Elvira’s House of Horror pinball machine | Stern Pinball | Review

Sell nice 30’s mansion Bates Motel style. Three floors, beautiful volumes with H.P Lovecraft influences develop. General atmosphere in the sauce film series B with a touch of jazz. Magnificent gargoyles decorating the property. Beautiful swimming pool with pretty inflatable buoys. Gothic style family crypt with special arrangements. Garage, outbuildings and caravan in the back of the park. Unbeatable price below the market. Offer to be seized !!!!! Contact Elvira, Mistress of Darkness…

“Honey?! Look at this ad, doesn’t it look great?!”

“Did you see the prize? I find it suspicious!”

Of course it’s suspicious! No kidding! Do you really think we can afford such a mansion for a dime? Please, don’t be naive. Some common sense! I know that common sense is not the fashion of the moment, but still!

That’s right! Common sense and a little bit of bad taste well dosed. That’s what we need! This is the paranormal, the horror and the series B see Z! Those good old 80’s with its lot of genre films, gore films and others that are sorely lacking in our contemporary era… A bygone period but in which we willingly plunge back into, and this pinball machine is the perfect example. (nostalgia mode off).

Why dive again? Stern brings out a pinball machine on Elvira so we have the right to dive again, haven’t we? Things started in 1989 with the pinball machine “Elvira and the Party Monsters” by Midway with Dennis Nordman as lead designer. Nice pinball machine but nothing more… Then, they (editor’s note: Midway and Nordman) do it again with the Scared Stiff that will become a legend. By the way, who is this Elvira ? Why two and now three pinball machines are dedicated to her ?

Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira

Cassandra Peterson

Elvira is Cassandra Peterson, an American who made a name for herself in the 80s by hosting a weekly show: Elvira’s movies macabre.

Most of the time, she presented low-budget horror movies and made a lasting impression with her sarcastic touch, her grand clown interruptions, her gothic look and… her generous breasts, which she generously laughed about.

Well, let’s avoid the salacious “jokes” like: “she’s got nice bumpers”, “I’d like to slide my coin in her slot“, “does she tilt when shaken ?”. These are comments actually read on groups or forums…

Don’t be mistaken : we do like jokes, on the contrary. But free misogyny in the first degree is not part of our culture. So here, let’s not forget that we also have a mother. Instead, we’re going to focus on what unites all self-respecting Pinheads: the game.

Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira

The modern context

The end of the year 2019 is a good vintage for Stern. The Elvira will be released in September 2019 and will precede another major pinball machine of the brand released in December: The Netflix Stanger Thing. It has certain similarities: successful franchises, themes with a horrific atmosphere, unfinished codes, limited toys and an open or even empty playfield…

Unlike its December counterpart, Elvira will receive a rather warm welcome from the community. This is certainly due to the fact that the previous edition of Elvira remains a pinball machine that is very recognizable and appreciated by (old) players and that it plays on the nostalgic fibre of the 80s. However, the Stanger Things also plays on this nostalgia but the “psycho-marketing” approach is not there.

But to tell you the truth, when it was revealed, we were not really excited about it, just as we were not excited about the Stranger Things. And just like the Stranger Things, we quickly changed our mind…

The grand tour of this luxurious house

Stern, and not for the first time (the Beatles and Batman 66), but rare enough to point it out, steps back to the holy trinity of the pro/premium/LE. Here, the manufacturer offers us a triumvirate, Premium, LE, SE for our greatest joy as players and collectors but for the greatest sadness of our wallets …

Indeed, exit the entry-level pro model. The premium model ($8,499) is identical in all points, at least on the playfield, with its big brothers models LE ($9,599) and SE.

