Steven Spielberg set another adventure in motion with his slick adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, Ready Player One. Fans of Cline’s love letter to the 1980s will no doubt be searching the screen for their favorite pop-culture references. Many from the beloved book made their way to the big screen, but some of the additions may surprise you.
Our hero, Wade Watts, shows us how hard life can be in the year 2044. Watts is better known as Parzival in the virtual world The Oasis, which he escapes to whenever possible. While there, he competes amongst other Gunters (egg hunters) in Anorak’s Quest. This impossible treasure hunt would leave the winner holding a fortune and wielding immense power.
Ready Player One has a buried moral to its story about the dangers of too much escapism, but the film heralds Spielberg’s return to adventure, which offers the greatest escape from reality. The film is exciting and entertaining, particularly for the nostalgia junkies of the modern age. Horror fans will also be surprised by just how many of their favorite fiends found their way into the film.
Classic Horror Icons
During the introduction to The Doom Planet, eagle-eyed fans may notice Freddy Kruger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Kruger’s unmistakable hat and glove are silhouetted briefly before being defeated by an unknown Gunter. Before the scene ends Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th franchise is front and center, wielding his signature machete and wearing his hockey mask.
The first challenge facing Parzival is a racing challenge. The one car that stands out amongst the rest is the 1958 red and white Plymouth Fury. She which can be spotted in several shots before the race begins. Christine is a cherry-red beacon of color in a sea of silver and bluish vehicles, but we lose sight of her once the race begins.
Two of the greatest foes that appear in the race scene are King Kong and the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to see a Tyrannosaurus trouncing through city streets. Meanwhile, Kong was not about to let any Gunters cross the finish line. On the whole, the scene can be a bit chaotic, but it’s a thrill to see these giant foes crushing through their opponents.
Parzival gains celebrity status in The Oasis after figuring out how to bypass Kong. After his win it seems everyone wants a photo with him. As it happens, Beetlejuice alerts everyone to Parzival’s presence as he enters a museum to do research for the quest. Moments later, a lumbering genie pulls Parzival aside to scold him for being so naive. Before Parzival can react, an enormous chestburster from Alien rips through the genie’s chest only to reveal one of Parzival’s acquaintances in disguise.
Come Play With Us
One of the impossible challenges facing Parzival relies so heavily on the film The Shining that you’ll momentarily think someone switched reels on you. The segment is so well done it will leave viewers longing for more twisted fandom collisions. My favorite segment in Ready Player One because it is unexpected, humorous, and thrilling to watch unfold.
While getting ready for a night out, our hero gives us a quick nod to Michael Jackson’s famous red leather outfit worn in the Thriller music video. It’s one of several ensembles Parzival dons before choosing to go the Buckaroo Bonzai route instead.
Throughout the film we see that characters can choose to take on different forms or change their appearances. During the battle for Castle Anorak we see one character choose to enter The Oasis as The Iron Giant. However, kaiju fans may be more excited to see Mechagodzilla wreak havoc during battle.
During this melee we are introduced to some unorthodox weaponry. A grenade in the form of Dustbrain, the spongy, toy mummy head from Madballs, is an amusing surprise. Still, one of the best cameos of all is Chucky, everyone’s favorite Good Guy Doll from Child’s Play. Chucky is armed and laughs maniacally while slashing at his enemies. The crowd erupted into laughter at the expenditure of the one and only F-Bomb when an unsuspecting victim shouts, “IT’S FUCKING CHUCKY!”
There are, of course, honorable mentions to be made for quick shots of Gremlins graffiti on a building and the Aliens marine ship, Sulaco being shown in toy form. The Gunters also use a Martian ship from War of the Worlds as a rendezvous point. One character has a Rocky Horror Picture Show patch on her vest when not inside The Oasis. There are also zombie-like ghosts who dance in a style eerily similar to that of the ghosts in The Haunted Mansion attraction in Walt Disney World. Beyond that, The Fly remake is mentioned and Spawn can be spotted as an avatar during one of the many battle scenes on The Doom Planet.
How many of these horror cameos did you spot while watching Ready Player One? Let us know in the comments and sound off in our Facebook Group!