One of the ways that Steven Spielberg deviated from the book with his Ready Player One movie was by infusing the film with tons of horror references and Easter eggs. In fact, some of the movie’s best sequences and comedic moments came from healthy infusions of horror.
It’s interesting that the film eschews any and all actual frights and instead delivers tons of grotesque and violent laughs. In the digital world of the OASIS, gore just doesn’t land the same way it might in other mediums, perhaps because death for a character means an explosion of gold coins rather than guts. Some of the biggest horror references occur in this movie perhaps because Warner Bros., who produced and distributed Ready Player One, did the same for many of these movies and their associated characters. There are perhaps too many Easter eggs in this movie to spot, and this collection is far from complete.
But here in this list are 5 of the most important and biggest horror Easter eggs you can spot in Ready Player One:
5. The Shining
Let’s get the huge, obvious one out of the way first: The entire second leg of Halliday’s contest in Ready Player One sends the players inside a digital rendering of Stephen King’s The Shining. At first, it’s a pretty spot-on recreation of the movie with rivers of blood and creepy twins, but before long it devolves into increasingly bizarre weirdness.
Perhaps the film’s best montage-esque comedic spectacle comes from a room full of “Sixers” (the corporate drones playing in the OASIS trying to win Halliday’s contest for IOI) as they die horrifically while inside The Shining.
4. Jurassic Park T-rex
The iconic Tyrannosaurus rex from the Jurassic Park films appears as one of the many obstacles in the first contest of Ready Player One. This one isn’t in the book at all, and is instead sort of shoved in there to pay homage to a piece of Spielberg’s all-time best work in Jurassic Park.
You might say this is just another generic T. rex, but wisdom tells us otherwise. Another major obstacle that borders on horror in that very same race is King Kong.
3. Freddy Krueger & Jason Voorhees
In a shot from Ready Player One that lots of fans noticed in some of the trailers, you can see Freddy Krueger running at Parzival’s best friend Aech. This is probably an OASIS players avatar playing as the nightmarish character, but in the final cut of the movie he appears towards the beginning when we first meet Aech in a huge battle that takes place on Planet Doom. Later in the same battle, we see Jason Voorhees fighting as well.
One of the film’s absolute weirdest horror Easter eggs happens in the final battle outside Castle Anorak on Planet Doom. Aech tosses Parzival and Art3mis a weapon at one point, but rather than a Rail Gun or laser blaster of some kind, it’s literally just a balled-up Chucky doll. The thing starts stabbing wildly at them before Parzival tosses Chucky out of the moving car and into a crowd of enemy soldiers.
In spectacular fashion, one guy shouts something like, “HOLY SHIT IT’S CHUCKY!” as if this is some rare, unexpected thing in the OASIS. In the “real world,” we see perhaps a dozen IOI soldiers drop dead in a matter of seconds, presumably stabbed in the face by a cackling toy doll.
1. Alien Chestburster
The pinnacle of Ready Player One’s bizarre relationship with transforming horror into horror-comedy comes when Art3mis impersonates Goro from Mortal Kombat and apropos of absolutely no narrative connective tissue, a hand-activated xenomorph chestbuster just bursts out of her chest. It’s a shocking and bewildering moment that incorporates this Easter egg in an interesting way, and it’s weird enough to give you whiplash.
Ready Player One is now in theaters.