BOO. . . and Things That Go Bump

Dec 18, 2007
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Well boys & girls, October is afoot and of course we have all those last minute "What's super cool for Halloween" type questions and worse, those that want to toss a Seance together for a show this coming weekend. . .

WRONG!

If it's October and you're only just now thinking about this, you get no cookie!

It takes YEARS to create a Seance UNLESS you want to go with the simpler "psychological" type presentations such as Brother Shadow's famed HAVE SEANCE WILL TRAVEL or a routine akin to Docc Hilford's MEPHISTO'S JOURNEY. Even Docc's popular $1000.00 Seance will require more than a few days of planning; you need a script, you need to know solid cold reading techniques as well as knowing the Tarot (meaning of the cards, etc.). This takes us to Table Tipping 101 for which TOPS Magazine has a free PDf (email Abbotts Magic to request the link). Again, you will need scripting as well as one or two preliminary bits that help build the tension.

Halloween Magic is easy enough but when it comes to parlance with the paranormal and delivering something that feels real -- genuine -- well, that requires a log more than a "cool trick" . . . it also means starting about six or so months prior to the given holiday when it comes to marketing and promoting the idea to existing as well as pending clients, one method being found in Hilford's FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS manuscript and how he books said attraction.

BTW. . . the original season in which Ghost stories was told alongside the family hearth was Yule (Christmas) so you might want to start right now, pulling together a little something for the Yule Tide season. You don't need ghostly tales, but you will want to look at some old time stories around which magic is easily sewn. . . but act fast, you only have about 10 weeks before said social event.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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As long as we're on the topic of Yule time ghost stories, do a Google search on the word "oskorei."
 
Aug 31, 2007
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I remember being 11 and creating a 'seance' with a few card tricks, loops and those creepy pebbles you light on fire that smoke snakes grow out of. Fun times.

Craig, I'm curious to know what you're opinion of quality seance is?
 
Dec 18, 2007
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That's a dangerous question Zach. . .

There are basically three key types of Seance; the silly Disneyesque bits that are basically a magic show with spooky tricks thrown in for kicks & giggles; There's the Storyteller/Collector type character that relates tales either about things he's heard of or items he's collected that are said to either be haunted to which came from sites where they witnessed grotesque happenings. Then you have the guys like me who strive for as genuine and accurate a Seance experience as is possible. Ironically, these are the least expensive form of seance to do in that they require very little in way of props; my current routine uses a OUIJA type system that I made with a large round disc, the board itself is painted with Blackboard paint so it can be written on (both sides). The board is the primary focus to the entire setting, just as it would be in a real spiritualist demonstration. Jerome Finley kind of touches on this in his FCMR books but there are other sources (of course).

The Seance I'm doing this season really offers a very short OUIJA set that is prefaced by a demonstration in Psychometry in which I use a rare prop known as MAU TOU KNOWS by Stuart Palm (he might still have some for sale but they aren't on his web site). The whole act is less than 30 minutes in length and yet it's been received quite well so far.

The other two Seance bits I offer as an alternative are the Grand Seance from Hilford's $1,000.00 Seance which is based on an actual "Tarot Seance" used by spiritualists in the past. The other is Bro. Shadow's Have Seance Will Travel which I use for people that have a serous need to contact a deceased loved one. This system is pure psychology but works wonders when it comes to how it benefits the patrons that participate. The great thing is, you are not responsible for leading them down any given path when it comes to feedback.

I have other scripts that I've followed including "Plays" that take on a real feel such as my Bell, Book & Candle program and the Amelia Earhart Seance I've been developing for several years now (Ms. Earhart attended the college that's about a half mile from where I live and she not only rented a room but learned aircraft mechanics at a house about three blocks from me, so it makes sense to focus on her. Then again, this area is history rich -- we're talking about a 300 years old community that's also rich in Native American lore).

If you want to build an authentic seance I'd be glad to help you but understand, such programs aren't filled with effects and the effects featured are usually quite simple vs. dramatic. There is a rule of thumb I use however, what I call "Side Effects"; basically, these are manifestations that take place away from the seance circle, such as candles moving across a table, clock hands suddenly spinning, books falling off shelves as well as various knocking sounds, bells ringing and my favorite. . . the sounds of barely audible voices in the background (see the book "Uncanny Power" by Will Dexter, it's very dated but the method is viable, especially with today's electronic. . . I use an MP3 player that's about 2" squared; there is no real script to what's played, just random sounds and what sounds like words from time to time but really aren't). These Side Effects are far more important than what happens at the table in my opinion, especially in the fact that only a couple of people notice certain things happening here and there, not the entire group. This results in the witnesses having to explain something and being seen in the light most psychics are viewed in . . . it's a frustrating thing but damn is it ever great PR. . . and I've taken this course of thinking to an extreme more than a few times. . . ghostly forms walking through the halls of a home. . . letters that appear in the air that spell out a word or name and more.

But less is more in these situations and that's where the magician within gets us into trouble; we start thinking about "how cool this is" and how it reflects on us and our ego and so we loose the psychological advantages we're relying on and thus, we end up with those "Disney" type performances that are filled with tricks vs. things that AFFECT the audience.

