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Pinball / Elvira's House of Horrors

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Elvira's House of Horrors is a 2019 pinball table by Stern Pinball. It was designed by Dennis Nordman, with software by Lyman F. Sheats Jr and artwork by Greg Freres. It acts as the third installment in an unofficial series of Elvira-themed tables, following Williams Electronics'note  Elvira and the Party Monsters and Scared Stiff.

The premise is simple: Elvira is trying to sell the Haunted House featured in the title, but must get rid of the various characters from various public domain horror B-movies that inhabit it beforehand. The player must help her do so while also contending with the newly-risen Dead Heads and other creatures littering the premises. Along the way, they'll rise up the ranks on the B-Restorator, charge up the Freak Fryer, and find various pieces of Junk in the Trunk.

The game is notable as the very first pinball machine to have footage filmed specifically for its display – namely, Cassandra Peterson as Elvira giving an introduction and conclusion to each of the films featured in the game's primary modes. It also pulls footage from said films for use during play, as listed below. Other distinctive features include a physical model of the house itself on the playfield (with lights in the "windows" that can light up individually) and a Trunk that can act as both part of a ramp and a lock for multiball.

Elvira's House of Horrors initially came in three editions: Premium, Limited, and Signature. The 400 Limited Edition machines upgrade the game in various (largely cosmetic) ways, including adding a shaker motor and artwork on the cabinet's interior walls. Meanwhile, the 50 Signature Edition games have embossed cabinet decals and came with a handful of other goods: a swatch from Elvira's velvet couch and an autographed trading card. In 2021, Stern announced a new edition of the game celebrating the 40th anniversary of Elvira's debut; it includes purple armor for the cabinet, modified artwork throughout the game, another autographed trading card, and a signed copy of Peterson's then-recent autobiography, Yours Cruelly, Elvira.

    List of films used 

This game contains examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Hand of Fate wheel is activated by losing the ball down the left outlane. However, one of the six wedges of the wheel awards an extra ball save, effectively negating the drain.
    • The right outlane also features a ball save that can be lit after defeating Deadheads.
    • A ball that immediately drains from the Deadhead kickout will be saved.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": The game’s primary modes are referred to as haunts.
  • Call-Back: Many to Scared Stiff:
    • The Dead Head family returns.
    • The Spider Wheel is revamped into the Hand of Fate wheel (using the new screen display instead of a physical wheel on the backglass).
    • The animation for locking a ball for Junk in the Trunk Multiball (which begins with a hand reaching out of the trunk to grab a flying ball) heavily resembles the animation for locking a ball in the coffin in Scared Stiff.
    • Successfully completing Gappa Angry and starting 6-ball Multiball begins firing every coil on the playfield for a few seconds. This references the Stiff-O-Meter sequence from Scared Stiff and the fake reset that occurs when you reach the top of the meter.
    • Going back even further, the description for the House Party Wizard Mode proclaims that "it’s time to party like monsters!" The mode also opens with an organ playing a similar tune to the one from that game, complete with Elvira commenting “ooh, nice organ!” afterwards.
  • Dawson Casting: invoked Mocked by Elvira in one possible introduction to Teenagers from Outer Space's mode:
    "'Teenager' must mean something else in space - cuz, I mean, these guys look like... thirty-somethings. Y’know, my age."
  • Double Entendre: Unsurprisingly, a good deal of the game's humor stems from these, ranging from the "Junk in the Trunk" to the Skill Shot:
    "I can see... you like the Back Door!"
  • Excuse Plot: Elvira's got a mansion that turned out to be haunted by characters from various old B-movies. Your job is to help her drive them back into their films so that she can sell the house.
  • Haunted House: It's right in the name of the game.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: The Freak Fryer contains six different levels and is charged by switch hits during normal play. Used prominently during Gappa Angry!, where each level on the meter corresponds to a different mode the player will receive after draining.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Elvira isn’t too pleased to have to sit through Manos: The Hands of Fate, as she clearly expresses in one possible ending to the mode:
    "Well, that was fun in the worst possible way!"
  • Jump Scare: Invoked by the Gar-Goils, which can hit the glass if they’re hit hard enough and often get in the way of shots.
  • Leitmotif: During the mode based on Manos: The Hands of Fate, making the first few shots might cause a brief snippet of Torgo's theme to play. A note in a similar vein plays whenever one of the Hand of Fate targets is made as well.
  • Match Sequence: Various digits appear and disappear as the mansion's window's lights turn on and off, eventually settling on one pair for the match.
  • Mind Screw: Successfully completing Gappa Angry by making it to the 6-ball Multiball and collecting the Super Jackpot will fire every coil on the game for a few seconds while the display shows Gappa’s demise.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Torgo is depicted with goat legs on the backglass, a reference to Manos' director attempting to depict him as a satyr (which was hampered by the notoriously low budget).
    • Eegah! is also depicted holding a can of shaving cream, referencing an infamous scene from the original film where he applies some before lapping it up.
    • Before Elvira starts speaking during the introduction to a Haunt, the logo to her longtime series Elvira's Movie Macabre is visible.
  • Pool Scene: Pool Party, the lowest mode on the Freak Fryer, takes place during one. Make bumper hits for big points!
  • Refugee from TV Land: The titular house is haunted by various old B-movie characters, and the player is tasked with sending them all back to their original films.
  • Score Multiplier: Scoring can be doubled or quadrupled for a short time by completing both banks of side targets and then rolling over the lit return lane.
    • One of the Hand of Fate wheel awards doubles the end of ball bonus, on top of any other multipliers.
  • Skeleton Key: One of the Junk awards; it allows the player to access haunts beyond the primary six.
  • Skill Shot: Two of them – plunging the ball into the top 2 lanes awards 250,000 points, while getting it into the Back Door (closer to the left orbit, and thus riskier to shoot for) instead awards a million points and immediately starts a haunt.
  • Snowy Sleigh Bells: The music accompanying the mode based on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians prominently features these.
  • Special Effects Failure: Pointed out and mocked In-Universe; Elvira doesn’t bother pretending that the "monsters" in Teenagers from Outer Space are anything but giant lobster silhouettes, to the point where the mode might conclude with her craving lobster and asking the artist to draw her some butter.
  • Tyop on the Cover: In an intentional example, the insert for Drive Me Crazy on the right orbit reads “Drive Me Car-Zy”.
  • Wizard Mode:
    • Starting the first three haunts will qualify House Party as the next haunt. This is a 4-ball Multiball where all shots are lit for consistent Jackpots and the house entrance scores a Super Jackpot determined by how many Jackpots were collected before it was made.
    • Completing the Freak Fryer will light the house entrance to start Gappa Angry!, a multi-phase mode where balls have to be locked in several places around the playfield. A Jackpot value is built throughout the mode and can be collected through various methods; the total switch hits are added to a Super Jackpot that the player will collect when the mode finishes.
    • After completing all the main goals in the game, the final wizard mode is "Wild Market Value". The Wild Market Value is an award that gradually builds up over the course of the game every time the ball hits the target by the pop bumpers. A hurry-up will start at the current "Wild Market Value"; hit the target to award the hurry-up and sell the house.
  • World of Pun: There's a lot of puns in this game - Elvira tries to sell the house through Alternate Realty, the Junk in the Trunk locks balls, the Dead Head family includes Grandpa Bone Head and Aunt Surly, and the various game modes include Drive Me Crazy and Phone-A-Fiend.