Nope: 10 Easter Eggs and References You Might Have Missed in Jordan Peele’s New Movie

Jordan Peele is one of a shrinking group of filmmakers who can sell tickets off his name alone–not by directing or writing comedy, which is how he originally got mainstream attention, but by directing horror films. His debut, Get Out, netted him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. His follow-up, Us (2019), also received wide critical acclaim. But his third film Nope, currently in theaters, is more divisive than either of those.

Nope still had a great opening ($44 million in its opening weekend). But unlike Peele’s previous films, there’s not really a massive plot twist. It’s slower paced, and the narrative deliberately meanders a bit. Put simply, Nope is an alien invasion film. But it is also a monster movie, a piece of historical fiction, a revisionist Western, and a commentary on Hollywood exploitation–and arguably exploitation of workers as a whole. There’s a lot going on, and it’s the sort of movie that would benefit from a rewatch.

It’s also a movie packed with references, Easter eggs, and nods to not only the message Peele is trying to slowly unravel throughout the film, but to his other work, as well. Here are 10 Easter eggs and references you might have missed in Jordan Peele’s Nope.

Warning: What follows is filled with spoilers for Nope, so make sure you’ve seen the movie before continuing on.

1. The Book of Nahum

The movie opens with a quote from the Book of Nahum, which largely concerns the fall of Niveneh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire: “I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle.” This quote is attributed to the minor prophet Nahum in the Old Testament. Spectacle is a running theme in Nope, whether the main characters are trying to record it to become rich and famous, or the alien is creating it, as means of putting food into its hungry mouth.

2. Man On A Horse

Emerald refers to her great-great grandfather as the first motion picture star, when he rode a horse in a series of photographs that were then played sequentially to create the illusion of movement.

The footage they show in the movie is real, and is from a series of photographs known as “Horses. Gallop; thoroughbred bay mare (Annie G) with male rider, 1872-1875.” If those dates are accurate, it predates a more widely known series of photographs from 1878 called “Sallie Gardner at a Gallop.”

The Black man who is riding Annie G is unknown, which fits nicely into Peele’s family mythology.

3. Chimp Attack

The chimp attack that haunts Jupiter Park (Steve Yeun) is not only plausible; a similar incident has actually happened, for real. On February 16, 2009, Charla Nash was attacked by her neighbor’s pet chimp Travis, who was considered a minor celebrity in his Connecticut town and widely believed to be harmless.

The chimp gouged out her eyes and ate her face and hands during the attack, before he was eventually killed by arriving police. Nash survived the attack and eventually went on Oprah, where she revealed the extent of her wounds; a chimpanzee has up to four times the strength of a comparatively-sized human.

In Nope, the victim of the chimp attack is present at Jupe’s new outdoor show, and she’s wearing a hat-and-veil combo that’s very similar to the one that Nash wore on Oprah.

4. Gordy’s Home!

On Sunday, Jordan Peele posted the opening to his fictional chimp sitcom, Gordy’s Home, on his Twitter account. You can view it here. It hints that the mom on the show was an astronaut, which is a nice little nod to the movie’s outer space concerns and to the actual history of chimps being used as test subjects for space flights.

5. Scorpion King Horses?

OJ recalls going with his Dad to wrangle horses on the set of Scorpion King, but they ultimately weren’t needed, because the director decided to use camels instead. Mathayus’ main mode of transportation is his camel Hanna, although according to Humane Hollywood, the filmmakers used horses extensively during the battle scenes.

6. Ancient Aliens

Angel reveals that he is a devotee of the television program “Ancient Aliens.” It is a real program on the History Channel that delves into the existence of extraterrestrial life, and the hypothesis that aliens made contact with humans in prehistoric times and contributed to our development. The show is still on the air, and has had over 200 episodes over the course of 18 seasons.

7. Navy Declassifications

Angel believes in aliens and mentions the UFO footage that the Navy declassified. He’s referencing real recorded footage from 2005 and 2015, in which Navy officers witnessed unidentified flying objects in Earth’s atmosphere. These videos were declassified in 2020.

8. The Purple People Eater

Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) sings a novelty song called “The Purple People Eater” with a flat, menacing affectation. The song, about a monstrous alien who wants to be a rock star, was originally written and performed by Sheb Wooley in 1958. He performed it on the Ed Sullivan Show that same year.

9. The Signature Close-Up

Just like Quentin Tarantino has his trunk shot and Spike Lee has his floating dolly shot, Jordan Peele has his own signature shot: a close-up into a teary, wide-eyed face. It occurs at the very end of the film, when Emerald sees OJ in the distance.

Lucky Survivor

There is some ongoing speculation as to whether OJ is alive at the end of the movie, or if he’s just a vision that Emerald has when she looks into the distance. If we work under the assumption that OJ did survive, then his horse, Lucky, also survived. And the horse is indeed “lucky”—he’s the only Haywood Hollywood Horse that survives the movie.

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