South Park is no stranger to controversy, but many people overlook the more delicate, movie-loving references embedded in this great, sprawling show. Considering what an astonishingly fast turnover South Park has, it's amazing how many great references they manage to carefully craft. The new South Park game may be a satire of the superhero phenomenon, but as a mega horror fan, it's horror movie references I'll be looking at today. Check out 12 fantastic horror movie references in South Park...
1. Children of the Corn
Episode: 'The Wacky Molestation Adventure' (S04E16)
After the South Park kids get their parents sent to prison for 'molestering' them, the town becomes a lawless land ruled by children. The Lord of the Flies vibe is strong, but it's Stephen King's 1984 Children of the Corn movie that's referenced directly when Cartman mirrors a line from COTC's Malachai:
Cartman: ''Outlander! We have your woman! She still lives, outlander! Outlander, her blood was fair!''
Malachai: ''Outlander! Outlander! We have your woman!''
Episode: 'Butters’ Very Own Episode' (S05E14)
Tod Browning's 1933 Freaks was controversial at the time of release, but now stands as a classic, influencing horror decades later, particularly American Horror Story: Freak Show. When Butters' parents think they've killed him and try to cover up his death, they are inducted into a nefarious liar's club by O.J. Simpson, Gary Condit and John Bennett and Patsy Ramsey in the same way made infamous by Freaks.
Patsy Ramsey: ''One of us! One of us!''
Gary Condit: ''Gooble gobble gooble gobble!''
O.J. Simpson: ''One of us!''
3. Saw / Mad Max
Episode: 'Tsst' (S10E07)
In the opening scene of South Park season 10 episode 'Tsst', Cartman is getting a telling off for inducing another to saw off his foot, as in the scene famous by Mad Max (1979) and then Saw (2004).
Cartman: ''Okay, I'm sorry I handcuffed Billy Turner's ankle to a flagpole and then gave him a hacksaw. And then told him I had poisoned his lunch milk and that the only way he could get to the antidote in time would be to saw through his leg.''
Max (Mad Max): "If you're lucky, you can hack through your ankle in five minutes."
Dr Gordon (Saw): "He doesn't want us to cut through our chains. He wants us to cut through our feet!"
4. The Craft
Episode: Marjorine (S09E09)
When Butters disguises himself as little girl Marjorine, he is able to slip into the girls' slumber party to observe them in their natural habitat. He's soon freaked out when the girls display their 'witchcraft' with 'Light as a feather, Stiff as a board,' the game popularized by 1996 teen horror The Craft.
5. The Omen
Episode: 'Damian' (S01E10)
The Omen is given an entire episode in tribute when Damien, the one true Antichrist, comes to South Park in 'Damian' (S01E10). When Damien does something particularly evil, an excerpt of 'Ave Satani' is played, which is the theme song to the classic 1976 horror The Omen. Jerry Goldsmith's score for the movie won the Best Score Oscar. 'Ave Satani' also plays in a few other episodes:
- 'Tsst' when Cartman tricks his mom into letting him behave like a little shitbag even after Cesar Millan's training,
- 'Woodland Critter Christmas' when the critters sacrifice Rabbity Rabbit
- 'Britney's New Look', when Britney Spears is sacrificed 'to let the corn grow'.
6. Pet Sematary
Episode: Marjorine (S09E09)
The classic 'horror movie warning' pastiched in Cabin in the Woods is personified in Pet Sematary's Jud, played to perfection by Fred Gwynne. The wise old hayseed with the heavy Maine accent is spoofed in Marjorine, when the Farmer warns Butters's Dad not to bury him in the old Indian burial ground:
''Don't do it Stotch! What comes out of the ground ain't the thing you put in. The Indians knew that. That's why they stopped using it when the ground went sour. I'm just here to talk you out of it. Don't bury your son's body at the Indian Burial Ground, Stotch! The one that's right up over there, behind Andersons' bar. Sometimes... dead is better.''
