No, not the pastel-coloured creations you hide around the yard for kids at Easter. Instead, in this special Top 10, indeed dedicated to Easter, I’ll be taking a look at my favourite picks for hidden references in films that are inserted by directors to pay homage or refer to other movies.
You’re probably already familiar with some of them, but I’m pretty sure others went over your head. Without further ado, let’s see what these sneaky directors hid in plain sight for us, horror lovers.
10. Carpenter for Carpenter. Let’s begin with something easy and well-known. In his 1978 iconic slasher film, Halloween, John Carpenter shows a scene where, on a television screen, The Thing from Another World (1951) is displayed. What audiences back then perceived as a cool, little homage to a classic sci-fi flick, turned into the first hint to the release of one of the best body-horror films of all time: The Thing (1982) by, of course, Carpenter himself.
9. Sam Raimi and his car. Sam Raimi’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was almost its own character in the director’s The Evil Dead (1981) and it has appeared in almost all of Raimi’s films since then, including the 2013 Evil Dead remake, which Raimi produced.
8. It Follows meets Veronica. The director of the Spanish possession movie Veronica (2017) often stated to be a fan of It Follows (2014): in fact, a sharp eye might have noticed a figure wearing a striped jumper following around the titular Veronica during one sequence in the movie, just like ‘the thing’ in It Follows subtly went after its victims. Yet, a sharp ear might have recognised part of the soundtrack of the Spanish movie as a ‘modernised’ version of the score in It Follows.
7. James Wan loves Saw. James Wan’s directorial debut (Saw, 2003) was a passion project that arguably became a modern classic. He loved the movie so much that he put the infamous doll used by Jigsaw to communicate in many of his other movies, including Dead Silence (2007) and Insidious (2010).
6. Passion for… Valerie. Here we enter unconventional horror territories. Although Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) can’t be defined as a horror flick, it’s sure had its creepy moments: among which, Christ’s visions of a figure who might represent the devil itself. Not many people noticed that said figure resembles quite a lot the one that appears in the daydreams of young Valerie, in the horror masterpiece Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970).
5. AvP was planned in 1990. Long before Paul W.S. Anderson tried his hand on the crossover between Alien and Predator, Predator 2 (1990) teased the audience with a brief look at the skull of a Xenomorph. And where did that skull appear? Of course, on the wall of trophies in a Predator’s spaceship!
4. The psycho and the psychiatrist. In Halloween and several of its sequels, Donald Pleasance plays Dr. Sam Loomis, the psychiatrist of killer Michael Myers. The character’s name is an homage to Psycho (1960), which also had a character named Sam Loomis, played by John Gavin.
3. Zombie loop! This is a bit convoluted: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, 2004) put many references to Lucio Fulci (the Italian Godfather of gory zombie flicks)’s movies, including the actual telephone number of the Italian director on a newspaper’s advert shown in the first instalment of the Cornetto Trilogy! Whereas George Romero, father of zombie films in general, cast Pegg and Wright as a “photo booth zombies” in 2005’s Land of the Dead.
2. Horror icons for Leslie. There are lots of nudges to horror fans in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006). My personal favourite is when Kane Hodder, who played Jason in several of the Friday the 13th movies and Victor Crowley in the Hatchet franchise, is seen entering the infamous house with bars over the windows on 1428 Elm Street, made popular in the Nightmare on Elm Street series.
1. The Thing could have been a short movie. In the opening scene of John Carpenter’s The Thing, a Norwegian exploration team is trying to shoot and kill an Alaskan husky running through the snow. The Americans stop them, but if they – or the audience – were able to understand Norwegian, the movie would have been 85 minutes shorter. The Norwegians are shouting: “Get the hell away! It’s not a dog! It’s imitating a dog! It’s not real! Get away, idiots!”.
What’s your favourite Easter Egg in horror cinema? Cheers and have a happy Easter!
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My other lists are also available on IMDb