Every major horror reference, explained

Netflix hit, Stranger Things, is full of references that pay homage to the 80s, specifically 80s horror. Since Season 1, the Duffer Brothers have carefully edited these aspects into the show, even casting popular actors from the decade to take on the lead roles. One of them is Winona Ryder who had a distinguished career in the 80s and 90s. Season 4, which was released in two parts earlier this year, introduced one of the biggest villains the show has seen to date: Vecna. Stranger Things’ the latest big villain is here to stay, and he’s got Freddy Krueger’s DNA all over him.


Stranger Things is one of many series on Netflix that straddles the boundaries of adult content and kid-friendly horror. However, one thing the Duffer Brothers get right every season is that the show has a lot of heart, and the creators really love the content they’re paying homage to. In a series that is epic Stranger Thingsit is important to make sure that the details are chosen as unique ideas that draw on those from the past.

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Stephen King of it all

Eleven season 1
Netflix

Stranger Things’ creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, have never been silent about their love for the works of Stephen King. King has been crowned the “King of Horror” after his many years of success in pop culture and horror fiction. His first novel, Carrie it was published in 1974, followed by a film adaptation just two years later. Carrie is the story of a 16-year-old girl with telekinetic powers. However, this is not the last time King ventured into the world of telekinesis. In 1984 Fire starter was released with a young Drew Barrymore as the main protagonist. Like Carrie, Charlie has the ability to affect the world around him with his mind, but the main difference is that Charlie can start fires. Fire starter and Carrie both had a big influence on the character creation of Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown).

Although the artboard for Eleven was heavily influenced by two of King’s most infamous female characters, the plot is a product of the novel that produced horror’s scariest killer clown. From the first season of the series, IT was the leading factor for the Duffer Brothers. ITHer story begins in the town of Dairy Maine when a young man named Georgie goes missing. Stranger Things’ The first season begins the same way, after Will Byers (played by Noah Schnapp) goes missing after a night Dungeons & Dragons with friends. The group of friends in the first season has a significant amount of similarities with the Losers Club from IT. All that cycling, the bullies, and even the ratio of boys to girls in the group, the dynamic is straight out of a novel. In an interview with The New York Times, the Duffer Brothers even commented that they pitched the idea Stranger Things using old Stephen King book covers.

Related: Stranger Things: How the Netflix Series Pays Homage to ’80s Horror

80s thrills and chills

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From the beginning, Stranger Things it paid homage to all things 80s, right down to the outfits. Ghost busters Halloween costumes, Eleven dressed as aliens and posters referencing them Thing all of which help reference relevant pop culture for the time. However, the Duffer Brothers draw on horror classics to advance the plot and story. In the first season, Joyce Byers (played by Winona Ryder) uses a makeshift alphabet and Christmas lights to communicate with her son, who is trapped in what is called The UpsideDown. This may sound familiar to fans of the 1984 Tobe Hooper film Poltergeist. However, there is a moment when Will is not the one communicating with his mother, and a Freddy Krueger-like figure appears from the wall hovering over Nancy in Nightmare on Elm Street.

The second season of the series does a mix between Stranger and Gremlins references. Despite Will having returned home, The Upside Down is very much alive and still has many monsters to unleash. Dustin (played by Gaten Matarazzo) comes across an interesting polygon that he decides to keep as a pet. Much like Billy’s Gizmo in the Gremlins, Polywog Dart starts out seemingly innocent until he grows up and eats Dustin’s cat. It is later revealed that the polywog in question was actually a baby demo dog and bears many similarities to the evil gremlins in the 1984 classic.

The long-awaited fourth season introduced the series’ biggest badass yet and gave a much-anticipated backstory to the ever-prevailing Mindflayer. Vecna ​​(played by Jamie Campbell Bower) is the mastermind Stranger Things’ Upside Down, and keeps in touch with Eleven. Like Freddy Krueger, Vecna ​​attacks its victims when they are in an altered state of mind. However, like King’s infamous killer clown, Pennywise, Vecna ​​makes her victims float and knows all of their darkest fears and memories. Vecna’s makeup alone easily makes him the best villain in the series, using almost all practical effects. However, unlike the gooey monsters of past seasons and Mindflayer, Vecna ​​communicates with its prey before ending their lives.

Related: Stranger Things: Nancy and Steve’s Relationship Timeline (So Far)

John Carpenter and the classics of the 70s

Billy
Netflix

While it is the third season Stranger Things focuses heavily on Starcourt Mall and the witty Scoops Ahoy joke, one of the darker elements of season four leans heavily on Billy Hargrove (played by Dacre Montgomery). On his way from a failed date with Mike’s mom, Billy finds himself in an abandoned warehouse. While trying to flee the scene, Billy is dragged back to the door and possessed by The Upside Down’s Mindflayer. Not long after Billy is “kidnapped”, he begins luring other Hawkins residents to become part of his army. The plot is largely based on the year 1978 Invasion of the body Kidnappers, which is a remake of the 1956 film. Both versions of the film focus on an unseen antagonist who takes over human bodies and consumes them. Although not confirmed, it can be argued that the Duffer Brothers also drew references from a lesser-known horror film from the 80s called Night of the Reptiles, whose premise is similar to that of Invasion of the body snatchers but with an interesting catch. People in Night of the Reptiles be occupied by a slug-like creature that rockets into the victim’s mouth. This resemblance is much closer to the polygonal creatures from Duffer’s Upside Down.

Stranger Things is set in the 80s for a number of reasons. However, one of the most pressing is the strong influence that 70s horror had on the horror creations of the 1980s. John Carpenter’s classic, Halloween it can be argued as one of the greatest horror films ever made, and the simplicity of its plot has been used as a formula for decades. The mask itself is mentioned twice in the series, once when Max (played by Saddie Sink) welcomes the gang to trick or treat, and then again to hide the identity of Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn). The resurgence of Michael Myers’ mask in season four is no mistake, and it has key significance for the season finale.

After being shot multiple times by Nancy (played by Natalia Dyer), Vecna ​​falls through a second floor window. However, when the gang descends to finish him off, Vecna, much like Myers at the end Halloween, it’s nowhere. Little is known about the final season of the show, however, the Duffer Brothers claimed that the script made Netflix executives cry. Traces of horror are sprinkled throughout each season Stranger Things, and the series has the ability to create darkness like that of the work of Stephen King and the child prodigy produced by Steven Spierlberg.

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