Pixar's 'Coco' Is Filled With 'The Shining' References/Easter Eggs

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What do Coco and The Shining have in common? Not much — aside from The Shining uber-fan and Coco co-director Lee Unkrich.

The director has a long-running tradition of placing sly homages to the Stanley Kubrick horror film in all of the Pixar films he has worked on since 1995's Toy Story. And more than 20 years later, he's keeping up the practice with Coco.

Unkrich is a massive fan of the Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel, and the self-appointed 'Caretaker' of the impressively detailed The Shining blog TheOverlookHotel.com.

"I've thought a lot about why it obsesses me, and I think it's multi-tiered," Unkrich told Empire in 2012. "I think on one level it's because it was the film that got me interested in not only filmmaking, but also having a sense that there's a singular voice controlling the imagery that's being put on the screen. Also I think it was because it was the first film I saw that so pervasively had a specific mood to it. I'd never seen a movie that had made me feel so unsettled during the entire film."

You can read a more exhaustive list here of every Shining reference that Unkrich managed to squeeze into Pixar films — from Toy Story, Toy Story 3, and Finding Nemo — but for now, let's move on to Coco.

There are at least "three" references to The Shining, Unkrich teased back in November when Coco was first released in theaters. Now, as the sumptuous, critically acclaimed Pixar movie hits Blu-ray and digital, Unkrich spills the beans about what those three references actually are.

The Axe

In an interview with Cinema Blend, Unkrich revealed that two of the three Easter eggs are hidden in one scene that takes place early in the film. First up: Jack Nicholson's famous axe that he uses to attack his wife and child after driven mad by the Overlook Hotel.

There's a scene where Dante wakes up, where he's been sleeping and he kind of snaps awake and he ends up climbing up a tree to go into the hideout in the attic where Miguel is. In the background, there's an ax stuck in a tree stump and it's one of the axes from The Shining.


It's in that same scene that Unkrich hid a "very obscure Shining reference in that same shot."

Don't spot it? Here's Unkrich's hint:

It's a red drum. Get it? Redrum. It's the creepy word that Danny keeps repeating throughout The Shining, which turns out to be "murder" spelled backwards. Yeah, that's probably not a word that Unkrich could have hidden in a children's film. Although maybe it would have been too obvious a hint at the late-act plot twist.

The Twins

The third Easter egg is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the iconic creepy twins that Danny meets in the hallway of The Shining.

The third Shining reference has to do with the twins and that's all I'll say. I'm surprised not many people have spotted the one with the twins but it's in there.

The image is not of the twins themselves, but rather a painting of the twins that Miguel rushes by when he's searching for Ernesto de la Cruz in the Land of the Dead.

Coco is available on Blu-ray and Digital HD now. Be sure to check out our own Ben Pearson's special Coco experience in Mexico where he visited the locations that inspired Pixar's movie.