We've already told you about some of the most mind-blowing Easter eggs hidden in music albums, classic works of art and video games, so it was just a matter of time before we explored our favorite Easter Eggs from the world of television and film.
Captain, unleash the list.
Most of us don't look twice at movie posters, short of muttering under our breath and saying, "Oh fuck, they're doing a sequel/remaking/rebooting that shit?" So it's easy to miss some of the awesome things artists are hiding in the posters, presumably for the hell of it.
For example, check out the poster for the fourth Indiana Jones movie:
Now take a really close look between the eyes of the skull and you can see this distinctly alien-looking figure:
Well ain't that something? Over a year before the movie actually came out, the film's marketing group must have been trying to secretly warn us not to see it because it's a fucking Indiana Jones movie with goddamn aliens in it.
And while the Cloverfield marketing blitz was full of secret codes, alternate-reality games and strange, unwashed people combing every frame of every trailer, it still took people over a year after the movie's release to notice that there's apparently a very well-hidden image of the Monster in the poster.
If you look at the smoke in the lower right, you can kind of see half of a face. Stick a mirror image of the poster next to it and it becomes clearer -- you can see it in the middle:
Either it's the film's monster, or it's the devil or some shit.
But neither of those compare to the poster for The Silence of the Lambs. You remember the Death's Head moths that are only in like 10 minutes of the movie but are all over the posters?
Sure, they really do have little skull looking markings on their back, and that is totally bitchin'. But they're not as detailed as the one in the poster. Why is that? Stylistic choice, maybe? Why don't we take a closer look?
That's not a skull at all. It's seven nude women arranged to look like a skull. It's actually a very, very tiny version of a famous photograph of Salvador Dali taken by Phillippe Halsman.
The poster for the indie horror film The Descent used the same photo as its inspiration. And now you'll never look at Jodie Foster's mouth the same way again.
It's not surprising that directors will want to give a nod to the past. Whether it's David Fincher setting up a Facebook account for Tyler Durden in The Social Network, or Peter Jackson having his Sumatran rat monkey from Braindead pop up in King Kong, directors love to give little nods to prior films.
But leave it to Pixar to take this idea and turn it on its head. Besides the fact that Pixar movies in general are just one big incestuous turducken of in-jokes, they also like to feature characters from movies that haven't even been made yet. Sure, you may have already noticed that Flik says, "Toinfinity and beyond!" in the blooper reel for Bug's Life, or that the Pizza Planet truck appears in pretty much every Pixar movie ...
... but did you also spot Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles (2004) in Finding Nemo (2003), or Dug the dog from Up (2009) in Ratatouille (2007)? From what we can gather, these future references only started showing up from Monsters, Inc. onwards, but if you keep your eyes peeled, and you're a very special kind of nerd, you'll find them. Here's Nemo from Finding Nemo (2003) making a few early cameos in Monsters, Inc. (2001)...
... and it seems the Mr. Incredible comic book came out before The Incredibles did ...
... and before he had eyes, Doc Hudson from Cars (2006) enjoyed chilling while superheroes fought robots ...
... and as Remy the rat is running around in Ratatouille, it's Dug the dog from Up who scares him off.
Not to mention the fact that Lotso from Toy Story 3 (2010) had his own cameo in Up ...
... or the new character of Finn McMissile from Cars 2 (to be released in 2011) was featured on Andy's wall in Toy Story 3 ...
Pixar is currently working on a prequel to Monsters, Inc., which is going to be set in a university, and is imaginatively titled Monsters University. While we doubt it will see Mike and Sulley doing shots and banging drunk coeds, who knows -- if you look close enough, you just might be able to figure out what Pixar's next movie is gonna to be about.
