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As expected from Sam Lake, Alan Wake is a veritable cornucopia of references to other works of popular fiction.
- From the outset Alan quotes Stephen King and often mentions his work, which justifies the animated objects you encounter. Turns out he's a fan.
- In one of the cabins Alan hides in early in the game, there's an odd, circular depression on the bed. It's a possible reference A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- While hiding in a trailer, Alan makes a reference to The Shining when a Taken begins chopping through the door with an axe.
- Half of Barry's dialogue seems to exist simply to deliver (often hilarious) pop culture references, from Zork to Hitchcock to referring to a headlamp as his flaming eye of Mordor. And all his shoutouts are justified as he's a literary agent; he should know these things by profession.
- One of the protected local heritage sites is a ancient tree called "The Great Old One."
- The manuscript pages from the Sudden Stop at the start of the second chapter mention a femme fatale, dead loved ones, and painkillers. The voice narrating the pages was none other than Max Payne voice actor, James McCaffrey.
- A snarky and depressive man in a media-related position travels and gets stuck in a remote and redneck-filled town which celebrates a macabre day named after a macabre animal, and shit hits the fan when he has to put up with time and space-raping supernatural occurences. Sounds familiar?
- Crossing over with product placement, but in Hartman's clinic, you can find an Xbox 360 next to a 360 game version of... no, not Alan Wake, that'd be too easy. It's a copy of Night Springs. Which no, of course, doesn't actually exist.
- Night Springs is an obvious homage to The Twilight Zone. Also, in Alan's nightmare at the very beginning he's driving and a signpost on the road shows that "Night Springs" is up ahead. Fans of he Twilight Zone will remember the intro narrative "There's a signpost up ahead; your next stop is the Twilight Zone!"
- The entire concept of fiction being literally brought to life is a huge shout out to the plot of In the Mouth of Madness, including a battle against literal words!
- You can drive a car that, sans some cosmetics, could be the General Lee. They even offer a few ramps for you to jump off, though doing so does nothing other than give you the opportunity to yell "Yeehaw!" More obviously, though, the car is the right model and color to be the "Classic" from the Evil Dead series (a 1973 yellow Oldsmobile Delta 88), which also appears in most of Sam Raimi's other movies as a cameo.
- Following the Evil Dead car reference is the windmill at the Anderson farm, which looks like the windmill Ash finds himself in in Army of Darkness. Against a backdrop of a dark stormy sky, like in said movie.
- The achievement "They're Heeeeeeeeeeere!" is awarded for destroying possessed objects.
- The achievement "Damn Good Cup of Coffee", obtained by collecting 25 of the coffee thermoses hidden throughout the game, seems to be a reference to a repeated line in Twin Peaks. Special Agent Cooper sure does love him some coffee.
- Likewise, The Lady of the Light draws heavy inspiration from the Log Lady, even carrying a Companion Cube lantern wherever she goes, akin to the Log Lady's log.
- Bright Falls's diner bears a striking resemblance to the R & R Diner in Twin Peaks.
- Sheriff Breaker's cutout in the The Signal DLC refers obliquely to the "secret society" that she had Barry contact in the game and is advertising a fake book entitled "The Only Girl in the Bookhouse." In Twin Peaks, the Bookhouse Boys was a secret society devoted to protecting the town from a supernatural evil in the woods.
- One of the books in the Alex Casey series is titled the same as a level from Max Payne.
- Also, another one is titled "The Things That I Want," which is a quote from one of Max Payne's monologues.
- Back in 1999, Stephen King had been writing a novel but suffered from almost 18 months of writers block. Stephen King is also known to frequently visit a small town in New England to get away from the city and the population. The game's plot has a number of parallels with King's novel Bag Of Bones.
- One of the achievements is "What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks", a reference to Romeo and Juliet. The description, once you get it, is "It is the east, and the Flare Gun is the sun to 50 Taken." a continuation of the quote.
- There's a mode where you can play back cutscenes. Naturally, they have names to help differentiate between them. One of them is named, "It's a Trap."
- In the new downloadable chapter "The Signal" Alan answers a call from Zane, who has been trying to make contact with him. Zane asks Alan over the phone "I am trying to reach you. Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" This last question is the line best known in the older Verizon commercials. This could be considered an Enforced Plug since, incidentally, there are constant reminders of Verizon throughout the game. There are road billboards, an in-game television commercial, and the phone Alan acquires in "The Signal" is Verizon brand, which happens to show itself very obviously on screen. Particularly amusing when you consider the fact that Zane left the mortal world long before modern cell phones were invented.
- The Bright Falls Book Store has a book about catching Dopefish.
- One of the diner's bathroom stalls is tagged with Mirra.
- When Alan saves Barry and Sarah from a swarm of Taken in Episode 5, Sarah comments, "You sure know how to make an entrance. We were just about to make like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
- Barry and Alan get separated in Episode 4, with Alan at the top of a cliff and Barry at the bottom. When Barry proclaims that he can make it alone, Alan mutters, "Now he's Rambo."
- One of the trailers for American Nightmare is called the "Super Effective Sales Trailer."
- Occasionally you'll hear long air-raid like sirens, ala Silent Hill.
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