The Hidden Vampire Movie Reference You Might Have Missed in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’
Filmmaker Jordan Peele freaked out movie audiences everywhere with his 2019 horror movie, Us. And to the glee of horror buffs, Peele dropped by Eli Roth’s History of Horror to discuss a few of the hidden details in the film.
[Spoiler warning: The following article contains plot details about ‘Us.’]
Jordan Peele says he looked within to create ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’
Eli Roth’s History of Horror Season 2 Episode 6 is titled “Nine Nightmares.” In the episode, film pros discussed nine scary movies that “push the boundaries of horror” and “tell us dark truths about society and ourselves.”
The first movie that Roth dove into is Us, Peele’s followup to his 2017 blockbuster, Get Out. During the segment, Peele explained to Roth the process by which he came up with the storylines. “Both these movies became clear to me when I decided to be vulnerable and look within,” said Peele.
The filmmaker admitted that his own fears are at the root of both narratives, saying, “[I] asked myself what really scares me, asked myself what I’m not ready to face, which felt related to what we’re not ready to face.”
The ‘Us’ filmmaker dropped Easter eggs about a classic vampire flick
Horror buffs can appreciate not only the sheer terror Peele evokes in his work but also the subtle pop culture references that he includes. But even astute Us viewers might have missed a hidden reference to a scary movie from the ‘80s. During their discussion, Roth pointed out the Easter egg Peele subtly dropped in the film.
“I remember you telling me after we shot last year that you were going to go shoot something that felt like Lost Boys,” recalled Roth.
For the record, The Lost Boys dropped in 1987, and since then has become a cult classic. The vampire flick was shot in Santa Cruz, California, but takes place in the fictional Santa Carla, a town infested with the undead. It is up to a group of teen sleuths to unearth the bloodsucking monsters and save the unsuspecting townsfolk. Peele chose the identical filming location as the backdrop for Us.
“We’re in the same place — Santa Cruz Boardwalk — the exact same location,” dished Peele during his sit-down with Roth. He beamed, “Did you hear the line about Lost Boys in there?”
That’s right, cinephiles. Not only did Peele use The Lost Boys production location for Us, but he blatantly included dialogue in the film’s script about the making of the teen vampire romp.
In Us, the protagonist visits the boardwalk as a child in 1986. While there, her mother remarks, “You know they’re filming something by the carousel. You should see if they’re looking for extras.”
Mind blown yet? Just wait. There’s more.
Peele’s idea of The Tethered stems from a different kind of monster
“I always thought [about] this idea of Lost Boys — there’s a monster up here,” Peele gestured above his head. “And so I thought with that same location, what if there’s a monster underneath as well — on the opposite side?” In Us, that monster lurking below is The Tethered.
The Tethered are a society of doppelgangers who live a suppressed existence belowground. They are tied to their aboveground counterparts, who are living comfortably oblivious. And according to Peele, that dynamic represents a very real issue.
“Much like Get Out, this is a systemic monster we’re dealing with,” explained Peele, hinting at the disparity between privileged and marginalized communities in the real world.
“You know we’re all a part of the system,” offered Film scholar Tananarive Due, who also contributed to the discussion on Eli Roth’s History of Horror. She continued, “There’s a story behind everything we enjoy. There’s a factory. There’s a line. There’s somebody working overtime to try to make us happy if we can afford it. Our little pleasures are coming at the cost of invisible people that we don’t really want to acknowledge or see because it’s inconvenient.”
That is enough to make us rethink who the real villains are.
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