Remember Rainier Wolfcastle, the Schwartzenegger-esque action star who's been showing up in The Simpsons since Season 2? Early appearances feature clips of Wolfcastle playing his most famous character, a loose cannon detective named McBain. You see him for a few seconds at a time as characters watch his movies in the background:
It turns out that if you put together the various McBain clips aired between 1991 and 1993, they actually form a coherent plot with a beginning, middle and end. Someone took the trouble to edit them together:
Simpsons producer Al Jean says, "It was always just conceived as the most melodramatic fragments of a bigger movie where we never really had a big movie in mind." However, when you watch the resulting mini-movie, it totally works. First we see McBain arguing with the police chief because he can't go after Senator Mendoza. Then McBain's partner is killed by Mendoza's goons, prompting McBain to let the Chief know he plans to avenge his death. Then we see McBain infiltrating Mendoza's mansion and getting captured. Finally, Mendoza is assured by his goons that McBain is dead, but the hero makes an unexpected return and pushes the bad guy off a building and into an exploding truck.
But when it comes to unnecessarily complicated yet stealthy animated Easter eggs, you have to tip your hat to Futurama. In many episodes, you can see random icons appearing in the background -- like some sort of alien language -- such as the graffiti you see here:
... and the sign behind Bender here:
Guess what? These are all fully translatable. There are actually two alien languages in the show: The first one is exactly like our alphabet only with different symbols, but the second one is a more complex code where the letters have numerical value and the "next letter is given by the summation of all previous letters plus the current letter."
If you're surprised that the writers of a comedy show would go through the effort of creating new language just to use it for some background jokes, that's not even the nerdiest/most pointless thing they've done. Futurama writers also invented a new math theorem.
In a recent episode, all the characters switch bodies using a body-switching machine, but then it turns out the machine can't switch the same two people more than once. In order to figure out a way to get all 10 or so characters back into their original bodies, one of the writers created a new math formula, and it actually works. They even showed the full formula in the episode, in case you don't believe them:
At the beginning of Iron Man, when the terrorists who are keeping Tony Stark captive send a video to his business partner, they're heard speaking in their own language without subtitles. And you don't need subtitles, because you can guess what they're saying from the context -- you assume they're just asking for a ransom or whatever.
But an hour into the movie, Tony has the video translated and we find out the movie's big plot twist: The terrorists were working with his business partner and supposed friend. But if you happen to be one of the 65 million people in the world who understand Urdu, the language the terrorists were speaking, you already knew that an hour ago. The entire twist is revealed right there in that opening scene, in Urdu. At which point the Urdu speakers at the theater presumably then spoiled the movie for their English-speaking friends.
But no movie has been more likely to make bilingual people yell at the screen than John Carpenter's The Thing. Remember the foreign dudes who show up along with the dog in the very beginning, shouting gibberish? They're not drunk, they're merely Norwegian. And it's not just gibberish: It's the entire plot of the film.
In the context of the story, it makes perfect sense -- They're shouting, "Get the hell away! It's not a dog! It's a thing! It's imitating a dog! It's not real! Get away idiots!" Obviously, the characters didn't understand a word of it.
So if you happen to know Norwegian, the movie's more about heroic, alien-hunting Norwegians who get killed by dumbass Americans because they can't understand other languages without subtitles.
The only background information you need about this Easter egg is this: Mel Gibson is insane.
Got it? OK, we're good to go.
After the success of The Passion and faced with the impossibility of doing a sequel without pissing off the movie's considerable fanbase, Gibson decided to direct another long, violent film set hundreds of years in the past and spoken in an ancient language: Apocalypto. It's a very serious, very tragic film about the last days of the Mayan civilization. However, as soon as the movie's teaser trailer was released, some people noticed something ... disturbing about it. Check out the rapid sequence of shots near the end of the trailer, starting at around 1:45.
