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:
It's either an alien, or a pumpkin.
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.
Dali can make anything creepy.
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.
This is really the only part of the film you need to see.
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.
Jackson's special effects budgets have gone up a bit since Braindead.
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 ...
Above: The world's most dedicated delivery boy?
... 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.
Workplace bulletin boards and soul-crushing lighting!
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:
He wields the most shoddily drawn machine gun in cartoon history.
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.
Like in every 80s action movie worth a damn.
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:
"Ah, yes, I see what they did there. Of course!"
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.
"Please take Robert Downey, Jr. away. He's done all of our heroin and now he's vomiting, just ... everywhere."
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.
Never trust dogs.
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.
"NO I AM NOT LOOKING TO PURCHASE A DOG THANK YOU."
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.