Ultimate Guide to 'The Worlds End' PART 1 - Easter Eggs, Themes, and Symbolism!

By: Heather Seebach

** The following contains major spoilers and is intended only for those who have seen the film ** 

To view my spoiler-free review, click here

While seemingly a fun, beer-loving comedy on the surface, Edgar Wright's third installment in the Cornetto trilogy, The World's End, is in fact an impressively layered science fiction film. Of course, this should come as no surprise to fans of Mr. Wright, as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were also minefields of Easter eggs and homages. This one has only been playing theatrically in the U.S. for about five days, and so far the reception is overwhelmingly positive. Still, most fans consider it their least favorite in the trilogy. I include myself in that bunch, but that's absolutely because it's so new. I first fell in love with Shaun nine years ago. World's End is five days old and I've already seen it three times! Imagine what nine more years will do to my love of this movie! To anyone still feeling a tad "meh" about this one, I encourage you to watch it again (and again). It gets funnier and smart with each viewing. 

And after my three theater viewings, I uncovered some incredibly fun surprises buried in the movie and want to share them with you here. Some of the following will be obvious - bear with me, I intend to discuss it ALL - overall themes, motifs, references, Easter eggs, and more. The World's End is far more subtle than its predecessors, so here's hoping you find a few eye-opening things here to take to your next viewing of the film! Let's begin:

June 22, 1990

The first thing many fans will pick up on is how the opening montage flashing back to the 1990 Golden Mile pub crawl shows events almost identical to those of the film. Some highlights:

- During the first few pubs, Gary gets barred and punches the wall in the loo, while Basil and the "Marmalade Sandwich" make appearances. The same occurs during the 2013 crawl.

- Gary is sent to Mr. Shepherd after pulling the fire alarm at school. When they face the teacher again in 2013, he pulls the fire alarm just prior to attacking.

- In pub 5 (The Good Companions), they run into "the Reverend Green" both times.

- In pub 6 (The Trusty Servant), Oliver is "taken out" (obviously, in 1990 he could drink no more; in 2013, he is turned into a blank). Note it happens in the 6th pub, and 6 is "O-Man"s birthmark.

- In pub 7 (The Two-Headed Dog), Gary bangs Sam in the loo as teenagers; in the present, he drags her in there to warn her about the blanks (but not before trying once more to talk her into sex).

- In pub 9 (The Beehive), the teenaged guys got in a big fight and Andy ripped his shirt open in a fury. The exact same happens against in their brawl again the blanks.

Between 9 and 10, the kids visited "the smokehouse" and "got paranoid" - obviously in 1990 this meant pot, but sure enough, in the present this is where they start questioning if the others are human or blank.

Soon thereafter, before pub 10, Gary mentions that teenage Pete "got benched." This is also about the time adult Pete gets taken by the blanks. 

Finally, the remaining guys, Gary, Pete, and Steven, collapse on the hill and watch a new sun rise. If you look carefully in the upper left of the screen, you'll see the arrival of the aliens/Network - that shooting star Basil refers to later in the film. Of course, this same scene repeats toward the end as Gary, Andy, Steven and Sam watch Newton Haven burn.

The Familiar Faces

The World's End is loaded with cameos from Cornetto trilogy alumni. Aside from the obvious, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this movie sees the return of:

- Martin Freeman (Oliver) who played the "bizarro Liz" (from Jessica Stevenson's group) in Shaun and a police sergeant in Fuzz

-  Spaced veterans Mark Heap (barkeep), Julia Deakin (innkeeper) and Michael Smiley (Reverend Green). Did anyone else expect Smiley to start dancing like Tires when that phone rang?

- Paddy Considine (Steve) and Rafe Spall (Oliver's customer) who played the Andy's in Hot Fuzz. Alice Lowe (Oliver's female customer) and David Bradley (Basil) were also in Fuzz.

- Bill Nighy, who played step-dad Phillip in Shaun and the Chief Inspector in Fuzz, lends his voice to the Network here.

-  Reece Shearsmith, one of the "shifty twins" who are loyal to the Network, was "bizarro" David in Shaun.

- Twins Kevin and Nicholas Wilson, who previously played twin zombies then twin butchers, appear in the final scene as the guys who carved "Hu" and "Man" on their foreheads.

- Nicola Cunningham, aka "bloody" Mary, makes an appearance at Gary's AA meeting!

Cornetto References

- Of course, the fence gag with Pegg's character (it's in all the films).

- Andy yearns longingly for that mint Cornetto wrapper toward the end because they had to get that ice cream in the movie somewhere :)

- Quick-cutting seat belt montage at the end (an Edgar-Wright-homage-to-Sam-Raimi staple)

- There might be a Shaun moment at the King's Head when Gary drinks his pint. One time I saw the film, I thought he lifted the pint and winked toward the camera, but I missed it upon latest viewing.

