Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Silver Ball Spook Show Special!

Hey it's almost Halloween! I bet many of you are catching up on some Halloween classics and working on some serious costumes! For this most horrifying holiday, I have put together a little treat for you! Spooky stuff and Horror movies have always had a small niche carved out in the world of pinball. Everything from haunted houses to getting scared stiff!

Let's kick it off with Mistress of the Dark, Elvira, who not only had one but two pinball machines themed after her!

Scared Stiff by Bally (Image from IPDB.org)

Elvira and The Party Monsters
Both machines were designed by Dennis Nordman. There is plenty of sexual innuendo and puns found throughout the two Elvira tables. Just rake a look at the awards on Party Monsters' backglass!
I have had the chance to play Scared Stiff at my favourite pizza parlour in Windsor, Pizza Plus as well as at Michigan Pinball Expo 2014 which you can read about here. SS is a fun and easy-to-play machine. Released in 1996, the same year as one of Pinball's most complicated tables, Williams' Tales From The Arabian Nights, Scared Stiff features a much more mellow rule-set. It is very easy to activate each of the Six Tales of Terror and work your way towards the Scare-O-Meter. Scared Stiff was also the first Solid-State table to feature a 3-D Backglass with the spinning Spider Award. This 3-D backglass feature can also be found on Bally's Cirqus Voltaire and Stern's Terminator 3.

Gottlieb was one of the first to use a Horror theme for their tables, kicking it off with 1982's Haunted House!
Kicking it up a notch from 1981's Black Hole, Haunted House features a lower playfield and, taking a page from Williams' Black Knight, HH throws an upper playfield on as well for extra measure!

Second up is a licensed Gottlieb table, Nightmare on Elm Street!

Image from IPDB.org
Dig it, There's a big ol' ugly Freddy head on this table!
Gottlieb/Premier are somewhat (in)famous for their unlicensed tables. In the 90's, Gottlieb was starting to feel the heat from the Bally/Williams power house and were getting shaken down to the bone... wait, hold on, I hear something behind this creaky door, must be some trick-or-treaters...

It's ...


OK SO, when the 80's rolled around, Bally and Williams were starting to pick up speed and overshadow Gottlieb. Gottlieb wasn't without its troubles and soon started falling behind. The quality of later Gottlieb/Premier tables is a bit questionable. You have some decent tables like Rescue 911 and Stargate and you have some real stinkers like Tee'd Off and Waterworld... though my opinion of Waterworld has changed since I played it at Community 54. Check it outBone Busters Inc. was... unusual to say the least. What I admire about Gottlieb/Premier around this time was they were throwing everything at the wall hoping some gimmick would stick. Bone Busters Inc. has this Train Tracks Skill Shot...

There's a secondary button on the right side of the machine that "switches the tracks" or the flipper. What you have to do is shoot the ball with enough speed to get to the top of the lane and have it drop down the center towards the flipper. You then have to hit the Train Switchin' Gate flipper to drop the ball down the habitrail for the skill shot.

Thanks for the tip, Sleepy Skeleton!
It's confusing to say the least.

Bone Busters Inc. throws pretty much all of the regular pinball traditions out the window. The lower playfield is much different than the usual standard; the slingshot bumpers are much smaller than usual and there is also a bumper on the far left near the outlane. The table lacks a pop bumper cluster and actually only has this single bumper.

The artwork is kinda goofy but in a "so-bad-it's-good" way. The backglass is some weird mish-mash take-off of Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters. The font of Bone Busters Inc. is a cheap rip-off of Indiana Jones with a little skeleton crossed off in the O like in Ghostbusters. There are also skeletons being zapped by a couple of ... Bone Busters, I guess haha! They look like the Ghostbusters, what with the coveralls and proton packs. It's just so bizarre. 
The playfield artwork reminds me of Bally's Amusement Park-themed tables, Comet, Cyclone and Hurricane and how the playfield art is like a map of an amusement park. Bone Busters' playfield is similar except there's a bunch of skeletons running around.

