Saturday Morning Stupefaction: The Lord of Middle Earth (1979)

About a million times more thrilling than the Hobbit movie. Referred by Kindertrauma.com.


Your Holiday Gift from Futurechimp: Screwballs (1983)

As you surely recall, last year's Holiday Movie was The Party Animal. So let's keep riding that wave and followup with Screwballs for this Christmas Eve of 2012. 

What else are you going to watch? A boring yule log DVD? This is better than that, I assure you. However, due to subject matter, it's not suitable for anyone chronologically younger than 17, or developmentally older than, say, 12.

Thanks for tuning in, that's our sign off for 2012. I would like to wish everyone, and especially all students and faculty of T&A high, a very happy and horny New Year.


Slithis: The Album

A more accurate title would be "the album for now"; this is my own two-hour playlist, compiled from four years' worth of material. Sometime in the new year, Clark S. Nova and I will put together a more definitive collection to try and sell via limited-edition flash drives and music download sites. So hear it free while it lasts.

Sunday Stooges: They Stooge to Conga


The Chicago 70's Monster Movie Post

Creature Feature (channel 9), a sublime montage of Universal Monsters:

Monstrous Movie (channel 32). The film of the evening is I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, which means that I watched this specific broadcast. I remember it well.

Monster Rally (channel 44), which did a number on my head as a six-year old:

Thing Theater (channel 44), with a theme lifted from funk band Rose Royce's soundtrack to Car Wash:

and of course Jerry Bishop, the original Svengoolie (channel 32), way back in 1973:

On a related note, thanks to Kindertrauma.com for recently posting my horror nostalgia confessional.


Movie of the Week, Seasonally Inappropriate Edition: Sleepaway Camp

The Ultimate Summer Camp Movie: more thrills than Friday the 13th. More poignancy than Little Darlings. More laughs than Meatballs. You don't have to be a sexually disoriented pubescent kid to learn all sorts of important life lessons from this great film. Share it with the whole family this holiday season.

Or, as an alternate plan for something more in the spirit, if you live here in the LA area, Black Christmas (possibly my single favorite modern horror movie) is playing at the New Beverly Theater tonight, so go see it on the big screen and support independently operated cinemas.


The Best of Amicus: Part 10 of 10

A long time ago I laid out this ten-part series with chapters from ten different Amicus anthology films, culminating with 1973's From Beyond the Grave. Unfortunately the movie was removed from youtube months ago and hasn't yet returned. If you're interested, it was to be the chapter titled An Act of Kindness, starring Don Pleasance, Pete Cushing and Diana Dors (who hasn't aged well, and seems to take it out on her husband):

So rent it legitimately, via DVD or Amazon streaming or holodeck or whatever gizmo people are using these days, although it's one of Amicus' less essential films overall.

And instead of the planned Futurechimp Featurette, here's a second story from The House that Dripped Blood starring the great Chris Lee. Start at 6:45.

part 2
part 3
part 4


Movie of the Week: Blood for Dracula (1974)

This film carries an X rating, and appears to be unedited. So if you're at work, proceed with caution.


The Men Who Make the Music

Look, here's an edited version of Devo's straight-to-video promo film, made way back in 1979. Warner Brothers didn't like the anti-corporate narrative the band included in the interstitial segments, so they shelved it. The label changed their minds when Devo became hugely famous in 1981 and released it unedited. It hasn't been re-released since then in any format (I, however, rented the VHS from a local place in 1985 when I was 15 and made my own bootleg, which I still have today).

For copyright reasons, this youtube upload removes videos for the songs owned by Warner Brothers (studio recordings included on either of Devo's first two records), but you can easily find those elsewhere, separately on youtube or compiled on later home video releases. But here you get the material unseen in over 30 years, including their bizarre "Secret Agent Man" video from 1976, lots of songs from their 1979 tour (including their best live recording of "Smart Patrol"), and assorted oddball content they shot exclusively for the home video format.

(the first couple and last couple minutes of this video have been muted by the uploader to remove a copyrighted soundtrack)


Tales from the Darkside Halloween Triple Feature

Tales from the Darkside ran for 90 episodes over four seasons. Unsurprisingly, given the time and budget limitations, most of them were not so great. But these three seasonally appropriate installments are found in most admirers' top ten lists. Watching them back-to-back will take about 70 minutes, less than the running time of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, and significantly better.

