Easter eggs can be found in a wide array of movies and are often inside jokes or winks to the audience. The horror genre is no exception to this, and some of the best Easter eggs can be found in some of your favorite scary films. The Easter eggs are referential, can make the movies scarier, and can even give the films new meanings.
Alfred Hitchcock is known for making cameos in almost all of his films, but one that many people miss is hidden in one of his best known and well regarded movies: the grandfather of slasher films, 1960’s Psycho. At the 6 minute and 39 second mark, you can see Hitchcock through the window when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) walks into the bank where she works. Hitchcock is standing on the street, wearing a Stetson hat and looking away from the bank.
It’s one of his best hidden cameos, but one that’s a bit harder to find happens in the film Lifeboat, which takes place in, obviously, a lifeboat adrift on the ocean. In that film, Hitchcock’s picture is in an ad for Reduco Obesity Slayer, which is on a newspaper that one of the characters is reading.
9. Silent Hill
Based on the moody and atmospheric video game of the same name, Silent Hill is a frustratingly mediocre film. It’s about a woman named Rose, who has an adopted daughter named Sharon. Sharon sleepwalks while repeating the words “Silent Hill,” which turns out to be the name of a town. Looking for answers, Rose and Sharon head to the desolate and constantly foggy village. Once there, Sharon disappears and Rose scours the town looking for her.
There are two unique Easter eggs that are nods to horror classics. The first is when Rose comes upon a school called Midwich. This is a reference to The Midwich Cuckoos, which was adapted into the 1960 film The Village of the Damned. The second Easter egg is when Rose comes across a movie theater that is showing a double feature – The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man. These films are based on the same book, I Am Legend, which was written by sci-fi and horror great Richard Matheson.
8. Godzilla (2014)
While it could be debated that Godzilla isn’t a horror movie, the fact that it’s about giant monsters wreaking havoc is enough for us to consider it one. That being said, Godzilla contains a few great Easter eggs. One of the first happens in the opening credits, when the words are being redacted from the screen. As Bryan Cranston’s name appears on the screen, it says, “Walter Malcolm has claimed that government men dressed in white lab coats routinely appear at site and BRYAN CRANSTON shortly after the event all residents are sworn to silence.”
Malcolm is a connection to Cranston’s second most famous role, Hal in Malcolm in the Middle. Then, as the words are redacted, the words “Walter” and “White” are left on the screen and everyone should probably know what that’s a reference to. Another Easter egg is the name of the ship that accidentally discovers Godzilla: the Nautilus. The Nautilus is a reference to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which is about a submarine called the Nautilus that also has a problem with a large monster. Finally, a third Easter egg can be seen in Ford Brody’s room when he was younger; his walls are decorated with posters from old Godzilla films.
7. Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2
The first two Insidious films have some of the more creepy Easter eggs in the horror genre. In the first film when Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) is tidying up the second house the family moves into, there’s a single shot that tracks her as she walks through the home. It seems pretty innocuous, but as she puts clothes in the basket, you can see the Dancing Boy ghost facing the wall beside the coats that are hanging up. If you watch the video above, you’ll see him at about the 32 second mark.
There’s a similar Easter egg in the sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2. Again, Renai is doing housework when the detective calls. As she’s walking through the house, talking on the phone, if you look to the very right of the screen you can see the ghost of Parker Crane in another room, but as Renai moves towards that room, the ghost disappears.
This found footage film about a monster attacking New York City is framed in an interesting way. At the beginning of the film, it’s presented as a classified video collected from a personal recording by the United States Department of Defense. On a few of the title cards, it briefly flashes an octagon logo a number of times. That logo should be familiar to fans of the television show Lost because it’s the logo of the Dharma Initiative, a secret research program that was involved in fringe science. That’s no coincidence, since Lost creator JJ Abrams produced Cloverfield. Another Easter egg can be found at the very end of the closing credits. During the final song, there’s a garbled walkie-talkie transmission. It’s indecipherable upon first listening to it, but if you listen to it backward it says, “it’s still alive.”
Finally, an even more obscure Easter egg in the final scene may give a clue to the monster’s origins. After the climax of the film, it cuts to a clip of main characters Rob and Beth on a Ferris wheel on Coney Island, months before the events of the movie. The shot lingers on the water for a few moments and at first it seems to be a pretty simple scene with nothing too interesting to note, except to remind the audience that the characters were real people. But, if you watch the shot of the water, on the right hand side, something falls from the sky into the water. This has led people to believe that the monster came from space.
