One of the most enjoyable aspects of cinema are the enigmatic and often obscure jokes found in so many films: the Easter Eggs. There are many stories surrounding the birth of this cinematic tradition. One of my favourites is about the actual Easter Eggs hidden in various scenes of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently the cast and crew on the set decided to have an Easter Egg hunt for sport during a little down time, which was all in good fun, but they weren't all found before filming resumed.
Thus, the birth of the name “Easter Egg.” These humorous little tidbits can be very elaborate in some cases, or even so obscure as to be arguable. One of the most amusing elements I often see in these hidden jokes is the attempt to maintain plausible deniability despite what seems to be obvious intent.
For example, if one were to piece together the McBain movie cameos in the separate episodes of Simpsons, they would find that they form a complete story with beginning, climax and finale. This is of course a fact that the producers flatly denied while smiling at what an uncanny coincidence it was.
Here are a few interesting Easter Eggs that range from weird to absolutely hilarious, intent proven or not.
R2-D2 (and C3PO) Cameos
Cameos are the bread and butter of cinematic Easter Eggs, from the appearance of Alfred Hitchcock's well known profile in his films, to Pacman's romp across a schematics diagram in Tron. But none seem to bring as much joy to movie buffs as the search for R2-D2. Rabid fans have spent hours playing stop motion with their DVDs to find this lovable robot's flight across the screen in Transformers and again in JJ Abrams' new remake of Star Trek, one of the new dvd releases from Sainsbury's entertainment. So what started this crazed search for our favourite movie robot? Its first cameo was apparently as a hieroglyph in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Look closely at the engravings on the wall in the Well of Souls, and there it is, accompanied by none other than C-3PO.
The Mist - Clever Crossover
Steven King's literary universe is absolutely littered with enjoyable crossover references from seemingly unrelated story lines. But the continuity of King's universe is not limited to his books. One obscure gem is the appearance of Roland Deschain, the main protagonist of the Dark Tower series, in a painting by Thomas Jane's character in The Mist.
The Little Mermaid - Where's Mickey?
Just like the search for Where's Waldo has become an iconic time waster of sorts, Disney fans could spend weeks hunting for the hidden appearances of Mickey Mouse, or at least his ears, in almost every Disney movie ever made. But some of them are very hard to find. One of the most cleverly hidden appearances I've seen to date is at the beginning of the Little Mermaid. A very careful search of the crowd gathered when King Triton arrives for his daughters' concert will reveal not only Mickey, but Donald and Goofy as well. But look closely, because you might need a magnifying glass to find this one!
The Anchorman - Misleading Sign
Movies are absolutely rife with hidden messages couched in foreign languages. For example, the Morse code that is transmitted as the ship approaches Skull Island in King King (2005) is supposedly announcing an arrest warrant for Jack Black. What it actually says, when properly translated, is “Show me the monkey!” The funniest translation I've found to date however is a sign belonging to a Mexican diner in the film Anchorman. The restaurant can be seen in the segment right before KVWN cans Ron Burgundy and is called Escupimos en su Alimento, or in English, “we spit in your food.”
I Am Legend - The Ultimate Sick Tease
Who would be so cruel as to tantalize me with clues for a Batman/Superman crossover movie and then write it off as just a gag? Yet the producers of I Am Legend did just that. A movie poster that can be spotted in the wasteland of New York City not only had the Superman symbol superimposed on the Bat Signal, bet even teased audiences with a release date of 15 May 2010. It's difficult to describe my disappointment when I found out that this was merely a joking reference to a canned project from the early 2000s. But now superhero fans around the world have picked up the debate again with the appearance of a nearly identical logo for the upcoming release of Batman vs. Superman in 2015.
Know of any others? What are your favourites? - Let us know in the comment section just below.