Everyone loves Easter eggs. No, not the pastel-colored creations you hide around the yard for kids, but the hidden references in films that are inserted by directors to pay homage and give a little wink to the audience. In the horror film genre, some of the scariest and most memorable movies are made by people who are very reverent of horror movie history. This is why you’ll probably find more secrets in horror movies than any other movie genre.
So lets take a walk down memory lane (aka Elm Street) and see how many of these horrific details you’ve noticed in fright flicks over the years. Does Dr. Loomis’s name ring a bell in Halloween? Do you swear you’ve seen that Evil Dead Oldsmobile in more than one movie? Was that really Simon Pegg as a zombie in Land of the Dead? The answers may surprise you, and some of these are hidden in plain sight for the die-hard fan to spot.
The Entire Plot of The Thing Is Given Away in the First Few Minutes
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 spoiled.
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!”
Freddy’s Glove Is in Ash’s Tool Shed in Evil Dead 2
In the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy tries to stay awake and is watching a trailer for Evil Dead on her bedroom TV. To return the favor, Sam Raimi put Freddy’s razor glove on the wall of the tool shed in which Ash gets “groovy” in Evil Dead 2.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Might Have Cinema’s First True Easter Egg
Do the “Time Warp” back to the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and you may just find cinema’s first Easter egg, albeit an unintentional one. During the filming of the horror musical, the cast had an Easter egg hunt on the set but apparently didn’t find them all.
Some showed up in the final film. Dammit, Janet!
Kurt Russell’s Shirt from Big Trouble in Little China Hangs on the Wall in Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino is obviously a big fan of Kurt Russell, who he cast as the twisted Stuntman Mike in Death Proof. How much of a fan? If you look closely at the bar wall, you can see the shirt Russell wore as Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China.
The Funeral Home in Slither Calls Back to The Thing
The fate of R.J. MacReady is unknown at the end of The Thing, but the makers of Slither must have a theory about it. In the latter, the R.J. MacReady funeral home clearly refers to the John Carpenter classic.
Janet Leigh Drives the Same Car in Psycho as in Halloween: H20
In Psycho, original scream queen Janet Leigh trades in her car for a 1957 Ford Custom 300 Fordor sedan and drives it to her ill-fated stay at the Bates Motel. In 1998’s Halloween: H20, Janet Leigh stars opposite her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis and gets into the same model car.
The Saw Puppet Appears on the Chalkboard in Insidious
James Wan directed Saw and inadvertently ushered in an era of torture porn inspired by the series featuring sinister traps. The evil-looking puppet seen throughout the series shows up on the chalkboard in the movie Insidious, which is also directed by Wan.
Shaun of the Dead Has Lucio Fulci’s Number
There are plenty of loving, geeky references to other horror films in Shaun of the Dead. One of our favorites is this listing for Fulci’s Restaurant, which refers to infamous Italian gore master Lucio Fulci.
Silent Hill’s School Calls Back to Village of the Damned
In Silent Hill, little Alessa Gillespie endured a lot of ridicule from her classmates at Midwich Elementary School for her witchlike powers. It so happens that Midwich was also the name of the school in Village of the Damned, where the strange, alien children with white hair gathered.
A Shout-out to The Monster Squad Appears on a Restroom Wall in Night of the Creeps
Night of the Creeps director Fred Dekker is such a fan of The Monster Squad that he put a shout-out to them in his movie. Here’s the twist: Night of the Creeps came out one year before Monster Squad did. Creepy?
The Saw Doll Appears in Dead Silence
In 2007, James Wan directed Dead Silence, about the malevolent ghost of a murdered ventriloquist. Wan, who also directed Saw, seems to enjoy putting that movie’s white-and-red-faced doll in his other movies… at least for a moment.
Look closely and you can see the Saw doll sitting on the floor in Dead Silence.
The Dharma Initiative Logo from Lost Appears in Cloverfield
It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but if you look closely in the monster movie Cloverfield you will see the Dharma Initiative symbol from Lost. Both the movie and the TV series were produced by J.J. Abrams.
Could the creature have something to do with that damn island?
The Elm Street House Appears in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
There are lots of nudges to horror fans in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. A fan favorite is when Kane Hodder, who played Jason in several of the Friday the 13th movies, is seen entering the infamous house with bars over the windows on 1428 Elm Street made popular in the Nightmare on Elm Street series.
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright Play Zombies in Land of the Dead
If you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead, it’s obvious that co-writer and star Simon Pegg and co-writer and director Edgar Wright are a huge fans of George A. Romero’s Dead franchise. The admiration is reciprocated by Romero, who cast Pegg and Wright as a “photo booth zombies” in 2005’s Land of the Dead.
