doing somewhat basic (but impressive) illusions, all the while teasing and leading up to the grand finale – escaping a wooden coffin before being fed into an industrial-sized woodchipper.  Mindfreak, indeed.

"Sir, I know the last Chainsaw Movie was less than a success, but I think we’ve found a way to breathe profit back into the franchise – what we need is a Leatherface the kids today can relate to."

The Lowdown

I’m a big fan of magic, I’ll just get that out of the way.  I have absolutely no problems at all suspending disbelief and letting what they show impress the hell out of me.  I know it’s not real, I know there’s a (sometimes very simple) gimmick to all of it, but I don’t care.  As long as I like the guy doing the tricks and dig his presence, I’m totally willing to let him (or her) fool the hell out of me without any desire to know how he did it.  “It’s magic” is fine with me.

Right now there are two big magicians doing their thing on television.  I tolerated David Blaine because when he first started he was the only one taking it primetime (plus his little levitation trick was pretty sweet).  But he has zero presence, zero showmanship and the only thing he had going for him was a decent repertoire of illusions.  Criss Angel, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite.  He’s like the Angier to Blaine’s Borden, except that in this case, Angier is also the better magician.  If I had any sort of constructive criticism for the guy, it would be to drop the whole gothy thing and just be a regular guy, as he’s got the natural charisma to pull it off, without any sort of "character" but that’s a minor complaint.  The “mind freak” shtick does get a bit corny (especially that theme song), but he’s dedicated to it and makes it work.  Basically – I’m a fan.

The real mystery was how he got the tampon in there in the first place.

As far as the show – it’s your basic street magician stuff.  He does card tricks, ESP, mind-reading, levitation (which kicks Blaine’s little trick in the ass) and other things.  He does this one bit where he tells two girls to walk through a book store, take any book off of the shelf in any part of the store that they want, flip to any page, pick one word, come back to him, and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t know exactly what the word is.  Were they plants?  Maybe.  Maybe not – as stated before – I don’t care.  It was badass.  He also teaches the viewers a little trick involving a toothpick that is so simple but has impressed the hell out of everyone I’ve shown it to.

So, after all of the shenanigans, we get to the big finale.  I’m torn between spoiling it and not, but I will say that it trumps the hell out of any of Blaine’s spectacles over the last couple of years.

The Package

The artwork on display here is sub-par, even for a made-for-tv release.  Criss doing the whole “I’m a filmmaker” frame-up thing with the Title text in the same boring fonts everyone uses for these types of projects.  I know how hard it is to make the perfect poster-type image (and Lord knows I’m no great artisan), but I also know how to put in a little effort and make something look as good as you can and if that’s the best their artist can do then, well, time to find a new one.

"Okay guys, now watch as I make the detectives – and the charges – disappear."

Feature-wise, there’s a couple of bonus episode from the series that are basically clip shows.  One is a highlight reel of sorts, the other is made up f tricks that were cut from other episodes.  They’re as good (or as bad, depending on who you ask) as one would expect them to be.

In the end, this is what magic is supposed to be.  One guy doing impossible things, but because of the way he presents them, he makes you accept them.  It’s nice to still have a little wonder in your life and I appreciate the guys who still give it to us.  So here’s to you Criss Angel – you can’t sing but I watched you rip some chick completely in half and for that, I salute you.

"You laugh now, but when I count to three you’re going to forget how lame I am for wearing a leather baseball cap.  And then you’ll get naked"

OVERALL 8.0 out of 10