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‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’: An Epic Spellbinding Guide to All the Horror References, Episode by Episode

From “Suspira” to Charles Manson, here’s an exhaustive list of the pop culture Easter eggs found in Netflix’s teen horror drama.

Kiernan Shipka in "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" and Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby"

Kiernan Shipka in “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby”

Netflix, Paramount Pictures

 

“Chapter Six: An Exorcism in Greendale”

  • Harvey’s posters: As a comic book fan, Harvey has two “Archie’s Madhouse” poster in his room. He also has one for Carter the Great, the stage magician Charles Joesph Carter (1874-1936) who had a fictionalized novel written about him, “Carter Beats the Devil.”
  • Ms. Wardwell’s story of woe: Ms. Wardwell, aka Madam Satan, claims that she fell in a love with a mortal who was engaged to be married and was thus excommunicated from the Church of Shadows in New Hampshire. In apprenticing with Sabrina’s father Edward in order to reform the church, she fell in love with him. In the comic book, Madam Satan fell for Edward, who spurned her to marry Sabrina’s mortal mother.
  • Horror TV hosts: Like Aguirre-Sacasa, Hilda is a big fan of Dr. Cerberus because she loves horror TV hosts, including Svengoolie, Count Gore de Vol, and Vampira
  • ”The Exorcist”: The possession of Susie’s Uncle Jesse mimics the possession in William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist,” including having him tied to the bed and projectile vomiting.
"Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," "Suspiria"

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” “Suspiria”

Netflix, Produzioni Atlas Consorziate

  • ”The Goonies”: Sabrina asks Harvey to draw a map of where he saw the creature in the mines, but he’s resistant and references the 1985 adventure comedy: “A map? To what? This isn’t the Goonies.”
  • ”Suspiria”: The stained glass ceiling in the Spellman home looks exactly like the ceiling from the horrifying opening of “Suspiria,” through which one poor girl from the dance academy plunges through after grappling with a brutal assailant.
  • ”A Nightmare on Elm Street”: Harvey wearing a belly-baring football jersey with headphones in bed is an homage to Johnny Depp’s character in “Elm Street.”
Johhnny Depp, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and Ross Lynch, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

Johhnny Depp, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Ross Lynch, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

New Line Cinema, Netflix

  • Harvey’s posters: As a comic book fan, Harvey has two “Archie’s Madhouse” posters in his room. He also has one for Carter the Great, the stage magician Charles Joesph Carter (1874-1936) who had a fictionalized novel written about him, “Carter Beats the Devil.”
  • Witches: In calling on witches for the exorcism, numerous fictional and real-life practitioners are named: Lilith of Aradia, Morgan le Fey of Arthurian myth, the blue-faced hag or witch Black Annis, Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, the Witch of Endor, goddess of magic Hecate, Greek goddess of the hunt Artemis, the Roman goddess Luna, Hildegard of Bingen, voodoo queen of New Orleans Marie Laveau, Tituba, Mary Bradbury, Badb, Neman, and Macha, Circe, accused witch Moll Dyer, Roman goddess Juventas, and English witch Sybil Leek.
  • The bride of Frankenstein: Hilda is dressed as the Elsa Lanchester version of Frankenstein’s bride as part of her costume/uniform working at Cerberus Books.
  • Chalfont: Ambrose’s crush Luke (Darren Mann) reveals his last name is “Chalfont,” which could be a reference to the Chalfonts in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” franchise.
  • ”Afterlife With Archie”: Luke is flipping though an issue of “Afterlife With Archie,” another title of the Archie Horror imprint besides “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” In this title, Riverdale has undergone a zombie apocalypse after Sabrina uses the Book of the Dead to resurrect Jughead’s pet, Hot Dog.
Darren Mann, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

Darren Mann, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Netflix

“Chapter Seven: Feast of Feasts”

  • The Thanksgiving lottery: The witches’ Feast of Feasts sounds like one of the many ritual lotteries in literature where a person is chosen as a scapegoat or sacrifice. This was most famously seen in the Shirley Jackson short story “The Lottery,” but also in Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” dystopian novels and in Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”
  • ”Freaks”: Luke and Ambrose watch Tod Browning’s “Freaks,” where the famous “One of us! One of us!” chant can be heard on the television.
  • ”Riverdale”: The character Ben Button (Moses Thiessen) delivers a pizza to Ms. Wardwell for Feast, little knowing that he would be her actual dinner. His presence is a confusing crossover though because his character on “Riverdale” was last seen killing himself.
  • Persephone: Ben works for Persephone’s Pizza, a reference to the Greek mythological figure who is the wife of Hades and queen of the Underworld, where she carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead.
  • Suicide from thwarted love: Father Blackwood admits that he’s Prudence’s father, but that her mother is dead because she threw herself in a river after he refused to marry her. This horrifying overreaction sounds like the actions of Madam Satan from the comic book. After she was spurned by Edward Spellman, she threw herself into the lions’s pit at the zoo where she was killed by being torn to pieces.
Moses Thiessen as Ben Button, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

