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Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 2nd, '18, 18:36
by Sexton Blake

Freak by Dave Forrest

The Effect

Freak, £13.99 (free postage) from Full 52.

They say:

When a torn photograph of a murder victim restores in the hands of your participant...

When that victim was correctly intuited, merely thought of, from three potential victims...

When that photo then changes in a truly disturbing way...

They can only do one thing...FREAK!

Genuinely solid methodology makes this bizarre, story-based, torn and restored nightmare happen pretty much all by itself in a way that is genuinely inexplicable and genuinely unsettling.

First, your participant is given a completely FREE CHOICE out of three potential victims. They don't write anything down or say anything out loud.
Then they are given three torn photographs - portraits of three pretty girls from a bygone era - each one a potential victim. All three photo's are clearly torn in half. It's VERY clear that they are holding nothing more or less than six pieces of torn photographs - there are no false counts, nothing is stolen away and no sleight of hand is used.
They are thinking of one of the girls in one of those torn photo's and when the actual murder victim is revealed it is precisely the one victim they have in mind. Every time.
Now, the two photos of the non-victims are removed from their hand - very cleanly. You neither steal or add anything as you very openly table the four pieces of the other two photographs, leaving them with just the two pieces of the genuine murder victim's photo.
Now, without any moves, in their hands, the pieces RESTORE! The correctly identified victim's image has restored in their own hands!
But it's not just has also changed...the pretty girl is now a horrifying ghoul and she has a message for you...from beyond the grave!

FREAK is a stone cold KILLER - literally! The routine is wound around the tale of the 'Portrait Ripper' - a serial killer from yesteryear who would taunt the law by sending them ripped photo's of his next victims. The story has an intriguing twist in the tale as it is finally revealed, through the eerily restored and frighteningly altered photograph (that they were just THINKING OF!), who the 'Portrait Ripper' really is! Keeping in mind this all happens in their hands? I'm sure you can see why we call it FREAK!

FREAK will be supplied as a video download and all the necessary props will be shipped out to you.

I say:

Nothing in They Say is mendacious. But, as there's no performance video (above - there is in the instructional download), I will describe the effect for you here, as it would appear to the spectator, for clarity.
While recounting the tale of a serial killer from the early 1900s, the spec is shown three cards on which are written the names of three women. They are asked to 'get a feel'/whatever about one of the names - to 'sense' something about one of them, but not tell you which one. The spec places the card with this woman on it into an envelope, and it and the other two cards are set aside. The spec is then shown torn-in-two photographs of the same three women (the reason they are torn is intertwined with the tale) - you talk briefly about each one. All six pieces are then given to the spec to hold. You reveal that one of these women was key in the story - and it turns out that this is the women the spec had chosen. You then reveal how that's especially odd because, while the other pieces are as before (you cleanly take them from the spec's hand) the photograph of the women she 'sensed' as being different has also somehow combined itself back into one piece. And then, as a final oddness, the victim's face has also now changed in a unsettling, 'freaky' way and the photo has a message scrawled on it.

(1=easy to do, 2=No sleights, but not so easy, 3=Some sleights used,
4=Advanced sleights used, 5=Suitable for experienced magicians only)

There are no sleights. It's not entirely hands off - you need to make sure a couple of things are 'just so' - but, really, anyone reading this is using a mouse to scroll and therefore must have more than enough skillzzzzz to perform Freak. As the presentation is important, however, you'll need to be able to do more than mumble while staring at your shoes if you want to get the best from this effect.


I'll declare a bias here: I love the spooky, creepy, gothic, and freaky. An effect like that will always rate far higher with me than a similar effect of equal soundness and impossibility; one that has, say, a man going on a holiday as its theme is less attractive than one that has a vampire clawing its way out of a grave. I'm doubly appreciative of effects that are really like this because, as Brian Brushwood has observed, most so-called Bizarre Magic is just telling a ghost story and then doing card trick.

Freak is a dark sort of effect, so I'm more inclined to like it (if - IF - it's good) than a four ace production or something. There. Bias declared.

So - Freak is damn, damn neat little effect. And I use the word 'little' here not because it's not very impressive (or because it's quick to perform), no - I mean 'little' in terms of pocket space taken up, and price. In terms of size, Freak in its entirety - once made up - can be carried in the (supplied) small, black envelope in this photo. Image
A card is shown for scale, as is the AFW wallet in which, for very good reasons, I'd normally carry it. What's more, as Forrest supplies you with all that's required to make your own Freaks, you could change the size to make it smaller or, I suppose, larger.

Talking of the above, yes, there is a bit of arts and crafts involved. You do need to construct some of what you need from the things supplied. But it's pretty easy. Honestly - I thought I might screw it up, because I screw things up lots, but it was actually quick and painless.

