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Television & Radio | TUNED IN

Awe, with a dose of shock thrown in

October 31, 2003|Scott Sandell | Times Staff Writer

With most magicians, "How'd he do that?" is a typical reaction. With Criss Angel, "Why'd he do that?" is just as likely.

He passes a quarter through the skin of his arm, then cuts it open to pull the coin out. He puts razor blades in his mouth, appears to swallow them, then retrieves them with thread. He allows strange creatures to burst from his chest.

Clearly, Angel is a master of shock as much as illusion, which would seem to make him a perfect match for Halloween. So it is that "Criss Angel: Supernatural" airs tonight at 9 on the Sci Fi Channel.

Angel has been described variously as "a postmodern Houdini" and "post-apocalyptic chic," which apparently are just fancy ways of saying that he wouldn't be caught dead in a tuxedo pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. With long, flowing hair, dark fingernails, mascara and scroungy black outfits, Angel looks like the second coming of Rob Zombie. When he paints his face white, he could easily pass as Marilyn Manson's brother. Indeed, the rock comparisons aren't far off, for Angel not only creates, stars in and directs his illusions, he also composes the music for them.

Though this self-proclaimed "mind freak" appears to be on the cutting edge of magic, many of his tricks are variations on fairly old themes: card tricks, being sawed in half or escaping from a shackled box. His large-scale acts are dressed up with props and performers that seem to be straight out of some sort of goth Cirque du Soleil.

This hairy Houdini isn't for everyone, but if you're in the mood for a slightly twisted Halloween creep show, it shouldn't disappoint.

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