The amount of video game, movie, and pop culture references in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is dizzying. From opening to closing credits, the film is crammed full of nods, references, and Easter eggs to the ‘80s and ‘90s. There’s also a lot of love for horror throughout.
Spielberg’s homage to Kubrick gets its own lengthy tribute, in which the heroes spend an entire sequence inside the terrifying Overlook hotel, but The Shining is far from the only horror movie that gets some love.
Here are all the horror related Easter eggs and references in Ready Player One:
In the opening minutes of the film, lead protagonist Parzival (Tye Sheridan) is explaining the virtual universe of the OASIS. As he’s explaining the players’ avatars, you can spot a howling Wolfman front and center. It’s one of many blink-and-you’ll-miss-it character cameos. While the character of the Wolfman dates back to the ‘30s, this one happens to resemble the one from The Monster Squad.
Our introduction to Parzival’s closest ally Aech coincides with an appearance by Freddy Krueger. Aech is first seen fighting Freddy and Duke Nukem on “Planet Doom.”
This iconic killer can be spotted in battle while Parzival is explaining the ramifications of an avatar getting killed in the OASIS within the first 8 minutes of the film. If this wasn’t enough for you, don’t worry; Voorhees makes one more cameo near the end.
The first major event in Parzival’s quest for Halliday’s Easter egg is a vehicle race in Manhattan. This race is chock full of notable pop culture vehicles from Back to the Future to Mad Max, but there’s a bright red Plymouth Fury in the race too. This nod to Stephen King and John Carpenter is best spotted at the race’s starting line (far right).
Big Trouble in Little China
The race also happens to boast an appearance by one Jack Burton owned Freightliner. This race is full of perilous obstacles, like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, but it’s the brief entrance of the Pork Chop Express as it jackknifes race participants that elicits the biggest cheer.
King Kong isn’t technically an Easter egg, as his role in the contest for the first key is major. However, there is a quick homage to Kong’s iconic scaling of the Empire State building before he smashes up the city on his way to block entrance from the track’s finish line.
Back in Aech’s headquarters, Parzival is showing off the various ships Aech has in his collection. The most notable of which is the U.S.S. Sulaco, the doomed starship that transported the Marines and Ellen Ripley to LV-426.
War of the Worlds
A crashed alien ship from War of the Worlds can be spotted during bad guy Sorrento’s first meeting with lackey i-R0k.
Parzival gets accosted by Mortal Kombat’s Goro after being mobbed by fans. Pulled into a darkened room. It’s really Art3mis in disguise, but she doesn’t reveal herself until after scaring Parzival with a chestbursting xenomorph gag.
This David Cronenberg classic gets name dropped right before the protagonists enter the Overlook, but the movie’s poster is spotted hanging up in Aech’s room right before Parzival heads off to meet Art3mis (lower left).
One of the most entertaining horror gags of the film; Aech throws Parzival a weapon to use in the final act. That weapon is Chucky. Of course, using this weapon comically comes with a bit of a learning curve.
The final battle is an onslaught of recognizable characters, so many that it would take countless rewatches to note them all. Jason Voorhees can be spotted again here, but be on the lookout for evil gremlin Stripe. He’s heading into battle along with Spawn.
Ok, technically not horror movie related, but Madballs were coveted gross-out monster toys from the ‘80s. Art3mis uses one in the climactic battle, but she’s such a fan of these horror-ish toys that you can spot Madball graffiti on her hideout walls.