Abbotts Halloween Special

SPOOKSTERS OF MAGIC PAST AND PRESENT

Silkini Spook Show

by Walter Hudson

A reprint of a Tops review (by Walt Hudson) of Dr. Silkini's Spook Show

Dr. Silkini, who is Jack Baker, presented one of the more successful Spook Shows. In fact, his organization was so well known and popular as a big money maker for theater managers that he had several troupes out under his name at one time. He became known in the trade as "King of the Spook Shows."

Silkini did play the Philadelphia area so reader Mebster probably did see him there during the late 1940's. I remember seeing the Silkini Show during this time. Whether it was Baker himself or one of the other troupes, the Silkini I saw was a very good shoman. The show moved at a rapid pace, and the audience was well pleased. The theater was packed, so the show made money. I was disappointed in the over all show because of the lack of large illusions. But then I was biased in my opinion after having worked with the Ray-Mond Spook Show which featured several beautifully staged illusions. As I remember, Silkini used only two Illusions.

The show began with a routine magic show opening. . .many fast standard tracks including the production of some feather flowers. This seemed entirely out of place in a Spook Show to me.

The one sequence that did impress me was his hypnotic act bit . He used eight spectators from the audience, which included at least two stooges, and did about a twelve minute comedy routine. The audience was most enthusiastic and the stooges played their parts extremely well.

Following the hypnotic bit, Silkini presented his "Making A Monster" skit. The stage was flooded in spooky green lights. Silkini and a hunched-back, mad, doctor character, called Igor , placed the parts of a human body on a shallow table, The torso, arms, legs and head were covered with a white sheet. Weird music, a flash of lightning on the house curtain and the body came to life and arose slowly on the table. As the sheet fell from the body it revealed the Frankenstein monster. The screaming of teenage girls reached a crescendo as the monster slowly climbed from the table and grabbed Igor and strangled him to death. His limp body fell with a thump to the stage. Then with arms outstretched, he walked across the stage and started down the steps into the audience. At this time all the lights were extinquished and the standard blackout sequence took place. luminous ghosts appeared and vanished on stage and floated over the heads of the audience. After three minutes of this the stage lights came on. Most Ghost Shows ended after the blackout sequence. Silkini closed his show with his entire cast of four people on stage and presented a very fast substitution trunk act. The show ended on a note of magic rather than horror. Why, I don't know. I personally liked to see a shocker for a Spook Show closing.



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