Trick or Treat

The pilot used to sell Darkside was written by George Romero and originally pitched as Creepshow: the Series (Romero was unable to secure the title from the studio). It ran a year in advance of the rest of the episodes, on Halloween Weekend of 1983, which was when I made sure to catch it (based upon a promising five-second network promo). As with most pilots, the writing and production quality is on a higher tier than anything that followed.

The plot is pure Halloween, and wouldn't have been out of place as a story in the excellent 2009 anthology film of the same name. A rich miser who has a whole town in debt offers salvation every year: if a trick-or-treater can find the IOU for his parents hidden in the miser's house, the family's debts would be erased. But the old man is quite the tinkerer, filling his home with a p.a. system and horrific automatons to rattle the kids' nerves. This fine piece of family-friendly entertainment deserved to become an annual Halloween TV tradition, but such was not the case. At least there's youtube.

The Cutty Black Sow

Continuing with the "kids in peril" theme, which I find delightful, is this season four traumatizer. A boy's great-grandmother warns him of a family curse just before she passes on Hallow's Eve. He takes all precautions to protect her soul, but with mixed results.

Halloween Candy

Direction by Tom Savini and some very Creepshow-esque sequences elevate this episode above most of the rest. The lesson seems to be "don't deny candy to trick-or-treaters". It is a lesson I follow grudgingly, especially since the trick-or-treaters who visit our house every year are Filipino teenagers, without costumes, being driven around in SUV's. Not very Halloweeny. But we have to roll with the neighborhood and its customs, and I'm willing to contribute a small part to the spirit of Samhain. It never truly feels like Autumn in Los Angeles anyway, you know? I digress.


The Ending of "Evilspeak"

Evilspeak (1981) largely consists of filler, but when the ending finally comes around, it delivers in spades. The movie made the Video Nasties list in the UK, maybe because of the extreme but cartoon-like violence, or maybe due more to the fact that's it's so righteously Satanic. In fact, Anton Lavey himself was an outspoken fan of the movie.

Slow as it may be, I personally enjoyed the whole feature. This is mostly due to my fascination with Clint Howard, a.k.a. Eaglebauer from Rock and Roll High School. Here he's a gender-reversed Carrie, the pariah of the military academy, the ultimate twerp, loathed by all students and faculty alike, simply for being a pathetic dweeb. Fortunately he's smart enough to program his computer to summon the dark lord Satan to straighten things out.

See the whole uncut thing on youtube here.


Movie of the Week: Tourist Trap

I saw this two or three times when I was in the sixth grade (1980) via the cable TV hookup we'd just gotten at our house. In subsequent years I've thought maybe my age and inexperience with horror movies was the reason why I was so thoroughly creeped out by this film. But I revisited it a few years ago and found it to be as troubling as ever. Inexplicably, this surreal, transgressive and disturbing movie carries a PG rating.

But despite all the pediophobia-related trauma, Tourist Trap has a sense of humor. It would make a good double bill with Motel Hell for this reason. Plus you get Chuck Conners, the lovely Tanya Roberts (of Beastmaster fame), automatons, roadside tourist attractions, telekinesis, a Volkswagon Thing, a fantastic musical score by the great Pino Donaggio, and an ending that still makes my skin crawl. Don't miss it.

Embedding Disabled - CLICK HERE


Le Cochon Danseur

This magnificent work of motion picture art was originally made without audio, and I consider the tacked-on musical score to be not quite up to snuff. So, to crib a trick from the pages of Pizza Teen, I've offered three alternate tracks. They all clock in at or around 2:24, same as the film. 

You'll want to move the volume slider for the youtube window all the way down, hit "play", then immediately do the same for one of the three soundtracks of your choice. Try them all. 

And don't quit partway through the movie. Hold out 'til the end. That's when it really pays off boy, and you can take that to the bank.


Movie of the Week: Lady Terminator

I wouldn't steer you wrong, this is some good stuff yo. I haven't been this delighted with a newly discovered film since "Hausu" a few years back. Maybe the gratuitous nudity, extreme violence and ostentatious dubbing isn't your bag, and you might dismiss it as incompetent or prurient or lowbrow, but I guarantee, to all ye without faith, no matter how bourgeois your sensibilities, you will not be bored by this movie. You cannot help but to be entertained, for it brings the crazy.


