Stranger Things: Horror Movie References You Might Have Missed

It’s been three weeks since the release of Stranger Things 4. The show really shook the world and was the most important season–I mean, it put Kate Bush back on the charts (where she rightfully belongs). While the press time has seemingly passed, I wanted to discuss the horror references in the show. I also wanted to do this without giving spoilers way too early in the cycle, so here it is now.

Stranger Things - What You Missed

This season was a tad bit scarier that the seasons in the past. With that came more horror movie references that made my heart giddy. It was fun to pick these out and cheer when an homage was made, so why not share my list with the world and see if there was any you might have missed. Without further ado, here are five references you might have missed in Stranger Things 4.

Vecna’s Attacks: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Stranger Things - Vecna

The first episode traverses through the torment that Chrissy goes through. It is a no brainer that the way Vecna attacks and manipulates his victims is an homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street. This trance that those who are cursed go under emulates a dreamlike state that can be fully controlled by the gruesome ruler of the Upside Down. Vecna poses as people to get under the victim’s skin. He traps them in a mental cage. He changes the scene at will. All of these are tactics that Freddy pulls from time to time.

Freddy's arms stretching out : r/NightmareOnElmStreet

Vecna’s appearance almost reflects Freddy Krueger. The disfiguration caused to Henry is very similar to the burn marks and scars seen on the slasher villain. Mixed in is the brutality of the kill–another thing they seem to have in common. A Nightmare on Elm Street is famous for its notoriously gruesome kills and the style in which Vecna kills his victims could fit right in.


Victor Creel: Speaking of Nightmare

Speaking of Freddy Krueger, the man behind the burns makes an appearance in the “Dear Billy” episode. Instead of being the perpetrator this time, he acts as father of the perpetrator in a twist. Robert Englund delivers in the haunting role, sporting grueling eye prosthetics. It’s his story that pushes the narrative further into the question of who is Vecna and what does he want.

Despite Victor being a victim rather than a villain, there’s no denying he’s connected to it all. Unfortunately, he’s even confused as to how and why he was targeted, and the events ruin his life forever–leading to him gouging his eyes out in grief. It’s a monologue that will stick with you and ultimately propels the story, therefore a great use and nod to Robert Englund and his character’s influence on the Stranger Things bad guy.


Steve Pulled Under: Jaws

There was a lot of surprises this season, and “Watergate” was one of them. The newly opened gate is discovered by Steve in his deep dive down Lovers’ Lake. Covered with suspicious tentacles, its presence is as ominous as it is threatening. As he swims up to inform the group, we are greeted with a reference from the first blockbuster ever.

What Happened To The Girl From Jaws' Iconic Opening Scene?

First, he is pulled down quickly. Next, he bobs up to react. Suddenly the underwater beast pulls him into the depths and through the mouth of the gate. Steve’s abduction is quite reminiscent of the first kill in the Spielberg classic Jaws. The first jerk down is always the most terrifying. Seeing the panic in Steve’s eyes and the transition of confusion to terror in the rest of the group is what sells the scene. It acts as the perfect reintroduction to traversing through the Upside Down.


A Rope Between Two Dimensions: Poltergeist

Stranger Things - A Reference to Poltergeist
I Rewatched Poltergeist for Its 40th Anniversary and I Have Questions |  Tor.com

Speaking of Spielberg classics, he acted as producer for the next film referenced. After their adventures through the Upside Down and their brawl with the Demobats, the gang make the connection between the deaths and the gates. They meet up with the others in Eddie’s trailer and cook up a method of escape.

This method of escape emulates a very iconic scene from Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. The rope that they throw up into the other dimension has the same kind of effect and look as the one used by the mother to save Carol Anne. Paired with the same emotional feeling of reuniting only for something terribly wrong to ruin it, it’s impossible to deny this is a Poltergeist reference.


Eddie and a Spider’s Form: It

Stranger Things - Eddie Munson

Finally, the number one comparison to Stranger Things is IT. Their similarity to each other is the reason for comparison, in which the series’ fourth installment further emphasized. The number one thing to bring up–even though it saddens me beyond belief–is the death of Eddie. It is general knowledge that IT packs an emotional punch with the death of their Eddie, and the Duffer Brothers decided to take that in the same direction. Eddie Munson died a hero and so did Eddie Kaspbrak.

We also got the tidbit of information that Vecna was behind the Mind Flayer. More importantly, he made it in the form of a spider due to his fascination with spiders. A spider form is kind of the butt of the joke in regard to the IT miniseries, as it is the “ultimate” form of the alien in the final battle. So, the comparisons to IT took on rather ironic levels in the season’s big plot twist.