5. Shaun of the Dead
The first film in The Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead, is littered with Easter eggs that are references to other great zombie movies. For example, when Shaun is looking for a restaurant to take his girlfriend to, he opens the phone book and finds a listing for a restaurant called Fulci. That’s a nod to the Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci, who is known for his 1979 film Zombie (aka Zombi 2). Another reference to a great horror icon is the store where Shaun works, which is called Foree Electronics. Ken Foree is the actor who played Peter in the zombie classic Dawn of the Dawn. Another reference is that the first zombie that Shaun and Ed encounter, Mary, works at a grocery store called Landis. John Landis is the director of American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
The Easter eggs and references come fast and furious – so much so that even George Romero didn’t pick up on a reference to his most famous film when Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright screened Shaun for him. When Shaun and Ed are getting off the phone before going to save Shaun’s mom, Ed assures her, “We’re coming to get you, Barbara!” This is a clear reference to the most famous line from Night of the Living Dead. One final Easter egg of note is where the trilogy got its name from. Cornetto is an ice cream company based in the UK, and in each film in the trilogy Pegg’s and Nick Frost’s characters eat a flavor with a color that’s symbolic to the film. In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun and Ed can be seen eating a red Cornetto ice cream cone just before they clue in that it’s the zombie apocalypse. Why they chose red should be fairly obvious. As for the colors in the other films, it’s blue in Hot Fuzz as a reference to the police and green for The World’s End because of the alien/sci-fi angle.
4. The Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street
In 1984’s horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, there’s a scene when Nancy is nodding off to sleep while watching a movie. The camera shows a clip of the movie: 1981’s The Evil Dead. While this is a fairly obvious Easter egg, what may not be as obvious is the Easter egg in The Evil Dead’s 1987 sequel. To return the favor of using the clip, Sam Raimi included a reference to Nightmare in Evil Dead II. In the tool shed, just beside the door, you can see the actual Freddie Kruger glove that was used in the first Nightmare and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.
After Raimi borrowed it, the original glove was believed to have been lost until 2011, when Nightmare enthusiast Mike Becker found it after an online auction sold it as a replica used in later films. He was able to buy it from the original buyer and it’s thought to be the genuine article that was used in the first two movies. Robert Englund, who played Freddy Kruger in every movie except for the remake, said that he believes that Becker’s glove is the original.
3. The Cabin in the Woods
One of the most innovative and original horror movies of the past few years is The Cabin in the Woods. As mentioned in the introduction, this is definitely an entry that contains spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the film, please do yourself the courtesy and watch this movie before reading this entry.
As for those who have seen it, you’ll know that The Cabin in the Woods starts off as a cabin slasher film, but of course, it goes off in a completely different direction. The major twist is that there is a warehouse of nightmare creatures that is meant to kill off sacrifices to appease The Ancient Ones. Since the film is so referential to other horror movies, there are plenty of Easter eggs hidden in the film. To go through and name all of them would take a long time; in fact, there’s a visual companion book to the film. But some of the more interesting ones are seen on the white board that’s used to take bets. For example, Angry Molesting Tree and Deadites are references to The Evil Dead, as is the title and the setting of the film. Other monsters include twins, which can be seen in the warehouse and look almost identical to the twins in The Shining. Then there’s a reference to Joss Whedon’s beloved cult show Firefly. One of the monsters, who appear in the movie, but not on the board, is a Reaver, which are animalistic humans from Firefly and the film Serenity. Besides just the monsters themselves, there are even further details in the film, such as each item in the cellar is linked to a creature. For example, Curt (Chris Hemsworth) almost unlocks the puzzle box that would unleash a Pinhead from Hellraiser type monster.
2. The Silence of the Lambs
Arguably the greatest serial killer movie of all-time is the Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs. Early on in the film, Hannibal Lecter is locked up in a psychiatric hospital when he’s visited by FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling. Starling tries to get Hannibal to do a questionnaire, which leads to one of the most memorable quotes in movie history: “A census-taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
It turns out this is actually a clue that Hannibal was giving Clarice, though she obviously never picked up on it. When the book was written in 1988, it was common to treat psychiatric patients with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). When someone is on MAOIs, they have to avoid certain foods and drinks because it can cause the blood pressure to go up and could result in death. And three foods that could be deadly to people taking MAOIs are liver, fava beans, and red wine. Hannibal was flat out telling Starling that he wasn’t taking his medication, which aided in his escape later in the film.
1. The Shining
The Shining has so many layers and is so dense with possible meaning that there’s a documentary about theories surrounding the film called Room 237. One example is that clues in the film are hints that Stanley Kubrick was involved in staging the moon landing.
Besides that theory, there are few other Easter eggs that make the film a lot creepier. The first one is when Jack is in the busy hotel lobby waiting to meet his new boss while reading a Playgirl magazine. It’s a hint that something odd is going on in the hotel. This is seen again through the power of the hotel itself. In one scene, there’s a shot of Jack, and after it cuts away and then back to Jack, a chair and table that were in the background have vanished. Then there’s a TV that works, but doesn’t have an electrical cord. Finally, there’s the set-up of the hotel. In a number of scenes, there are windows on the wall that show the Torrances are in a corner room. But when Wendy and Danny are fleeing for their lives, their room is in the middle of the hotel. These could have been mistakes, but most people don’t believe so because of how detail orientated Kubrick was. He was obsessed with everything that appeared in the frame and these were not subtle mistakes.
Another Easter egg is when Dick Hallorann is driving up to the hotel. He comes across an accident where a red Volkswagen Beetle has been crushed. It’s an interesting choice for the wrecked car considering that’s the car the Torrances drive in Stephen King’s book, whereas in the film they’re driving a yellow Beetle. This is quite symbolic because King hated all the changes Kubrick made in the film.