Death by Magic – How did he do that? | KT Review

The tricks that went wrong from the world’s most renowned magicians have been the basis for many movies and television shows. Death by Magic looks at more than one of the most deadly tricks ever performed: the history, how they worked, and what went wrong. Before attempting to recreate them and survive. 

The Tricks!

  1. CAPE TOWN: The Great Escape
  2. MIAMI: Head Under Water
  3. DETROIT: Death by Audience
  4. LONDON: Buried Alive
  5. LAS VEGAS: Against the Odds
  6. INDIA: The Rope Trick
  7. EDINBURGH: Trial by Fire
  8. LOS ANGELES: Daredevil

How were these Tricks Performed?

Okay, I admit it; I have no idea how Drummond performed these tricks. Probably a combination of skill and a little TV magic -and there were probably a lot of safety hoops to jump through too. Magic is often performed with sleight of hand, misdirection, and trapdoors and hidden keys. And few magicians give away their methods.

The Great Escape

Drummond has to escape from a straightjacket, whilst locked in a box. And the box is on train tracks, with a speeding train heading towards it. The trick originally performed with fatal consequences by Car the Mysterious (Charles Rowan) in Spring Fontain in Cape Town in 1930. Staged a publicity stunt to escape from a speeding vehicle whilst straight jacketed and lying in the road.

Head Under Water

Confronting his fear of water, Drummond takes on the challenge of escaping from a flooding car. This trick was performed by Gilbert Genesta, an American escape artist who came out of retirement to perform the stunt one more time. He would attempt to escape from a water-filled milk can. Only on this attempt, an accident with the milk can as they transported it to the show prevented him from making his escape. Gilbert Genesta made use of a trapdoor.

Death by Audience

The audience’s choice could bring a car crashing down on Drummond’s head in this episode. Based on a trick originally performed with deadly consequences by Houdini because he misjudged his audience. Claiming he could withstand any punch given time to prepare, an audience member turned up in his dressing room, before his performance, and punched him four times, rupturing his spleen. Houdini later collapsed on stage.

Buried Alive

Drummond attempts to escape from a custom-built coffin, inspired by the Victorian obsession with being buried alive. Also known as taphephobia, a fear that made the Victorians create ways to let people know they were alive in their coffins. You’ve probably seen illustrations of the little bell above the coffins, with the string threading through into the coffin. So the poor unfortunate soul inside could pull the string and ring the bell to get help.

The Amazing Joe Burrus attempted this trick in Fresno, California, in 1990 with disastrous consequences.

Against the Odds

 Drummond performs a variation of Russian roulette that removes the usual rules that you rely on to determine the chances. Russian roulette is a well-known game of deadly risk. It’s featured in many movies and TV shows, often with deadly consequences. When played with a revolver, there is an element of knowledge involved to increase your chances of survival. The number of chambers, and gravity, might give the player some insight into whether their turn will be fatal.

The Rope Trick

Drummond endeavors to break free from an iron cage suspended above scorching spikes. Another magician who died does not inspire this episode, but the trick itself does. Of course, he won’t be climbing up a rope suspended by magic. And, the Indian Rope Trick is said to be a myth, never performed in front of an audience.

Trial by Fire

Can he escape being burned at the stake? This trick was inspired by the fiery end of a magician named The Great Lafayette who performed a great vanishing illusion, but, on his final performance, the stage caught fire and eleven people died.


A stunt performed with deadly consequences by daredevils who ride barrels over Niagara Falls inspired this episode. Canadian Karel Soucek created his own barrel to ride over the falls and went on to perform a barrel drop stunt that was his last.

Death by Magic | Netflix Original

As Magician Drummond Money-Coutts travels the world sharing his magic and recreating the stunts that ended in tragedy for other magicians. From Africa, where there is an actual college of magic and he attempts to escape from a box as a train hurtles towards it. To Miami, to Detroit, to London, to Las Vegas, to India, to Edinbrough, to Los Angeles.

When Drummond Money-Coutts’ father took him to an old magic store beneath the vaults of Coutts & Co. in London, he discovered an interest in the performance of magic. And although when he finished his education he tried to enter the family business, he soon ran away to India to pursue his dream. Eventually debuting on television for National Geographic in Card Shark. And now he’s on Netflix with Death by Magic.

Death by Magic Review

Death by Magic Review Conclusion

I would watch it again – When and I yelled ‘ass-hole’ at him in the very first episode, I knew it was going to be an amazing series! Some tricks you see how it’s done and others you’re left in the dark. I may have to try that candle trick later. The reactions from those involved are intense, the preparation is necessary, and the results are extraordinary. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Don’t take your eyes off the screen. There’s always something happening. You’re going to need something you don’t need to think about as you eat it. 

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Somewhere Between

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