Retro Coin Op Synopsis
There are few things as inherently creepy as a ventriloquist dummy. For proof, just look at how the lifeless little wood-creatures have been used in movies: from Dead of Night to Magic to Poltergeist, dummies have been terrorizing audiences for years. In 1990, the scare potential of ventriloquist dummies paid a visit to the arcade with Funhouse, a pinball game presided over by an evil, talking ventriloquist dummy named Rudy.
The premise of Funhouse was that Rudy had come to life and taken over the carnival. The game’s playfield was Rudy’s lair, the funhouse of the carnival, appropriately painted with a wild color scheme dominated by reds, yellows and blues. An elaborate clock was painted in the middle of this playfield. The object of the game was for the player to put Rudy to sleep by scoring points to push the hands of this clock forward.
This was no mean feat, because the player had to deal with Rudy the whole game. In fact, his giant head sat at the back of the playfield itself, watching the game with its roving eyes. That talking wooden mug would taunt players when they made mistakes and get angry when they did well. For instance, any time a player made the clock’s hands move a notch closer to midnight, Rudy would shout, “Stay away from my clock!” As a sweet revenge, players did have the option of getting back at Rudy by hitting him with the pinball or shooting it into his mouth while he was talking (a tricky shot, but one worth 250,000 points).
Once the clock struck midnight, Funhouse truly came to life. Rudy would fall asleep, prompting his mouth to fall open and thus offering the player a chance to shoot a ball inside. If this was achieved, the player would score a million points and trigger a brief period of Midnight Multiball play. A trapdoor at the center would also open, and the player could score a million points for each shot into it. Every successful shot earned a new ball to try again until the trapdoor closed once more. The score value of the shot would also rise another million points with each successful try, allowing skilled players to score tens of millions of points in a matter of seconds.
The novelty of interacting with Rudy and the high scores made possible my Midnight Multiball drew pinball fanatics to Funhouse like moths to a flame. The game became an instant hit for Williams Electronics and continues to command very high prices on the pinball collectors’ market today. Though the game is over a decade old, it can still be found in a few hip arcades. If you're still working through your ventriloquist dummy fears from childhood, may we recommend Funhouse as a little aggression therapy at only a quarter a session.