Featurette of the Week: Toby Dammit

(cribbed from wikipedia)
Histoires extraordinaires (1968) dubbed Spirits of the Dead for English, is a horror anthology film featuring three stories by Edgar Allan Poe directed by European directors Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini. The film received a mixed critical reception, with the Fellini segment widely regarded as the best of the three.

Toby Dammit, which shares so little with its source in Poe that it could almost be considered an original piece, is notable for its visual and thematic similarities to three earlier Fellini masterworks. The disintegrating protagonist and the hellish celebrity demimonde he inhabits are reminiscent of both La Dolce Vita and , while the interweaving of dreams and hallucinations into the plotline and the use of highly artificial art direction to reflect inner states resemble similar techniques used in and Juliet of the Spirits.

In 2008, Toby Dammit was separately restored under the personal supervision of its renowned cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (who, after this short, went on to collaborate with Fellini in seven of his 11 remaining films). A new 35mm print was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it was widely acclaimed by the press as a lost Fellini masterpiece.

part two
part three
part four
part five


The Best of Amicus: Part Nine

Here's "The Man Who Collected Poe", the fourth and final story from 1967's Torture Garden. Written by Robert Bloch, starring Pete Cushing and Jack Palance. The story starts at the 1:19:00 mark, but I'm embedding the entire feature because it's available (and also because Burgess Meredith's wraparound segments are the best thing about the movie).


An Excerpt from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

There is something inescapably bovine about an American tourist in motion as part of a group. A certain greedy placidity about them. Us, rather. In port we automatically become Peregrinator americanus, Die Lumpenamerikaner. The Ugly Ones. For me, boviscopophobia is an even stronger motive than semi-agoraphobia for staying on the ship when we're in port. It's in port that I feel most implicated, guilty by perceived association.

I've barely been out of the U.S.A. before, and never as part of a high-income herd, and in port - even up here above it all on Deck 12, just watching - I'm newly and unpleasantly conscious of being an American, the same way I'm always suddenly conscious of being white every time I'm around a lot of nonwhite people. I cannot help imagining us as we appear to them, the impassive Jamaicans and Mexicans, or especially to the non-Aryan preterite crew. All week I've found myself doing everything I can to distance myself in the crew's eyes from the bovine herd I'm part of, to somehow unimplicate myself; I eschew sunglasses and cameras and pastel Caribbeanwear; I make a big deal of carrying my own cafeteria tray and am effusive in my thanks for the slightest service. 

But of course all this ostensibly unimplicating behavior on my part is itself motivated by a self-conscious and somewhat condescending concern about how I appear to others that is (this concern) 100% upscale American. Part of the overall despair of this Luxury Cruise is that no matter what I do I cannot escape my own essential and newly unpleasant Americanness. This despair reaches its peak in port, at the rail, looking down at what I can't help being one of. Whether up here or down there, I am an American tourist, and am thus ex officio large, fleshy, red, loud, coarse, condescending, self-absorbed, spoiled, appearance-conscious, ashamed, despairing, and greedy; the world's only known species of bovine carnivore.


Explodey the Pup vs. Peg-Pelvis Pete

I first saw this episode of Ren and Stimpy in 1993, when it aired on the Nickelodeon network. I'd just dropped out of animation school, pretty much because my films were hardly any more accomplished than Stimpy's.


Movie of the Week: Motel Hell

Is this too obvious a selection for MotW? Have we all seen this already? Does it have a legacy? I hope so, but I really don't know. It doesn't seem to come up much.

My introduction to Motel Hell was its opening week in October of 1980, when just my dad and I went to see it at the Bel-Air. Kid heaven. My 11-year old self could not have been happier. Maybe it was the film's lighthearted approach to the gruesome material, although you certainly wouldn't get that impression from this intense trailer:

Remember this was 1980, when shocking splatter movies like Friday the 13th were bank. I'm including this trailer here not to give an impression of the film (it doesn't), but to show how said film can be re-purposed into a trailer whose tone is completely different.

