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Scared Stiff is a pinball machine released by Bally (manufactured by the Midway Manufacturing Company) in 1996. It’s the follow-up game to the popular 1989 pinball machine, Elvira and the Party Monsters. Both pins feature the on-screen horror hostess character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark played by the real life actress Cassandra Peterson.

The Elvira character rapidly gained notoriety during the 80’s and 90’s while hosting a horror television show.  “Elvira's Movie Macabre” featured the Elvira always seen with tight-fitting, low-cut black gown oozing massive cleavage. The movies shown were always campy B grade or even lower. She was typically reclining on her red Victorian couch, introducing and randomly interrupting the movie. She lampooned the actors, the script and the editing. Her humor revolved around dropping sexual double entendres also making frequent jokes about her cleavage. Elvira’s delivery was witty and sarcastic often using the tone of a California Valley girl.  Elvira's closing line for each show was wishing her audience "Unpleasant dreams". 

Cassandra Peterson is reportedly a big pinball fan. She licensed the "Elvira" name and likeness to Midway not once but twice. The “Elvira” theme translates well for pinball encompassing horror and humor. The designer Dennis Nordman found great inspiration with Cassandra’s character. Cassandra enthusiastically voiced the custom speech calls herself for both games. Scared Stiff has all the staples of a Dennis Nordman pin with wild sprawling ramps that measure the length of the entire playfield creating incredible flow. Both pins were successful games for Midway and very collectable today.


Scared Stiff requires the player to get all 6 Tales of Terror to activate the Stiff-O-Meter. Once the Stiff-O-Meter is activated the player shoots lit Jackpots to see how Scared Stiff they can get!  The six tales are:

Terror from the Crate: Knock on the Crate for chilling 2-Ball Multi-ball!

The Monster’s Lab: Visit the pop bumpers for electrifying action!

Eyes of the Bony Beast: Shoot the left ramp to complete the Hypnotic Stare!

The Stiff in the Coffin: Lock 3 balls to unleash Monstrous Multi-ball!

Night of the Leapers: Complete all 3 leaping Frog Targets then Watch Where You Step!

Return of the Deadheads: Shoot for the Skull Lanes to Wake the Deadheads!


The rules and layout of the game are easy to grasp but hard to master. Playing a short game can be just as fulfilling as a longer one. Getting to the "Wizard Mode" is not overly hard but completing all 10 levels requires some practice and isn’t for the faint of heart. The playfield’s main toy and easiest target is a crate. It’s decorated with warning signs not open and futures tiny led’s on top to represent glaring red eyes. What terror waits inside?

Scared Stiff is simply a fun pin to play and filled with a number adult humor by Elvira and company. The “Stiff in the coffin” accompanies Elvira by calling out modes and bonuses all in Sesame Street-esk Count Dracula accent. The music score is top notch that making heavy use of a dramatic organ for creepy atmosphere. The sound package is completely satisfying and is one of my favorites.

Scared Stiff artwork is very detailed and lively. There are tons of things to look at with something new to spot every time one plays. Heavy use of black, red and gray for the cabinet and playfield work well for the theme. The modes give the splattering of color to balance it out.

The game features a rather unique interactive trans-light with a spinning spider. With a little skill the player can pick bonus items for points, extra ball or help finish a tale. By collecting all the bonus items in the back glass unlocks hidden or Easter egg multi-ball called “Spider Mania”. A 4 ball multi-ball begins with everything on the playfield lit for scoring. This includes all 3 Jackpots (which are doubled due to the wheel lighting Double Trouble), Boogie Mania, Extra Ball, etc. This ends once you have less than two balls. The layered artwork of Elvira and characters gives it a 3D appearance.

Like Elvira and the Party Monsters, the artwork on Scared Stiff has many hidden meanings including the use of Cows. The use of cows in William’s games is notorious and its origin is fairly clear. Enter the initials “MOO” when achieving a high score next time to see 1 out of 3 instances of Cows in Scared Stiff. Most items aren’t apparent to a casual pinball player. Robert Winters page has a comprehensive list of these hidden treasures and behind the scenes information on his Scared Stiff at his page.


Scared Stiff Main Theme

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Manufacturer:   Bally

Production Run:  4028

Released:  September 1996

Design Team:

Software: Mike Boon, Cameron Silver

Game Design: Dennis Nordman, Mark Weyna

Artwork:  Greg Freres

Sound and Music: Paul Heitsch, Dave Zabriskie


My Scared Stiff

DOM:  10/24/1996

Serial Number:  57248102092

Re-import:   Switzerland

Purchased:  April 2012


Scared Stiff external links

Robert Winters rare behind the scenes photos and facts. He also sells proto mods like scull pile leds at the store section.

Mark at Freeplay 'Amusements has proto boogieman kits.   cool feature that WMS left out


Scared Stiff Sounds


  1. "...Ooo Do it Again..."
  2. "...End1"...
  3. "...End2"...
  4. "...How about another game..."
  5. "...Jackpot..."
  6. "...Just don't..."
  7. "...Lets see..."
  8. "...Multiball..."
  9. "...Now look what you did..."
  10. "...Oh no..."


  1. Scared Stiff - Track 1
  2. Scared Stiff - Track 2
  3. Scared Stiff - Track 3
  4. Scared Stiff - Track 4
  5. Scared Stiff - Track 5
  6. Scared Stiff - Track 6
  7. Scared Stiff - Track 7
  8. Scared Stiff - Track 8
  9. Scared Stiff - Track 9
  10. Scared Stiff - Track 10
  11. Scared Stiff - Theme 1
  12. Scared Stiff - Theme 2
  13. Scared Stiff - Tale 1
  14. Scared Stiff - Tale 2
  15. Scared Stiff - Tale 3
  16. Scared Stiff - Spider