Hope that shines some light on things.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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This said by the guy posed with Santa Claus. . .

Vampire Santa to be more specific.

Just popping in to remind everyone that I'm still shamelessly pimping Val Lewton's films. There's a whole boxed set of his movies and you should totally buy it because they're great. If you want to do spooky Halloween stuff, you need to learn from the masters. I just wanted to bring this up since I re-watched Isle of the Dead recently. It's an interesting narrative in that the audience knows there's nothing supernatural at all going on, but (some of) the characters are convinced that they're living in a ghost story.
 
Dec 18, 2007
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This reminded me of the first time I went to see the Bell Witch film. . . we had a creepy woodland area just outside the town of Yellow Springs, OH. known as the Veil. . . as the film ended some old hippie called out. . . "Who's up for an evening walk through the Veil. . . "

This area has a haunted history that goes back to native times when the Shawnee ruled the lands and the springs -- a sulfur rich mineral spring credited for healing -- were known to be a sacred land where the old one's resided. . . making things more strange were the old Negro Cemeteries from the Underground Railroad era and if you really wanted to get into people's heads there was the fact that both, Rod Serling and Jonathon Winters had worked in the local pub as bar tenders during their time at Antioch college.

My point is, all of these ingredients play on the mind, especially after seeing such a film in which fear is created and the most gruesome thing you see is what appears to be a bloody finger in a bandage. That's one of the reasons I deliberately share so many of the family oddities common to me. . . the fact that my maternal grandfather had interactions with Alester Crowley is more than enough to get people's goat and there's so much more on top of that. . .

JUST AN UP-DATE. . . I had to add some time to the show I was doing so I've included Finley's THOUGHT CHANNEL sequence (4 repeats) and open with Cassidy's 4DT just so we can get people used to working with billets while establishing my "credentials" as it were. I find it curious how a stock bit of Mind Reading can set the tone for people coming to a Halloween Seance; it really does creep them out. We're thinking of adding another one or two preliminary bits as part of the warm-up and changing how certain revelations will be done but it's a pretty tight show as it stands and quite "real" when it comes to the feel of things. . . our side effects of course, always at the ready.
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
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If you're referring to the Blaire Witch Project - I grew up near the woods that was filmed in.

I've been working at a haunted house this year and that means I get a lot of time to stand around and think about things. Let's just say next year at Halloween, I've got some freaky stuff lining up which I will be able to do with little to no preparation. Around this time next year I'll be back on the East Coast and my parents have recently acquired a building they converted to apartments. In the back is a big field (used to be a soccer field) which we have already gotten authorization to put up a circus tent or geodesic dome. I think I'll be doing seance-styled performances there if I can generate the interest.

The area I grew up in is rife with history. We've got a graveyard dating back to the civil war, the town itself is supposed to be haunted, etc. Every building there is nearly a hundred years old. Lots of history to draw from.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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If you're referring to the Blaire Witch Project - I grew up near the woods that was filmed in.

The Bell Witch is an entirely separate story from the Blaire Witch. Music nerd aside, Mercyful Fate wrote a song about it. King Diamond rules.

I've been working at a haunted house this year and that means I get a lot of time to stand around and think about things. Let's just say next year at Halloween, I've got some freaky stuff lining up which I will be able to do with little to no preparation. Around this time next year I'll be back on the East Coast and my parents have recently acquired a building they converted to apartments. In the back is a big field (used to be a soccer field) which we have already gotten authorization to put up a circus tent or geodesic dome. I think I'll be doing seance-styled performances there if I can generate the interest.

Where on the East Coast? If you pass through Pittsburgh at any point we should meet up.

The area I grew up in is rife with history. We've got a graveyard dating back to the civil war, the town itself is supposed to be haunted, etc. Every building there is nearly a hundred years old. Lots of history to draw from.

I'm working on wrangling a deal with a local haunted tours company. Full-blown theatrical seances might be a bit more than they're looking for, but I think I can find something that they might be interested in. For the sake of my brand, I'll probably make it a character show. I've done that sort of thing already at Pittsburgh Comicon, so this own't be much of a stretch. I'll let you guys know how that goes.
 
Dec 18, 2007
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Northampton, MA - USA
Forgive my failing memory guys. . . I knew Bell Witch was in Tennessee but I couldn't remember the "Blair Witch" title, to save my life, so I went with what I was able to remember.

If you do a Circus Big Top you're talking a big chunk of cash up front, but I might be able to point you to some folks with old canvass they aren't using, who'd be willing to give you a hand up. I would recommend that you check out what my buddy Scott McClelland does in Canada with his demonic side shows. . . it would be far more commercial than offering as Seance as a stand alone.

There are other attractions you could include but you will have to get creative when it comes to housing things and you will need either a major budget and some carpentry skills on your part or be willing to work with the carney types that already own things like a Ten in One attraction.

Like I said, I can probably help you with this idea so that it has a natural draw, but you're looking at making some serious commitments up front, and understand that such operations aren't huge money.
 
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