The Pinball Machines Of Horror: Part 3! The Wonderful World of Horror-Themed Pinball Machines!
by: Roger Barr

Since everybody seems to have enjoyed my previous pieces about horror-themed pinball machines, I figured it's time we harvest some more merriment from the most macabre mechanical machines out there. Between the beautiful artwork and the ingenious gameplay designs, it's hard not to fall in love with all of them at first sight. If you haven't read Parts 1 and 2 yet, click here to do so. If you're all caught up, however, you'll be happy to know I've compiled another Halloweeny handful of horrific pinball machines for this season - some of which you probably didn't even know existed. I'm happy to present you with the Pinball Machines of HORROR: Part 3!

The Phantom Of The Opera

Let's start things off with a look at a game for one of the lesser appreciated Universal Monsters - The Phantom of the Opera pinball machine! It was released back in 1990 by Data East, and it did an excellent job of encapsulating the experience inside a machine, complete with all the classic organ music and sound effects you'd expect.

(photo credit: Robert Misner)

One of the coolest features of the game was on the backglass itself. Yes, the artwork was already beautiful, but what I always thought was a great idea was how the Phantom's mask was actually painted on the front of the backglass, separate from the rest of the artwork. As a result, when you achieved certain things in the game, it would illuminate the mask area on the backglass, and his true face could be seen behind it! Of course, if you stared at it too long, you'd end up losing a turn, but perhaps that was the Phantom's plan all along.

(photo credit: treasure-cove)

The playfield of the game was wonderfully ornate as well, featuring illustrations of marble sculptures, brass decorations, and other things you'd likely see in a nice theatre. Of course, there was also the "Magic Mirror" that your ball could vanish into, along with his infamous pipe organ, which would activate the multi-ball mode. As fun as the gameplay was, the music and sound effects really put this one over the top for me. It was just a wonderful blend of eerie tunes that truly did justice to the Phantom of the Opera.

Oh, and if you wanted to see what the Phantom's face artwork looked like without the mask, here it is:

Oh Phantom... you handsome devil!

The Walking Dead

In 2014, Stern decided it was time to capitalize on The Walking Dead craze by creating a pinball machine based on the hit AMC show. While I'm not a huge fan of the show, I've always appreciated the impressive makeup work that's gone into many of the zombies... er... walkers. With that in mind, I gotta say, they did a pretty nice job on this machine.

Sure, the backglass itself isn't the most amazing design we've seen, but it gets the job done. I certainly would've like to see them get more creative with the artwork for the backglass. Fortunately, if you have the means, you can purchase add-ons for the machine -including that glorious zombie head fish tank topper! Seriously, whether you like the show or not, you gotta admit, having a fish tank with three zombie heads sculpted by Greg Nicotero floating in it is a pretty damn awesome addition for any pinball machine.

(photo credit: homeleisuredirect)

While the backglass itself didn't have the most exciting artwork, the playfield featured all kinds of memorable visuals from the TV series. There's a large Well Walker zombie toy for you to battle, the prison from seasons 3 & 4, the bicycle girl zombie ramp, a smaller zombie head fish tank in the upper right corner, and many more things that will surely be familiar to fans of the show. And speaking of the show, one of the primary objectives is to collect supplies that will unlock new game modes. Given the popularity of the show, and how the game is only a few years old, it shouldn't be too hard to track down a place that has this machine. Well worth checking out if you're a fan of the series, or you just want a new horror-themed pinball machine to give a whirl.


After showing one of the newest pinball games, it only makes sense to follow it up with this older machine from 1979. This is the original Dracula pinball machine by Stern - not to be confused with the 1993 Bram Stoker's Dracula machine by Williams (which I'll surely cover sometime in the future as well). This was one of those classic pinball machines that seemed to pop up everywhere back in the early eighties, and while the layout was fairly simple, it was an absolute blast to play.

The backglass has a wonderful hand-drawn illustration that depicts Dracula with a Nosferatu-like face, but with more hair. Also gotta love the angry villagers approaching his castle with torches, but what's with all the blood on the ground? Did ol' Dracula have a feast in his front yard? Or maybe it was that little red gargoyle? We'll likely never know.

