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Horrors! Review

August 4th, 2020 1:21am
Reviewed by Psychic-Detective
3 out of 5 Stars to Osterlind and 5 stars to both Stuart Robson & Theodore Annemann!

When I first bought Richard Osterlind’s “Horrors” years ago I was so discouraged by the memorization it called for that I shoved it someplace; forgot about it and went onto something else (sound familiar?). Recently, while cleaning things out, I found it buried under a stack of dismissed magic. Something told me to give it another look and I am glad I did.

Osterlind is rightfully a big and important name in mentalism. I’m always intrigued by his take and approach. “Horrors” is his re-imagined take on an old Stuart Robson effect found in the Annemann classic “Practical Mental Effects”. Osterlind keeps the words used by Robson, but pretty much everything else is redone. The good news is that Osterlind’s version is both a subtle and powerful update. The changes to the cards is good and worth noting. On the other hand, there are some noticeable shortcomings to “Horrors” (primarily the word pairing and memorization). So much so I believe many will be discouraged, like I was originally, and shove the effect to the back of drawer. If you purchase “Horrors” I hope you will be challenged to improve it (like I was) and not dismiss this otherwise fine effect.

Osterlind is proud of his retooling and feels he has genuinely improved the method. I’ll concede his “improvement”, if you will, as it is in fact, quite good, but it must be added there is nothing wrong with the original Robson method. To Osterlind’s credit his revision is powerfully subtle and that’s a good thing. To Osterlind’s discredit, he didn’t go far enough. The Robson word pairing and the Osterlind memorization mnemonic / pneumonic, (which one is it nowadays?) both need an overhaul.

Obviously I cannot reveal the method, but if you’re familiar with “one is a gun” then no more needs to be said. Osterlind’s memorization is unnecessarily difficult. Part of this is due to the fact the original Robson effect has unnatural pairings. For example, ghost, vampire, haunted house and Dracula are all potential word selections the spectator can freely choose. Robson pairs ghost with Dracula. Why isn’t Dracula paired with vampire? Why isn’t ghost paired with haunted house? Osterlind seems to justify keeping the Robson pairs intact. He argues the difficulty in remembering the association looks like real mind reading. He states, “You see, the act of remembering perfectly mimics the way you would look if you were plucking the thought out of mid-air! You don’t have to act”.

True, you don’t have to act as there is a very good chance you’re going to mess up! Apparently the more mental gymnastics you must perform the better your performance (assuming all your hard mental effort even works!).

I dismissed “Horrors” shortly after it came out. Thankfully my giving it a second look ignited a brain storm. Said storm drove me to throw out the Osterlind method and "re-imagine" and modify the Robson list. This resulted in my being inspired to create two lists; a modified “Horrors” and another of my own creation (that I call Hollywood).

After a little careful thought, I found that if I rearranged the Robson pairs (like ghost with Dracula) to one my brain naturally associated (like Dracula with vampire) the associative mnemonic was far less difficult to put to long term memory and much more natural. I also found it beneficial to throw out two words from the original Robson list that really never seemed to fit. The better news is that in doing so I was able to add four more new words. This means my revision contains 30 choices instead of the Robson 28. Normally this should not work, but inspired creativity came through for me again!

Today I really, really like this trick. I especially appreciate that it is a true classic, no-tech mentalism effect. My apologies if this review appears hyper critical of Richard Osterlind and Stuart Robson. Let me be the first to acknowledge all my best magical inspirations stand on the shoulders of the greats before me. If my version of “Horrors” is anything decent, then it is because Osterlind, Robson, Annemann and others who have helped me every step of the way.

For me, revising “Horrors” is like a cake being made in a kitchen with too many cooks; there’s bound to be differences in opinion. It’s not that a devil’s food cake is any better than an angel food cake. You would expect the two to be different, right? So it’s more a matter of preference and in the end that’s all I’m really saying.

Product info for Horrors!

Author: Osterlind, Richard
Publisher: Jim Sisti
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $20.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

A Stuart Robson classic...reimagined by Richard Osterlind!

One of the effects Richard and Jim chose to feature on the Practical Mental Effects DVD project was Stuart Robson's Horrors! This fine word divination effect utilizes the advantage of shock words for presentational possibilities and a tried and true method that has stood the test of time.

Richard applied his usual groundbreaking thinking to update and streamline Horrors! to make it even more workable and mystifying. The presentation on the DVD completely blew away the spectator!

But, now, there's more! When Richard decided to offer Horrors! to the fraternity, he once again applied his original thinking to both the props and routine. First, the cards are substantially larger than playing cards, approximately 4.5 by 6.5 inches, and made of heavy stock. They look special and yet will easily fit into your coat pocket. And, the envelope they are carried in is also quite special.

Second, Richard outlined his entire system for memorizing the necessary words to make the cue list unnecessary. You will have the entire system down in less than half an hour!

But then he took it even further by coming up with a revolutionary way to eliminate half the memorization! Now it is ridiculously simple! This, combined with the subtle presentation ideas, makes the effect look totally impossible. You really appear to read the mind of the spectator!

Finally, Richard came up with ways to use Horrors! for both close-up and stage. There is an idea using a blindfold and some thoughts on how you can make this so much more than a simple word divination. The innovative performer will use these ideas to create a reputation maker for his professional show!

Best of all, everything you need fits into your pocket for anytime, anywhere miracles! This is outstanding classic mentalism brought up-to-date for the 21st century!

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