Butters himself has a memorable confrontation with the warning hayseed in 'Butters’ Very Own Episode' (S05E14) which is pure Stephen King:
'''Aht road leads to Conifuh. You want to go to South Park, you gotta go down that rod. 'Course, I ain't nevuh seen anyone go up that rod. Six years ago a group of campers went up there and got lost. Had to eat each other to say alive. Used to be the way to O'Riley house. He butchered over fifty children and kept their bodies in a cellah... Yeah. Lotta history down that rod.''
7. The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Episode: HumancentiPad (S15E01)
When Kyle fails to read the small print on his new iPad, he accidentally signs himself up to be part of a human centipede. FEED HER!
8. The Silence of the Lambs
Horror classic The Silence of the Lambs is referenced heavily in two episodes of South Park, firstly in 'Bebe’s Boobs Destroy Society' (S06E10). Obviously, the overarching reference in this episode is to Planet of the Apes, as a NASA ship crash lands in South Park, sees the local boys behaving like deranged monkeys and thinks they've reached some horrible dystopia, but we also see Cartman playing an unusual game with his dolls...
Cartman: ''Hello, Precious. Yes, that's a good Precious. Now it takes the lotion from the basket. Oh please, mister. Please let me out of here. It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. Yes, that's a good Precious. Okay, now it puts the lotion back in the basket. Please, mister, let me out.It puts the lotion back in the basket! I miss my Mom, mister. I wanna see my Mommy- Put the lotion in the fuckin' basket!''
The scene is almost word for word a faithful reproduction of the unforgettable interchange between Buffalo Bill and Catherine Martin in The Silence of the Lambs.
Episode: Toilet Paper (S07E03)
The second South Park / Silence of the Lambs mashup comes in season 7, when Officer Barbrady begs incarcerated Josh Myers for help to find out who TP'd a teacher's house:
Josh: ''Quid pro quo, officer. Tell me what I want to know. And I'll help you catch whoever toilet-papered that house. Are those the crime scene photos? Let me see them.''
9. Psycho / Paranormal Activity
Episode: City Sushi (S15E06)
In an episode full of twists and turns, Butters records himself sleeping (a la Paranormal Activity) to see if he really does have multiple personality disorder, but only succeeds in recording a middle-aged man pissing on his face.
The man, Dr Janus — aptly named as Janus was the two-faced Roman God — is revealed to be the true identity of City Wok owner Mr Kim, who ends the episode with a delightful spoof of the ending of Psycho, in which Kim ruminates to himself that he'd 'never harm a fry'...
10. The Shining
Episode: A Nightmare On Face Time (S16E12)
The South Park gang are massive fans of Stephen King, and by season 16 they finally got around to creating an awesome tribute to The Shining, when Randy Marsh gets caught in the snow on an ill-fated trip to Blockbuster.
Randy: ''Stan?! Daddy wants to have a little talk, Stan! Stanny boy?! I'M COMING... STAN! STANNY BOY, I'M COMIN'!''
11. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Episode: 'Insheeption' (S14E10)
Obviously, Inception is the main movie lampooned by this episode, but horror fans will be more tickled by the appearance of a retired Freddy Krueger, called on by the FBI to rescue the denizens of South Park from Mr Mackey's nightmares.
Episode: 'The China Probrem' (S12E08)
Remember the devastating 'squeal like a pig' scene in Deliverance, where Ned Beatty is viciously raped by a drooling hillbilly? South Park somehow make that scene amusing, with a heavy-handed metaphor for Lucas and Spielberg's despoiling of the Indiana Jones franchise with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Here are the two scenes from South Park and Deliverance masterfully cut together by Youtuber Solarty South.
There is also a fabulously bathetic reference to harrowing drama The Accused — for which Jodie Foster won a Best Actress Oscar — in this episode, when Indiana Jones is raped in a bar by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Shout out to many more South Park horror movie references that I haven't written about here — this is by no means a comprehensive list — such as:
- World War Z (World War Zimmerman)
- The Thing (Trapper Keeper & Lice Capades)
- Cloverfield (Pandemic & Pandemic 2: The Startling)
- Gacy, Bundy & Dahmer (Hell on the Earth 2006)
- Jason Voorhees, Alien, The Village, The Happening & More (Imaginationland Trilogy)