Splatterhouse is the first game in the series, but only the second game to appear on a home console (after Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti on the NES), which was later continued on the SEGA Genesis.
Rick and his girlfriend Jennifer enter West Mansion (known as Splatterhouse) to study Dr. West's parapsychology teachings for a school project. After a flash of lightning and a scream, Jennifer is gone, and Rick is left wearing the Terror Mask, which gives the wearer great strength.
Rick must survive seven blood-soaked levels full of corpses, demons, and other disturbing creatures in this arcade side-scrolling beat-em-up. Several weapons are at Rick's disposal throughout the house, such as a meat cleaver, a two by four, and a shotgun. If Rick wants to find Jennifer alive, he must move quickly through the floors of the mansion.... as a happy reunion is not always guaranteed.
The "Hell Mask", (also known as the "Terror Mask" or simply "The Mask") despite looking like a hockey mask, is intended to be an Aztec sacrificial mask, like the one in the anime/manga Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
The arcade version of Splatterhouse, released in 1988, holds the distinction of being the first game to have a parental advisory disclaimer put on it (before id Software's Wolfenstein.
Supposedly the mansion in the original Splatterhouse is the mansion of Dr. Herbert West, from H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator.
There are a few noticeable differences between the American and Japanese versions of Splatterhouse. In the American version, some of the minor animations of the monsters have been removed (i.e. the severed hands no longer beckon or give the middle finger to the player, and the zombies leap out of pits instead of slowly crawling out). Also an upside-down cross that was originally a stage boss was removed. Another difference involved Rick's Terror Mask being red instead of white. This change was made possibly to avoid connections with Jason Vorhees from the Friday the 13th movies.