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Haunted House (1981) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

Today, History of Horror takes a break from movies and covers the very first horror video game ever made, “Haunted House” for the Atari 2600.

Compared to games today, “Haunted House” looks pretty primitive. You play as a pair of eyeballs in a dark house with color-coded rooms. The goal is to find an urn and use it to escape, but you’re 

Image result for atari haunted house gif

constantly chased by spiders, bats and ghosts. Spoooooooky. You have matches you can light which illuminate the area around you (but strangely doesn’t reveal your body). These allow you to find keys that open doors and scepters that ward off monsters. Be careful though. If you are touched by a monster nine times, it’s game over.

The sound effects are what you’d expect from a game this old. Footsteps sound like small people punching your ears. Your ears may start bleeding like mine did, but just ignore it and move on. When you see a monster, a gust of wind blows out your match. With no music, you could find yourself getting startled by running into a windy ghost after a long streak of empty rooms.

“Haunted House” may be dated like most Atari games, but its importance to horror can’t be ignored. Horror video games are the most modern way to scare audiences, and this one was the very first.


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Haunted House (1981) | History of Horror