Picks and Pans Review: Max Maven's Mindgames

updated 11/05/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/05/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

This tape calls itself "the videocassette that reads your mind," and if you're willing to suspend disbelief, you can have a lot of fun playing along. Fortunately, mentalist Max Maven is expert at getting you to do just that. Having polished his mind-reading act on the international nightclub circuit, Maven, "The Thief of Thoughts," has taken advantage of video's largely untapped potential as an interactive medium, and succeeds in getting the viewer to participate in what is happening on the screen. Mixing jokes, gags and comic skits, Maven invites the viewer to join him in a series of "experiments" to test whether it is "possible for me to influence your behavior." Leading his home audience through a series of classic card tricks and parlor games, Maven shows that it is possible, and he does it with style. The key is to follow his Simon-says instructions to the letter; not to do so spoils the effect. Despite the sometimes uneven humor and relative ease with which some of the tricks can be deciphered, Maven makes the viewer want to be fooled. With his Ming the Merciless hairstyle and his hypnotic gaze, Maven uses his visual presence to create a new form of participatory theater. He believes that after years of boob tube conditioning, we all yearn to participate in its warm, colorful electronic world of illusions. As Maven observes, "You are the star of this program." (MCA Home Video, $39.95)

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