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Freeze Frame
Silent Hill & the Where's Waldo Conundrum
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 12, 2012   |   Episode 85 (Show Archive)  

   

The only thing scary about Silent Hill is this cover art!
Silent Hill is the game that keeps on giving. Despite marking its 13th anniversary this month, Konami's survival horror game keeps delivering surprises. From the painful Hollywood movie to the middling video game sequels, Silent Hill remains one of the few horror products that strives to be scary. It doesn't always hit that lofty goal, but even when it doesn't make us cover our eyes in terror, Silent Hill does shock us to our core.

That is definitely true this week, when Kotaku unearthed this post on the Silent Hill Forum website. The author suggests that there's a link between Konami's 1999 survival horror game and ... Kindergarten Cop?

As you can tell from the pictures below, Silent Hill's school plays more than homage to the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy. Even if you ignore the similar architecture (so similar with many of this nation's aging schools), the observant will see similar educational posters, medicine cabinets and school bus. It's all the same. Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself.


Click to see even more examples!

This isn't the first time Silent Hill has been caught making obscure pop culture references. For years I've contested that the developers must be huge Sonic Youth fans, as Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon have made more than one appearance in the horror franchise. And yet, despite my pleading with friends and other gamers, few dared to believe me. Today I feel validated, as there is no question in my mind that Silent Hill is nothing more than a Frankenstein monster made up of the 1990s best entertainment.

But let's not jump ahead of ourselves just yet. Soon after Henry enters town, he is compelled to explore the local school. Here he discovers a list of teachers and rooms. The list includes three prominent names: T. Moore, L. Ranaldo and K. Gordon. This may not mean much to the average gamer, but as somebody who has seen Sonic Youth more than a dozen times in the last two decades, it's hard to think of anything but band that brought us Kool Thing, A Thousand Leaves and, of course, Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Creme.


Still don't believe me that Silent Hill is nothing but obscure pop culture references? Then how do you explain the word "Redrum" sprawled on the side of K. Gordon's garage? Surely that's a reference to The Shining. Or how about the

Silent Hill is one of the few games that lends itself well to Portishead's unique sound!
school's name, Midwich Elementary School? I guess somebody is a fan of John Wydndham's writing. There's even a plant for sale at Mushnik's Florist called Audrey Jr., a not-so-subtle homage to Little Shop of Horrors.

In all there are dozens of similar movie, TV, book and music connections. A newspaper refers to Silence of the Lambs, there's a Portishead poster in the cafe, Stephen King's famous pseudonym gets a street, there's an FAA shop similar to 12 Monkeys and there's a store pulled directly out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Silent Hill is like a Where's Waldo of classic entertainment.

Given all of these references, it shouldn't surprise anybody to see Kindergarten Cop or Sonic Youth referenced repeatedly. What seems shocking is how diametrically opposite

Just never make another Where's Waldo game again, that's all I ask!
each of these references is to the spooky world of Silent Hill. Seeing a nod to The Shining or Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one thing, but referencing an Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy seems outlandish. Brilliant ... but still outlandish.

The whole thing reminded me of the last time Defunct Games brought up Sonic Youth. It was nearly a decade ago, back when I was on a mission to get to the bottom of a pressing NBA Jam controversy. Over the last ten years I have come to expect seeing Sonic Youth in some very strange locations. From Silent Hill to the Gilmore Girls finale, these New York natives wind up in the strangest locations. Unfortunately for everybody who actually loves their music, the one place Sonic Youth aren't showing up is in Rock Band. Hopefully 2012 will be the year Harmonix offers loyal fans more than two songs from T. Moore, L. Ranaldo and K. Gordon. That seems about as likely as Kindergarten Cop influencing one of the scariest games of all time.
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