Movies that you wouldn’t know share a cinematic universe

With so many cinematic universes these days — Marvel, DC, Universal Monsters, heck even Lego’s got one — we are trained to expect that franchise movies will feature a lot of cross-overs and cameos. But there are shadowy, secret cinematic universes that mostly flew under everyone’s radar… at least, until you spot one movie’s characters or items in another one and realize that the two of them exist in the same fictional world.

Sure, it’s often a sly reference or cameo made between films, but for the sake of canon, they’re connected now and forever! Let’s take a look today at several of these shared universes:

Clerks and Scream

Let’s start with some low-hanging fruit and a cameo you may have forgotten took place. In 2000’s Scream 3, where a lot of action takes place around a fictional Hollywood set based on the original film, Jay and Silent Bob make a noticeable appearance alongside Gale Weathers.

This means that the world of Scream is the same one as Kevin Smith’s Viewaskewniverse, which includes Clerks, Mallrats, and Dogma. “I’m not even supposed to be murdered here today!”

The Howling and Gremlins

What do werewolves and little green gremlins have in common? Apparently more than you thought! Director Joe Dante couldn’t resist making a callback to The Howling when he helmed Gremlins. The latter features the same in-universe reporter as well as a noticeable smiley face sticker — both of which were from his earlier work. Whether it’s the moon or midnight, bad things happen when it gets dark…

Firefly, Blade Runner, Soldier, and Aliens

There’s good cause to believe that many popular scifi franchises actually inhabit the same galaxy. Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott has made no secret that he feels that the androids of both movies come from the same Earth-bound company. In Prometheus promotional materials, one of the founders of Weyland-Yutani Corp references Blade Runner replicant maker Dr. Eldon Tyrell. The 1999 Alien 20th Anniversary DVD has a dossier on Captain Dallas that says he was drawing a paycheck from the Tyrell Corp. There are also some computer screens that look the same in both films.

The makers of Firefly also draw upon the Aliens franchise. In the pilot episode, Mal fires a gun turret that clearly sports the Weyland-Yutani logo in the center. Later, in the film Serenity, the Operative uses the corporation’s slogan about “making better worlds.” Is the huge solar system of Firefly one of Earth’s colonies from the Alien universe?

Then there’s 1998’s Soldier, which was penned by one of Blade Runner’s script writers who said that the former was a “spin-off sidequel” to the latter. Soldier shows a wrecked spinner car on its planet, and its hero said he’d fought in some of the same battles — Shoulder of Orion and Tannhäuser Gate — that Blade Runner’s Roy Batty mentions in his closing speech. What’s even more evidence that all of these franchises exist together is that Soldier also mentions that Kurt Russel’s character is trained in the use of the same  MR1A Pulse Rifle that’s featured in Aliens.

The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, The Faculty, Child’s Play, and Cabin in the Woods

Buckle up, because we’re going to stitch together a whole lot of horror flicks into the same universe. A good place to start is 2011’s Cabin in the Woods, which portrays a number of horror-themed outbreaks as the work of a shadowy organization. The facility there contains many monster tropes that pay homage to certain films, but there is one very specific reference that Evil Dead fans noticed: the inclusion of “Deadites,” the reanimated demonic dead that are featured in those films. Firefly fans also spotted Reavers in one of the cells.

Cabin in the Woods also has a couple of lines cryptically referring to a botched horror outbreak in 1998 during which none of the teens died and that “it was the chem department’s fault.” Fans who put two and two together drew the conclusion that this is in reference to The Faculty, a ’98 flick in which the teens survived by using drugs against the aliens.

Jason Vorhees is also part of this nightmarish world, as he uses the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis from Evil Dead in 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell. Then there’s Bride of Chucky, in which a number of classic artifacts are displayed, including Freddy’s claws, Jason’s mask, Leatherface’s chainsaw, and Michael Meyer’s mask.

Commando, Predator, and Die Hard 2

Call it the “Val Verde Verse” — three movies (and several episodes of various TV shows and video games) that mention or take place in a fictional South American country named Val Verde. This was a diplomatic way to get around offending actual countries with any of the negative connotations in these films.

Val Verde is not a nice place; both Die Hard 2 and Commando feature dictators of that country being taken to task by our heroes. And it is widely assumed that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s other late ’80s action masterpiece, Predator, took place in this country as well.

Star Wars and E.T.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had fun nodding at each other in some of their biggest hits. In E.T. during the Halloween trick-or-treating scene, the disguised E.T. sees a kid dressed as Star Wars’ Yoda and says, “Home!” when he passes by. Did the creature know of Yoda’s race? It seems likely, as nearly two decades later, Lucas included a quick moment in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in which E.T.’s race are clearly scene as part of the galactic senate.

Most of John Hughes’ movies

While ’80s teen movie maestro John Hughes didn’t much care for character crossovers between his movies (actors are another thing entirely!), he did set almost all of his films in the same fictional Illinois town of Shermer. Thus, all of the following took place in that Chicago suburb at some point in time: Weird Science, The Breakfast ClubHome AloneSixteen CandlesPretty In PinkPlanes, Trains & AutomobilesNational Lampoon’s Vacation, She’s Having A Baby, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

One comment

  1. Further evidence: the Legendary Encounters: Predator card game specially refers to your early enemies as ‘Val Verde guerillas’. If you can’t trust the Predator card game, who can you trust?

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