Between It, Gerald's Game, and the upcoming Hulu Original Castle Rock, Stephen King has reached a sort of cultural renaissance in 2017—and the resonance is front and center in the latest Bob's Burgers Halloween special. The episode, titled "The Wolf of Wharf Street," is essentially a split between Stephen King's Misery and pretty much every textbook werewolf cliche, only with more Bob Belcher paranoia and less Linda Belcher confidence.
On Halloween night, a wolf is missing near the Wonder Wharf, so Linda deputizes herself as chaperone while her kids trick or treat. Meanwhile, Bob is stuck at home on account of a bad leg, and Teddy (dressed as a "sexy nurse," unintentionally) keeps him company. From there, the references are laid on thick, balancing out the obvious and the not-so-obvious (for example, Randy Watkins [voiced by Paul F. Thompkins], who makes a cameo appearance in the episode, has a wolf painted on his van in a previous episode titled "Easy Com-mercial, Easy Go-mercial"). In past Halloween specials, episodes have tackled movies like The Haunting, Teen Witch, and even the not-so-scary Lars and the Real Girl, but this year, the theme is (to paraphrase Gene from "The Hauntening") bringing the scary and the hairy.
So, in case you missed any of them, here is a list of every easter egg and movie reference in the episode (not officially counting the most blatant, non-horror reference in the episode's title with The Wolf of Wall Street).
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Every Bob's Burgers episode opens with a recurring gag: the store next door is constantly under new ownership, and every new store name is a pun riffing on its respective brand. In this episode, Freddy Krueger gets a shout-out with the shop name, "Freddie Kugel Halloween Noodles." Kugel Noodles, while not a native dish to the Halloween season, lend a welcome nod to "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs." The name of the store is only on screen for a brief moment, but it's not quite as blink-and-you'll-miss-it as the following entry...
Also part of the opening gag is the rodent control van that quickly passes through the frame in every episode. In this episode, the company is called "Polter-Mice," a reference to the late Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist. It also might be worth mentioning that the writer's missed out on creating a slogan that also references the movie; something along the lines of making houses clean or ridding homes of "The Beast," ala Zelda Rubinstein's paranormal medium, Tangina Barrons. Then again, considering how briefly the gag lasts, maybe the small details just aren't worth the effort.
When Linda enters in her Halloween costume, she introduces herself as a Cher-iff (a combination of Cher and a sheriff). Her outfit is referencing the film Moonstruck, for which Cher won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She yells the line, "Snap out of it!," which Cher famously says to Nicolas Cage's character after slapping him in the face.
Now, Moonstruck isn't a horror movie (it's a romance about secret love in an Italian-American family circa the late 1980s), but considering how invested Linda is with Cher, it wouldn't feel right leaving it out. (This is also technically the second time Linda has been inspired by Cher on Halloween. In the episode "Full Bars," she dresses up as a mermaid.)
Also, what would an episode dedicated to werewolves be without some blatant moon references?
Tina Belcher is known for having creative Halloween costumes. In fact, this is touched upon in last year's Halloween special, "Teen-a-Witch," during a brief Halloween contest montage at Wagstaff School. She never wins, but she's certainly deserving. (Fingers crossed that she at least places in the upcoming Bob's Burgers movie.)
In this episode, Tina is dressed as a "mombie" (think zombie mom), and she uses her own mother, Linda, as a reference. While not a direct reference to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, it's worth considering that a child dressing up as their dead mother takes at least some indirect inspiration from the movie. In Psycho, motel owner Norman Bates wears his dead mother's dress, pretending to be her during his bloody killing spree.
Thankfully, though, Tina doesn't adhere to any of Norman's other peculiar tendencies.
No Country For Old Men
Louise Belcher's theme for all of her Halloween costumes always tend to revolve around violence. One year, she dresses up as Edward from Edward Scissorhands (equipped with actual scissors), while another year she dresses up as "Ryan Gosling from the major motion picture tailer Drive."
In this episode, Louise takes an even more wicked turn as Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men (for which Javier Bardem won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role). The Old West is dying, new blood is taking its place, and for some reason, a nine-year-old girl is familiar enough with this story to replicate its main villain with detail (doesn't seem out of character for Louise at all). She never goes so far as to puncture any skulls with her faux Captive Bolt Pistol, but she does rock a solid bowl cut. The Coen Brothers would be proud.
(Also, even in this look, the pink bunny ears remain a nice touch.)
Once the narrative ball gets rolling in the episode, Bob is joined by Teddy, who makes it his goal for the evening to look after his couch-ridden friend. However, though his intentions are good, Teddy turns out to be less Patch Adams and more Annie Wilkes from Misery. As usual, Teddy blows his own manic personality way out of proportion, elevating the situation into tense territory for no reason whatsoever. In fact, not only is the respective setup essentially a copy-and-paste of the Rob Reiner movie, specific scenes are copied almost beat for beat (feeding Bob, Bob falling off the couch, etc.). That said, in Teddy's defense defense, it's Bob's hallucinatory reaction to his pain medication that makes Teddy seem so malevolent.
What's also interesting is the fact that Teddy is essentially reprising the Stephen King role that Kathy Bates played opposite of James Caan, making this the third reference in the episode to a character who won an Oscar for their performance. That said, it's doubtful that fitting three Oscar-winning actor role references into the episode was a specific goal on the creator's parts. But who knows?
The Wolf Man
Seeing as this episode is a riff on werewolves, it's only natural that The Wolf Man would get some mentions. In one scene, Bob notices a circular bite on Teddy's arm, which could either pass as exactly what Bob thinks it is or a nod to the pentagram in the classic Universal horror flick. (However, the denial of the bite may as well have been a scene from any countless zombie movies where someone hides their bite from everyone, but in terms of references, that hardly warrants a place on this list.)
The bulk of the episode makes references to various "werewolf movie" tropes, but without much specificity. It's possible to liken some of the scenes to movies like An American Werewolf in London or The Howling, but nothing appears to be taken from them directly.
Did you notice some references in the episode that didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments!
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