The playfiels includes :

  • three bumpers
  • one Beast Booster Spinner
  • a Junk in the Trunk
  • Four electro-mechanical gargoyles with up & down move
  • two ramps (in plastic… a pity for this price but they have the advantage to let us appreciate the artwork.)
  • a luminescent electro-mechanical crypt with a bash toy (we will come back to it later)
  • a luminescent electro-mechanical RVB manor with a ramp, a secret door, a drop target, a spinning roof
  • lateral targets at both sides of the playfield, Hand of Fate an Open the trunk
  • an up-kicker

As you can see, the composition is relatively simple on the surface. But that’s only on the surface… but of course, we’ll come back to that 🙂

Elvira’s playfield for all 3 versions. Here special edition with glittery side rails.

The premium model is equipped with feet and side rails in the traditional black powder color of the brand. As for the LE and SE models, they are respectively equipped with beautiful feet and side rails in bright blood red and bright blood red glitter. Moreover, the side rails have a blood drop cutout. It fits with the theme and this is very successful !

Side rail

In addition, both high-end models are equipped with a mirror backglass, anti-glare glass, shaker, artblades, high definition speakers. They are also autographed by the entire technical team.

For the SE model, Elvira herself signed a trading card. A certificate of authenticity accompanies a small piece of red leather : the leather of the original sofa from which Elvira presented her show (only of interest to purists and collectors).

Trading card of the modèle SE

The edition is limited to 400 copies for the LE model and only 50 copies for the SE model. This makes the latter an ultra rare and ultra expensive pinball machine, even second hand and even more so since the increase in manufacturers’ prices… That’s it for the technical specifications of the pinball. Now let’s take a look at the artistic aspect.

Oh my goodness! You’re worse than the paparazzi !

At the helm is Greg Freres. A legend in the world of pinball who can pride himself on being the originator of the artwork for several legendary pinball machines. Let’s mention titles like: Monster Bash, Scared Stiff, Medieval Madness, Revenge from Mars, Star Trek: The Next Generation,… More recently, he is also in charge of : Wizard of Oz, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and also Led Zeppelin which is so much debated especially on the artwork.

An old school guy is in charge of the realization and you can feel it. The line is fine and caricatural as well as the technique of glazes used for his gradations. We are far from a modern thicker line and a succession of flat tints of a Zombie Yeti. But it works well and fits perfectly with the retro side of this pin. Moreover, there are similarities with Monster Bash like the blue paving stones (in front of the crypt on Elvira and in front of the castle of Doctor Frankenstein on MB), the lighting of the characters in low angle, the bluish tint on the whole of the two boards, the Tesla towers or the chains and lightning bolts that decorate here and there. The board is full of details and doesn’t make it easy to read, but once the rules are assimilated, it becomes crystal clear.

Artwork details

Other elements that immediately attract attention are the manor house and the crypt. Two absolutely magnificent elements! Magnificent in their electro-mechanical conception and in their simple structure. Their artwork gives a real impression of 3D while in reality we are on smooth surfaces or very slightly embossed. The illumination of these toys is very successful. Moreover, they offer a very nice gameplay and are much more interesting than it seems. We will develop this axis in the gameplay part.

Are you making an offer?

Don’t get excited too fast ! In any real estate purchase, you have to be careful. “In real estate, there are three golden rules for a purchase : location, location, location! “

Here, honestly, we’re pretty good. A small mansion in the background, close to the back panel and under backglass, it looks good. But ! Because there is always a but… Our dear Elvira may not have told you everything about her magnificent house. Many things happened in the property of this (not very young) woman. And that leaves traces, or more precisely, some people… Let’s take you quietly towards the main objective of this pinball : to kick everybody out !

Atmosphere at the manor

Let’s kick them out !

Well, with the title of the pinball machine, the theme, and our little intro, you will have understood that the mansion is haunted! Well yes ! Pinheads, several decades of horror movies live in this house. Indeed, the characters of the films that Elvira presented haunt these places. If you want to acquire this beautiful mansion, you will have to help them return to their original movie. You will also have to defeat all the deceased ancestors resting more or less peacefully in the family crypt. Add to that little challenges here and there and this is the inventory upon arrival.

