When pop culture references itself, an easter egg is born. Tucked away in games, books, TV and movies, these hat-tips to other works pop up more often than you would think, although they are not always easy to spot. We’ve gone on the hunt however and worn out the pause and rewind buttons on our remote to bring you just ten of Hollywood’s cleverest easter eggs.
1. Star Trek Meets Star Wars
One example of what would once have been an unthinkable blend, the 21st Century is to see movies from both these franchises directed by the same man, Lost creator J.J. Abrams. While filming on Star Wars Episode VII is due to begin next year, Abrams has already seen one of the stars from a galaxy far, far away hit the big screen; after the destruction of a ship in 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, keen-eyed viewers will notice R2-D2 floating away among the wreckage.
2. Where’s Wally? In A Mass Grave
Perhaps more ridiculous than clever, you’d be forgiven for a double take at this single frame in Mel Gibson’s end-of-the-Mayan-civilisation flick, Apocalypto. Removed from the DVD release (presumably for being so dumb), cinematic audiences were greeted by a split second of seeing a guy dressed as Wally (Waldo for our US readers) with an arrow through his head and lying in a mass grave.
3. Sneaker Jackson
Kiwi Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong was generally well-received, due in no small part to the director’s obvious love for cinema. Jackson’s legendary cheeky side found its way into an unspoken part of the script though, as a Morse code message supposedly announcing an arrest warrant actually turned out to say “Show me the monkey!”
4. Return of the Elf
After the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, one of the unexpected recipients of internet adoration was an elven extra, nicknamed Figwit (an acronym for Frodo Is Great.. Who Is That?). Such was the interest in the character, played by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret Mackenzie, that Peter Jackson gave him a small speaking role in Return of the King.
5. References Inc.
Pixar are notorious for referencing their own movies, but even for them it is rare to have two easter eggs in the same shot. However, at the end of Monsters Inc. when Randall gets stranded in a shack, only to be set upon by not-so-scared humans, eagle-eyed viewers will note that said shack was responsible for zapping a hive member to death in A Bug’s Life. They will also take note of the Pizza Planet delivery truck parked next to it, harking back to Pixar’s first feature: Toy Story.
6. Fight Club Product Placement
For a movie with a message of anti-commercialism, it’s particularly clever that David Fincher managed to sneak a Starbucks cup into literally every scene of the movie. Some of the cups are more obvious than others, but they’re all there somewhere if you take the time to search for them!
7. Alien vs Predator Before Alien vs Predator
These two deadly cinematic extraterrestrials apparently met off-screen long before the ridiculous crossover movies. In the otherwise forgettable Predator 2, the Predator’s trophy room contains skulls of aliens he has hunted and killed, including one belonging to everyone’s favourite xenomorph.
8. Kiddo Revealed
After the release of Volume 1 of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, speculation was arife about what Uma Thurman’s character, The Bride, was actually named, and indeed whether or not her name would be revealed at all. While Vol. 2 explicitly stated the character’s true identity, her name was actually on screen early in the first movie for anyone quick enough to see; as The Bride flashes her plane ticket to Japan, her name is right there in capital letters: BEATRIX KIDDO.
9. Star Wars Meets Indy
Back in the days when George Lucas was making good, original trilogies instead of substandard 21st Century cash-ins, he still managed to make a few slip-ups with the indifferently-received Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A small homage to the series that made him a legend is in the early scenes of the movie as Indy arrives in a Shanghai nightclub to make a deal. The name of the nightclub? Club Obi-Wan.
10. It’s Just A Game
Eighties tech-fantasy Tron is full of distinctive visual effects and computer displays, so perhaps it’s little wonder that an arcade game reference made it into the final cut. Not-so-hidden on the schematics screen of the battlecruiser is an instantly-recognisable yellow character chasing dots, i.e. Pacman!