We live in an age of digital streaming. With VOD services like Netflix and Amazon Video, most movie watchers are happy to fire up their platform of choice and have access to any number of TV series and movies at the touch of a button. However, there’s something to be said for physical media. For fans, the special features on DVDs and Blu-ray can be a goldmine of information and can prove to be just as entertaining as the main features themselves. Even better are the little bonus easter eggs that lurk untitled and unseen on the disc menus. Some filmmakers have used these as an excuse to pack their weirdest and wackiest stuff on the disc, ready to be found by someone dedicated enough and with too much time on their hands. Luckily for us, we have an army full of such people at our disposal.
Here are our 16 Best Hidden Easter Eggs on DVD and Blu-ray.
16. THX Parody – The Simpsons Movie
Whilst the actual end product ended up splitting opinion down the middle, no-one can deny that The Simpsons Movie was a long time coming for such a cultural phenomenon. The series DVD releases have some truly great special features and bonuses, and The Simpsons Movie carried on that tradition.
You may remember Tex, a mascot that used to advertise THX’s sound system. He was a Pixar designed workman-like robot who used to tinker with the logo before it unleashed that famous sternum-rumbling tone. Highlighting the “English 5.1. Dolby Digital” option and hitting left on The Simpsons Movie DVD and Blu-ray will start The Simpsons’ take on the whole thing, with Tex waking a sleeping Homer in a hammock suspended in the logo. Tex continues to work and soon feels the full wrath of Homer J. Simpson, with Homer beating him to the ground, ripping off the robot’s arm and chasing him with it. It’s a funny extra and certainly worth seeking out.
15. Guillermo Del Toro apologizes for his performance – Hellboy
When Hellboy was released in 2004, it did a solid job of adapting a relatively obscure comic book character for a larger, mainstream audience. A big part of that was director Guillermo Del Toro, who presented movie audiences with a dark supernatural world, filled with monsters and demons, all executed with the director’s unique charm and style.
Del Toro was clearly passionate about Mike Mignola’s work and when the film was released on DVD, it boasted a ton of special features about how the film was made and its source material, including a director’s intro to the various featurettes and concept art. However, hidden away on the disc is footage of Guillermo Del Toro apologising and seeking forgiveness from fans due to his poor delivery in the intro, blaming the hard-to-read cue cards. It’s a random but endearing little bonus that will make you want to reach through the screen and give him a hug.
14. A “Jokerized” trailer – The Dark Knight
Despite some strong competition from Iron Man, 2008 was the year of Batman. As part of The Dark Knight‘s hugely successful viral marketing campaign in the lead up to the movie, fans were asked to solve puzzles, go to GPS locations and do all manner of other tasks from signing up to be one of Joker’s henchmen to supporting Harvey Dent’s election campaign. As part of one such event, fans were treated to a “Jokerized” version of the theatrical trailer, with weird edits and annotations by the Clown Prince of Crime himself.
When The Dark Knight was released on DVD and Blu-ray, the little-seen trailer was included as an easter egg. To access it, pop in Disc 2, select Trailer #3 and type in “56537” (spelling JOKER) on your keypad as it plays. The trailer will then restart complete with Joker’s distinctive scratched handwriting and doodles. Our favorites include the scrawled “rich people suck” on a shot of Bruce Wayne and Joker’s subtle changing of the film’s title to “The Dork Knight”. And we thought our jokes were bad.
13. Main menu fake-out – Fight Club
David Fincher’s Fight Club is a movie all about messing with your mind. It’s a surreal, furious story all about anti-consumerism and the male identity. It seems only right that the 10th anniversary edition be in keeping with the film’s themes. The disc starts by flashing up a fake warning screen, with the angry philosophy of Tyler Durden replacing the usual anti-piracy stuff.
