Malignant: 10 Horror Movie References You Missed

Malignant is a horror buff's fever dream and Wan pays tribute to icky classics of yesteryear.

Malignant movie
Warner Bros.

Malignant is one of the most gonzo mainstream horror movies ever released. A loving homage to a wide range of horror films from the 70s and 80s, this wild, funhouse ride of a movie relentlessly throws one crazy twist after another at the audience until your only response can be either giddy laughter or befuddled exasperation.

After the billion-dollar-success of Aquaman, Wan evidently earned enough cred with Warner Bros to have the studio greenlight this highly-specific homage with 'passion project' written all over it. While general audiences will likely think the plot veers into the ridiculous, fans with a deep knowledge of the classics Malignant references will be delighted by this outré mashup.

This isn't the first time Wan has lovingly created a film that pays homage to the horror of yesteryear. Dead Silence was a similar update of classic black and white Universal monster movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s - with the order of the day being genre thrills above all else. When viewed in the right frame of mind, Dead Silence and Malignant are glorious throw-back romps that deliver grand entertainment.

If you found yourself on Malignant's wavelength, but many of the tributes and Easter eggs Wan peppered throughout the film went over your head, have no fear: we've got you covered. Join us as we catalogue the films that inspired Wan so you can get your horror movie watch-list ready for Halloween.

10. Terror At the Opera

Malignant movie
Warner Bros.

Much has been made about Malignant being a Giallo-homage, and while Wan pays tribute to a host of horror films, the Giallo influence is undeniable.

The genre has its roots in popular Italian murder mystery paperbacks with yellow covers (giallo is Italian for 'yellow'), but found its way to cinemas where it transformed into a proto-slasher genre that's heavy on the bloodshed. As Giallos gained in popularity, Dario Argento emerged as one of the genre's most influential directors.

Malignant makes numerous nods to the horror auteur's work throughout and when the villain of the film, Gabriel, holds one of his victims hostage with her mouth ducted taped and eyes wide in terror it's a direct visual reference to an under-appreciated Argento gem, Terror at the Opera.

Terror at the Opera tells the tale of a murder that forces the heroine to witness his killing spree by tying her up and putting pins under her eyes so she can't close them. From the killer's raspy voice to the his black gloves and his use of duct tape to make his victim a silent witness to horror, the parallels between the two films are unmistakable.

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I'm YA writer who loves pulp and art house films. I admire films that try to do something interesting.