10 Horror Themed Pinball Machines Fans Are Dying to See
If there's one thing folks in the pinball community can agree on, it's their desire to see their dream themes turned into pinball machines. From nostalgic cartoon series to modern blockbuster movies, you can find pinball fans who want a dedicated pinball machine for just about anything.
So it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of horror themes that people want to see turned into pinball machines. Heck, there's an entire company (Spooky Pinball) that specializes in making horror themed pinball machines. Halloween pinball, Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle, and the upcoming Scooby Doo pinball, are all great examples.
The pinball industry also has a long history of producing horror pinball machines, like The Addams Family, Haunted House, the Elvira franchise (Elvira's House of Horrors, Elvira and the Party Monsters, Scared Stiff), Creature from the Black Lagoon, Monster Bash, and so many others.
At Kineticist, we track the hottest in pinball IP demand over at our Hype Index, and these are the top 10 horror themed pinball machines that fans are absolutely dying to see.
The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead debuted in 1981 and horror fans devoured the shocking violence and black humor that little-known director Sam Raimi served up on a low budget. Raimi pushed the horror comedy envelope and led the Evil Dead franchise to cult classic status. Fans would read from the Necronomicon itself to get a glimpse of their favorite Evil Dead props and set pieces in a pinball machine. Dancing furniture and severed hands are a few on the wish list, not to mention callouts from Bruce Campbell. And the evil deer head as the topper, obviously.
Say “Beetlejuice” three times and a crude and lewd demon in a pinstriped suit appears, ready to wreak havoc on the invoker’s behalf. This is the premise of Tim Burton’s darkly comedic 1988 film focused on the hijinks between the living and the dead. Michael Keaton’s performance plus Tim Burton’s unique tone made this film a hit, and fans would love to see Beetlejuice “Jump in the Line” of horror pinball machines to be delivered next. Sand worms, shrunken heads, and some Harry Belafonte tunes would bring a Beetlejuice pinball machine to life. Let the summoning commence!
Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness is the third movie in the Evil Dead franchise and, whereas the first two leaned into horror and humor, Army of Darkness is known as a comedy that sees a chainsaw-for-a-hand Ash transported to medieval times to battle the army of the dead. Bruce Campbell’s charm plus four different versions of the film floating around keep this third installment in fans’ sights, and the idea of Pit Deadites, the Dark Forest, and Evil Ash popping up in a pinball machine keep Army of Darkness on fans’ radar.
Friday the 13th
Ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma. Hang around Camp Crystal Lake long enough to hear that noise and soon enough Jason Voorhees appears from the bottom of the lake. Wearing a hockey mask and wielding a machete, the Friday the 13th franchise saw Jason terrorize campers and camp counselors, hell bent on revenge for his own drowning. Playing as counselors trying to save campers from a roaming Jason entices fans, but they agree donning the mask and playing as Jason hunting down victims in their cabins could be even more fun. And if it could do both? That’s a camp worth investing in. With Spooky Pinball receiving much praise for their latest horror pinball machine, Halloween, maybe Jason will be the next slasher they bring to life.
Nightmare on Elm Street
When A Nightmare on Elm Street came out in the ‘80s, Wes Craven terrified audiences with the introduction of Freddie Krueger, a man who had knives for fingers and killed teenagers in their dreams. Now fans dream about their very own Elm Street pinball machine, inviting in Freddie and begging to be taunted by his one-liners. Eight movies’ worth of vivid nightmare landscapes and grisly deaths provide more than enough inspiration for a horror themed pinball machine fans can sink their knives into. Fans would love to hear Robert Englund do some epic callouts for what could become and awesome pinball machine.
Note: technically, we already have a Nightmare on Elm Street pinball machine, 1994's Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street, by Gottlieb. However, most fans agree that its time to revisit the popular horror franchise with a brand new game, and we tend to agree.
Set on a snowy research station in Antarctica, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a horror film that relies on slow burning paranoia as the crew questions who among them is actually an alien entity in disguise. Targeting members with blood tests – a way to weed out the alien – and fun with alien transformation scenes are a few ways fans would love to see The Thing as a pinball game, as well as hearing some of Carpenter’s iconic score while playing.
“Do not expose to bright lights. Do not let them get wet. No feeding after midnight.” Follow these three rules to keep a mogwai cute and cuddly. Break a rule and the mogwai will hatch Gremlins, the little reptilian monsters at the center of the 1984 black comedy horror movie. Fans think this title is long overdue for a treatment, given the wacky range of gremlin characters that could make an appearance, the ability for balls to multiply, and the irresistibility of everyone’s favorite mogwai, Gizmo.
Another John Carpenter classic, They Live tackles economic policies, commercialization, and capitalism, all through the literal lens of a pair of sunglasses. When worn, these sunglasses reveal both subliminal messages being pumped out into the world and aliens residing in the
ruling class. Using a projector or UV lighting to change the playfield as if wearing landscape-changing sunglasses (modeled after the Stern Pinball UV effects on their Stranger Things machine) is a dream feature, and Roddy Piper’s line, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum” is a much requested callout.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
A B-movie when it was released in 1988, Killer Klowns from Outer Space quickly turned into a campy cult classic. As spelled out in the title, the movie is about Killer Klowns who come from outer space to terrorize a small town. The movie captures ‘80s nostalgia, the Klowns serve up creepy, goofy terror, and the fun that oozes out when watching keeps fans coming back, especially around Halloween. It’s no wonder so many want to see it as a pinball machine. Send in the Klowns with colorful circus tents on the playfield and victims spinning in cotton candy.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
The spooky movie that takes the cult classic cake is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Fans attend interactive midnight showings for a chance to not only sing and dance with Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the guests and inhabitants of his castle - including the titular Rocky – but to also recreate the art. With Dr. Frank-N-Furter embracing sexuality and queer fluidity, LGBTQ+ audiences hugely support the film.
The music and campiness is beloved by fans clambering to see this as a pinball machine, and it’s worth noting that doing the Time Warp – a jump to the left, a step to the right, bending your knees in tight, and ending with a pelvic thrust – is totally possible while standing behind the machine, and your hands on the flipper buttons.