Then the disc suddenly gives us the menu for 1999 romcom Never Been Kissed, complete with a smiling Drew Barrymore. The sappy background music and animations play for a while before the picture starts glitching out to reveal the true main menu. According to the press release, which reassured customers they hadn’t bought a defective version, David Fincher was heavily involved in the 10th anniversary edition — and the prank was all his idea. He even sought permission from Ms. Barrymore personally to include it on the disc. Also worthy of a mention is another hidden feature, which when discovered , gives us a catalog of (sadly fake) Fight Club products and merchandise for sale.
12. Kevin Smith tells you to get a life – Mallrats
Back in the ’90s, Kevin Smith had his finger on the pulse of a then still emerging geek culture. He’s cultivated a diehard and loyal fanbase since then, whom he likes to mess with sometimes. The 10th Anniversary DVD boasted several eggs for fans to discover, including a segment called “Pearls of Wisdom with Stan Lee”, but the best one is almost a meta-egg.
If found, a short video clip of Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira plays with the two men speaking directly to camera, mocking the viewer for finding a hidden easter egg and thinking it was going to be good. Smith comments that we should get a life and suggests we “Get out there- live! Smell the air, sniff a dog!” before knowingly and shamelessly shilling his Secret Stash store and View Askew merchandise.
11. A different Doc Ock – Spider-Man 2
Sam Raimi’s silly sense of humor permeates his movies, whether it’s Bruce Campbell’s Ash pratfalling his way around in Army of Darkness or an extended elevator talk about the impracticalities of the Spidey suit in Spider-Man 2. He apparently likes to “torture” his lead actors too, being the first in line to hit Campbell with tree branches whilst filming Evil Dead 2. One of his pranks is captured as a hidden feature on the Spider-Man 2 DVD, in which he suggests Alfred Molina take some acting pointers from a familiar face.
By putting in the second disc, highlighting “Making the Amazing” and press up, viewers are treated to Sam Raimi calling in Alfred Molina to find Willem Dafoe in the Ock tentacle rig and delivering one of Octavius’ monologues in his signature raspy growl. Raimi, Molina and the crew crack up and the two Spidey villains shake hands. Whilst Molina was great in the part, after seeing the footage, it’s hard not to wish for a series of Spider-Man movies where Willem Dafoe played every villain. An all-Dafoe Sinister Six movie would be box-office gold.
10. Rat poison commercial – Ratatouille
Pixar loves including hidden extras in their home media releases, and 2007’s Ratatouille is no exception. Highlighting “Total Menus” on the DVD and Blu-ray and hitting Left when a rat appears on screen will reveal a whole hidden menu for fans to find, including a pronunciation guide for the film’s title with director Brad Bird.
The shortest gag is also the darkest. Included in the hidden menu is a fake commercial for “Ro-Dead” rat poison, done in the style of an old 1950s television sponsor advertisement. The short contains a jaunty jingle of the slogan “We kill rats so you don’t have to!” and shows a friendly cartoon rat leaning up against the box, enthusiastically flicking what is presumably the poison into his open mouth before giving a thumbs up. Maybe this isn’t one you should watch if there are any children in the room, which might be tough if you’re in a situation where you’ve sat down to watch Ratatouille.
9. Rhino fight – Gladiator
Ridley Scott’s 2000 epic Gladiator tells the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius, a betrayed Roman general who becomes a slave and is forced to compete in bloody and brutal arena combat. In the movie, Maximus must survive onslaughts consisting of heavily armed fighters, chariots, and at one point, man-eating tigers. There were apparently plans to up the stakes even further with the introduction of a rhinoceros to the mix, but they hit the cutting room floor due to budgetary concerns.
Whilst it was never filmed, the sequence made it all the way to storyboarding before it was cut. Going to the “Storyboard” section of the DVD, selecting “Rhino fight” and selecting the rhino icon in the middle of the screen will open a menu giving fans an option to read the original screenplay and watch a snippet of test footage featuring a CG rhino created by Jurassic Park dino effects wizard Phil Tippett. Whether the scene would have made the film even better is up for debate as it may have been a step too far, but it’s an interesting look behind the scenes nonetheless.
