While they are fun, this blog is not about the coloring hard-boiled ova from hens. Instead, this is about clever hidden references that directors and authors sometimes plant inside creative works. For example, in my most recent novel The Hounds of Hollenbeck, the protagonist’s address is the same as Franz Kafka’s when he wrote Metamorphosis. There’s also a little mini-scene with earthworms that’s an homage to David Lynch and Blue Velvet.
It can be lots of fun finding Easter eggs in movies. A famous example is Alfred Hitchcock, who made a cameo appearance in nearly every film he directed. Other directors have imitated this. For example, in Jurassic Park, Stephen Spielberg’s reflection appears in the hub cab of the jeep after it falls out of the tree. M. Night Shyamalan makes a cameo appearance in his movies.
I thought about this topic the other night while watching an old Columbo episode with Suzanne Pleshette in a guest-starring role. Remember, she played Bob Newhart’s wife in the 1970s sitcom, but before that she was in Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing a school teacher who gets pecked to death. In the Columbo episode, Falk asks her what she does, and she says she “used to work with children and animals.” I immediately thought of her earlier Hitchcock roll, and wondered if this was an Easter egg homage to Hitchcock. Only the writers know.
Anyway, here are a few fun Easter eggs for your enjoyment.
Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently while shooting, the cast had a real Easter egg hunt on the set. They neglected to clean up thoroughly, though, and sharp-eyed fans spotted Easter eggs scattered here and there throughout the film. Folklore says this is the origin of the term “Easter egg.”
Newhart. In the final episode, Bob wakes up in the apartment he and Emily shared in his prior sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show, where Suzanne Pleshette played his wife. Suzanne is there, and he tells her he just had a horrible dream about running an inn in Vermont. In another episode of Newhart, Bob and Mary Frann, who plays his spouse in Newhart, go to a psychiatrist’s office where Mr. Carlin, one of Dr. Hartley’s patients from the 1970s sitcom, appears. The psychiatrist comments it’s taking him years to correct the damage done “by that quack in Chicago.” This blog points out that in a retrospective of the The Bob Newhart Show, there are more Easter eggs, this time back to Newhart.
Silence of the Lambs. The Easter egg here is in the poster. It’s memorable: it shows Jody Foster’s face with the death’s head moth splayed over her lips. Of course, the moth has a skull on its carapace, hence its name. But on the poster, the artist was able to be more detailed and more creative. It’s actually shows seven nude women arranged to look like a skull, taken from a famous Phillipe Halsman photo of Salvador Dali.
Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hidden in the hieroglyphs on the wall of the well of souls are images of R2-D2 and C3PO. They do get around, don’t they?
Return of the Jedi. Three of Jabba the Hut’s workers on his barge are named Klaatu, Barada, and Nikto, a reference to the classic SciFi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The Phantom Menace. E.T. appears in the senate cheering as Palpatine announces the formation of the Empire. Of course, Yoda appears in E.T., at least as a costumed child. In fact, there’s a whole web page that speculates E.T., Indiana Jones, and Star Wars are from the same universe, all based on Easter eggs.
Back to the Future. Marty crashes into a farmhouse where the son is named Sherman and the name on the mailbox is Peabody, a reference to the famous time-travelling cartoon duo.
3rd Rock from the Sun. When Dick Solomon, played by John Lithgow, greets his boss the Big Giant Head, played by William Shatner, the latter complains about a crazy person on his flight to earth who claimed gremlins were sabotaging the space ship. Solomon says, “The same thing happened to me!” Of course, in Twilight Zone the Movie, Lithgow reprised Shatner’s roll in the TV series where exactly the same incident happened.
Hannibal. In Florence, Hannibal’s first victim peals and eats an orange, in tribute to Coppola’s Godfather, where an orange appears in the scene where any character about to meet their death.
Toy Story. The carpet in Sid’s house is the same as the carpet in the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Of course, those two movies are exactly the same (eye roll).
20th Anniversary of The Simpsons. Fox put Easter eggs in many of their shows during the week of the anniversary. For example, in Bones, there’s a scan of Homer Simpson’s brain (Season 5 – Episode 7, 5:19 to 5:21). In House, the eponymous physician refers to Cuddy’s breasts as “Patty and Selma.”
Roseanne. In 1993, the actress who played Becky left the show and the producers replaced her with a new actress, Sarah Chalke. In the final scene of her first appearance, the family is watching re-runs of Bewitched and discuss the fact that two different actors played Darrin. Rosanne makes a sarcastic comment about the producers thinking the audience must be idiots to not notice. Then the new Becky, Sarah Chalke, remarks that she thinks the second Darrin is “much better.”
As with everything else, Google is our friend. There are web pages of Easter eggs for movies and for TV shows. Even these enormous lists, which have thousands of eggs, are not comprehensive. They miss the Roseanne and 3rd Rock eggs I mentioned above, for example.
Do you have a favorite Easter egg? Let me know.