Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of stranger things, have called the series “a love letter to the 80s” countless times. ’80s kids and fans of classic ’80s horror can note reminders of movies that forever changed the dynamic of terror and gave guns to monsters that even nightmares couldn’t replicate. Yet what is it about 80s horror that is such a comfort blanket for fans of the genre, and is it the same blanket that fans of Strange things ?
The world of stranger things is so steeped in ’80s nostalgia that it’s almost impossible not to want to grab your dice and join a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Much like the films and books it celebrates so much, the series follows a group of children who must face terrors beyond their wildest imagination. With each season comes another introduction to a piece of pop culture that will be explored through a very unique lens. However, the Duffer Brothers spare no expense when it comes to their special effects, most of which are practical effects helping to pay even more homage to a time when CGI monsters were in the minority. It’s no surprise that Eleven and her band of fearless friends hold a spot in the top ten most-watched Netflix shows to date, with a total of 582 million hours streamed. here’s how stranger things pays homage to 80s horror.
Inspired by 80’s monsters
Thanks to the success of John Carpenter Halloween in 1978, the horror genre was able to develop. In the 80s, monsters and slashers ruled the screen. Freddy Krueger was the man of your nightmares, and Jason Voorhees gave a whole new meaning to the term “mama’s boy.” The emergence of widely available VHS tapes also helped these films find their way into the hands of a wider audience. However, ’80s horror icons weren’t just popping up on screen. Notably attributed “King of Horror” Stephen King brought monsters to life in paperback form. It is also to him that the Duffer brothers attribute much of their inspiration and the birth of Strange things.
King’s most notorious character, Pennywise the Clown, casts a heavy watermark on season one’s big bad. The demogorgon, a lanky creature with a head that opens into a set of razor-sharp teeth, preys on the people of Hawkins like a frenzied shark. It’s assumed that the Upside Down’s disappearance of Will Byers was caused by his attempt to evade the creature, especially after he finally flashes that dentition. The demogorgon’s alien nature and set of jaws pay homage to the description that was given to Pennywise in This. In the miniseries, there is a photo of Tim Curry’s Pennywise opening his jaws as he transforms for food.
The heart of the 80s
It’s not all monsters and mayhem in the town of Hawkins, and that’s where the true heart of the series lies. In the first season, before Will disappears, the audience is introduced to boys who are seated around a table playing Dungeons and Dragons, a very popular game in the late 70s and 80s. After Will survived the Upside Down, the boys return in season two, where the group dresses up as Ghostbusters for Halloween. Both references appeal to childhood elements rather than horror.
Stephen King isn’t the only one whose DNA is all over the sci-fi tube. Nods to Steven Spielberg are gracefully sprinkled throughout the show and resonate at the very heart of the show. In its very heart, stranger things is a story of friendship and chosen family. Eleven finds family in her friends and in the brooding Sheriff Hopper who had lost his. The two are kindred spirits who find themselves among the rubble of their past. These themes are purposely placed throughout the seasons of stranger things and are silent homages to films by Spielberg himself. No matter how dark, fantastical, or where the fates of hope lie, Spielberg’s characters always come out on top. They are the victors; those we always support. by Spielberg Gremlinslight as it sounds, has a dark undertone, and like the mutated creature that causes chaos and mass destruction, season two’s demodogs bring death wherever they stumble.
The place to be
The mall was the hub of American consumerism in the 1980s and 1990s. The first mall opened around 1922, but served more as a pedestrian walkway with a few shops. Over time and with the rise of department stores, the mall has become not only a popular meeting place, but also the central place to go for all consumer needs. With the children of stranger things transforming into young teenagers, season three features the mall as one of the gang’s main hangouts. Will Byers, who has missed nearly a year of his childhood, is struggling to adjust to the group’s new style of friendship. The stage is no longer Mike’s basement and board games. Viewers not only get the cinematic masterpiece that is Eleven’s makeover scene to the tunes of “Material Girl,” but they also get to see Steve go from their self-proclaimed babysitter to Scoops employee. Ahoy.
The Starcourt Mall in Hawkins is also the battleground for the final fight scene between the Mind Flayer and the Beloved Band. The mall has been the setting for many cult classic 80s movies, not just horror. Almost the whole premise of Fast times at Ridgemont High is located around the mall. The opening shot is the opening of the mall and the closing shot of the film is the closing of the mall. The awkward cult classic from 1986, mall, features a group of mall workers who find themselves trapped in the mall after their shift and are forced to fight off the murderous robots who mistake them for intruders. It’s no mistake the Duffers made the Starcourt the root of the evil that lurks beneath the mall floors. stranger things season four is slated to air in May 2022 and is guaranteed to serve up a big platter of nostalgia and an all-new big baddie.
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