Greg Nicotero Used Season 9 Of The Walking Dead As His Tribute To The Evil Dead

Greg Nicotero's work on "The Walking Dead" as a director and special effects make-up supervisor has been nothing short of spectacular. The renowned multi-hyphenate has a long, meaningful history with the horror genre, from his contributions to several horror cult classics to his friendship with former colleague and special effects make-up veteran Tom Savini. Since working under the tutelage of the make-up effects maestro on George A. Romero's 1985 film "Day of the Dead," Nicotero has continued to focus on the genre, lending his talents to slasher properties like "Halloween," "Friday the 13th," and "Scream" along the way.

While serving as the primary director on AMC's "The Walking Dead," Nicotero was known for integrating Easter eggs and tributes to popular films in the horror genre, many of which he himself worked on during his early years as a make-up artist. Similarly, in the zombie survival drama series' ninth season, he incorporated some stellar tributes to "Evil Dead," one of his favorite film franchises and a property he worked on as far back as 1987 (when he served as a member of the special makeup effects unit crew on "Evil Dead II").

A cabin in the woods

Greg Nicotero discussed these "Evil Dead" nods in a 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly (along with sharing particular snippets to Instagram), detailing how his team replicated the horror franchise's Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead) for "The Walking Dead" in the fifth episode of season 9.

Titled "What Comes After," the episode featured two clever nods to the cult classic property in the forms of a mysterious setting and a few exciting props. When Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is seen escaping a zombie horde in the episode, he takes refuge in a familiar-looking deserted cabin in the woods. Indeed, the cabin's exterior is nearly a virtual replica of the same house seen in both Sam Raimi's original "The Evil Dead" and its sequel. When Rick scans the cabin's interior, he also discovers a large mounted deer head on the wall and a book — the very same grimoire that sets the story in motion in "The Evil Dead." 

Nicotero confirmed to EW that both these Easter eggs were deliberate, explaining that it was his way of paying tribute to Raimi's creation. He went on to reveal yet another horror-related Easter egg in season 9 — specifically, a shot where a half-zombie was seen lying on the ground. This particular member of the undead is a nod to the unforgettable half-corpse of a female zombie strapped to the table from the 1985 film "Return of the Living Dead."

AMC's "The Walking Dead" aired its final season in 2022, capping off a run that spanned 12 years and 177 episodes. The zombie survival drama might be over and done with, but just like the undead themselves, the larger "Walking Dead" universe will soon rise again with multiple planned spinoff projects!