The truth is that Motel Hell is a funny, freewheeling and oddball movie, and well worth your time. It stars the amiable Rory Calhoun, that gym teacher lady from Porky's, that one dude from CHiPs, and directed by the same guy who did the superlative At the Earth's Core. Looks like it's still in print by way of a cheap DVD double feature (paired with the not-so-funny Deranged), but I'll put the chaptered youtube stream here because that's what I do:


Movie of the Week: Skatetown USA

Unfamiliar to all but hardcore roller disco aficionados, 1979's Skatetown USA has never been released on DVD or VHS. The last time it was legally shown to the public was on cable TV in 1982. This is a digital rip from a 16mm film, so the quality isn't so hot, but you probably won't ever see it anywhere else.

Just like the other two roller disco movies of the trinity, Xanadu and Roller Boogie, Skatetown USA is set in Venice Beach. Unlike those two movies, the writing and direction is crud, little more than a series of disconnected, coke-fueled schticks with bad acting, indifferent framing and muffled sound recording interspersed with a lot of skating footage. It makes for a very, very long 93 minutes. As an additional word of warning, let it be known that the director's best-known movie is Blackenstein.

But if you take it in short doses, perhaps in ten-minute increments over the course of a week, it's very entertaining as an oddball time capsule. You get Patrick Swayze, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick (who spends the movie in a bikini top and hotpants, which sounds cool, but turns out to be incestuously uncomfortable for this viewer), Scott Baio (of Zapped), Greg Bradford (also of Zapped), Ruth Buzzi, Billy Barty, Joe E. Ross, Sydney Lassik (the only actor who has worked alongside both Jack Nicholson and Vanilla Ice, albeit for different films), Dorothy Stratten, Judy Landers, and a very special appearance by the Unknown Comic. It's a 70's all-star bonanza rivaling an entire season of the Love Boat!


Sunday Featurette: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

268 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents were filmed, and this was the only one that was not aired. The sponsor, Revlon cosmetics, decided the ending was too intense, and demanded it be shelved. It was, however, included in the syndication package, so it's far from a lost episode.

Still, I never saw it before yesterday. Written by Robert Bloch (which he adapted from his own short story), it's like a gruesome E.C. comic, complete with the requisite poetic justice denouement, and some plot similarities to Tod Browning's Freaks. As a bonus, you get blond bombshell Diana Dors, (actual name: Diana Fluck), Britain's answer to Jayne Mansfield. There are worse ways to spend 25 minutes.

This episode is in the public domain, so besides seeing it here on youtube, you can download it from archive.org or many other places if you look.


The Best of Amicus: Part Eight

Here's a ghastly little tale from the first of Amicus' anthology films, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965). As usual, Chris Lee chews the scenery with aplomb.


The Best of Amicus: Part Seven

This, the seventh of ten Amicus installments on this blog, is a slight cheat; The Uncanny isn't from Amicus studios. However, it's a horror portmanteau film, it was made in the mid-70's, and Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence are in it, so close enough.

All three stories concern feline revenge, and they're all pretty solid, but the first one has the most cats in it, so let's go with that. Jump to 6:30 if you want to skip the framing device. Or you could just see the whole film, which I recommend.

 (and I did put this here before, a year or two ago in a non-Amicus post, but so what)

 part 2
 part 3


The Best of Amicus: Part Six

From 1973's Vault of Horror (the second of Amicus' film adaptations of stories originally written by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein for EC comics in the 50's), here's "Drawn and Quartered" starring Tom Baker. And if you know who Tom Baker is, then you are most likely a dweeb of the highest order.

part 2/3
part 3/3


The Best of Amicus: part five

From 1972's Asylum, here's the "Frozen Fear" segment. Start at the 10:00 mark.


Movie of the Week: Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955)

Titled Cesta do paveku in its native Czech, this award-winning film was groundbreaking for its era, portraying prehistoric life accurately, rather than just for cheap thrills.

It's a little didactic and slow, but if you have the temperament for this sort of thing it's very rewarding. The miniatures and stop-motion effects are too lovely to miss. How unfortunate that tens of millions were spent converting a melodramatic piece of tripe like Titanic to 3-D, when this film remains relegated to lo-rez youtube videos. It's like a Sawyer's View-Master reel come to life.

Mostly filmed in Czechoslovakia, although for the introduction they had a second unit shoot within the halls of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where I worked as an exhibit artist for a few years.

