Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet caught up with the most current episodes of Hulu's Castle Rock. Evil things are creeping down below.
More so than any live-action Stephen King film or TV show that came before it, Hulu's stellar thriller Castle Rock is a buffet of easter eggs from the prolific author's bibliography and subsequent adaptations. And with the first three episodes going live, to be followed by another batch of spooky, connection-filled installments, there's no better time to head up to Maine to note all of the horror-soaked references that Castle Rock has to offer. Strap tight into the Plymouth Fury, and let's go through the giant list of callbacks.
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
Shawshank Prison has shown up in plenty of Stephen King works, from IT to Dolores Claiborne to Under the Dome. (And even the King-free comic book show The Flash.) It was most prominently featured, obviously, in the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and then made the jump to live-action for Frank Darabont's highly acclaimed 1994 feature The Shawshank Redemption.
When Ann Cusack arrives at Shawshank as the new warden Porter, one guard brings up the bullet hole in the office wall, which is a reference to the film's suicide of Samuel Norton, the corrupted warden played by Bob Gunton.
As Terry O'Quinn's Warden Dale Lacy is on his way to his own lake-bound suicide -- which almost serves as its own "Shawshank wardens who kill themselves" connection -- he is listening to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, and it's precisely the section that Tim Robbins' Andy Dufresne plays over the Shawshank speakers in the film.
The Green Mile
While perhaps not a super-specific nod to Mr. Jingles, the age-defying rodent featured in Stephen King's 1996 novel The Green Mile, Castle Rock does introduce a mouse making its way around the prison. But rather than serving as anyone's best friend, the way Mr. Jingles was for Del Delacroix, this mouse met a rather quick and non-celebratory ending. (The early King short story Codename: Mousetrap might also technically be at play here.)
Andre Holland's Henry Deaver visits the home of the late Dale Lacy, and upon digging through his office, finds a folder full of newspaper clippings that describe familiar events from Stephen King's novels. First up, Henry sees a story with the headline "Shopkeeper Missing After Oddity Store Fire," which is definitely referring to the devilish Leland Gaunt, as played in the TV movie by Max von Sydow. His name is even marked off in red pen, while "Missing" is underlined in the headline.
In Castle Rock, Scott Glenn portrays former sheriff Alan Pangborn, who has a sizable role in the Needful Things novel and TV movie, where he was played by Ed Harris. Alan also appeared in the novel The Dark Half and the short story The Sun Dog, and got namechecked in Bag of Bones and Gerald's Game. Though this version doesn't seem to share the same family tragedies as the one first created by Stephen King, Alan still serves as the most recognizable name in the show, and those tragedies may get introduced later.
Castle Rock uses its second episode to bring up the Mellow Tiger bar, which made in appearance in Needful Things as the setting for a deadly confrontation between two locals. Keep your eyes peeled.
At one point in Episode 3, Melanie Lynskey's Molly Strand is describing her town-revitalizing plans, and she mentions erecting a gazebo in the middle of Castle Rock. There actually used to be a gazebo in that general spot, before the explosion at the conclusion of Needful Things destroyed it. The gazebo also made for one of the more memorable and ghastly moments in the 1983 film The Dead Zone.
In the newspaper clippings that Henry Deaver finds in Dale Lacy's office, there is a story that is headlined "Rabid Dog Tears Through Town," which obviously touches upon the events of the 1981 novel Cujo, in which the titular St. Bernard terrorizes the Trenton family, among several other Castle Rock residents. A smaller headline nearby amusingly talks about rabies vaccines being at an all-time high.
During his narration in Episode 2, Dale Lacy throws Cujo another indirect reference by simply saying "Remember the dog?" when talking about the town's sordid history. There's only one dog worth remembering in Castle Rock, and it's not because he was such a good dog. Not in the slightest.
In one of the more initially opaque references in Castle Rock, Jane Levy's character is revealed as Jackie Torrance, which is intentionally close to Jack Torrance, the ax-wielding antagonist in the seminal 1977 novel The Shining. No direct links are brought up for us to chew on, but considering Jackie took part in group therapy to deal with substance abuse issues, I think that's a close enough connection to the alcohol dependance of the novel's doomed caretaker.
Head to the next page to find tons more Stephen King references found in Castle Rock.