There's a principle involved in Freak which - as far as I'm aware - is original to Forrest, and which is rather neat. (It can also be used in other, entirely non-dark, sorts of effects - Forrest very briefly mentions examples.) That aside, Freak is a combination of fairly standard techniques, chutzpah, and nice psychology/bluff. A good example of the latter is the selection process. Everyone here, I'm sure, could think of a way to do a similar-looking effect that involved as part of the method forcing the name of one the women. This doesn't happen, though. Now, I'm not making a big thing about the NO FORCE! of this - that's a selling point only for magicians; from a lay person's point of view there's never a force - if they think there is, go home. I'm saying that, emotionally - presentation-wise - in terms of engagement - looking over the names and trying to 'pick up a mysterious something' from one is long, long streets ahead of 'point to a card' or some such.

I really like Freak. It needs the right kind of audience, and the right kind of time, obviously, but when it's got that it's a gem. I'll add something here: I do one (required) thing very differently to Forrest (the way Forrest does it is fine - though can be improved IMHO - it's simply that a different method works better for me). I also use an altered story for the presentation (altered from Forrest's, that is - a full script of which, by the way, he provides as an included .pdf). My alteration is more compact, and fits in more coherently with the effect, I think. But then, I would think that, wouldn't I? I mention those points not to diss Forrest (certainly not that - I admire his work, and his way of doing things/presentations most often chime with my own which has led me to purchase many of his effects and been happy with those purchases). I mention it because it shows that you're not nailed down with Freak. It''s not one of those tricks that you have to do exactly this way or not at all. The change/restoration will be the core, but you can bring your own preferences to it easily.


Super and recommended. A good trick, at a good price, with a good eerie theme. Also a good product - Forrest provides not just the bare minimum but more than all you need to perform the trick. The only reason I knock off a point is, as I said, it has its place - it's not always going to be a winner. If you perform this to some arms-folded, narrow-eyed, stone-faced, all-magic-is-a-challenge-to-me-and-I-will-NOT-be-seen-to-be-fooled-by-your-efforts-lest-my-penis-shrivel bloke, then you're asking for it to be slowly picked apart by gradual, attritional, logical analysis. But I have other things in my AFW wallet for that git. Freak is a beauty for a different kind of spec, and at Halloween. (N.B. As far as I'm concerned, it's always Halloween.)


Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 2nd, '18, 21:23
by Mandrake
Great review, thank you!

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 2nd, '18, 21:57
by Sexton Blake
Mandrake wrote:Great review, thank you!

Kindly said. And Happy New Year to you, Mandy.

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 2nd, '18, 23:03
by Mandrake

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '18, 16:13
by Lady of Mystery
I love the sound of this although the freakily changing photo puts my off a little. I assume that it's possible to use your own photos so that the restored photo doesn't change, if so then this would fit in beautifully with my Jack the Ripper routine.

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 8th, '18, 17:02
by Sexton Blake
Lady of Mystery wrote:I love the sound of this although the freakily changing photo puts my off a little. I assume that it's possible to use your own photos so that the restored photo doesn't change, if so then this would fit in beautifully with my Jack the Ripper routine.

Sorry for the tardiness of my reply - TM didn't alert me to your post. Yes, Lady of Mystery, you could use your own photos, and have the key one 'rejoin' but not change otherwise; Forrest mentions how this was how he originally used the technique. As it happens, Forrest already provides you with a spare photo in Freak just in case 'you want to do a different presentation' (it's this kind of thoughtful thing that makes you want to ruffle his floppy Scottish hair affectionately). However, the spare photo is also freaked up so it wouldn't meet you particular needs.

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 10th, '18, 12:08
by Lady of Mystery
Thanks, I'm sold. :D

I really like the idea of this and already have quite a few stories spinning around my head form a gruesome addition to my Jack the Ripper routine to an after death love story about a wife being reunited with her soldier husband who never returned from the trenches. I'll order it later today and can't wait to see what plots I can fit to it.

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Jan 10th, '18, 12:38
by Sexton Blake
Lady of Mystery wrote:I'll order it later today and can't wait to see what plots I can fit to it.

If you wave your hand so I know when you've got and had a look at it, I'll PM you (to avoid exposure) with my slight - but I think of worth - variation on Mr Forrest's approach to the, erm... 'identity' aspect of the effect.

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Mar 12th, '18, 17:12
by Lady of Mystery
My nephew treated me to a really nice little performance of this yesterday.

He took it away and came up with a nice wild west story about a group of bandits. The photos are photos of the wanted posters for each member of the gang. The problem was that they were all hanged but were all innocent except for one. The effect plays out as usual but it's the guilty gang member's photo that's the one that restores and changes. :)

Re: Freak by Dave Forrest

PostPosted: Mar 12th, '18, 20:24
by Sexton Blake
Nice one.