The Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of Universal’s most enduring monsters. The 1992 pinball machine celebrates his legacy.
The 1954 black and white horror film came late compared to Universal’s other notorious monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein. Yet he quickly became one of the most iconic monsters ever put to film. Collectors can find their fair share of Creature merchandise still to this day! But nothing compares to the 1992 Creature From The Black Lagoon pinball machine.
The player acts like a young adult taking his date to a drive-in movie in the late 1950s. While you and your date are getting hot and heavy, your date is kidnapped by the Gill-Man. The game was designed by On, whose catalog also includes Bride of Pinbot, Black Rose, and Judge Dredd. The software was made by newcomer Jeff Johnson (Theater of Magic). The call outs, music, and sounds were created by Paul Heitch (Bram Stroker’s Dracula). The most eye-catching thing about this machine, however, is the artwork, masterfully done by Kevin O’Conner, (Kiss, Star Trek).
In a 2006 interview with Paul Backer, Trudeau admits he was a fan of the 3D film phenomena. He knew his game would have to take place at a drive-in theater — specifically the year 1959 (as shown on the license plate of the car). Coming up with the idea to make it a Creature game was born by chance.
“I have always been a fan of the 3D phenomenon, whether it be movies or stills. I believe the drive-in theatre was the first part of the puzzle with the theme and music coming in almost at the same time a very short time later, a matter of days. The actual time the game theme is taking place is 1959 according to the license plate of the car exiting the lot. This is a “revival” showing of the “Creature” (1954) to enable the music to have a wider choice of tunes. Unfortunately, “At The Hop” and “Little Darlin’ ” were too cost prohibitive to get into the game. But the tunes that did make it were great too.
I believe the idea of getting a hologram into the machine was there before the actual movie theme. After I had settled on a theme (drive-in) and a “toy” or “gimmick” I wanted to use (the hologram), the Creature wasn’t far behind. I am a sci-fi fan too and I remember seeing the movie in the theatre a while ago. It was a natural marriage of themes!”
Creature is one of the most popular machines in the pinball universe. While they aren’t uncommon to find, owning one can pick up back a few thousand — regardless of condition. The gameplay is fairly simple. Spell out FILM to activate the wizard mode — in this machine, it’s Rescue the Girl. Getting all the letters for FILM can be tricky, hence why only a select few able to complete the challenges of this game. If you’re just playing for fun, you’ll have no shortage of that.
If you’re even at a place that had a Creature up and running, absolutely play it. You just might find yourself enchanted by the Gill-Man!