I know people who live with the Sword Thru Neck and others who would not get caught dead using it. This again is a presentation effect that fits some peoples personalities and show but not others. However the effect has a use that most people do not give it credit for...it can be used as a bit of a shock prop and not as an effect. In the demo below I give an example, I do not claim the sword does not hurt the assistant, in fact I claim that the effect does hurt the assistant (who happens to be a zombie by the way, and not a living person). At our Haunted House we had the stocks already on the victim, which look normal in a Halloween setting, and simply run the sword thru as the victim screams. In the demo below I go through a basic routine like you would if you were using this as a magic trick, but end with the scream effect coming from the zombie.
Perhaps the best way of doing this effect would be a combination of the Halloween version and magic version. Use the sword on the animatronic and have it scream in agony as the sword goes through, then use it on a volunteer and watch their eyes light up.
The effect does have some con's, you need a good quality version if you are using it for magic (we bought a cheaper version for the dimly lit Haunted House (which is what you see in the demo), the Abbott version of Sword Thru Neck is a much finer prop and higher quality for the brighter lights. Probably about a hundred dollar difference but when you lay the two props side by side it really shows.
When performing it as "Magic For Trick or Treaters", leave the stocks on and thrust the sword thru the Zombie as the kids come up Trick or Treating, then give them their treats with the Zombie impaled and wailing.
When performed as a magic effect it takes a little time to do this effect and there is some dead time while the performer is putting the stocks on someone's neck so be prepared with a couple good quips for that part of the effect. A good entertainer can really milk this effect and get a lot out of this time.
There is a concern among some that events in the past decade have made neck severances a bit taboo for regular audiences, but this does not apply to Halloween audience who expect gruesome effects in October.
However you choose to do the effect one thing is certain, it is a gruesome illusion and should not be overlooked. The Abbott version is one of the best and we have people telling us that they are still using the one's purchased from us 30 years ago, but it also is expensive. If you are in a dark haunted house you might be able to get away with a cheaper version, if you are going to be in the spotlight get a good one.
A sword is freely shown. Neck stocks are displayed and the sword is thrust through their center. A balloon may be placed in the opening of the stocks and burst by the sword. The stocks are then placed around the neck of an assistant - a volunteer from the audience may be used. The magician explains that it is possible for him to push the sword through the victim’s neck without them, in any way, feeling any pain. Slowly and deliberately the sword is forced through the assistant’s neck, from side to side so that both ends of the blade are in full view.
The sword is withdrawn and the assistant is none the worse for his sensational experience. This is the same type of sword previously supplied in Abbott’s Sword Through Girl and it is not the flimsy type formerly sold as a “Needle penetration. It is startling to the extreme. A slightly gruesome effect, yes, but one that never fails to click. This is just the illusion you have been waiting for as you can use a volunteer assistant. The other spectators may be all around you, even close up, without the fear of detection. The apparatus supplied is innocent in appearance ... a mechanical masterpiece. Your volunteer assistant will never learn the secret.