Dracula's playfield has some of my all-time favorite classic pinball machine artwork. Damsels surrounded by flames, huge vampire bats, the grim reaper, a giant python, skeleton hands, and of course, Dracula himself. It's rare to spot the game these days, but I always relish the opportunity to play this classic whenever it happens to pop up at places like Arcade Expo. Oh how many hours I'd spend trying to hit all of the vampire bat drop targets in the upper playfield area. Good times!

Twilight Zone

Now I know some of you have been waiting for this one to pop up in one of these articles, and with good reason - it's easily one of the greatest pinball games you can play. Seriously, with the exception of The Addams Family Pinball game, I'd say this Twilight Zone game by Bally in 1993 is one of the smoothest, brilliantly designed games out there.

As you can see, the backglass artwork features references to oodles of things seen in the Twilight Zone TV series, such as the Talky Tina doll, the "Fever" slot machine, the Maple Street sign, and Rod Serling himself, standing in the doorway. Strangely enough, the gumball machine filled with pinballs that's featured both on the backglass and the playfield never actually appeared in the TV series. Still it fits in nicely with the rest of the visuals, and adds to the gameplay as well. I do wish the Mystic Seer or the Gremlin made an appearance somewhere on there, but those are just some of my personal favorites from the classic series.

(photo credit: Ministry of Pinball)

As you can see, the playfield has plenty of references to the show as well, including a player piano, the most unusual camera, a functioning zodiac clock, and the infamous door from the opening credits. As smooth as the gameplay is, it's also quite a complex playfield for a pinball machine. The aforementioned gumball machine will actually spit out additional pinballs onto the playfield; there's the unique"Magna-Flip" zone that controls the ball with magnets instead of flippers; and the zodiac clock will time you depending on which gameplay mode you're currently in.

I can't recommend the Twilight Zone pinball machine enough, so if you have the chance, be sure to unlock this door with the key of imagination and give it a try. I assure you, this is one pinball game that does not disappoint.


You saw Bone Busters in my previous article, but now it's time for the real deal! The newest pinball machine from Stern, just released in 2016, is Ghostbusters. How has it taken us this long to get an official Ghostbusters pinball machine? Who cares. The point is that it's here now, and it's everything fans of the original movie could've ever hoped for.

Unlike their recent Walking Dead machine, they went all out with the artwork for the Ghostbusters pinball game. That's the kind of backglass art that you'd be proud to have hanging on your wall, let alone on a pinball machine. It features all four Ghostbusters (thank you for not screwing Winston out of a prominent spot), Gozer the Gozerian and her Terror Dogs, the Ecto-1, Slimer, and a fiery Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The artwork is great and the colors are nice and vivid - exactly what any fan would want. But it gets better...

(photo credit: pinballbulbs)

The playfield is absolutely gorgeous. Where to begin? Well, for starters you have one green Slimer ghost hanging out with two other blue Slimer ghosts, so that's different. Despite it primarily being about the original movie, the Scoleri Brothers still appear in the game as drop targets. Dana (Zuul, the Gatekeeper), Louis Tully (Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster), and even the ghost containment unit are featured on the playfield as well. There's a large Ghostbusters firehouse model in the upper left area, and opposite of that, you have an animated, color-changing Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, ready to destroy some New York skyscrapers. Bright colors, slime and proton blasts everywhere you look, and even a model Slimer toy holding onto a chicken drumstick make the Ghostbusters pinball machine an absolute beautiful sight to behold.

As if that's not enough, Ernie Hudson (Winston) recorded some original dialogue for the game to you to enjoy as you play along to the classic Ray Parker Jr. "Ghostbusters" theme song. Between the neon color palette for the hand-drawn art, the sounds (love hearing the Ecto-1 siren every now 'n then), and the speedy gameplay, it's nice to see Stern packing so much into one of their modern pinball machines.

Alright, I hope you've enjoyed this latest tour of even more of my favorite horror pinball games. Keep in mind, this is just the third entry in my ongoing series about these horror-themed pinball machines, so if there are some you're hoping to see in Part 4, please drop a comment below and lemme know! And don't forget to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven't already!

Also, what are some horror movies and TV shows that you would like to see get their own dedicated pinball machine? What features do you think it should have? Drop a comment below to let me know your ideas!

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If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

The Pinball Machines Of Horror: Part 1!


The Pinball Machines Of Horror: Part 2!

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