The Renfield Trailer Features Two Classic Dracula Easter Eggs

There is literally no other character in movie history that's as popular as Dracula.

That's not speculation, and it's not hyperbole, it's a recorded fact: The Guinness Book of World Records has declared Dracula "the most portrayed literary character in film." People love this bloodsucking monster, whether he's portrayed as a sympathetic antihero or a despicable hellspawn, possibly bent on world domination, and often on the hunt for a girlfriend who looks suspiciously like his ex (just move on, dude).

So it makes sense that Chris McKay's "Renfield" would not only tell yet another version of the "Dracula" story, this time from the perspective of his notoriously sniveling manservant Renfield (played by Nicholas Hoult), but also that the film would be peppered with references to "Dracula" movies of yore.

The first trailer alone featured two distinct references to Tod Browning's original 1931 classic, starring Bela Lugosi as cinema's most iconic monster. Did you catch them, too?

Symphony of the night

There had already been more than half a dozen "Dracula" movies before Bela Lugosi took over the role in 1931, but filmmaker Tod Browning's production was taking advantage of a relatively new technology: synchronized sound.

Early sound-era Hollywood movies generally used sound more sparingly than modern audiences are used to, and "Dracula" was no exception. The film doesn't even have its own score and plays out in long, eerie silences throughout the scariest scenes in the movie. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have a theme. It just means the theme was borrowed from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The opening credits of Tod Browning's "Dracula" play underneath the ethereal strains of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," specifically Opus 20. The classical music became so associated with early monster movies that it would also be used as the opening credits music for Karl Freund's "The Mummy" — which also borrowed generously from the "Dracula" movie plot — just one year later, in 1932.

That tradition apparently continues in "Renfield," since the trailer features a hero shot of "Swan Lake" on vinyl, suggesting that either Dracula or Renfield (or both) are a fan of the immensely popular ballet.

Taste the bugs of Dracula

One of the weirdest moments in any horror movie, to this very day, comes in Browning's "Dracula," when the monster's undead brides awake from their slumber in Dracula's creepy castle. Most horror movie fans, or even casual movie lovers, are probably familiar with the image of a vampire emerging from their coffin, but what about ... a bug?

And no, not just a bug emerging from a regular human-sized coffin. Bugs get in there all the time. That might be gross but it's not special. Tod Browning's "Dracula" imagines that in Dracula's dwelling, there are human-sized coffins for undead humans, and bug-sized coffins for, presumably, undead bugs.

This notorious moving image looks rather suspiciously like a bee crawling out of a tiny bee-sized coffin, but of course, that would be ridiculous. It's actually a shot of a Jerusalem cricket, also known as a potato bug, in a tiny potato bug-sized coffin, which makes much more sense. After all, Jerusalem crickets are nocturnal, and they eat dead flesh. That might make them creepy if they weren't also apparently finicky sleepers who demand that Dracula himself make them their own little bitty coffins, which are so cute.

The makers of "Renfield" clearly know about these coffins and thought they were important because they make an appearance in the first trailer. Although the film may offer greater context, it appears that these containers might actually be the vampire equivalent of Ziplock baggies. Renfield notoriously eats live bugs and it looks like he keeps them in adorable, chintzy, pocket-sized coffins until he needs a snack. Maybe that's why Dracula had one in the first place (or maybe potato bugs are, again, just picky about their sleeping arrangements, which is equally likely).

Oh Tod, you devil

There's one more bonus reference that vampire movie lovers may have picked up on in the "Renfield" trailer, although this one isn't directly connected to Tod Browning's "Dracula." It's actually a reference to one of Tod Browning's other classic vampire movies, in this case, the infamously lost silent film classic, "London After Midnight."

"London After Midnight" starred Lon Chaney Sr., the "Man of a Thousand Faces" who used innovative makeup techniques to transform himself in his various horrifying pictures, as two separate roles. He plays a detective investigating a mysterious murder, and he also plays — under heavy, grotesque makeup — a vampire with sharklike teeth and a top hat, whose visage has ignited the imaginations of horror fans for nearly a century, even though it seems like they'll never get to see the actual film.

Tod Browning remade "London After Midnight" in 1935 as "Mark of the Vampire," reuniting him once again with Lugosi. But Lon Chaney Sr.'s distinctive monster design didn't make the transition. The makers of "Renfield" seem keen on keeping the shark-mouthed vampire design alive, however. Nicolas Cage's interpretation of Dracula appears — visually, at least — to have more in common with the "London After Midnight" vampire design than the original Universal Horror classic, with spiky teeth and a dapper top hat!