In today’s edition of The Silverball Reviews, we’re looking at the classic monster-themed Creature From the Black Lagoon machine from Bally. Ready? Let’s dive right in! What’s better than spending a sunny summer day by your favorite body of water? Relaxing waterside is s time-honored tradition during these hot days, and besides — what could go wrong? In 1954, Universal Studios answered that call with a joyful “You could be dragged to your death by a lagoon dwelling creature!” and horror fans everywhere rejoiced. The Creature from the Black Lagoon became a classic, spawning two sequels and inspiring artists and creators for decades to come.
In 1992 — almost 40 years since the movie’s release — Bally released The Creature From the Black Lagoon pinball machine. This beautiful, solid-state machine was not the first horror pinball. However, this was the first time the Creature was featured in his own game. The theme calls back to the drive-in movie days of the 1950s when Creature was released; the vintage theming and flair are both fun and appropriate.
The playfield boasts two flippers, three pop bumpers, two ramps, two vertical-up kickers, a two-ball multiball, a video mode, and a whirlpool that drains to the right-hand flipper. If you hit special sequences, the lagoon in the middle of the playfield will light up, showing a hologram of the Creature himself. This delightful addition is also a great jump scare if you are not prepared for it. Some owners have gone as far as to replace the Creature hologram with either an action figure or modified with a small LCD screen that can play the movie (or truly whatever you want).
Two balls are better than one
If you’ve read my articles before or are a big pinball fan yourself, you may be taken back by the two-ball multiball. Traditionally, pinball machines have 3 (or more) balls for multiball mode, but game designer John Trudeau felt three balls would be too disruptive. This minor change makes The Creature from the Black Lagoon truly unique, and different from most other machines.
As this game has not been in production for 30 years, the aftermarket on it can be all over the place. I’ve personally owned three thus far, paying as low as $5K and as high as $7K for my current machine. My current Creature is fully restored; as with all collectibles condition matters. With pinball machines, restoration is not a negative; in fact, restoration can help make a machine more valuable.
The average price for Creature from the Black Lagoon as of now is $9K — in 2020, you could find a Creature for under $6K. These machines have become more sought after as Universal is fairly strict with their intellectual property; there have been no rumors or announcements that another Creature pinball was in the works. Per Pinside.com, fewer than 30 have come up for sale or trade so far this year. In 2021, there were only 30 times where a Creature was on sale via Pinside; data for private sales and eBay is almost impossible to track down.
If you want a piece of the Creature, you can find the player’s manual on eBay for $20, as well as advertisement pieces. Finding a Creature for sale isn’t impossible; you need to be patient and willing to possibly pay a premium for it. Owners who have these machines tend to keep them for years — especially if the machine is in a near-perfect state.