Bone Busters Inc. was decked out in LEDs and it was SO BRIGHT. Some of the LEDs were exposed and not covered by any plastics so when they went off, it was nearly blinding! There was this cool purple one that just loved to flash. The bumper also had a really nice blue LED installed that also looked really nice.

Having just mentioned Bally's Comet (which I reviewed... in the future), Bone Busters Inc. also features a shot that is similar to Comet's Million Point Shot.

There's a ramp jump that leads into what looks like an electric chair.

To be quite frank, I'm not too sure what this is. I think it is supposed to look like the proton beams the Not-Ghostbusters are shooting. Just like the Million Point shot on Comet, this shot is difficult to make and needs a lot of speed and precision.

Bone Busters Inc. has a neat method for locking balls. Instead of collecting the balls in a single lock, there's a couple of locks and eject holes that will hold the ball when lock is lit. Once all three balls are collected, You hear the Bone Busters talking over their radios. Something like, "Jones, are you ready?"
"I'm ready, Dick!"
"Bill, are you ready!"
"I'm Ready too!"
Then all three balls pop out from their respective locks and barrel down towards the flippers. It's a neat little trick and I dug it! I think it was called... Opera Multiball? I don't know why the mode would be called Opera Multiball but I saw that flash up on the screen so who really knows. There is something called Opera JAKPOT...

I asked Shane for a few words about Bone Busters Inc. as he played a heckuva lot better than I did on the table... "Bone Busters more like GROAN Busters! I kid I kid." Thanks, Shane.

And, of course, you can't forget Ol' One Eye up there watching ya play and crackin' wise!

Data East, one of the Pinball outsiders during the 90's also took a shot at a Horror-themed table with Tales From The Crypt.

This particular table is still kickin' it at the Pinball Cafe so if you fancy a go, head over there and tell Jason DERK sent ya!

You might wonder what is sitting next to TFTC in that picture. If you got pinball knowledge, you might be able to spot it right off the bat...
Bally's Addams Family, you bonehead!

It is no longer at the Pinball Cafe so don't go there in hopes of seeing it, ya dig?! I did see it at Giggles Arcade in Sauble Beach and if you click here, you can read about it!

Near the tail-end of Pinball's golden age, 1998, and having already seen tables of The Creature From The Black Lagoon...

The Dot Matrix Display did not work but the Creature hologram did and that's what counts

Image from IPDB.org

and Frankenstein (okay this a Sega table)

Image from IPDB.org
All three of which are movie licenses, HOWEVER, only one comes from Universal Studios! So, Williams figured "Ah, what the hell, let's stick 'em all in one table!", grabbed the license from Universal...

And that is how we got Monster Bash! (Image from IPDB.org)
From the left, you have the Creature From The Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Mummy for one last farewell tour. This table is chock full of toys and features.

Image from IPDB.org

Sort of like one last hurrah for the golden age of pinball. The amount of stuff packed onto this table was pretty wild. There's even a little Creature From The Black Lagoon hologram!

In a form of entertainment that has had themes ranging from mundane activities, like golf and fishing, to even the most EXTREEEEEEME, it's nice to see a theme like Horror get a fair shake and put some out some fantastic tables. Hell, Creature From The Black Lagoon isn't even directly based on the movie! It's all about going to the drive-in to see CFTBL!

If you're interested in playing some of these tables, Pinball Arcade has Monster Bash, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Elvira and The Party Monsters and the recently released Scared Stiff for nearly every platform you can image! (no super nintendo) As long as you don't mind virtual pinball, these tables are meticulously recreated and a blast to play.

Finally, if you want to get further into the Halloween mood, I've prepared a podcast for you! Back from my Surfin' days, I bring to you the Surfphony of Derstruction... BOO-THOUSAND!!! *THUNDERCLAP* OHAHAHAHAHA

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