One of Pixar’s most celebrated animators joined the studio in 1994 where he was one of the editors of their first feature film. Toy Story. Since, this animator graduated to a film director and producer, co-directing Toy Story 2, directing Toy Story 3, and executive producing Toy Story 4, among other Pixar favorites.
But Lee Unkrich is not only partly responsible for giving everyone the Toy Story franchise, but doubles as one of The Shining’s biggest fans. Not only does Unkrich run an entire website dedicated to the 1980 horror film, but as a clever creative of Pixar Animation Studios, sneakily – and sometimes not-so-sneakily – sprinkled in Easter eggs to the Stephen King film adaption.
Sid’s Carpet (‘Toy Story’)
It’s the most noticeable reference to The Shining in the original Toy Story when Woody and Buzz find themselves trapped in Sid’s house and are looking for a way out. As they run down the upstairs hallway, the toys are running across an eerily familiar carpet.
That orange and red hexagonal pattern Woody and Buzz stand on is the same exact design as the carpet at The Overlook Hotel that Danny rides his blue trike down, trying to escape just like the toys.
Apollo 11 (‘Toy Story,’ ‘Toy Story 4’)
It’s no secret that everyone’s favorite space ranger Buzz Lightyear was named after the famous, real-life Apollo 11 astronaut who set foot on the moon in 1969, Buzz Aldrin. But The Shining fans have always wondered if all the Apollo 11 and rocket ship references were also related to the horror film.
It may be a stretch, but Danny wears a blue sweater that says “Apollo 11 USA” while Buzz Lightyear is based on an Apollo 11 astronaut. Then in Toy Story 4, Some of the prizes at the carnival are toy rockets that look similar to the one on Danny’s sweater.
The Intercom And Tissue Box (‘Toy Story 3’)
In Toy Story 3, the control room at Sunnyside Daycare is managed by a cymbal-clapping toy monkey, and if that’s not creepy enough, it’s also riddled with The Shining Easter eggs.
On the left of the desk, you’ll spot is the old-fashioned intercom that looks exactly like the one Wendy uses to try and contact the outside while in The Overlook Hotel. On the right, you’ll notice a tissue box among the clutter that has the same exact design as Sid’s and The Overlook Hotel’s famous carpet.
Benson Or Lloyd? (‘Toy Story 4’)
For a children’s animated film, Toy Story 4 certainly verged on a horror movie at times. Not only did it feature an evil doll with a creepy, broken voice box, but her terrifying ventriloquist dummy minions who look like they were modeled after a memorable character from The Shining.
Not only do the dummies – all named Benson, respectively – have similar facial features to The Overlook Hotel’s bartender Lloyd, but Benson’s black jacket and red bowtie mimic Lloyd’s red jacket and black bowtie in the film.
The Long And Winding Road (‘Toy Story 4’)
To get to The Overlook Hotel, Jack, Wendy and Danny take a long and winding road that’s surrounded by trees and greenery during the opening scene of The Shining.
When Bonnie, her parents and her toys embark on an end-of-summer road trip that leads the toys to finding Woody’s long-lost love Bo Peep at an antique store while Bonnie and her parents attend a carnival, they take their camper down a long and winding road during a similar shot as the horror film.
Kalinga Technique (‘Toy Story 3’)
The Shining featured music by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, who made famous the “Kalinga” technique. This particular styling of music is said to have an intentional unsettling effect, and is done by violin players tapping their bows against the strings instead of strumming them.
When he was not creating memorable musical moments in Toy Story 3, composer Randy Newman was urged by executive producer Unkrich to use the “kalinga” technique during times in the film when they wanted the audience to feel unsettled. The ominous sound can also be heard during a scene in Finding Nemo where Unkrich requested it from composer Tom Newman.
“Midnight, The Stars And You” (‘Toy Story 4’)
In The Shining, the 1934 foxtrot song “Midnight, The Stars And You” by Ray Noble and His Orchestra plays during the memorable shot of a black and white photograph of Jack Torrance with the title “Overlook Hotel July 4th Ball, 1921.”
In Toy Story 4, keen listeners can hear the same song playing on the record player in the antique shop, which Unkrich and director Josh Cooley threw in as a stand-in during production before falling in love with the creepy reference and deciding to include it in the final film.
“Here’s Benson!” (‘Toy Story 4’)
The most famous scene in The Shining – and arguably one of the most famous scenes in movie history – is when Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance slices a hole through a closed door and shoves his face through, saying the historic movie line, “Here’s Johnny!”
Toy Story 4 paid homage to that scene when the Benson dummies chase after Woody and Forky and one breaks through a barrier with a creepy face similar to Jack’s. The line was previously used in Finding Nemo When the shark named Bruce chases after Marlin and Dory and smashes his head through a wooden boat, saying, “Here’s Brucey!”
Mr. Tony (‘Toy Story 3’)
Fans of The Shining may remember Danny’s imaginary friend named Tony, who is said to live in Danny’s mouth and helps him detect spirits and see past, present, and future events during his stay at The Overlook Hotel.
Eagle-eyed viewers caught the name of the janitor at Sunnyside Daycare, Mr. Tony, who spends his only scene in Toy Story 3 looking into a mirror, much like Danny does when speaking to imaginary friend Tony.
Number 237 (‘Toy Story 3,’ ‘Toy Story 4’)
In the Stanley Kubrick film, the number 237 represents the most haunted room in The Overlook Hotel, where the ghost of a woman who drowned took residence.
Much like A113, this number appears several times throughout the Toy Story films. In Toy Story 3, it’s shown three times; on a security camera, on the license plate of the garbage truck Sid drives, and in the username “Velocistar237,” who Trixie messages online. The numbers can also be seen in Toy Story 4 as the house numbers of the old woman Ducky and Bunny comically attack in a daydream.
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