10 Horror Movies That Were Turned Into Board Games
Retro video games have become a big topic of discussion here in the horror community in recent years, with NES efforts like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street experiencing a strange resurgence in popularity. A handful of other horror films have received the video game treatment over the years, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Thing and Halloween.
But what about board games? Fans rarely talk about horror movie board games, which might lead you to believe that they simply don’t exist. But the truth is that many horror movies over the years have received their own board games, from The Shining to Alligator. Yes. Alligator.
Let’s give those horror movie-inspired board games some love, shall we?!
DAWN OF THE DEAD
Around the time Dawn of the Dead shambled its way into theaters, a company called Simulations Publications, Inc. put out a board game based on the film, allowing players to become the zombies or the surviving humans. The game board was based on the shopping mall where the majority of Romero’s second ‘Dead’ outing took place, and the object of the game was to either kill the humans or secure the mall and eliminate the zombies – depending on which group of characters any given player decided to be. This game has become increasingly rare over the years and typically sells for a couple hundred dollars.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET #1
Two years before the release of the infamous Nightmare on Elm Street NES game came Victory Entertainment’s Nightmare on Elm Street board game, the first of two Elm Street-based board games that saw release in the decade that Freddy Krueger dominated. The board was set up like a nightmarish dream maze; the object of the game was to navigate your game piece through the maze and make it out before Freddy got a hold of you and ended your journey. Game cards dictated your movements, either escorting you through the maze and into the safety of the real world or serving you up to Freddy on a silver platter.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET #2
So popular was Freddy in the 80s that he starred in a second board game in 1989, released by Cardinal Industries. Dubbed A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Freddy Game, the game was much more elaborate than the previously released one, with three-dimensional panels bringing the board to life. The game board depicted Freddy Krueger’s house, and the basic gist was that one of the players was possessed by Freddy, while the other players were tasked with finding out whose body he inhabited and banishing him back to Hell. The game even incorporated the fears of each character/game piece, just like the movies did.
FREDDY VS. JASON
More recently in 2005, USApoloy released a Freddy vs. Jason trivia game as a tie-in with the long-awaited cinematic battle between the two horror heavyweights. The game tested your knowledge of not just Freddy vs. Jason but also every single film in both the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, jam-packed with over 1,000 different questions. A die with different numbers of dead bodies on each side dictated what question from any given card you were asked, and scores were recorded on a fun ‘body count’ pad, which depicted a decapitated corpse. Not much of a board game, per se, but nevertheless a fun way to test your horror fan smarts.
In 1975, Ideal put their own spin on the classic game of Operation with the release of The Game of Jaws, which was primarily comprised of a plastic, spring-loaded shark. After filling the shark’s mouth with things like bones, tires and whatever else a massive Great White would swallow – Quint’s body not included – players had to try and fish the objects out of its gullet, and the player who successfully removed the most items was crowned the winner. If you weren’t careful in plucking them out, the shark’s jaws would snap shut, knocking you out of the game. Though the original game is pretty rare and valuable, it’s interesting to note that Ideal still sells the same game under the name Sharky’s Diner!
Five years after the release of the Jaws game, Ideal made another go at it with a similar game based on the 1980 film Alligator, which allowed players to both feed the creature and remove food from his mouth. Again, the jaws snapping shut meant you lost the game and were treated to a family-friendly jump scare. Looking back, it’s quite odd that a film like Alligator was given its very own game, and I can only imagine that Ideal was hoping that the movie would end up being as successful as Jaws. A truly unique piece of horror movie merchandise and one that’s incredibly hard to come by nowadays.
Kenner ran into a lot of problems with their Alien tie-in merchandise, with many parents feeling that the movie just wasn’t exactly one that should be marketed to children. In 1979, the same year they released and subsequently pulled a Xenomorph figure from toy shelves, they put out the official Alien board game, which pit players up against the titular monster. The idea was to be the first player to get your astronaut into the safety of a space shuttle in the center of the board. Each player also had a Xenomorph game piece, which they could use to attack other players and prevent them from making it to safety. R-rated fun for the whole family!
FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLF MAN, DRACULA, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON & THE MUMMY
In the early 1960s, Hasbro capitalized on the success of the Universal Monsters, releasing board games based on all the studio’s most popular monster properties. The ‘Mystery Games’ were all more or less the same, with the main differences being the artwork, themed after each of the movies. They were all simple spinner games, with players trying to avoid being captured by the monsters. The unique artwork makes these games so intriguing all these years later.
CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH
Yes, there is indeed a board game based on the 1995 sequel to Candyman. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of it, that’d be because it’s a pretty rare promotional item, which I was able get my hands on a couple years back. A tie-in with the release of the film, the game included a simple board – depicting New Orleans – as well as cards, a die and colored game pieces, and the object was to navigate through New Orleans, and make your way to the ‘Family Mansion’ spot. Getting five Candyman cards served as the game’s way of making you say his name five times in the mirror, which conjure him up and knock you out of the game. There are also ‘Hook’ cards, which allow you to become Candyman, and attack other players. A true gem, in the annals of horror movie promo items.
We round out the list with a fan-made game based on The Shining, which is notable for being produced with the assistance of Stephen King himself. It was published and made available on the internet in 1998, and King was in fact the very first person to test it out. One player controls the Overlook Hotel while another controls the Torrance family, and the Overlook’s layout is depicted on the game board. The goal for each player is to drive their opponent out of the hotel essentially, and both found objects and paranormal means are used to do that. You can still download and print out the game, for free, over on Microgame Headquarters.