Sam Raimi’s Car from Evil Dead Shows Up in Nearly All of His Movies
Sam Raimi’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was almost its own character in the director’s Evil Dead and has appeared in almost all of Raimi’s films since then, including Drag Me to Hell and the 2013 Evil Dead remake (pictured), which Raimi produced.
Halloween’s Dr. Loomis Is an Homage to Psycho
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, which also had a character named Sam Loomis, played by John Gavin.
Critics often compare Halloween to Psycho because both films are masterful at building suspense and a sense of dread.
Sam Raimi Thanks Fangoria Magazine in Army of Darkness
Sam Raimi has been vocal about how he appreciates Fangoria magazine for supporting him early in his career with the release of Evil Dead. To show his thanks, the director prominently shows an issue of the magazine in the trunk of Ash’s car in Army of Darkness.
Evil Dead’s Necronomicon Shows Up in Jason Goes to Hell
The evil, skin-bound Book of the Dead, otherwise known as the Necronomicon, puts the “evil” in the Evil Dead movies. It also makes an appearance in Jason Goes to Hell, just before (this isn’t really a spoiler) Jason goes to hell.
A Line from 2001: A Space Odyssey Appears in An American Werewolf in London
Director John Landis is obviously an obsessive fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey, particularly the line “see you next wednesday,” which the director has shoehorned into several of his movies. Pictured here is a poster seen in An American Werewolf in London.
The Batman-Superman Marquee in I Am Legend Was Prescient
Remember the Batman-Superman marquee in I Am Legend that got comic geeks in a tizzy about the possibility of such a thing happening? It’s in there because I Am Legend producer Akiva Goldman was at one time involved in a planned Supes/Dark Knight team-up.
That never came to pass, but did essentially end up coming out as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice .
The Evidence Locker in Bride of Chucky Is Loaded with Iconic Horror Props
As the camera pans over the evidence locker in Bride of Chucky, we are treated to shots of various iconic horror props, including Michael Myers’s mask, Freddy Krueger’s glove, and, in the picture above, Jason’s hockey mask next to Leatherface’s chainsaw.
The Painting in The Mist Is of Another Stephen King Character
The Mist is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel about a group of people who hole up in a supermarket as bloodthirsty creatures invade their town. Check out the painting Thomas Jane is working on in the movie.
It’s clearly the likeness of Roland Deschain, the hero of King’s The Dark Tower series.
Wes Craven Appears as a Janitor Wearing Freddy Krueger’s Sweater in Scream
After making us afraid to fall asleep in the ’80s with A Nightmare on Elm Street, director Wes Craven returned to craft one of the most seminal slasher flicks of the ’90s: Scream. During one scene at Woodsboro High, Craven appears in the hall as a janitor wearing Freddy’s trademark red-and-green sweater.
The Hidden Messages in The Shining Are Allegedly a Confession from Stanley Kubrick
There are so many theories about the supposed hidden messages in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining that an entire documentary, Room 237, was made to cover them all. One of the more crackpot theories is that Kubrick had the character Danny wear an Apollo mission sweater as a way for the director confessing to his part in faking the moon landing, which was supposedly filmed – where else? – on Stage 237.
The Characters in Halloween: H20 Watch Scream 2
In the movie Scream, the characters gather round a television at a party and sing the praises of original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. As a wink back to that moment, a few years later two girls are watching Scream 2 before getting ready for a party in Halloween: H20.
The problem with this is that Halloween: H20 is shouting out to a movie series that has made references to its heroine, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, who also appears in H20. It’s enough to make you want Michael Myers to stab the conundrum out of your brain.
Alfred Hitchcock Looms Outside Marion Crane’s Office in Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock has a cameo appearance in many of his films. In the iconic thriller Psycho, the Master of Suspense stands outside the office of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) just before she decides to make a run for it… all the way to the Bates Motel and that infamous shower.
An Alien Skull Appears in the Trophy Room of Predator 2
If you look closely in a Predator’s trophy room in Predator 2, you can see a xenomorph skull from the Alien franchise. This caused fanboys to geek out over the possibility of an Alien-Predator crossover film.
Years later, they got their wish – for better or worse – with AVP: Alien vs. Predator and its sequel AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem.
The Miskatonic Sweatshirt in Dagon Is Another Reference to H.P. Lovecraft
Stuart Gordon’s 2001 feature Dagon is an adaptation of two of H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories: Dagon and The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The character Paul wears a sweatshirt from Miskatonic University, a place frequented by the characters in Lovecraft’s universe.