A house where ghosts manifest, or demonic possession occurs. A popular subject of paranormal investigation. The arguably prototypical haunted house is in a neighborhood, rather than isolated; it's scary because it's right on your home turf.

This early and somewhat limited game for the Atari 2600 places you in the role of an explorer in a, guess what, haunted house. You are represented by a pair of eyes in the overhead view that also shows walls and enemies. A small status bar at the bottom of the screen displays your points (number of matches used), extra lives, what floor you're on and any items you may be carrying.

The basic idea is to avoid being scared to death by the monsters as you collect pieces of an heirloom urn and then exit the mansion. This game is actually difficult to win quickly, due to the number of factors involved: You must keep lighting matches to see items. There are several monsters that will chase you. Some will even go through walls. There are many doors on each floor, some of which are deadends. The high number of extra lives provided compensates for these factors. I found that the trickiest part was to locate the exit once I had completed the urn. Pay attention to where you enter the game.

The small playing area makes for repetitive games, although the difficulty levels actually change the rules and the map (at the highest level). The left front switch toggles whether lightning helps you out. Another cute touch is that your character's eyeballs point in the direction you are moving to maximize feedback.

Date: 1981
Rarity:2 Common+ / C
Model Number: CX2654
Programmer: James Andreasen

Every September when the candy corn goes on sale and the leaves turn shades of autumn, I begin to crave them. Then the radio advertisements begin, beckoning you to enter the world's scariest places


And I do.

It's not that they're scary per se, it's just that you wait in line and your stomach ties itself in pleasant knots while you wonder what lies beyond the front door. I'll gladly pay $15.00 to spend a full 45 minutes running in self-induced terror, tugging on the sweater of the person ahead of me.

What is it about haunted houses? We pay good money to enter vacant warehouses, corn fields and factories--even high school auditoriums--that were perfectly unhaunted two months before. We pay so people in makeup and costumes, that we know have families and electric bills, can chase us around with chainsaws and fake blood and goblins. We pay this money because there's something so wonderful about suspending disbelief, about letting yourself believe you almost died, that makes everything so much sweeter.

There are hundreds of haunted houses across North America; they'll be open from late September to early November. Most of them also sell concessions and some companies feature hay rides, "haunted theme parks," or walking tours. If you want to go next weekend, I'll come with you.

But only if you'll hold my hand.

A Hauted House is a ride often found at fair-grounds and amusement parks. Depending on how up-market the fair is they can be fairly creepy, or funny, but more often are very boring.

The construct is always almost exactly the same. It is a large-ish building made to look like a haunted house, or Dracula’s castle, or something on the same theme. At the front is a railway-like-track with about four or five cars on it, sometimes shaped to look like a train, usually not.

The cars then begin to move, the move through a door to the left or right, which is usually themed to look like a portcullis or something similar. Once in it is completely dark. Suddenly a fluorescent light lit model of a ghost may come into view, maybe flying over the top of the cars, possibly a vampire will spring out of his coffin, or a spider will drop down in front of the cars. Depending on the ride these can be cartoonist and funny, or realistic and creepy.

The car may go up or down gentle or not so gentle slopes, still with paranormal models over-head and to either side. Finally it will emerge into the outside world again, where, if you duck you might get a free go, if not, you can get out and go over to the waltzers.

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