Moses Thiessen as Ben Button, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Netflix

“Chapter Eight: The Burial”

  • Cain and Abel: Those parallels between Zelda and Hilda and Cain and Abel are no accident. The fertile soil from the cemetery plot that resurrects whatever is buried there is from “Cain’s garden soaked with Abel’s blood.”
  • ”American Vampire”: Harvey is reading an issue of “Lord of Nightmares,” the second miniseries spinoff of Vertigo Comics’ “American Vampire” series, about various species of vampires.
  • Aleister Crowley: Witches really do age slowly. Ambrose mentions that he once hung out with a “young Crowley,” which most likely refers to English occultist Aleister Crowley, who lived from 1874 to 1947.
  • ”The Monkey’s Paw”: The W. W. Jacobs short story is famous for its dark take on the “three wishes” formula, in which someone who’s dead is wished back alive. The only problem is that the resurrected person is the worse for wear, and thus another wish has to put them back in the ground. On the show, Sabrina has resurrected Harvey’s brother Tommy (Justin Dobies), who perished in the mine. Unfortunately, only his body came back; his soul was lost in limbo.

“Chapter Nine: The Returned Man”

Tilda Swinton, "Orlando"

Tilda Swinton, “Orlando”

Sony Pictures Classics

  • Doctor Phibes: Harvey refers frequently to the advice given by Doc Phibes, who is a reference to the character played by Vincent Price in the British comedy horror films “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” and “Dr. Phibes Rises Again.”
  • ”American Psycho”: Mr. Bateman is the name of the UPS driver in Harvey’s neighborhood. This is most likely a reference to Patrick Bateman, protagonist of the novel “American Psycho,” its film adaptation, and the stage musical that Aguirre-Sacasa wrote.
  • ”Orlando”: Susie, who appears to be non-binary in the series, tries to smuggle out a copy for the Virginia Woolf novel that explores gender nonconformity through an adventure tale that spans centuries. Tilda Swinton starred in the film adaptation, as the nobleman who stays forever young but then becomes a woman.
  • ”I Walked With a Zombie”: This 1943 horror film is playing on the Kinkles’ television set when the resurrected Tommy tries to strangle his father.
  • Stopping a witch in her tracks: Nick prevents Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and Dorcas (Abigail F. Cowen) from interfering with the Kinkles by nailing a spike through their footprint. This was seen in the 1991 film “Warlock” starring Julian Sands.
  • ”Poltergeist”: Sabrina holding onto one end of a ball of yarn while she walks through a portal into limbo is reminiscent of “Poltergeist,” in which a mother enters a portal to save her daughter Carol Anne. A rope is threaded through both worlds.

“Chapter Ten: The Witching Hour”

  • Superstition about company arriving: In the episode, Hilda remarks, “If a spoon falls, a baby calls,” referring to a popular superstition the claims company will arrive depending on what kind of cutlery is accidentally dropped: if it’s a knife, a man will visit; a fork means a woman will visit; and the spoon indicates the arrival of a child. This acts as foreshadowing to when Zelda helps to deliver Father Blackwood’s twins, but steals the girl infant to raise away from his influence.
  • Mr. Loomis: Ms. Wardwell seduces the student Steve Loomis, who shares the same last name as the psychiatrist in the original “Halloween” film
Michelle Forbes, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

Michelle Forbes, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Netflix

  • Lilith: Ms. Wardwell reveals that she’s actually Lilith, the first wife of Adam who left him after refusing to be subservient to him.
  • Judas: Although Zelda’s story about Father Blackwood’s boy twin consuming the girl twin in utero is a lie, the High Priest seems to relish that version of events, claiming that the baby is “fortified by the other, as it should be.” Perhaps this perceived betrayal of sibling against sibling inspired Blackwood to name his child Judas, a disciple who betrayed Jesus.

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Season 2 is currently in production. 

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