In 1994, one of Pixar’s most renowned animators started working there as one of the editors on their debut feature, Toy Story. Since then, this animator has advanced to the roles of director and producer, directing Toy Story 2 and executive producing Toy Story 4 among other Pixar classics.
But Lee Unkrich isn’t just a part of the reason why the Toy Story franchise exists; he’s also a big fan of The Shining. In addition to running a whole website devoted to the 1980 horror movie, Unkrich, a talented animator at Pixar Animation Studios, has subtly—and occasionally not-so-subtly—sprinkled Easter eggs to the Stephen King film adaptation.
Sid’s Carpet (‘Toy Story’)
When Woody and Buzz are stuck in Sid’s house and searching for a way out, it is the most obvious parallel to The Shining in the original Toy Story. The toys run on an oddly familiar carpet as they rush down the upper corridor.
The carpet of The Overlook Hotel, which Danny pedals his blue trike on while attempting to flee just like the toys, has a similar orange and red hexagonal pattern to the one that Woody and Buzz are standing on.
Apollo 11 (‘Toy Story,’ ‘Toy Story 4’)
It’s no secret that Buzz Aldrin, a well-known Apollo 11 astronaut who first stepped foot on the moon in 1969, inspired the creation of everyone’s favorite space ranger Buzz Lightyear. However, fans of The Shining have always questioned whether all the connections to Apollo 11 and rocket ships were also indicative of the horror movie.
While Buzz Lightyear is based on an astronaut from Apollo 11, it may be a stretch to imply that Danny is wearing a blue pullover that reads “Apollo 11 USA.” Then in Toy Story 4, toy rockets resembling the one on Danny’s sweater are some of the carnival prizes.
The Intercom And Tissue Box (‘Toy Story 3’)
In Toy Story 3, a toy monkey with a cymbal manages the Sunnyside Daycare control room, and as if that weren’t unsettling enough, it contains numerous Easter eggs from The Shining.
The vintage intercom that Wendy uses to try to contact the outside while staying at The Overlook Hotel can be seen to the left of the desk. Among the mess to your right, you’ll see a tissue box with the same pattern as Sid’s and The Overlook Hotel’s well-known carpet.
Benson Or Lloyd? (‘Toy Story 4’)
Toy Story 4 definitely had moments were it felt more like a horror movie than a children’s animation movie. It featured a terrible ventriloquist dummy villain with a broken voice box, as well as her terrifying minions that resembled a memorable character from The Shining.
The bartender at The Overlook Hotel, Lloyd, is portrayed in the movie by a group of dummies who are all given the name Benson. Benson’s black jacket and red bowtie also resemble Lloyd’s red jacket and black bowtie.
The Long And Winding Road (‘Toy Story 4’)
In the opening sequence of The Shining, Jack, Wendy, and Danny travel a long, winding road that is bordered by woods and vegetation in order to reach The Overlook Hotel.
They drive their camper along a long, winding road in a scene reminiscent of the horror movie when Bonnie, her parents, and her toys go on a road trip at the end of the summer that leads the toys to discover Woody’s long-lost love Bo Peep in an antique shop.
Kalinga Technique (‘Toy Story 3’)
Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, who popularized the “Kalinga” technique, provided the music for The Shining. Violinists use their bows to tap against the strings rather than strumming them to create a kind of music that is believed to be intentionally uncomfortable.
Executive producer Unkrich encouraged Toy Story 3 composer Randy Newman to employ the “kalinga” technique at points in the movie where they wanted the viewer to feel uneasy, when he wasn’t crafting great musical moments. The menacing sound was also requested by Unkrich from composer Tom Newman for a moment in Finding Nemo.
“Midnight, The Stars And You” (‘Toy Story 4’)
In The Shining, the unforgettable sight of a black and white photograph of Jack Torrance with the headline “Overlook Hotel July 4th Ball, 1921” is accompanied with the 1934 foxtrot song “Midnight, The Stars & You” by Ray Noble and His Orchestra.
The same song can be heard playing on the record player at the antique shop in Toy Story 4. Josh Cooley, the director, and Unkrich initially threw it in as a stand-in during production but later fell in love with the eerie reference and decided to include it in the finished movie.
“Here’s Benson!” (‘Toy Story 4’)
The most well-known sequence in The Shining, and possibly one of the most well-known scenes in film history, is when Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, rips a hole through a closed door and shoves his face through it while uttering the iconic line, “Here’s Johnny!”
The Benson dummies chase after Woody and Forky in Toy Story 4, and one of them smashes through a wall with a spooky visage resembling Jack’s. The phrase was first used in Finding Nemo, as the shark named Bruce yelled, “Here’s Brucey!” as he tore through a wooden boat while chasing after Marlin and Dory.