The pitch is rather nice, however you are lucky that it is explained to you because at first it is not obvious to understand the subject nor to grasp the logic of the game. The board is certainly beautiful but its construction not clear. Moreover, one of the strengths of this pinball game is that you can trigger and accumulate several objectives at the same time. You might as well say that the first games are confusing because there is so much to do.

This pinball game is full of references from the Elvira’s macabre show era. The creators of the game enjoyed to add them, for the greatest pleasure of B movie fans. Indeed, no less than 26 films (sequences to be exact) are inserted into the code. So you have a lot of work to do to return all this pretty little world to their original reel. Below, we list (thanks This Week In Pinball) all the films you will have the pleasure to discover or rediscover :

  • A Bucket Of Blood (1959)
  • Attack Of The Giant Leeches (1959)
  • Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)
  • Don’t Look In The Basement (1973)
  • Eegah (1962)
  • Hercules And The Captive Women (1963)
  • I Eat Your Skin (1964)
  • Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1965)
  • Lady Frankenstein (1971)
  • Manos: The Hands Of Fate (1966)
  • Monster From A Prehistoric Planet (1967)
  • Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
  • Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)
  • Scared To Death (1947)
  • Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
  • The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
  • The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
  • The Killer Shrews (1959)
  • The Manster (1959)
  • The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973)
  • The Terror (1963)
  • The Wasp Woman (1960)
  • The Werewolf Of Washington (1973)
  • The Wild Women Of Wongo (1958)
  • Tormented (1960)
  • Untamed Women (1952)

A very nice point: you have as many chances to register your name in the high score as there are movies offered. That’s pretty nice when you’re a Low Score Pinball Wizard like us. Let’s add to that the high score of the multiball, wizard mode and other, it leaves you great chances to be a heroe just for one day !

“I see you find the back door…this is not an invitation, this is a skill shot !

Hey lady ! With sentences like this one it is normal to move some pinhead ! Yes, Elvira is also a big dose of provocative humor (even more so at the time). But once again, young and not so young feisty pinheads, with this punchline Elvira tells you that you made a skill shot. Let’s go ! Let’s talk about skill shots.

There are two of them. The first one is a classic skill shot. Indeed, you will have to aim the launcher at the lanes that serve the bumper (pool area) and match the inserts when the ball passes trough. This first skill shot is super simple, yields a few hundred thousand points and the more you do during the game, the higher the score.

Secret Skill Shot

The second skill shot is a bit more complicated but not that much. Most of all, what we love is that it is a secret skill shot, that is to say that we discover it by chance. Spoil Alert ! If you don’t want to know this secret skill shot, go to the next paragraph. The principle of a secret skill shot, as its name indicates it is to be secret. But as Elvira doesn’t do anything like everybody else, she indicated it by a small panel located on the backpanel, on the left of the manor. To do it, you just have to place the ball behind the mansion in the back door. In addition to bringing you a nice score and increasing throughout the game, you will immediately trigger a “haunt” which is the beginning of a mission.

Good to know : throughout the game, when you lock a ball, you can perform another skill shot. This is an important technique to score a little more and make a difference.

Who you gonna call ? Oh no, we made a mistake, it’s not the right theme…

So here you are, a kind of ghost hunter or exorcist, as you wish. But how to make all the protagonists join their movie? Nothing could be easier, you’ll have to trigger haunts and it happens in the manor.

Window of the manor

To trigger a haunt, you just have to go through the central ramp (a cellar is located under it). Before shooting, you can select a window with the buttons on the flippers by scrolling through the lighting of the rooms in the house. A window is associated with a movie. Also, if you want to make the secret skill shot, we advise you to select immediately the movie you want to start. If the skill shot is successful, you will launch directly a “haunt” without even passing through the central ramp.

