We’re all aware of the movie Easter egg: the semi-hidden in-jokes and references cleverly inserted into films that are likely only spotted by diehard, eagle-eyed movie mavens blessed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of films after many repeated viewings.
But there’s also another level of reference entirely - a special kind of Easter egg that’s rather, shall we say, narcissistic. They aren’t pop cultural references and nods to filmmakers and unrelated movies that have come before, but when directors slip in a little homage to one of their earlier movies in a later film. The old self-congratulatory back-slap, that gives fans of the creator an added little gift only they'll really be aware of.
Call it a case of professional narcissism, or perhaps an easy way for a director to advertise their back catalogue. Or maybe it’s nothing more than a not-so-humble homage to themselves and the films that put them firmly in the spotlight. And really, there's nothing wrong with artists celebrating their own art, when you think about it (provided it was any good in the first place, obviously).
Either way, they’re pretty fun to discover...
18. Tim Burton – Smilex, Pink Sheep & Beetle Juicing
Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – the second adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s book after the Gene Wilder fronted Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 – is chock-full of references to his previous movies.
The most obvious reference is one to Burton’s 1989 take on Batman during a scene in which we see Charlie’s dad working his job at a toothpaste factory that manufactures Smilex – the same name of the poisonous chemical created by the Joker in Batman that causes people to die of laughter.
But there’s also a nod to Burton’s 1994 biopic Ed Wood (which also starred Johnny Depp) in a scene where we see Oompa Loompas shearing pink sheep – a reference to filmmaker Ed Wood’s penchant for pink angora sweaters – and a homage to Burton’s comedy horror Beetlejuice in the form of a room dedicated to ‘Beetle Juicing’.