Amidst all the frights of a horror movie, it can be easy to allow some finer details to slip past unnoticed. Yet of all genres, it is perhaps horror which tends to litter itself most frequently with Easter eggs to add depth to a given piece. Yet sometimes these can be so subtle as to go completely unnoticed. So here, we’ve compiled a list to point out some of the best.
20. Final Destination hints at the deaths that will occur
Throughout the course of the Final Destination franchise, characters meet some particularly grizzly ends. Yet as elaborate as these deaths often are, they do not come out of thin air. In fact, the films regularly drop hints as to what awaits the unfortunate characters. In the first film, for example, Terry can be seen positioned before an image of a bus – the same vehicle which later kills him. And in the second film, some letters on Evan’s refrigerator spell out the word “eye.” Evan is later killed by a ladder – piercing through that very organ.
19. Pennywise the Clown has his eyes turn from yellow to blue in It
The titular character of Stephen King’s It is a shapeshifter with the ability to alter his appearance. It predominately appears as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, one of the creepiest forms imaginable. In the book, he makes use of the ability to change appearance by having his eyes turn from yellow to blue in order to bait Georgie underground, as Georgie’s brother Bill had the same color of eyes. In the 2017 movie adaption, this ability is also demonstrated by the terrifying clown.
18. The image of the alien in Signs is modeled on Bigfoot
M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs had plenty of creepy moments to keep viewers on edge. The film, released in 2002, centered around Mel Gibson’s Graham, as he and his family discover crop circles, impressed upon their land by strange alien creatures. In one scene, we see that a blurry image of one of the creatures has been captured – and to some viewers, it might seem a little familiar. That’s because the alien’s stance is modeled on the famous image which supposedly depicts Bigfoot having a stroll.
17. Creepy naked figures are standing around the house in Hereditary
There is a shot in 2018’s Hereditary that makes for genuinely uncomfortable viewing. It’s subtle, and there’s every chance you might have missed it the first time round. But once you notice what’s standing in the darkness, it’s impossible to unsee. The scene shows a house and its surrounding forest, and cuts suddenly from daytime to night. But if you look closely at the night shot, you can see something lit by the moonlight. Multiple naked figures are surrounding the house.
16. In the director’s cut of Donnie Darko, the protagonist carves a pumpkin – in the image of Frank
In 2004 a director’s cut of Donnie Darko was released, with around 20 minutes of unseen footage. These additional scenes expanded upon several ideas contained within the initial cut, but they also included some delightful extras. Like, for example, when Donnie and his sister are sitting around and carving out pumpkins. When the former reveals his creation, we are faced with a familiar likeness. It seems Donnie had been carving out a likeness of Frank and his sinister bunny mask.
15. Hitchcock himself appears in Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock was quite fond of popping up in his own movies. Indeed, he made brief cameos within several of them. However, they were not always obvious, and they could often go unnoticed, like in Psycho. At the beginning of the film the legendary director can be spotted as Marion walks into the bank. Seen through the window is a man with his back to camera and wearing a cowboy hat. This, of course, is the director himself.
14. People avoid potato chips in A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place follows an American family after the population of Earth has been almost eradicated by blind alien creatures. These creatures are equipped with highly sensitive hearing, and so the human survivors must remain silent if they are to live. This notion is cleverly illustrated in a shot of some food shelves. The majority are empty, yet there are still plenty of potato chips up for grabs. Why? Because chomping down on a bag of potato chips is a noisy undertaking.
13. An actual Easter egg appears in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Have you ever wondered why the term Easter egg is used to denote a hidden message or feature in a movie? The answer isn’t clear, but one theory traces the term to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently, during the musical’s production, the crew held an actual Easter egg hunt on set. They weren’t all found, and one even slipped into the movie’s final cut. Thus, so the tale goes, we now have movie Easter eggs.
12. Zombies from Left 4 Dead show up in The Cabin in the Woods
The sequel to the popular 2008 video game Left 4 Dead was initially planned to have an additional downloadable content package to go with it – set in the same universe as the 2012 movie The Cabin in the Woods. Unfortunately, financial troubles quashed the plans, and it was never created. However, the film and the game’s connection can still be found in a scene in The Cabin in the Woods, where a number of Left 4 Dead characters can be spotted in see-through cells.
11. Rosemary’s Baby slips in a very meta sort of joke
Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic Rosemary’s Baby follows a woman who suspects a cult of pursuing her unborn baby for use in their rituals. Not a barrel of laughs, as such, but nonetheless there’s room for a quick gag of the meta variety. When Mia Farrow’s Rosemary suggests that the character of Terry looks like actress Victoria Vetri, Terry brushes it aside without much consideration. The joke? That character was actually played by little-known actress Victoria Vetri.
