This weekend, as you search for a movie to watch, you can celebrate Easter and watch a perennial like The Ten Commandments or pick one of approximately 14 billion options available on streaming over a variety of services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, On Demand, or other sites. Every Friday, Vulture tries to make life easier by narrowing it down to a handful of heartily recommended options. This week, your very own cinematic Easter egg hunt. Can you find them all?
Inspired by Dark Horse's comic crossover event, director Stephen Hopkins hid a Xenomorph skull aboard the Predator ship, a decision emblematic of the film's overall (and enjoyable) goofiness. Little did he realize the Easter egg would steer the futures of both the Predator and Alien franchises.
Drag Me to Hell (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, XBox, Target Ticket)
Spider-Man (Stream on Netflix, Rent on Amazon)
The Gift (Stream on Netflix, Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox)
A Simple Plan (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, XBox)|
Army of Darkness (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, Target Ticket)
Darkman (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, Target Ticket)
Evil Dead II (Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rent on Vudu, Amazon, XBox)
The Evil Dead (Stream on Hulu, Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, XBox, Target Ticket)
Director Sam Raimi's nostalgia for the good ol' days is all over his filmography. The theme of "remembering" slips into his screenplays, his direction, and even his choice of background vehicles. Sharp eyes will spot Raimi's childhood car, a yellow Oldsmobile Delta 88, in each of his films.
According to David Fincher, a coffee cup appears in every scene (and possibly every frame) of his mind-bending drama. The in-joke was the director's way of jabbing the pervasive Starbucks culture that hit obnoxious highs back in 1999.
Howard Hawks's 1932 film is filled with X's, marks of death for Tony Camonte's soon-to-be victims. Paying homage to the legendary director, Martin Scorsese lifted the theatrical motif for The Departed. Or maybe he was inspired by The Jamie Kennedy Experiment?
The Marvel movies are chock full of Easter eggs (as one would expect), but who has the willpower to sit through Iron Man 2 again? For a taste of the studio's subtle self-aggrandizing, try The Incredible Hulk, one of the mega-franchise's few failures. Louis Leterrier's film riffs on the Hulk TV show's "Lonely Man" theme, teases Tim Blake Nelson as The Leader, a sequel villain that will never be, and makes room for the required Stan Lee cameo.
The Mist (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, XBox)
Frank Darabont's third Stephen King adaptation doubles down on the Kingverse iconography. Early in the film, Thomas Jane's Drew Struzan-ish movie poster designer can be seen painting a treatment for a fictional Dark Tower movie poster (painted in real life by Struzan himself). Mr. Darabont, kindly stop teasing us and make those movies already.
Douglas Adams gave new value to the number 42 when he declared it "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" in his sci-fi radio drama turned novel. Knowing its importance, filmmaker Garth Jennings took every opportunity he could find to sneak the number into his film adaptation. It's everywhere. Hitchhiker diehards continue to debate if Jennings even reveals "The Answer" at exactly 42 minutes into the film (DVD run times creating discrepancies).
In L.A. Story (a film that's criminally unavailable on streaming platforms), Steve Martin convinces Victoria Tennant's Sara to remain in Los Angeles by reciting John Lillison's "Pointy Birds." He recites the same poem to Kathleen Turner in the completely unrelated The Man With Two Brains. Martin loves his Lillison.
Like Marvel, Pixar layers in an abundance of Easter eggs for savvy viewers with freeze-framing capabilities to pick up. Most of them tie into previous or future Pixar projects. Others, like Toy Story and Toy Story 3's multiple Shining references, are evidence of cinephiles with time on their hands. Turns out Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich is a diehard fan of Kubrick's horror masterpiece.
Maverick (Rent on Vudu, Amazon, XBox, Target Ticket)
Veering dangerously close to plain old stupid, a bank robbing scene in the 1994 western features Mel Gibson's Bret Maverick "recognizing" a masked bandit, played by Danny Glover. They know each other because they were both in Lethal Weapon. Contextualized in Maverick's absurdist antics, the scene plays. Barely.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Stream on Netflix, Rent from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play)
Before Marvel or Pixar joined the Easter egg game, Disney peppered their own features with nods to 70 years of animation history. You'll find in-jokes in everything from 101 Dalmatians to Frozen, but Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame attempts to sum up all of '90s Disney with one shot. During Quasimodo's song “Out There," look for a eagle-eye shot of the street where Beauty and the Beast's Belle, Lion King's Pumbaa, and the carpet from Aladdin all appear.
Tron (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, XBox)
Steven Lisberger's trippy computer epic sports several "Hidden Mickeys," silhouettes of the Disney mascot planted in backgrounds and blink-and-you'll-miss-it frames. Tron also has the distinction of being the only Disney movie with a "Hidden Pac-Man," who appears on a radar grid early in the film.
I Am Legend (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, XBox, Target Ticket)
Troy director Wolfgang Petersen came close to directing a Batman vs. Superman movie in the early aughts. Warner Bros. scrapped the idea in favor of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, but evidence of the team-up remains in I Am Legend. A billboard in the film's overgrown Times Square touts the event film that, like the citizens of post-apocalyptic New York, found itself cannibalized by competing superhero movies.
Django Unchained is a spiritual sequel of sorts to Sergio Corbucci's violent 1966 western, Django. Tipping his cowboy hat to the source of inspiration, Tarantino cast the original Django, Franco Nero, against Jamie Foxx's contemporary incarnation. The meeting goes down with a surprising lack of bloodshed.