Every Major Season 1 Movie Reference Explained

by Netflix Archives 81 Season 1 featured a number of movie references and nods to the classic film throughout its run. The streaming platform’s newest horror release references numerous films across its eight episodes, ranging from obscure arthouse films to Hollywood blockbusters. In a series about media and how people interact with media, it makes sense that a lot of emphasis should be placed on these metatextual clues and easter eggs.

Based on a popular podcast, Archives 81 tells the story of Dan Turner, a film restorer who is asked to restore many tapes recorded in 1994. They were first recorded by Melody Pendras, a student working on her doctorate. memoir on the mysterious Visser building. Pendras attempts to record an oral history of the Visser and its people and in doing so becomes embroiled in the plot of a sinister cult.


Related: How Archive 81 Uses Found Footage To Create Immersive Horror

Archives 81 uses its many easter eggs and references to old sci-fi and horror works in order to play with audience expectations. This appeal to genre codes and tropes adds a very meta dimension to the series, as viewers navigate the references, trying to analyze their meaning and relevance to the story. Through this process, Archives 81 becomes a game, of sorts, in which the viewer is invited to decode these Easter eggs, mirroring the position of the main character, Dan, who is asked to restore the tapes and who also finds himself lost in this labyrinthine plot. Here is every movie reference in Archives 81 season 1.

A trip to the moon

Archive 81: A trip to the moon reference

The first major reference to cinema occurs very early in Archives 81 episode 1, “Mystery Signals”, when Dan goes to work at the Museum of the Moving Image. While this reference may not be as immediately significant as some of the nods to classic horror fiction, the reference to Méliès A trip to the moon serves a purpose in the narrative. First, it sets up Dan’s profession; he works with old films and George Méliès is one of the pioneers of early cinema. It also alludes to gender elements that will come to the fore later in the series. A trip to the moon is perhaps the first great science fiction film, and although Archives 81 delves into supernatural horror, it also features a major sci-fi element: the comet. At the end of the series, it is still unknown what exactly the supernatural entity known as Kaelego is, but it could very well be an alien.

night of the living dead

Archive 81: Night of the Living Dead Poster

George Romero’s classic zombie movie, night of the living dead, also hints at some major developments in the series. A night of the living dead the poster can be seen in the background at Mark’s apartment in Apartment 81 episode 1. This scene features the two friends looking at footage of the presumed dead Melody Pendras. The tone is already very dark and the presence of night of the living dead the poster in the background only serves to underline the morbid nature of what will become of Dan’s relationship with Melody. In a sense, she is a “living dead”, caught between two worlds.

The twilight zone

Archive 81: Dan watches The Circle

When a colleague asks about The circle, the film Dan is restoring, he compares the obscure anthology series to The twilight zone. Of course, this reference to Rod Serling’s classic series tells the viewer what kind of tone Archives 81 is underway, while suggesting that this series could feature a surprise ending, something very familiar to fans of the blurred area. However, this reference can go a little further. Perhaps this allusion to The twilight zone also discusses the future of Archives 81; the premise of the series lends itself well to an anthology format, after all.

Related: Archive 81 Cast & Character Guide


Archive 81: Dan Looks at Solaris

During his first night at the compound where he was tasked with restoring Melody’s tapes, Dan decides to relax and watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 sci-fi classic, Solaris. If, at first, this reference to an arthouse masterpiece can stand out compared to genre works like night of the living dead Where The twilight zone, Solaris is perhaps an even more significant reference. Andrei Tarkovsky’s acclaimed film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel sees psychologist Kris Kelvin sent on a mission to the eponymous planet Solaris, to assess the state of scientific research being conducted there. On Solaris, he is surprised to find his deceased wife, Hari, as an apparition produced by the planet itself. Kris’ relationship with this appearance is very similar to Dan’s relationship with “Ghost Melody”. Much like Hari, Melody is unaware of her situation and believes herself to be real.

the brilliant

Archive 81: Books by Stephen King

Episode 1 of Archives 81 features both a library full of Stephen King novels and explicit reference to the brilliant. Worried about Dan’s mental state, Mark asks him on the phone: “You’re not going to attack me at Jack Torrance, are you?“It is alluded to that Dan suffered a nervous breakdown a few months before the start of the series, and therefore, this reference to the brilliantJack Torrance casts doubt on the veracity of what he saw in the compound. Is this really happening, or is it all just a figment of Dan’s imagination sparked by his isolation? But perhaps this Stephen King reference more obviously relates to what Melody experiences at the Visser building. With its eerie residents and occult history, this is truly Melody’s Overlook Hotel. And just as Jack is seemingly transplanted to the hotel’s past at the end of Kubrick’s adaptation, Dan is also taken back to the Visser in Archives 81ends with the twist.

Nimh’s Secret

Archive 81: The Secret of the NIMH Reference

Curiously, the most important reference presented in Archives 81 is probably The NIMH Secret. This might come as a surprise given that Archives 81 is a horror series about a haunted building, and The NIMH Secret is an animated film based on a children’s book about mice living on a farm. However, there are surprising similarities between the two works. First of all, The NIMH Secret is known for its dark and mature tone, as well as its creepy character designs and animation. The series of children’s novels also deals with the consequences of laboratory experiments carried out on rats. It concerns Melody and Anabelle’s time in a mental hospital, as well as Melody’s relationship with Dan’s father and her interest in his paranormal abilities.

ministry of fear

Archive 81: Ministry of Fear T-shirt

In Archives 81, Episode 3, “Terror in the Aisles”, Dan can be seen wearing a ministry of fear T-shirt. This is a film noir from director Fritz Lang (best known for his 1927 sci-fi classic, Metropolis). ministry of fear opens with the main character, Stephen Neale, released from an asylum. This mirrors the starting point of Dan and Melody’s stories in Archives 81. They each begin their respective journey following a nervous breakdown of some sort. The film also features a seance, just like Archives 81, Episode 4, “Spirit Receivers”. Lang’s film builds a paranoid atmosphere through his meticulous use of shadows and stark composition, an aesthetic integral to film noir. Of course, paranoia is also an integral part of Archives 81 (especially in Dan’s storyline), but this anxiety and paranoia being tied to the mental state of the characters and previous mental health issues is the main link between this series and ministry of fear.

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