The Best of Amicus: part four

Tales that Witness Madness could be the weakest of all the Amicus films, but the short (five-minute) "Mel" excerpt is worth seeing.


Long Drawn-Out Trip: Sketches from Los Angeles

Made in 1972 by British illustrator Gerald Scarfe, best known for creating the animated sequences from Pink Floyd's The Wall.


The Best of Amicus: Part Three

The last chapter of Amicus' last portmanteau film, The Monster Club, could be their high water mark. It's a truly creepy, Lovecraftian piece of horror.

The whole movie is pretty great, really. The framing segments with John Carradine and Vincent Price in the club are very charming, the stuff ten-year old boys' dreams are made of.

chapter 2/3
chapter 3/3


The Best of Amicus: part two

Here's the "Waxworks" segment from 1970's The House that Dripped Blood.
Skip ahead to the 6:15 point.



Futurechimp Theater: Away from It All

The Monty Python troupe created this short to screen theatrically before Life of Brian in 1979, but only in the U.K. and Australia, where it was commonplace for boring travelogues to be shown before the features.

Never heard of this before. It never appeared on home video in any region, so it was very rare, at least before youtube came around. It certainly takes its time getting there, but it's worth it.


The Best of Amicus: part one

In this first of a ten-part series, we'll screen a single chapter from one of the many Amicus horror anthologies, made between 1964 and 1980. First is the "Wish You Were Here" segment from Tales from the Crypt:


Another Clip from "Get Crazy"

I must've seen this youtube video at least six times in the last couple months. It is just too rad.

FEAR rip through a Muddy Waters cover in this sort-of sequel to Rock and Roll High School (same director, many of the same actors). I hadn't heard of it in when it came out in '83, right around the time I started getting into punk rock, and not since then either, until I read about it recently in Destroy All Movies, the most essential book ever.

This song didn't appear on Fear's records (they only made two studio albums, which I played regularly in high school), but it's definitely one of their best. That's Lee Ving, of course, a.k.a. "Piggy". The rest of the band isn't shown on film, but the all-girl guitar orchestra subbing for them is just as well.


One of the Worst Things You've Ever Seen

No, it's not Madonna at the Super Bowl, it's the merciful conclusion of "Elvira: Mistriss of the Dark", her breakthrough film from Roger Corman productions. Last time I witnessed this abomination was when I was 19, and far less discriminating, because I wasn't nearly as appalled as I am right now. 

I was still a soldier in Germany, and had rented it on VHS from a place in town. I shuttled the precious tape 25 miles to the barracks on the army bus, and watched it that evening with my roommate and three other black dudes. They all thought it was excellent that she was rapping, as if she were giving their musical interest some kind of validity, when, really, she was exploiting it (and arguably helping to destroy it) in a sad effort to remain relevant.

Anyway, more of a side note, I never liked Elvira and her obnoxious bimbo valley girl schtick. She lacked the sinister, demure vibe of Vampira (who rightfully sued Elvira for stealing her look, and wrongfully lost) and her writing / performing partner John Paragon was one of the most unfunny comedians to ever make a buck. She degraded America's culturally rich horror host tradition. The 80's were indeed terrible.


A Moment with Mae

The Majestic Mae Mercer lays down the law.

From Swinging Cheerleaders, a high water mark from writer / director / auteur Jack Hill. If you happen to have Netflix Streaming, you can currently see two of his most excellent films, Switchblade Sisters and The Big Bird Cage.


Futurechimp Theater: Youth Suicide Fantasy

I've been waiting for this to turn up on youtube since starting this blog four years ago, and here it is. It's public domain, so you can also download it from archive.org.

In Search Of: Other Voices

"If plants can communicate, what are they saying?" Hold up, spaceman, you're jumping ahead of yourself. Perhaps you should posit the likelihood of the first part of your question before going further. But it goes much, much further, culminating in a researcher hooking up a plant to a polygraph and cutting his own hand with a scalpel to see if the plant responds, with encouraging results. Wow.

I watched this show all the time as a little kid, and regarded it as a science program, but that was before I could think critically. It's completely insane. But it's also very entertaining, and the synthesizer score by Rinder and Lewis is top notch.


