Biting the heads off chocolate bunnies and determining the flavor of questionably colored jellybeans is fun and all that, but cinephiles know the best way to celebrate Easter is by geeking out over movie easter eggs. Yes, we’re talking about those inside jokes, hidden messages, and clever visual puns that filmmakers sneak into their movies so that obsessive fans and eagle-eyed viewers can win bragging rights. We revisited 10 clever movie easter eggs that you might have missed. Feel free to add your favorites, below.
Product placement: these days it’s a fact of life. David Fincher’s anti-consumer opus Fight Club succumbed to the corporate giants supporting his film, but the director made sure to take a few digs at the various companies. The filmmaker claimed that he inserted a Starbucks coffee cup into every shot in the movie — and judging by just a few stills from the film, Fight Club is extremely caffeinated.
Before there was Al Pacino’s Tony Montana in Scarface, there was Paul Muni playing the role of the greedy gangster who rises through the ranks of the mob. In the 1932 version of Scarface, “X” marks the spot — of death, that is. Every time a character is set to die, an “X” appears somewhere in the scene. The deadly letter first appears in the opening credits, hinting at the carnage to come.
The image of the Death’s-head Hawkmoth on the Silence of the Lambs poster is actually composed of nude women — a reference to the tableau vivant photo by Salvador Dalí and Philippe Halsman. That image was also a skull composed of seven nudes.
You can spot several of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.s as background characters in the 1999 film The Phantom Menace. This isn’t terribly surprising considering that director George Lucas and Spielberg are friends and collaborators, but it’s still a fun easter egg to spot.
This one’s for you, Shining conspiracy theorists. Toy Story 3 is loaded with references to Stanley Kubrick’s chilling horror film. Toy Story 3 filmmaker Lee Unkrich, who happens to run the Overlook Hotel website that you’ve probably been obsessing over lately and was instrumental in bringing the documentary Room 237 to audiences, littered the Pixar film with multiples nods to the movie. “The compositions, the music, the writing — it all creates a mood that’s just so incredibly unsettling,” the director told Vulture. “Everybody that tries to do the same is just emulating what Kubrick tried to do in that film. But I think it also has to do with the fact that I’m an only child, and I spent a lot of time alone, in my house. So when I saw the film, I related to much of it.” Here are a few other places in the film that you can spot references to The Shining.
Tron is a nerd’s wet dream — but it has nothing to do with the pioneering special effects or the hacker turned hero story. Look for Pac-Man on the glowing control screen and the head of Mickey Mouse disguised as a computer-generated lake (Walt Disney released the film, which explains the Mouse House homage).
One of the funniest easter eggs comes from Spike Lee’s politically charged comedy-drama Do the Right Thing, courtesy of this young boy’s t-shirt, which hilariously reads: “Da Butt.” It’s a reference to the director’s 1988 film School Daze, set at a historically black college, which featured the song “Da Butt,” performed by E.U. You’ve probably heard the track before, but in case you need a reminder…
We’re always surprised by the number of fans who don’t recognize Cassandra Peterson (thee Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) as the biker mama at the bar in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. She also makes an appearance in her iconic horror get-up as a pin-up photo hanging on the wall of Mario’s Magic Shop. Another Mario’s cameo? When the shop owner shows Pee-wee a giant head, it’s a replica of English occultist Aleister Crowley.
The work of Stanley Kubrick is ripe for interpretation, and the director played to his reputation when he included a 2001: A Space Odyssey album in the record store set of A Clockwork Orange.
Wes Anderson’s films are full of delightful easter eggs for the discerning viewer. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was first teased in 1998’s Rushmore. The book Max reads at the beginning of the film is Diving for Sunken Treasure by Jacques Cousteau. The French explorer and diving pioneer was the main inspiration for Life Aquatic and the creation of Bill Murray’s eccentric oceanographer.