Ready Player One: the numerous horror and monster references

Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name.

The movie contains a vast number of popular culture references, mainly from the 1970s and 1980s but also the 1990s. Furthermore, a surprising number of the movie’s nods to icons of pop culture are from the horror genre.

The following overview contains spoilers, so perhaps watch the blockbuster first:

  • Both Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are seen as battling avatars in the OASIS game
  • The T-Rex dinosaur from Jurassic Park is a destructive obstacle in an urban virtual vehicle race.
  • King Kong climbs down from the Empire State Building and proves a massive obstacle in the aforementioned wacky race.
  • In the same race, Godzilla can be seen attacking Megalon in the distance.
  • An Alien chest-burster is used as a practical joke.
  • The Sulaco spaceship from Aliens, is seen as a virtual toy.
  • A crashed Martian space ship from War of the Worlds is the site of a virtual meeting.
  • Beetlejuice is seen as a videogame avatar.
  • Graffiti related to Gremlins is briefly seen (this passed us by).
  • The Christine Plymouth from the 1983 Stephen King adaptation can be glimpsed in a virtual race.
  • Lead gameplayer Wade briefly adopts Michael Jackson’s red outfit from the Thriller music video.
  • David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly is apparently mentioned.
  • There is a whole extended sequence set in a virtual replica of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Besides the creepy twins, elevator gushing gallons of blood, the naked lady in Room 237, the gameplay goes beyond the 1980 movie (and also amusingly notes that Stephen King hated it), to include a giant axe attack in the maze and zombies in the ballroom too.
  • Spawn is seen as an avatar in a battle sequence.
  • Slasher doll Chucky is used as a weapon.
  • Villain Sorrento adopts the guise and weaponry of Mechagodzilla from Toho’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).
  • A toy version of Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet.
  • The scary skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts are glimpsed in a battle scene.
  • There may have been a toy Godzilla in young Halliday’s bedroom but it could have been a model dinosaur.

As regards the main cast’s horror credentials:

  • Tye Sheridan was in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
  • Olivia Cooke was in the Bates Motel TV series; The Limehouse Golem; Ouija and The Quiet Ones
  • Ben Mendelsohn was in Needle
  • Simon Pegg was, of course in Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, Steve Coogan’s comedy TV series Doctor Terrible’s House of Horrible, plus the upcoming Slaughterhouse Rulez

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