Movie of the Week: Bloody Birthday

Its a dumb title, but give it a chance. When it distributed theatrically in Europe, some markets renamed it Children of the Eclipse, a more apt description. The whole premise is rooted in goofball trendy 70's astrology; three kids in a town are born simultaneously during during an eclipse in 1970. Saturn, which controls emotions, is blocked by the sun and moon. Ergo, anyone born during this eclipse lacks empathy, and a decade later on their tenth birthday they all turn homicidal.

The period details are excellent. Maybe its appeal for me is partially because I was also born around 1970, and by my tenth birthday I had a morbid-yet-gleeful obsession with horror movies. These youngsters are speaking my language. And it's very un-P.C, with the children getting into all sorts of pervy mischief (lots of gratuitous topless scenes) along with the atypical scenario of them killing their families for fun. It's like Phantasm, but with the protagonists and antagonists reversed.

Despite the grim theme, Bloody Birthday maintains an almost playful atmosphere. It doesn't hurt that the kid actors aren't at all convincing. Overall it's not well enough directed to be offensive or disturbing, so it plays out like a twisted episode of The Brady Bunch.

If you have Netflix, it's streaming over here.


Movie of the Week: Motel Hell

Still as fresh as when I first saw it with my dad at the drive-in during its theatrical run in Summer of 1980, this grand guignol horror comedy has everything you could ask for in quality exploitation.


Movie of the Week: Slugs

The best of all killer slug movies is surely Slugs: The Movie, brought to you by Thee One and Only Juan Piquer Simón, Spanish director of the superb Pieces. We humbly present it here unedited and without commercial interruption:


The Hyperpin Cabinet Post: part two

 (for part one, see here)

My Top Three Favorite Visual Pinball Tables
(clicking on the table title will link you to the vpforum download page)

Eight Ball Deluxe (Bally, 1980)
A fun combination of challenges makes this table my most-played: there are the 14 billiards represented by seven drop targets to the right (with a third flipper positioned to knock them out), the eight ball drop-target up in the corner, the eight ball deluxe saucer behind that, drop-target multipliers up to 5x, and four lanes (two up top and one on each inlane) to complete for a bonus. I've gotten the "Eight Ball" award (clearing the table of billiards, then hitting the eight last) several times, but haven't yet experienced the elusive "Eight Ball Deluxe" (shooting into the eight ball alley a second time to sink into the saucer behind the dropped target). This is probably the fastest-moving table on my machine. Challenging, but not so much to make you give up trying.

Centaur (Bally, 1981)
Brilliant layout, striking playfield art and lots of different targets. Table physics are excellent; if your accelerometer is set correctly, you can english the ball at a crucial moment to edge it from the outlanes back over to the flippers. Well-placed drop targets and pop bumpers, "Queens Chamber" and "Power Orb" targets for multiball, cool digital effects and voices, and a pleasing duotone light show.

Fathom (Bally, 1980)
The real thing is probably the cabinet I'd second-most like to own (just after a 1972 Fireball table), and this emulator does not disappoint. It's extremely difficult to get multiball: there's a "lagoon trap" in the top right and a "cave trap" in the middle right. when you sink a ball in either one, it locks and three drop targets spring up in front of it. You have to hit all three of them in each trap with a single ball, which is near-impossible but very satisfying if you accomplish it. Beautiful backglass and playfield art, nice sound effects and great physics.

Five Favorite Emulations of 90's Tables:

Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996)
My favorite 90's table has a great combination of physics, concept art, dot matrix display animation and lighting.

Twilight Zone (Midway, 1993)
the playfield is almost too complex, but this game has so many unexpected features that it never gets old.

Monster Bash (Williams, 1998)
six different ramps and target banks represent six different universal monsters. There's a little star wars-scale figure of each one on the playfield that animates when you hit the targets. The games are often short and disappointing since there's no ball save, and there should've been a plunger or skill shot, but it's still a very well-designed and fun game.

Medieval Madness (Williams, 1997)
One of the most perfect playfield designs. Destroying the scale model of the castle by sending your ball across the drawbridge isn't quite as satisfying as on the real pinball table, but the emulator is fast, and there's lots of kinetic features to play with.

Star Trek (Data East, 1991)
A simple yet frenetic layout,  goals that are communicated easily on the playfield without having to know the rules first, and well-integrated video modes.