8. Jayne sings his own song – Firefly
Running for a criminally short time, Firefly‘s cancellation by short-sighted Fox execs still stings. In the popular episode “Jaynestown”, morally flexible hired muscle Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) finds himself the unlikely hero of a small and poor mud mining community. Serenity’s crew take refuge in the town’s bar before they hear a folk song called “The Hero of Canton”, telling the tale of what they interpret to be Jayne’s “heroic” deeds.
As a neat bonus, there’s a hidden feature on the DVD and Blu-ray concerning Adam Baldwin. Unsurprisingly, “Jaynestown” is one of his favorite episodes and he felt the urge to pay tribute to it. To access it, eager Browncoats must highlight “Joss sings the Firefly theme” and press Right on their remotes. If done correctly, the viewer will be treated to Baldwin sitting down in front of the camera, wearing the character’s trademark orange knitted hat and giving us a blast of “Hero of Canton”. It’s safe to say Baldwin doesn’t have the best voice ever, but what he lacks in skill, he makes up for in enthusiasm, and the whole thing ends up being a pretty cunning easter egg.
7. An all sock-puppet version – The Incredibles
Based on what we’ve seen in bonus features, Pixar Studios in San Francisco looks like one of the most enjoyable places to work ever. It has customized offices, games rooms, giant statues of their iconic characters, a stocked cereal bar with a fridge full of ice-cold milk and a speakeasy-type bar complete with poker table hidden behind a secret bookcase door. Their philosophy seems to be “work hard, play hard” and it’s hard to argue with the results, considering the endless awards and Oscars they’ve had thrown at them. This fun does seem to bleed into their films and instill them with a genuine heartfelt quality.
During a stressful time nearing the end of The Incredibles’ production, effects artist Mach Kobayashi and several other team members took it upon themselves to lift the collective spirits and showed them a cost-effective and less time-consuming way of telling The Incredibles’ story — through the unappreciated medium of sock puppetry. If we’re being critical, Kobayashi’s version is a shortened cut of the film, missing out several key scenes, but no-one can deny the fact that it’s definitely The Incredibles and it is definitely performed by sock puppets. Outstanding.
6. A Thriller tribute – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
In 1997, Final Fantasy studio Square Enix (then just Square) created Square Pictures, a movie studio with the purpose of adapting and incorporating advances in filmmaking technology into Square’s games. Square Pictures worked with Sony/Columbia and released their first fully CGI movie featuring cutting-edge tech, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in 2001. The film garnered mixed to mediocre reviews and bombed at the box office, taking half its production budget and eventually leading to the closure of the whole studio.
However, all that bad news doesn’t take anything away from a truly great easter egg hidden on the DVD and Blu-ray versions. How to access it depends on the version and format, but once found, the viewer is treated to a short fully animated parody of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, with the cast performing the incredibly famous synchronised zombie dance. Perhaps it’s because 90% of the characters from the film are rather bland and uninteresting, but there’s something genuinely amusing about Aki Ross and co. clapping their hands and grabbing their crotches in unison.
5. Hip Hop Yoda – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
The Star Wars prequels aren’t particularly known for their (intentional) humor, especially Episode III, but the filmmakers managed to sneak in a glimmer of mirth amidst all the youngling killing when the film was released on DVD. If you select Options and type in “1138” (a number that should be very familiar to Star Wars fans) a short and surprising clip of everyone’s favorite Jedi Master will play.
We’re presented with several head-bobbing Clone Troopers chilling in the Jedi Temple before Yoda makes his appearance and starts rapping, throwing shapes and breakdancing to The Roots’ “Don’t Say Nuthin’”. The video was made in secret after one of the animators took a hip-hop dancing class. The clip was never intended as an extra and was initially made to surprise Animation Director Rob Coleman. After the clip was finished, George Lucas ended up seeing it and reportedly loved it, insisting that it be included on the DVD. In order to do that, Lucasfilm sought The Roots’ permission and they were apparently “very enthusiastic” and requested that Yoda bust a specific dance move, which was incorporated into the final piece.
