Title: Death Toll
Artist: Bruce Ballon & Christopher Taylor
Instructions by: Bruce Ballon
Producers: TI Imagineering
Retail Price: $299.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Notes: This effect isn’t just a spirit bell, it’s a wonderful utility device that lends itself brilliantly to multiple applications limited by only the performers imagination. TV performance rights are reserved. You are instructed to contact Christopher for any arrangements. firstname.lastname@example.org
• CD Rom
◦ Death Toll PDF written by Bruce Ballon
◦ Technical Operations Video
◦ Spectator Cueing Video
• Counter Bell
• Toe Switch
There are a lot of spirit bells on the market. Everyone familiar with bizarre magic knows the setup. Questions are asked, and the bell tolls out the answers as the medium contacts the spirits of the dead. The results are shocking, and audible. What is more, with Death Toll the audience actually SEE’s the plunger depress ringing the bell, and they hear the audible ding! Simple, powerful, and amazing. Welcome to Bruce Ballon’s Death Toll.
When I decided I wanted to get more into doing spirit theater, séances, and the like I knew that I had to acquire a spirit bell to add to my collection. Nothing says séance to me like the images invoked of ghosts answering questions through a system of raps, knocks, or dings lead by the medium. I considered a few different products that could deliver the required results, but none of them stood out to me quite like Death Toll did, and frankly I’m glad I made the purchase! Not only do I get the very obvious effect of a counter bell that rings itself, but I get a very inconspicuous looking device that doesn’t scream “prop” that lends itself very easily to a variety of other applications. In short, it’s a beautifully crafted utility device!
The bell as seen in the demo video is deceptive. It look’s shiny silver when in fact the bell is brass, on a small spun wooden base. The way it comes, the bell looks like it could have been something from a hotel that was used in the 1940’s, but has been well cared for. In short it doesn’t look antiqued, but could easily be aged to serve your purpose if that’s a direction you want to run in. Otherwise you could just leave it alone and have a very handsome counter bell to serve other purposes. Again what we see here is versatility. Age the bell more, and it could look like it came from a hotel that burned down decades ago, or leave it as is, and it looks like it’s a very nice, well-constructed counter bell that you’d expect to find in service somewhere around your own town today.
Death Toll comes with a CD Rom with videos and a PDF. While the PDF does cover the technical aspects of the bell, with links to the videos that also accompany the CD Rom, that’s not all you get with the PDF. Bruce also includes a brief comparison to other spirit bells that are available on the market. Bruce’s honesty rings through (pardon my pun) as talks about other products available, and how they compare or differ from Death Toll. I found this particularly useful being someone who just entered into the spirit theater arena, and having not previously owned any other spirit communication device before, it’s nice to see where, and how my new bell stacks up against everything else I’ve looked at, or may be available on the market.
Sure the information in the PDF detailing set up, and mechanisms is handy, but the real power of this portable utility device is evident in the multiple routines included in the PDF file. The Death Toll can be made to work for different themes of presentations, and Christopher is more than generous in suggesting a couple uses for you. He even goes as far as to give you full presentation routines that you can utilize in the performance of the Death Toll! Some of those themes are:
• Sensitive- Cueing: Mentalism Theme. Use the bell as a cueing system to demonstrate sensitivity to psychometric vibrations.
• Ring of Truth: Psychological Theme. You reveal spectators hidden truths via subtle use of the Death Toll as a lie detector device.
• The Curse of the Machiavelli – Duel Reality/ Spirit Bizarre Theme. Two spectators are shown a cursed ring belonging to the evil Machiavelli, and must resist it’s sinister suggestions, the bell rings true when they begin to falter and give into the rings dark powers.
• The Hand of Balsamo: Convincers & Attribution- Spirit Magic Theme: An inanimate object (such as a rapping hand) is placed over the bell, and spirits are invoked to move the hand in order to ring out the answers to the questions asked.
• Dark Hotel: Another routine created by Ron Dayton A.K.A. Kotah. A monologue depicting a rundown building about to be demolished, and its haunting memories still looking to cling onto something living.
• Strolling Spooky: This section covers using the Death Toll, out and about in a strolling fashion. Any place around town that has a counter bell has a potential to see application use of Death Toll. This section gives wonderful ideas to almost impromptu performances, with devastating results. If only you’re brave enough to try.
• Medical Mystery Mind Games/ Psychological Spirit Theme: You set the stage with a few props, a bed turned down, a picture of a young lady, the Death Toll bell, and you ask the audience what they can infer from observation. Engage, and then at the end, the bell rings once. A little personal side note on this section: I personally liked the idea, but the set up for this is a little beyond my ability to re-create.
• Invisible Doggie- Children Presentation Theme: Using Death Toll, and a few other well known & loved props (such as the invisible dog on a leash or stiff rope) you can present a friendly spook show for kids!
• Please Ring for Service- Humorous Mystery Theme: A mysterious but humorous plot designed to get a laugh. May not be practical for every show setting.
• Time is Up- another Humorous Mystery Theme: The bell rings by itself signaling the end of a conversation or meeting. Just another personal note: This application again seems to be something of sorts that may not work for 100% of the people 100% of the time. Though if you work in an office, or frequently have meetings this may be a great way to get people’s attention.
• Engraving Meaning: Another idea presented here by Bruce is to engrave a revelation of some sorts inside the dome of the bell. Not only does this give you a reason to open the bell up for casual examination, but you get a cool reveal as well!
• Billets: For you mentalists out there Bruce details a few quick ideas for using the Death Toll to do billet switches, and the like.
(To Be Continued...)