Don't see it? It's a single frame, so you have click and pause very fast to catch it. It's around 1:46. If you do it right, you'll be rewarded with this:
Yes, apparently, Mel Gibson slipped a subliminal image of his crazy beard in the trailer for his movie. As we mentioned, this isn't some wacky comedy -- it's about as dramatic as The Passion, only with more pounding drums and chase sequences. OK, so this Easter egg isn't technically in the movie, and it isn't really that crazy, but the next part is. Searching for Easter eggs in a movie is a little like playing Where's Waldo -- you know, those books about a guy dressed in red and white stripes with a tendency to get lost in large crowds of people.
In the theatrical cut of Apocalypto it's literally like that, because as the camera pans over a massive pile of dead bodies in a particularly grisly scene... you can see a single frame of Waldo lying among the corpses.
OK, that has to be a hoax, it was probably shot by some bored guy in his backyard or some-
Nope, that doesn't look like someone's backyard. That's either: A) the set of a big budget Hollywood movie, or B) an actual mass grave. It doesn't look like a Photoshop either, and there are half a dozen other sightings on YouTube. The frame was removed from the DVD version of the film, but the theatrical cut still survives thanks to the thousands of pirated copies going around online. If you still think it's a hoax, ask yourself this: Do you seriously think this is too crazy for Mel Gibson?
Didn't think so.
2001: A Space Odyssey is arguably one of the greatest movies ever made, even if no one has any idea what the fuck it's actually about. It has influenced directors for almost half a century, but even Kubrick could not have predicted that a throwaway line from the film that isn't even in the script would lead to one of the longest running Easter eggs in cinematic history.
The line is simply "See you next Wednesday" and it's spoken by the father of one of the astronauts on a videophone. That's it. But that one line had such a huge impact on John Landis that he wrote a screenplay called See You Next Wednesday in honor of the movie. By all accounts it was terrible (yes, even worse than Blues Brothers 2000), and he decided never to use it.
However, even in a pile of shit you can find nuggets of perfectly good corn, so in all the movies Landis made where he pinched a line, character, theme or whatever from the SYNW script, he would give a little nod to it.
Everything from a porno to a prehistoric epic. Makes you wonder what Landis' screenplay was about.
Many have jumped on the SYNW bandwagon, and the phrase can be found in all kinds of stuff, from the video game classic Deus Ex to Hellboy II.
The plot of Inception is all about sneaking an idea into somebody's mind without the person even realizing it. Turns out that while you were watching the movie, Chris Nolan was totally doing the same thing to you.
More specifically, the "idea" that Nolan secretly inserted into your mind is this:
Some context: In the movie, whenever DiCaprio and his gang are about to wake up, they hear the song Non, je ne regrette nien by Edith Piaf. But you knew that part -- they never hide the fact that they're using that particular song as part of the plot. What you might not have realized is that you're hearing it even when you think you aren't.
Remember that ultra-dramatic instrumental theme you hear over and over for the last 45 minutes of the movie? It sounds like a typical summer movie soundtrack meant to let you know that shit's getting real ... but it's actually that same Edith Piaf song, slowed down almost beyond recognition.
The really cool part is that it makes perfect sense. The Edith Piaf song is a way for the characters to know they're about to wake up -- but since time passes more slowly inside dreams, what seems like two minutes and 23 seconds in reality can last a lot longer for them. While the song is playing at normal speed in the waking world, the characters should hear it all slowed down.
Hans Zimmer, the film's composer, said that in order to achieve this, they actually went to France and extracted two notes from the original master of the song. Apparently those two notes went a long way, because he also said that "all the music in the score is subdivisions and multiplications of the tempo of the Edith Piaf track." So basically, old song + math = Oscar nomination.
Find out more about Marconi in his Twitter account. Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile and makes comics. Ashe recently wrote a short story for a charity book that you can buy here. For more of his stuff, check out Weird Shit Blog and Bad Metaphors.
And see what Easter eggs we hid in our book.
For more things that'll make your favorite movies ever better, check out 6 Insane Fan Theories That Actually Make Great Movies Better and The 6 Most Psychotic Rip-Offs of Famous Animated Films.