Hidden horror movie details almost no one notices

If you look past the zombies, Draculas, and fleeing teenagers who always seem to trip over something, our favorite horror movies often have more going on than just a bunch of monsters preying on victims. Horror directors occasionally offer nods to other entries in the genre, sometimes in the form of a fourth-wall-breaking Easter egg. Keep a silver bullet and some holy water handy, because these hidden horror movie details lurk in the dark, waiting to be found.

A Psycho on Halloween

Alfred Hitchcock's timeless Psycho and John Carpenter's revolutionary 1978 slasher Halloween both revolutionized the horror genre. Psycho set a new standard for scary flicks, and Halloween ran with it. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, the seventh movie in the franchise, offered a nod to its classic forebear in the form of a cameo from Janet Leigh, who played Marion Crane in Psycho. She can be seen standing in front of a 1958 Ford Sedan, the same car she drove to the Bates Motel back in 1960. Leigh is also the real-life mother of Halloween series star Jamie Lee Curtis.

Hitchcock Presents

Speaking of cameos, Alfred Hitchcock himself can be seen in the background during a scene in Psycho. The director was known for putting in brief appearances in most of his movies, but we like this one in particular. As Marion Crane heads into her office, Hitchcock can be seen in front of the building's front window, wearing a cowboy hat, looking off to the side. While he's facing the right side of the screen, the side-profile view of the director reminds us of the intro to his anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

With great power...

Years after Hitchcock set the standard for director cameos, Sam Raimi put his own spin on the tradition. Raimi's old car from college, a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, appears in the Evil Dead trilogy, the Spider-Man trilogy, Drag Me to Hell, and even The Quick and the Dead (a Western). The car remains Ash Williams' ride of choice in the Ash vs. Evil Dead television series. During her introductory scene in the 2013 Evil Dead remake, protagonist Mia sits atop a decrepit, broken-down version of the Delta. And who could forget Ash actor Bruce Campbell appearing in the original Spider-Man trilogy? With great power comes great responsibility, but with a 1973 Oldsmobile comes great cameos…and not-so-great repair costs.

The Evil Dead Have Eyes on Elm Street

The Evil Dead cameos continue! Sam Raimi's 1981 low-budget flick about 20-somethings unleashing a demonic force in a secluded cabin features an interesting detail. A ripped poster for Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes can be seen in the basement of the cabin, right behind the table where Ash and Scotty find the Necronomicon. This refers back to a scene in The Hills Have Eyes depicting a torn poster of Jaws, and in response, Craven put The Evil Dead on TV during A Nightmare on Elm Street, just as the protagonist starts falling asleep. Lastly, Freddy Krueger's bladed glove can be seen on the wall of the tool shed in Evil Dead II. Raimi may have gotten the last laugh, but we'll let you decide who has the better one-liners between Freddy and Ash.

Bad dog

John Carpenter's The Thing mixed together elements of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World with John W. Campbell Jr.'s novella Who Goes There? The 1982 horror flick focuses on a group working at an Antarctic research station, where they encounter a shape-shifting, parasitic organism that perfectly replicates the looks and sounds of any lifeform it absorbs. The film starts off with a duo from a nearby Norwegian research station trying to kill a Husky that ran into the American base. The Norwegians die trying to kill the dog, which is actually a murderous alien. Since no one at the base spoke Norwegian, their verbal warnings to Kurt Russell and his cohorts were lost in translation.

Shaun and George

Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead is basically a hilarious (and hilariously meta) homage to previous horror flicks. Obviously, the movie's title is a play on George Romero's second big zombie flick, Dawn of the Dead. Speaking of which, Shaun yells at Ed for referring to the shuffling undead as the "Z word," which calls back to the fact that the characters in Romero's movies don't call their antagonists zombies. When Shaun tries to book a date for himself and Liz, his phone book features an Italian food place called Fulci's—a reference to Zombie director Lucio Fulci.

Elsewhere in the film, the supermarket clerk that Shaun and Ed throw vinyl records at worked at a grocery called Landis Supermarket, which is a nod to John Landis, the director of Michael Jackson's zombie-filled music video for "Thriller." Shaun's place of employment, Foree Electric, is named after actor Ken Foree, who played one of the main characters in Dawn of the Dead. Ed saying "we're coming to get you, Barbara," calls back to Russell Streiner's iconic line to Judith O'Dea in Night of the Living Dead. In return, Romero cast Wright and Simon Pegg (Shaun) as "Photo Booth Zombies" in Land of the Dead.

Teasing The Dark Tower

David Drayton, the main character in The Mist (based on the Stephen King novella of the same name) is a commercial poster artist. In the opening scenes of the film, Drayton works on a painting of Roland from Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which was later adapted for a feature film starring Idris Elba. Other horror movie posters can be seen in the background of Drayton's office, including The Thing.

King Kong vs. Sumatran Rat Monkey

Peter Jackson will always be remembered for his The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, but the Kiwi filmmaker got his start making B-movie horror flicks, and he paid homage to his past in his 2005 King Kong remake, which slipped in an awesome reference to his 1992 splatstick gorefest Braindead (which was called Dead Alive in North America). The animal storage hold on the ship features a crate labelled "Sumatran Rat Monkey—Beware the bite!" This is supposedly the same strange creature that starts the zombie outbreak in Braindead—and in the movie, it's said to come from Skull Island, the same island that gave us King Kong.

Talking Heads makes a comeback

In Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator (which is based on H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West-Reanimator), Dan Cain's bedroom features a poster promoting the classic Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. This rock reference alludes to the antagonist of the film, Dr. Carl Hill, who gets decapitated by Herbert West, after which Hill's decapitated head and headless body are brought back to life by West's reanimation serum. Somehow, Hill's severed head is still able to control his body, so we have a literal talking head in the movie.

What's in the box?

The ninth Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, ends with Freddy Krueger grabbing Jason's mask, foreshadowing Freddy vs. Jason, but there are other horror movie references to enjoy. In the George Romero/Stephen King collaborative anthology movie Creepshow, one of the film's stories features a wooden crate housing a killer monster, which is labelled "Ship to Horlicks University via Julia Carpenter. Arctic Expedition June 19, 1834" (a reference to The Thing). A similar crate can be seen in Jason Goes to Hell with the same text printed on it. Jason Goes to Hell also features the Necronomicon book and dagger props featured in Evil Dead II.