Conclusion

This season was a wild ride and climbed the list to be my second favorite season of the show. I hope you enjoyed it as well and are hopefully exiting your mourning period for fictional characters. We have to wait two more years for the Stranger Things series finale, but in the meantime, let me know if there were any references that I might have missed or if there is anything you’re looking forward to next season. You can watch Stranger Things here on Netflix.

Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.

31 Days of Horror: Let’s Kick it Off

Can you feel that? It’s finally October, and now I am finally able to say it is spooky season. This means a month-long horror movie marathon: The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. Most of the time, it’s a casual viewing or rewatch, maybe with some popcorn. But sometimes, you want to make a night out of it. Each week, I’m going to go over the calendar posted below and pair a snack and cocktail with each movie I designated for the day and what movie I would pair with each film for a double feature. Posted below is the calendar for the whole month. Let’s get things started!

As you can see, this year is the first year of The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Nights of Horror. Therefore, it is a whole lot of standards and not a lot of style (forgive my mediocre Excel skills). I’ve realized that I have a lot of fans that may not be horror fanatics, and I want the first to always be the one that people can come back to for some strong recommendations, even if it isn’t October yet. I’m looking forward to these breakdowns, as I can offer double features that are a bit more niche for fanatics to possibly replace the one listed, or walk down memory lane and then possibly find something new. Anyways, on to Week One

You can find Week 2 here and Week 3 here.

October 1st: The Cabin In the Woods

31 Days of Horror

I firmly believe Joss Whedon is a misogynistic asshole. However, that does not deter my love for his writing and craftmanship. That applies to this movie, which feels like an ode to all things horror. This film focuses on five college kids go on a trip to a cabin in the woods and horrific events ensue. Sound familiar? Like almost someone else was copying and pasting tropes into a program that controls the scenario? Hmm… In avoidance of potential spoilers, The Cabin in the Woods is a romp and a love letter to the filmmakers that came before. In particular Sam Rami, as the comedic elements and cabin itself seem to reference the Evil Dead series. I think it’s also a great meta-horror to kick of the season chock full of spooky familiarity.

Pairings for this film include a Summer Shandy (or an Arnold Palmer if alcohol isn’t your choice) and Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos, as they scream frat house with a little bit of class. As for double feature, the sequel/remake is on the calendar already, so go ahead and pop in Sam Rami’s original The Evil Dead, and enjoy the grape-soda-looking blood fest that comes from this extremely low budget masterpiece that made a legend.

OCtober 2nd: A Nightmare on Elm Street

This rare 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' deleted scene sheds new light on the  film | Movie News | SBS Movies

It’s a Saturday, and it’s time for slashers. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic filled to the brim with bloodshed and 80’s cheesiness. Therefore, I thought it was a good place to start in regards to slashers. A group of high school kids from a small Midwest town start having crazy vivid dreams. Funny enough, they have the same antagonist, a mangled man with knives for hands known as Freddy Krueger. Once they realized that these dreams can in fact kill them, they try everything they can to put a stop to it, even if it means never sleeping again. It’s cheesy, it’s creative and it’s always a fun watch every time so therefore it had to be featured.

Kick off with the original, skip the second one (even though it is glorious, you can find out a bit more on my past blog post LGBTQ+ Representation: An Overview of the Horror) and have A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as the double feature for this film. This is the sequel that matches the energy, creativity and the scares of the first one. It also has the iconic “Prime time, bitch!” scene in it, so if you’ve never seen that, it’s a must. As far as drinks go, the cocktail of choice is of course an Irish Coffee (a coffee with brown sugar would be a great virgin alternative) as you need that caffeine to hopefully never sleep again. The featured snack is going to be Little Smokies, as fire is quite a big role in this film.

October 3rd: Devil

Devil (2010) review
Yes, it does take place in 2010, so the smartphone and the flashlight on it were not in wide distribution.

This film is scary on so many levels, and not only because it takes place primarily in an elevator. A group of five strangers are going about their day when they are stuck in a broken down elevator. While waiting for a maintenance team, things starts to go awry as their secrets seemingly are forced out by a darker force greater than themselves. Written by M. Night Shyamalan, you can only expect twists and turns in this intense, condensed story.