When you enter the house, your “haunt” begins. These missions are timed and all you have to do is shoot through the lanes, orbits and ramps to survive the movie and send the character back into it. You will build your progression throughout your game that way.

Several film sequences can be collected within the same reel. The more you collect, the higher your score. Once the haunt is over or the ball is lost, the clips are collected in the “Haunt-O-Meter” and inform you about your progress. When you have collected several reels, you will trigger a mini wizard mode (Trailer Trash Bonus Round). Your ultimate goal is to reach the “Director’s Cut”, the game’s wizard mode with the “Attic”.

Director’s cut Insert.

You will notice that some rooms cannot be lit. Indeed, these are locked and you will have to get the skeleton key hidden in the trunk to unlock them.

Skeleton key.

The family crypt and the garage

As we mentioned above, triggering several modes simultaneously, including multiballs, is one of the good points of this pinball. That’s why the family crypt plays an important and complementary role. It is played in parallel with the main plot.

In the crypt, located on the right side of the stage, lies the DeadHead family in the family vault. The members of this dynasty all have the particularity of having a head without a body and an ugly face… They too do not want to rest in peace and have decided to confront you. You will have to dislodge them and send the members of this household to their final resting place.

A first shot in the crypt’s gates unlocks the entrance. The door opens. A second shot in the crypt will wake up one of the members and trigger an animation on the LCD screen that will present your target and taunt you all the way. Then, as a toy within a toy, the “Deadhead Bash” will appear at the crypt’s gates. All you have to do is shoot repeatedly to get rid of it. If you survive three family members, the “Super Head Shot” insert will light up and give you a bonus point. In total, there would be between twelve and fifteen Deadheads… That’s a lot of fun!

The crypt is open, now you have to punch the skull !
Path to the garage

In addition to the mansion and the crypt, you have another important area that should not be neglected : the garage.

Located below the mansion on the left, the entrance to the garage is blocked by a drop target in the shape of a tombstone. Shoot it once to free the entrance and then lock three balls to trigger a multiball. Remember : between each locked ball, you can perform a skill shot! In this area, you can get three multiballs: Wild Women Multiball, Add-A-Zombie Multiball, and Attic Attack Multiball in that order.

Speaking of multiballs, we might as well tell you about the “Junk in the Trunk multiball” and the “Trunk Multiball” right away. You might have noticed another toy on the left side of the playfield : the trunk. It will have two purposes during a game.

Open Trunk

The second one, “Trunk Multiball”, is based on the same game mechanics, and consists in locking your balls either through the ramp when the trunk is open, or through the “secret entrance” on the right side of the targets below the trunk. Let’s be clear, this shoot is luck on the rebound. You can’t do it on purpose. However, when this operation is successful, you will be able to play the multiball with two balls.

“Okay kids, time to take this space party elsewhere. Pack up your retro rockets & ship out!

We have just seen the main missions of the scenario imagined by the game designers. However, there are some secondary missions.

In fact, seeing you waving around amuses the little gargoyles. They adorn the entrances of the manor and the crypt. By shooting them, you make them jump on the spot and you fill your “Garg-Oil-Gauge” located on the right side of the board in the copper pipe with the strange green liquid. Once filled, you get the “Gar-Goils Gone Wild” and then it’s gargoyle time!


As your ball travels through the lanes, orbits, ramps and other joys, it triggers switches that fill your “Freak Fryer” gauge. When it reaches its peak, this gauge awakens the “Gappa Angry”: a creature from the mythology of Japanese Kaiju movies like Godzilla, a six-ball multiball!

Freak Fryer

You want more ? No problem ! But fasten your seatbelt ! If you shoot in the orbits, a cheerful clown will come and offer you a little car ride for an explosive “drive me crazy”. This clown from hell is the official shooter (optional) of the pinball machine.

Elvira shooter rod

After this hellish ride, you can relax with a drink at the Tiki-bar towards the “Unhappy Hour” inserts. And if you want to help Elvira increase the value of the manor before selling it, let’s shoot the Wild Market Hurry Up target.

