When we learned that Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim”) would be directing the couch gag on this year’s “Simpsons” Halloween special, we guessed it would be chock full of references… We just didn’t realize that it would be this over-the-top with Easter Eggs.
The nearly three-minute clip contains everything from references to del Toro’s own movies, to classic monster movies, to vintage Simpsons gags – reworking the classic opening into the most dense bit of animation maybe, ever. With that in mind, here’s the Easter Eggs we picked up on.
Three-Eyed Bird: Not a reference to anything in particular that we can tell, though it does play an important role later on…
Zombie Apocalypse: Military shooting zombies at the Springfield Power Plant is, you know, every zombie movie ever.
“Pacific Rim”: At the 13-second mark, we get our first glimpse of a del Toro movie, as Gipsy Danger battles a Kaiju from Pacific Rim near the Springfield sign, while the giant three-eyed bird skeleton crashes to the ground.
“The Telltale Head”: Jimbo and Kearney sawing off the head of Jebediah Springfield is a reference to the classic first-season episode “The Telltale Head.” This time, though, they’re zombies.
Lard Busters: Could be wrong about this one, but the Lard Lad Donut Man getting hit by lightning and coming alive seems like a reference to “Ghostbusters.” Whatever it is, he’s quickly eaten by a Moe Szyslak’d-out Cyclops from “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.”
Alfred Hitchcock: Sitting with Mrs. Krabappel is classic thriller/horror Director Alfred Hitchcock, reenacting a scene from one of his most famous movies, “The Birds.”
“The Shining”: “The Simpsons” already took on Stephen King’s classic novel (and Stanley Kubrick movie) “The Shining” in a seminal “Treehouse of Horror” segment. Del Toro references all of that with the blackboard gag, repeating the phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” Followed by an appearance by King himself.
“Hellboy III”: Sorry, fans… This is probably the closest you’re going to come to del Toro directing “Hellboy III,” as Groundskeeper Willie shows up as the red-skinned demon fighter, battling Karl Kroenen from the first movie.
“Blade”: For years, Homer Simpson has had to deal with a radioactive rod getting stuck in his containment suit… But this is the first time it’s turned him into a Reaper from Blade II (Directed, natch, by del Toro). This naturally causes Carl to suit up as Wesley Snipes’ Blade because, you know, why not.
“Godzilla”: Under the power plant are the bodies of the Simpsons (they were dead the whole time!), and a Godzilla skeleton. A sneaky ref to “Pacific Rim” Producers Legendary Pictures upcoming “Godzilla” reboot?
“Pan’s Labyrinth”: Of course Mr. Burns would be the villainous Pale Man from del Toro’s breakout hit “Pan’s Labyrinth.” And of course, Smithers would be a fairy helping him out.
“Cronos”: Del Toro’s first movie, a horror flick about ancient devices that essentially turned people into vampires. Those are on the conveyor belt with Maggie, along with “Bleeder’s Digest,” “Better Tombs And Gargoyles” and “The Ghost of Newsweek.” Heh.
“Mimic”: The bugs in the supermarket are both from this movie about giant cockroaches invading the subway.
The Phantom(s) Of The Opera: Lisa’s music class is full of pretty much every film version of “Phantom of the Opera,” including Lon Chaney, Claude Rains. Oh, and Lisa’s music teacher is dressed up as the Phantom from the kitsch classic, “Phantom of the Paradise.”
Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder God shows up, menacing Bart on his skateboard and drinking tea with H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe (who of course has the three-eyed raven land on his arm), Ray Bradbury with his creation “The Illustrated Man,” and Richard Matheson with one of the proto-vamps from “Omega Man.”
Universal movie monsters: Then, a crowd including Bumblebee Man on fire, and Krusty with an axe in his head are chased by classic Universal movie monsters including Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, and from one of the very last Universal monster movies, a Zagon from “This Island Earth.”
“The Car”: Maggie is driving the titular car from 1977’s “The Car,” a movie about a killer car (though you probably guessed that).
Anarchy: Then there’s so much stuff we don’t even know where to begin. Hans Moleman is drawing the classic portrait of Alfred Hitchcock on a wall, there’s skeleton soldiers from Ray Harryhausen’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” Klaatu from “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” the Invisible Man again, and way more than we can count.
The Couch: We get the Car and the Reaper again, followed by the Simpsons clan convening on the couch. Maggie has the car’s steering wheel, Marge is still a giant bug, and Homer is now Santi, a ghostly orphan from del Toro’s “The Devil’s Backbone.”
“Alice In Wonderland”: Lisa falls through the couch, and turns into Alice from “Alice in Wonderland,” and then encounters…
Hypnotoad! From “Futurama.” All hail hynotoad.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (again): And it all ends with the ending from “Pan’s Labyrinth,” with Lisa as Ofelia, and Marge and Homer as the Queen and King of the underworld.
So what do you think, folks? What did we miss in this overstuffed opening?