On the topic of seemingly cursed mundane things, the double feature I pair with this film is Oculus. You can read more on Oculus in my rundown of Mike Flanagan works. Since it has to do with a tall building, I’m going to keep up with the wordplay and pair a Manhattan with this film (you can find the virgin variation here). Since the cocktail is an elegant, class it up with Fig, Goat Cheese, & Caramelized Onion Flatbread or dress it down with some Homemade Popcorn Chicken, preferably dipped in something smoky and spicy.

October 4th: The Thing

The Thing movie remake confirmed

While I usually throw this one on in November due to its snowy setting, this never fails to give me a good scare. Taking place in the seemingly barren Antarctica, a group or American researchers are disturbed by a seemingly helicopter attack. They take in a sled dog that was seemingly running away from the attack, unknowingly inviting in the very thing that will manipulate and try to pick them off one by one. It’s a story that leans on the paranoia both of the characters and the viewer, and it is a Carpenter classic. It also features amazing special effects in regards to the practical medium.

This film always makes me feel extremely cold, so warm up with a Hot Buttered Rum or a Buttered Not Rum Mocktail. Keep the cozy up with some Salted Caramel Popcorn. Leaning on the sweets helps with the paranoid feeling, but if you want to keep the creeps up, throw on 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Good luck not side eyeing your movie buddies due to the heightened paranoia in the room.

October 5th: The Fog

John Carpenter's The Fog - Trailer (HD) (1980) - YouTube

We are sticking with John Carpenter the next day (sorry not sorry) and going to two years back to The Fog. Bodega Bay is a seemingly ordinary town, but it has its ghost stories. All normalcy disappears as a fog rolls into the bay, causing a sequence of terrifying events to the residents of this coastal town. Carpenter is known for his suspenseful horror, and this film delivers that with a mildly violent touch. It’s one of the unsung heroes in Carpenter’s discography, and deserves more recognition. Also, avoid the remake at all costs, it’s god awful.

With a name like Bodega Bay, you almost would want a drink from a bodega boy. Therefore, I’m pairing a Bay Breeze cocktail with this movie (here’s a Hurricane Mocktail as a yummy alternative). As far as keeping the creeps up at sea, my double feature pairing for this film is Below, as the scares continue under the water rather than on the shore.

October 6th: What we do in the shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: See the first three minutes of short that  inspired the film | EW.com

Now, it can’t be all horrifying. I may be depraved, but I definitely still like to laugh. Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliant mockumentary, not absent of gore and some mild jumpscares. Follow Viago, Deacon and Vladislav as they room together in New Zealand and have to take a rather annoying new vampire under their wings (bat wings, of course). This film has spun off into a very successful TV show on FX, but nothing quite beats the original troop as the chemistry between long time friends Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi carry this film to hilarious heights.

With this film, you got to have ‘pasketti, or try it in bite size forms such as these Easy Spaghetti and Meatball Appetizers. And due to Vladislav being deadly but delicious, steal a Vampire’s Kiss cocktail while you’re at it. Or if you’re in the more wholesome mood like Viago, go for the Vampire Margarita Mocktail. To keep on delightful vampire tales, the obvious double feature to this is Fright Night, which while I prefer the original, the remake is not bad at all and has amazing performances, including one from the late Anton Yelchin.

October 7th: Hush

Hush | Netflix

Alright, time to crank it up again. Yes, this is another Mike Flanagan film. Yes, I adore his work and will not shut up about him. Hush is an intense modern slasher full of creative moves and smart writing, Our final girl here is deaf and mute, and while the killer tries to use that to his best advantage, she is able to stay right on top of him due to her quick thinking and creative counterattacks. It’s an intense game of bloodsplattered chess that will keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire runtime. It also doesn’t wear off in rewatches, so if you’re thinking of skipping this one because you already saw it, think again and have some fun.

The double feature that comes to mind that can take the mind of depravity but amps up the gore is Ready or Not, another brilliant cat-and-mouse game with ridiculousness sprinkled in there. Since both of these films feature spicy and smart heroines, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers seem to be the move in this blood fest. Pair that greasy grub with the Best Ever Bloody Mary Recipe (remove the vodka for a mocktail, spicy tomato juice can really hit the spot) and you got yourselves a bloodbath.

Until Next time on 31 Days of horror…

There you have it, the first seven days filled with tasty treats, delectable drinks and a multitude of films. Join us next Friday on The Void of Celluloid as we delve into the next seven films. In the meantime, the Mother of the Void (mi madre) posted earlier this week on the wild film The Black Cat and will have a new post this Wednesday for the film Cat People, a wild film with amazing, poignant subtext. You can find that here on The Void of Celluloid. Happy Spooky Season and thanks for spelunking this void with me.