Press the button to stop the wheel !

One last thing before we get to the wizard modes. On your right, there are three very useful targets: the Hand of Fate. Shooting at them will light on the “Hand of Fate” insert in the left outlane. When the ball passes through this outlane, an animation appears on the LCD screen : a wheel of fortune style with several bonuses. Once launched, to stop the wheel, you will have to press the lockbar button and that’s it ! One of the following bonuses are yours:

  • Ball Save (ne peut pas être choisi si ball save est déjà actif)
  • Extend Garage Multiball
  • Extend Trunk Multiball
  • 5 Millions
  • 2 Millions
  • Bonus X2
Hand of Fate targets.

There is still a multitude of sub game modes that we let you discover because describing them all would be tedious. But we can list them: Pool Party, Dance Fever (2-ball multiball), Make Out Mayhem (3-ball multiball), Scream Test (4-ball multiball), Run For Your Life (5-ball multiball).

We’ve given you the main and secondary challenges, and you’ve already got plenty to do to master them. Now let’s get into the score explosion with the Wizard Modes!

House party !

This is it ! You’ve survived for the moment and you’re halfway through your haunt, so it’s time to relax a bit by throwing a party in the mansion. Well… We don’t know if “relax” is the right word. Well, actually, you’re not going to relax at all, because it’s time for the four-ball multiball, symbolized by the illumination of the central window of the manor. You will have to be agile to get the jackpots because they are placed in an old-fashioned way (lane, ramp, etc…) but they change places! During this mode, the roof of the mansion lights up and spins. If you hit the central ramp when the eye is on the top of the roof, a ball will be added to your multiball.

Attic’s eye.

Attic mode and Director’s cut mode

As we all are Low Score Pinball Wizards, none of us managed to get this far. So we can assume it’s awesome and we suspect that it must score like crazy. All we know is that the “Director’s Cut” considers you the best B-movie restorer of all time. We’re not even sure that Stern has coded this part of the game yet. So let’s move on…

Where do I sign ?

As you may have read at the beginning of this article, we were not thrilled with the reveal of this pinball machine. If you watch the video presentation, the first five seconds set a mood the rest of the video forgets. So we were legitimately afraid that this pinball would be a total misfire. Actually, we were wrong.

Elvira’s topper.

This pinball machine has a great atmosphere! The sound effects and music from Jerry Thompson (Avengers, Heavy Metal, TMNT, Star Wars Comics, Jurassic Park, Black Knight, The Munsters, Deadpool…) follow each other perfectly. Also, they mix genres : horror sound design, jazzy atmospheres, Cuban music!

Lovely haven

Elvira’s House of Horror is a pinball with no complicated shots, it is very jubilant. Once explained, its gameplay is crystal clear. It is a must-have for any self-respecting collector. It’s a family pinball game, offbeat and fun. However, the pro gamers might quickly get bored of it because even if it is full of modes and sub-modes, the simplicity of the shoots may leave a feeling of déjà-vu. But we don’t care, we sign up straight away, because once again : we are Low Score Pinball Wizards!


Elvira LE

Manufacturer : Stern Pinball
Date of production : September 2019
Type : Solid State Electronic
Processor : Stern Spike 2 System
Abbreviation : EHOH
Units produced : N/C

  • Manor
  • Crypt
  • Gargoyles
  • Trunk
  • Deadhead

Game Design : Dennis Nordman
Mechanic : Tom Kopera
Software : Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
Artwork : Greg Freres
Animation : Chuck Ernst, Danai Kittivathana, Joshua Clay, Paul Chamnankit
Sound : Jerry Thompson
Music : Jerry Thompson
Dubbing : Cassandra Peterson, Tim Kitzrow

Founder of Pinball Mag. | Pinball Collector | Low Score Pinball Wizard

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