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11 Clever Moments of Movie Foreshadowing You Might Have Missed

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While unexpected twists and surprising reveals can keep moviegoers engaged, sometimes a filmmaker can’t help him or herself from adding in a subtle moment of foreshadowing that warns of or suggests a particular plot line before it happens. Here are 11 movies that did just that.

1. PSYCHO (1960)

After Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) checks into the Bates Motel, she overhears the motel’s owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), get into an argument with his mother, who is emotionally abusive toward him. Nevertheless, Norman defends her when Marion suggests that their relationship might be toxic. Norman explains that his mother is “as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.” The line foreshadows the film’s twist when it is revealed that Norman killed and taxidermied his mother.

2. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

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In the middle of the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) goes to the planet Dagobah to meet Master Yoda to begin his Jedi training. During his journey, he duels with a vision of Darth Vader in the Dark Side Cave. Luke strikes Vader down with his lightsaber and finds his own face behind Vader’s helmet and mask. This hints at the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, which he learns at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

3. BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

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The opening credits sequence of Back to the Future features dozens of ticking clocks in Doc Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) laboratory. One of the clocks features actor Harold Lloyd from the silent film Safety Last! hanging from the minute hand. The clock foreshadows Doc Brown hanging from the Hill Valley clock tower, trying to harness a bolt of lightning to send Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his DeLorean back to the 1980s. 

4. TOTAL RECALL (1990)

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Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 science fiction film Total Recall is full of clever clues that keep audiences guessing as to whether Doug Quaid’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) adventure as a secret agent on Mars was real or merely a memory implanted into his brain. One of the biggest hints comes at the beginning of the film, when Quaid visits Rekall and one of the engineers tells him that he will experience “blue skies on Mars.” At the end of Total Recall, the Red Planet is terraformed and there is now a blue sky on Mars. 

5. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

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Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs follows a small group of criminals brought together to pull off a diamond heist. But when the police show up in the midst of the job, it’s clear that one of the men is an informant. The criminals are unknown to each other and are only referred to by colorful aliases (i.e. Mr. White). However, if you pay close attention to the opening scene, you can figure out that Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is the police informant who set up the rest of the gang.

During the breakfast scene, when Joe (Lawrence Tierney) leaves the table to pay the bill, everyone contributes a dollar for the waitress’ tip—everyone except for Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), who refuses to tip based on principle. When Joe comes back to the table, he notices that the tip is short and asks who didn’t contribute. Without hesitation, Mr. Orange rats out Mr. Pink.

Additionally, when Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) rushes to the hideout after the heist-gone-wrong, there’s an orange balloon following his car, which is a nod to the fact that Mr. Orange is after him.

6. JURASSIC PARK (1993)

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When Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) arrive to Isla Nubar for the first time, their helicopter slowly descends through a valley onto a launch pad on a lagoon. The descent is a turbulent one, so everyone buckles their seat belts. Dr. Grant finds that he has two female end buckles, but ties the straps together and manages to make it work. While the scene is meant as a comedic moment, it actually foreshadows that all the dinosaurs on the island are female, but manage to make it work and reproduce, thus “life finds a way.” 

7. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

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When Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) arrives at Shawshank at the beginning of the movie, Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) gives all of the incoming inmates a copy of the Bible and tells them that “Salvation lies within.” Eventually, Andy escapes from prison by digging through a concrete wall for 20 years with a small rock hammer that he has kept hidden inside the Book of Exodus in the Bible. When the warden discovers the hollowed-out Bible in his personal safe, he also finds an inscription from Andy: “Dear Warden, You were right. Salvation lay within. —Andy Dufresne.”

8. THAT THING YOU DO! (1996)

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At the beginning of That Thing You Do!, Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn) go to Patterson’s Appliances to recruit Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) to be their new band’s drummer after their regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Ribisi), breaks his arm. The guys are watching the TV show Fireball XL5 when Lenny remarks, “My grandma and I watched this. Three weeks, we've been watching it and last week, she realizes there’s strings. They’re puppets.” Jimmy responds with, “Yeah. They’re marionettes. That’s what they are.”

While the exchange seems like a throwaway moment, it actually hints at how Playtone Records will treat The Wonders when their song “That Thing You Do!” becomes a hit single. The band goes to California and essentially becomes puppets for the record label—appearing in a teen movie, performing on a variety show, announcing a fake marriage engagement between Jimmy and Faye (Liv Tyler), and recording a Spanish version of “That Thing You Do!” instead of Jimmy’s new original song.

Additionally, when local band manager Phil Horace (Chris Ellis) goes to Patterson’s to find the drummer of the band he saw the night before, a bus with an ad for Wonder Bread passes by the store, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the band's name change.

9. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

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David Fincher’s Fight Club is one of the director's most popular movies because of its over-the-top style, memorable characters, and iconic twist ending. About two-thirds into the film, it is revealed that Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is the alter ego of the Narrator (Edward Norton) and that they are, in fact, the same character. While there are a number of visual cues that foreshadow this revelation, including single frames of Tyler Durden spliced into the film before he’s properly introduced, there’s one very clever moment where the Narrator beats himself in an attempt to blackmail his boss. The Narrator says, “For some reason I thought of my first fight … with Tyler.”

10. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)

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After Liz (Kate Ashfield) breaks up with Shaun (Simon Pegg), he drinks his sorrows away with his friend Ed (Nick Frost) at the Winchester Tavern. To cheer him up, Ed plans a fun-filled day of drinking the next day, which includes, “Bloody Mary first thing, bite at The Kings Head, couple at The Little Princess, stagger back here, back at the bar for shots.” Co-writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright actually reveal Shaun of the Dead’s entire plot with Ed’s plan: The first zombie Shaun and Ed encounter is wearing a nametag that says “Mary,” then a zombie bites the neck of Shaun’s stepfather, the king of his family. Shaun later saves a couple, Dave (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis), and his princess, Liz. The group then stumbles their way through a zombie herd to get back to the Winchester, where they shoot at the living dead.

There’s another moment of clever foreshadowing at the beginning when Shaun’s roommate screams at Ed, “You wanna live like an animal?! Go live in the shed.” At the the end of the movie, we see a zombified Ed chained up like an animal living in the shed in Shaun’s backyard.

11. THE AVENGERS (2012)

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When the superheroes assemble on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier for the first time, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) makes an offhanded remark about one of the ship’s engineers playing the classic arcade game Galaga. The objective of the video game is to defend Earth from invading aliens as they descend on the planet, which is exactly what The Avengers have to do during the Battle of New York with the Chitauri aliens in the film’s climax.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.

1. THANKSKILLING (2009)

Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.

3. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.

4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)

This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.

5. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.

7. THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005)

“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.

12. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.

13. CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

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