Aside from the lavish costumes and yearly spooky Halloween celebrations, what do horror movies and casinos have in common? Among the most recognisable of casino games is the classic fruit machine, which has existed for over one hundred years. Originally known as the one-armed bandit, the first machine was loosely based on the rules of poker. To avoid gambling laws in the early 20th century, many of the earliest machines offered food and drink as prizes instead of cash payouts.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that themed fruit machines, such as those available on Fruity King, became commonplace. Manufacturers began to licence popular television shows and film franchises for use in the arcades. This is where the horror genre began popping up in the design of these gambling machines. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable and popular horror themed machines through the years.
The officially licensed Rocky Horror Show Games Machine was launched in October 1996 by BWB Newark Limited. The cult horror musical was a hit at drive in theatres and midnight movies, gathering a loyal fan base. The machine was created to entice avid fans of the film, with the game incorporating elements of movie such as test tubes and bonuses themed around the main characters.
The fruit machine even saw a launch party with actors getting into Rocky Horror costumes in casinos – something not seen too often in the gambling industry. Sadly few of these quirky games are still in operational condition.
For horror fans in Chicago however, no searching is required to check out retro games machines. Galloping Ghost Arcade has developed a reputation for preserving and restoration of vintage games, and making them available to the public.
As well as early arcade games, fruit and pinball machines are preserved by the company. As many horror licensed back in the day were destroyed when licensing deals came to an end, some of those housed at Galloping Ghost are incredibly rare – sometimes the only known surviving version of historic games. In the extensive collection, fans can find fruit and pinball games themed to films such as ‘Alien’, ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and a one-of-a-kind Predator prototype.
More rrecently, Konami announced in 2019 that they would release fruit machines inspired by their successful horror video game franchise Silent Hill. A popular franchise since the first console game released in 1999; there were two games designed, ‘Silent Hill Escape’ and ‘Silent Hill Return’.
In contrast to the older machines we discussed, Konami promised that the latest video technology would be central to the design of these machines. The company revealed ahead of the release that the new video slot cabinet that featured a 49-inch, 4K “Ultra HD” display. Konami actually has a long established gambling division, which has aimed to bring a number of horror games to the casino – including some based on their other well known series ‘Castlevania’.
Are there any other horror themed machines you have come across in casinos? Which ones are your favourites, and did we miss any of them in our historical article? Let us know which horror films and franchised you’d like to see featured on fruit machines!