The latest episode of The Walking Dead featured an easy-to-miss Easter egg paying tribute to George A. Romero’s original 1968 zombie feature Night of the Living Dead.
When investigating the mysterious disappearances and subsequent murders of Saviors, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Cyndie (Sydney Park) happen across an abandoned house with an untamed yard now home to a battered truck and a burnt out gas pump.
“The coolest thing to me about this location is a little Easter Egg, and this is something that Greg [Nicotero] came up with on the location scout... there’s a burnt out truck and a burnt out gas pump, and that is a homage to the original Night of the Living Dead,” VFX Supervisor Aaron McLane noted on live aftershow Talking Dead.
“So getting to see this here with this burnt out truck, there’s a dead body in the truck that’s all charred, really takes you back to the original zombie movie that got you into everything, started the whole wave.”
Nicotero, The Walking Dead’s longtime makeup guru and producer-slash-director, has frequently peppered Easter eggs and tributes to notable zombie works throughout the series, and Romero’s works in particular: Season Three episode featured a walker paying homage to the “Flyboy” zombie from the 1978 Romero-directed Dawn of the Dead, and the Season Five opener, directed by Nicotero, paid homage to Romero’s Creepshow, with a crate labelled with instructions to “ship to Horlicks University via Julia Carpenter.”
Other notable references and tributes in The Walking Dead include a walker resembling Bub, the domesticated zombie from Romero’s Day of the Dead, and a head-splicing walker kill first seen in Dawn of the Dead.
The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has long credited Romero and his films for inspiring his black-and-white comic book series, writing in the Letter Hacks section of issue #171, “They’re the true north of what I’ve done in this series. The Walking Dead simply doesn’t exist without George A. Romero doing his movies first.”
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.