The World's End lands in theaters everywhere on Friday, and the Edgar Wright alien-invasion/drinking comedy featuring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Pierce Brosnan draws on a number of cinematic inspirations, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style sci-fi classics to The Big Chill-styled reunion movies. In fact, Wright recently assembled 14 fave influences (several of which are listed below) in a thematic, double-feature screening series at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles to get audiences in the proper frame of mind.
The World's End follows a group of friends (including Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) who embark on an epic 12-pub crawl in their hometown in an effort to complete "The Golden Mile," having fallen short two decades earlier when they were teens in their prime. Back to finish what they started, the reunited pals find out the hard way that an alien robo-invasion is taking place. Can they live to tell the tale -- or are they just too drunk? Of course, for those not in the know, The World's End completes what has become known as The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, which started with 2004's Shaun of the Dead and 2007's Hot Fuzz.
As you down the perfect pint in preparation of The World's End this weekend, flip through the trailers below to get a jump on the feast of film references to come. Mild spoilers ahead…
The Big Chill
The World's End is about six friends who have gone their separate ways, only to be duped by one into reuniting. Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 film about college friends who reunite 15 years later after the death of their good friend set the bar for every film with a similar theme after it. William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, Mary Kay Place, JoBeth Williams, Tom Berenger and Glenn Close are the varied pals whose success in life has also varied. In coming together to mourn their friend, they come to realize that their lives now, no matter how successful, will never reclaim the magic they had when they were all together during their glory days. The film is also notable for its influential and retro soundtrack packed with gems from Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Procol Harem, The Rolling Stones and The Rascals.
24 Hour Party People
The World's End is all about the early '90s; while everyone has moved on, Simon Pegg's character Gary King is stuck in neutral, even listening to the same mix tape his mate made for him more than 20 years ago – featuring The Stone Roses, Soup Dragons, Blur, Happy Mondays, The Charlatans and more. Basically, King is still partying in his mind after two decades. 24 Hour Party People chronicles Manchester music scene of the '80s and '90s, tracing the rise and fall of such bands as Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays – and Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan) the man behind the record label that introduced these bands to the world.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
In The World's End, the boys soon begin to realize that something isn't right with the denizens of their hometown. Mirroring the McCarthy era and the Red Scare, this original 1956 sci-fi classic has itself been ripped off and remade numerous times, with the 1978 version starring Donald Sutherland standing out as one of the best. The 1956 film stars Kevin McCarthy as a doctor who learns that the people in the town he lives in are being replaced by emotionally barren alien clones, or "pod people," when they sleep. As he attempts to warn of the dangers of humankind being wiped out forever, will there be anyone left to believe him?
A conceit of The World's End is it's impossible to distinguish human from robot, and the bad guys just keep coming and coming… If you thought James Cameron's The Terminator was an original idea, then you haven't seen Westworld. Jurassic Park scribe Michael Crichton wrote and directed this riveting 1973 pulp piece that imagines a modern theme park (divided into the Old West, Medieval Europe and Ancient Rome)in which people interact with period characters that are actually robots, only this one's for adults – you can have sex with the androids and even kill them if it pleases you. As some of the androids begin to malfunction, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin pick on the wrong robot – a gunslinger played by Yul Brynner – that is determined to kill them both.
Once the boys realize that any one of them could have been replaced by a robo-alien, they become paranoid… First directed by Howard Hawks in 1951 (as The Thing from Another World) and later remade in 1982 by John Carpenter with Kurt Russell in the lead, The Thing brought paranoia to a new level with members of a remote Antarctic research station stumbling upon a buried spaceship in the ice -- along with the dead remains of a Norwegian research team. Trapped in their own camp, our heroes soon find themselves face to face with a parasitic alien that can imitate and assimilate anything that it touches. The recent prequel, also called The Thing, is also worth a look for die-hard fans.
Of course, you can't appreciate a lot of the inside jokes of The World's End without first seeing the film that started it all… London is overrun with bloodthirsty zombies, but will slacker flatmates Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) even notice? This clever 2004 satire of George A. Romero's enduring zombie movies and other cult flicks follows the duo's grand scheme to rescue Shaun's mom and ex-girlfriend, take them to the local pub, "hole up, have a cup of tea and wait for this whole thing to blow over." The film made Pegg a stateside star, vaulted Wright's directing career (he went on to make the big-budgeted Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, albeit to mixed box office) enviably streamlined the horror-comedy genre, and turned the cricket bat into a choice anti-zombie weapon.
This 2007 action-comedy follow-up to Shaun of the Dead directed by Edgar Wright plays on expectations by casting Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in much more unconventional roles than the ones they established in Shaun. A dead-on satire of the cop genre, Hot Fuzz follows a tough-as-nails, big-city London officer (Pegg) frustratingly reassigned to a small English town, only to be invigorated by a series of mysterious deaths. "From the guys who watched every action movie ever made," the film also established the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy just by coincidence, with Shaun and Hot Fuzz each featuring a different flavor of Cornetto ice cream – and now The World's End fulfilling the third flavor.