4. The full cursed video – The Ring
The American remake of The Ring was a big deal back in 2002. It captured the collective audience imagination and gave Asian horror a huge boost in the Western market. The super-famous premise is that there’s a cursed videotape that if you watch it, your phone would ring and a voice will inform you that you have 7 days to make a copy and pass it on or an angry spirit will emerge from any surface in your house and literally frighten you to death. It’s like one of those spammy Facebook things, but with bigger consequences than being sighed at and ignored.
Should you be hardcore enough to want to watch the whole video, heft your proverbial balls of steel out of the way of the TV, highlight “Don’t Watch This” on the Main Menu and press Down or Left and hit Enter. The video will start and you’ll get to see all the unsettling and surreal images for yourself. The video locks your remote and you won’t be able to pause, skip or fast forward until it’s done. Once the video ends, you’ll hear a phone ring twice before it finally gives you control back. Creepy.
3. The Star Wars Holiday Special (sort of) – Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Of all the things that have had the Star Wars name slapped on them, The Star Wars Holiday Special is perhaps the most infamous. The 1978 TV Christmas special featured the original cast and some truly weird and cringeworthy moments. Rumor has it that George Lucas hated it and ordered it buried, never to be seen again, which wasn’t really a problem in the late ’70s. Since then, there have been calls for an official release of it, so fans and completionists can experience the awfulness for themselves.
When Star Wars hit Blu-ray, it featured a wealth of extras, as well as some hidden gems. The most interesting of these is found on the second bonus disc. If viewers navigate to the Episode V section highlight “Boba Fett Prototype Costume” and press Right and Enter, they’ll be treated to an animated segment from the terrible special, starring the one and only Boba Fett in his first ever appearance. The cartoon is roughly animated and weirdly voiced, but it does feature the awesome spectacle of Boba Fett riding a huge dinosaur-like alien. If that doesn’t convince you to seek it out, we don’t know what will.
2. The MTV Movie Award skits – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition
The extended editions of Lord of the Rings are one of the most comprehensive versions going and set a new bar for home video releases. Not only do you get the superior versions of the films, packed with interesting subplots and characters, but you also get hours upon hours of bonus footage, ranging from in-depth commentaries, feature length making ofs and all that good stuff.
Not content with offering everything a Tolkien fan could ever want, each edition has a few hidden goodies, the most notable being the included MTV Movie Award skits. Fellowship has a genuinely funny parody of the Elrond meeting starring Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Two Towers has Gollum’s foul-mouthed award acceptance speech and Return of the King has Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn pitching ideas on how to milk the Rings franchise to Peter Jackson. The sketches are great additions to an already exhaustive list of bonus things, and worth checking out if purely for the bit in the Fellowship skit where Aragorn pledges his allegiance to Jack Black’s naked groin.
1. A chronological version of the entire film – Memento
Christopher Nolan’s breakout hit Memento is a twisty-turny brain meddler of a movie. Guy Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia as a result of an assault that left his wife dead and him seriously hurt. His condition that means he’s unable to retain recent memories. Shelby’s convinced that he killed one of the attackers, but another escaped. He sets off to find the mysterious second man, piecing together what he can from notes, Polaroid pictures, and the important information and facts tattooed on his body. The film plays out with two timelines, the black and white scenes are shown in chronological order, but they’re interspersed with color footage played in reverse order.
If that hurts your head too much, Nolan and co. have you covered. How to access it will depend on the version you have, but one of the ways is by answering a small questionnaire on the second disc. The viewer is tasked with putting four Polaroids in the correct order. However, if you put them in reverse chronological order, the alternate cut of the film will play, starting with the black and white scenes before shifting to color around halfway through. Watching the chronological Memento is definitely a must for fans, as certain scenes are given added context, and watching it in sequence can make you more aware of some of the clues you may have missed to the eventual truth behind it all.
Can you think of any other great hidden easter eggs stashed away on digital discs? Let us know in the comments.