- In the King's Head scene, there is a cameo by the fruit machine (slot machine) from Shaun of the Dead - or at least the same noise.

The Golden Mile 

Each pub has a very deliberate name, purpose, and sign in this movie. Let's break them down, shall we? 

The First Post: It was originally a post office, which I think may tie into the notion of the past, specifically a time before technology. The Network's tech made the post obsolete and it became a "Starbucked" bar. Furthermore, the pub sign shows a crossroads which could signify divergent life paths.

The Old Familiar: The title and the sign refer to the "deja vu" feeling this pub gives off. It's a near-replica of the previous bar, complete with fancy menu and wi-fi access.

The Famous Cock: The title is a fitting moniker for the cocky, self-absorbed Gary King who is so eager just to be recognized. He is barred from the Famous Cock as a result of that attitude.

The Cross Hands: This pub sign shows the guys joining hands against the blanks (that looks like a bathroom floor, even). Note the specks of blue blood on the picture! The loo fight is the first instance of the old friends really working together again like old times.

The Good Companions: The masks obviously represent the fellas (the gold smiling one being Gary), and this bar is basically just a quick slapstick scene where the guys wander in, down their pints, and stumble out like five clowns.

The Trusty Servant: Look carefully and you'll see the man on the pub sign is actually the Reverend Green (Michael Smiley) who is revealed in this bar to be a "happy" servant to the Network. Behind him are the "shady twins", also human servants. This is also the bar when Oliver is turned into a blank in the loo. Funny enough, when the Reverend says he has a "proper office now", Gary replies, "There's nothing wrong with doing your business in the toilet." That's perfect foreshadowing considering Oliver is changed in the gents', and then so is the Rev. Green. Both are "servants" Gary trusts in this scene. Remember back in the Cross Hands, Gary says he always mixes up "Good Companions and the Trust Servant" when discussing which pub is next. In other words, he mixes up friends and "them" :)

The Two Headed Dog: As the name suggests, you'll see (and hear) double in this pub. The barkeep (Mark Heap) repeats verbatim what Gary said in the first pub about the beer. When Gary pulls Sam back into the disabled's, we see a sign warning not to put paper towels down the loo, and I cannot help but wonder if that's the Network attempting to replicate what Gary said last time these two were in the bathroom (about the toilet being clogged with paper towels). There are "two for one" signs all over, and this is also where Sam comes to meet the Twins. This pub sign has a few specs of blue blood on it, too (because of the second human-on-blank fight, with the Twins).

The Mermaid: In sea tales, mermaids were known to lure men to their deaths. That is essentially what happens here as the fellas are tempted by young girls in schoolgirl outfits. Notice who those mermaids are on the sign? None other than the Marmalade Sandwich! That could just be a pearl in that oyster red is holding but it kinda looks like a wedding ring, too....

Gotta mention I love the use of Kylie Minogue's "Step Back in Time" as the heroes see blasts from their past in this scene. Also, note the kids on the "School Disco" poster have glowing blue eyes like the blanks.

The Beehive: This pub name of course refers to community and conformity. This is where Mr. Shepherd tries to convince the protagonists to join the Network. Note still more blue blood specs on this one, representative of the third human-on-blank fight.

The King's Head: Gary, Andy, and Steven only briefly stop here, but this is the first time Gary has made it this far on the Golden Mile. I can't think of a specific connection with the pub name and sign (aside from the obvious), but it probably has something to do with Gary's ambition to get to the last pub at all costs. He does look a bit like King Louis XIII, no? Perhaps another "Three Musketeers" reference? Oh, and if you didn't notice, that is indeed Simon Pegg's face on the sign.

The Hole in the Wall: There is a literal hole in the wall at this pub once Steve drives "the Beast" through it. I also wonder if it has Pink Floyd-esque connotions of a "wall" as representing the Network/conformity and our heroes break through it. Or perhaps Gary's personal "wall" against progress. I know I'm probably reaching a bit too far here, but hey, it's fun to speculate! Oh, and in this scene, Andy fights off a lot of blanks so of course this pub sign also has specs of blue blood on it.

The World's End: The meaning of this one is pretty damn obvious. Arrival at this pub marks not only the literal end of the world, but the end of Gary's own little world. I love the shot of the sign on fire toward the end of the film, especially the Earth portion of it. Inside the pub, note the signs on either side of the door that say "Welcome" and "Join Our Club" as Gary enters. There are also signs reading "The End is Nigh" and "Drink Responsibly."

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