10. A logo from TV show Lost shows up in Cloverfield
J.J. Abrams is today known as the man who brought us back to a galaxy far, far away. But cast your mind to 2007 and you might recall that he was attached to some other major projects – most notably, Lost and Cloverfield. And if you look closely at the start of Cloverfield, you might notice a familiar shape. The logo of the mysterious DHARMA Initiative that can be seen in Lost is staring back at you.
9. The killer in Saw is hinted at long before the reveal
Horror fans never forget the first time they watched Saw. Without detailing every twist and turn, we can say that the film’s antagonist is revealed at the end – and in a surprising way. There are, however, clues as to the killer’s identity before this. Spoiler alert. In fact, within the first 20 minutes of the film, we see cancer patient John Kramer lying in a hospital bed. And in front of him, sketches of the reverse bear trap device that fans of the franchise will now know so well.
8. Wes Craven appeared dressed as Freddy Kruger in Scream
In 1984 Wes Craven brought us one of the most iconic horror movie antagonists of all time – Freddy Krueger. And several decades later, the writer-director would pay tribute to his creation in another of his classics. In Scream, a janitor can be seen cleaning the floors in the school hallway. And if you look closely, you’ll see that he’s dressed quite like a certain Freddy Krueger. Eagle-eyed viewers might also notice that this janitor is played by none other than Wes Craven himself.
7. It’s Pennywise is referenced in The Dark Tower
Many of Stephen King’s works have been adapted for screen, so it’s not inconceivable that these movies might be based within the same film universe. Indeed, there’s evidence pointing towards exactly this, as seen in 2017’s The Dark Tower. In the film, the character Jake finds himself strolling through a dilapidated fairground, stumbling upon a statue of a severed hand holding balloons. Remind you of anyone? Well if it wasn’t clear already, you might also notice some lettering above Jake’s head. It spells out the name “Pennywise.”
6. Saw’s Billy the Puppet can be seen as a sketch in Insidious
Upon its release in 2004 Saw made an idol of the creepy ventriloquist doll Billy the Puppet. It also shaped screenwriter Leigh Whannell and director James Wan into horror movie legends. However, Saw was not to be this pair’s only collaboration, as they teamed up again for 2010’s Insidious. And the two couldn’t resist giving film nerds a nod to their past work, with a sketch of Billy the Puppet’s face appearing in the film on a chalkboard.
5. Janet Leigh has the same car in Halloween: H20 as in Psycho
Janet Leigh is a pivotal part of horror movie history, starring as she did as Marion in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho. Film buffs might recall that she drove a 1957 Ford Cedan with the number plate NFB 418. Almost four decades later, Leigh was seen getting behind the wheel of this very car once again, this time in 1998’s Halloween H20, which starred her real-life daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis.
4. Filmmaker Lucio Fulci is directly referenced in Shaun of the Dead
Lucio Fulci was a filmmaker who was particularly lauded for his work in horror. He is known in many circles as the “Godfather of Gore,” and so it should come as no particular surprise that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg wanted to pay tribute to him in making their own gorefest, Shaun of the Dead. In the film, Pegg’s character Shaun takes to the phonebook to organize a fancy meal in the “place that does all the fish.” As it turns out, this place is actually called Fulci’s Restaurant.
3. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are zombies in Land of the Dead
Aside from the Fulci gag, Shaun of the Dead contains many other nerdy horror and zombie movie references. However, the favor was later returned to co-writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, as the two were permitted to appear as zombies in George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead in 2005. They play two undead characters imprisoned by the surviving middle-class members of society, so that they can be posed with for photographs. Now, over a decade later, this gag seems all the more prescient.
2. A poster for Batman vs Superman can be seen in I Am Legend
In a particular shot of Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend, we see a poster for what looks like a Batman and Superman mashup film. Yet I Am Legend was released in 2007 and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wouldn’t come out until 2016. The reason for this, according to Lawrence himself, is that Akiva Goldsman, who produced and wrote I Am Legend, had actually written an early draft of the Batman and Superman story that never stuck. And so when it came to imagining what movies might be advertised in the future, the filmmakers had a neat idea.
1. The layout of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining is all over the place
Stanley Kubrick had a famously studious approach to filmmaking. And so when we realize that the Overlook Hotel in The Shining doesn’t quite fit together, we can only presume that it was a deliberate decision. Examples include large rooms showing up in places which would not be able to hold them, or windows being seen inside certain rooms but not from outside them. Given the creepy nature of the film itself, coupled with its director’s careful approach, it’s safe to say that Kubrick knew exactly what he was doing.