Another ten favorite tables:

Superman (Atari, 1979)

Strikes and Spares (Bally, 1978)

Cyclone (Williams, 1988)

Big Game (Stern, 1980)

Flight 2000 (Stern, 1980)

Future Spa (Bally, 1979)

Space Shuttle (Williams, 1984)

Grand Lizard (Williams, 1986)

Royal Flush (Gottlieb, 1976)

Genie (Gottlieb, 1979)

The Hyperpin Cabinet Post: part one

I'm posting some info regarding the design and construction of my Hyperpin Cabinet. I plan to put it up on my website soon, but thanks to google searches, this blog gets a hundred times more visitors than my website does. And I plan on building another couple cabinets for the purpose of selling them, so if you either want to buy one from me or build your own, some of this might help you out.

My cabinet, called the Minipin because it's half the size of a standard pinball, uses a playfield from a 27" LCD television that I bought for way too much money in 2005 and had sitting in my garage for three years before I decided to repurpose it. These days you can get a new one for $250, or much less through the classifieds. I spent $200 on the computer, which I had custom-assembled out of old stuff by a repair shop / reseller. It's a dual 1.6 Ghz processor with 2 GB ram (the maximum possible for this model, I think) running Windows 7. The price also included a graphics card and a 17" monitor, which I'm using for the pinball cabinet's backglass. I now wish I'd spent a little more on something better; newer emulations of games run stuttery on it, and I can't use UVP animated backglasses. So this is the bare minimum of processing power needed. Get more if you can afford it.

The wood is 5/8" MDF, left over from my previous two arcade cabinets. Same for the black paint. The plexiglass covering the playfield was salvaged from an old framed poster I had; it just needed some buffing with novus polish to look new.

If I could do it again, I'd use standard chromed steel pinball legs, which cost $80 for a set. Instead I made my legs from aluminum corner stock, off the shelf at Home Depot at a cost of $120 or so. I don't have a welder at home, so I drilled and tapped screws to add a base plate to each leg, into which I could tap the adjustable feet. The rest of the corner stock was used to fasten the plexiglass to the playfield cabinet, and I added 5/8 flat stock around the backglass cabinet front. It has no purpose, it just looks boss.

The CPU is entirely stripped from its case to facilitate ventilation. I also added a fan to the floor of the cabinet which pushes air out, creating a vacuum to draw air in from the top of the playfield (just beneath the backglass). I soldered a wire to the computer's power switch and extended it to a pushbutton on the back of the cab.

There's also a "smart strip", which I recommend. Plug the computer's power cable into the strip's control outlet, and it switches anything plugged into the rest of the strip. This way the pushbutton sends or cuts electricity to the computer, as well as the two monitors and sound system and whatever else. Otherwise you'll need to add a toggle switch to cut all AC power to the whole assembly when you aren't using it, which is what I did with the other two cabinets I built so it's not a big deal.

Since I used a television for my playfield, I took advantage of its nice sound system. All I had to do was add extension wires to the two speakers, which I relocated up to the backglass, and put the TV's volume controls on the back wall of the cabinet, near the power switch. A 1/8" stereo audio cable runs from the CPU to the TV input. Easy and cheap.

The interface was an off-the-shelf kit for $140, including the plunger, accelerometer, wiring harness and usb cable. the only additional expense control-wise was buttons, about $1.50 each. I have six: two flipper buttons, a plunger button (some games use triggers instead of plungers to launch the ball), credit (in place of a coinbox), start and exit. Sometime later I might add a second pair of flipper buttons for the games that use magna-save inlanes. I labeled the controls with transfer letters, which are intended for custom-lettering scale model trains and buildings.

The frontend software is Hyperpin, and I chose to go with Visual Pinball 9 for the emulation software. Future Pinball looks nice, but there aren't nearly as many tables available as there are for VP, it's too processor-heavy for my computer, and too difficult to configure new games with.

There are many ways you can acquire tables, but the way I did it was to get a membership at vpforums. For a few dollars per year you can download a few files per day, and for a little more money you get unlimited downloads. I also used their forums to solve some problems with configuration, thanks to some patient and attentive co-members.If you're as ignorant of PC software as I am you'll probably have some problems and questions when configuring your own cabinet.

see part two