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.

Light Up the Night (and Your Screen) This 4th of July

Ah, the Fourth of July. The best holiday to get drunk and blow up stuff–because if that doesn’t scream patriotism, I don’t know what does. If you’re new here, I have taken the responsibility in turning any moment into a possibility for scares. Therefore, I had to track down what films are appropriate for this American holiday.

Fourth of July Horror

To qualify, the films had to have a Fourth of July related plot point that was consequential to the story. With vigorous research, two films came out on top. Both films were coincidentally released in 1985. so that must have been an explosive year. If you’re into celebrating the holiday or you couldn’t care less and want to tuck in for a movie while it sounds like a warzone outside, let me turn you onto Silver Bullet and Return of the Living Dead.

Silver Bullet

This film falls into the category of forgotten Stephen King adaptations (though every cover has his name announced on it). If you’re a fan of the werewolf genre, this is your movie. Silver Bullet is based on King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf. Starring 80’s wonderchild Corey Haim, who you might recognize from The Lost Boys, it focuses on a paraplegic kid who believes the random, violent murders happening across town have a supernatural culprit: a local werewolf.

Revisiting the film of Stephen King's Silver Bullet | Den of Geek

This string of murders cancels the local Fourth of July celebration. However, our protagonist Marty steals some fireworks for a personal celebration. These fireworks set of a series of confrontations with the supposed culprit, leading to an investigation on who is the culprit. It’s a film that most of Generation X has on their radar. It was either something that either terrified them beyond belief or inducted them into the horror genre.

I consider this film a clear example of starter horror. It isn’t too intense for younger viewers and is chock full of 80’s nostalgia that parents can enjoy it too–if they haven’t seen it already. It also is a decent King adaptation and has a stellar performance from Corey Haim and quite a convincing villain. Not to mention, the werewolf makeup is quite terrifying. Check this out if your neighbors are annoying you with late night fireworks–maybe consequentially you’ll sic a werewolf on them.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon Video and Apple TV. Streaming with subscription on Paramount+. Free with Ads on Pluto TV.


Return of the Living Dead

On the other side of the coin, we have this zany, punk horror comedy. This is one of the most beloved zombie film of all time and has truly ascended with its cult status over the years. It is acutely self aware and takes place over the Fourth of July weekend–so it was practically screaming at me. Released in 1985 and a true riff off of Romero’s zombie flicks, Return of the Living Dead is a true, crazy treat. Two careless warehouse workers accidently lets loose a gas that turns corpses nearby into unkillable zombies. Teaming up with a group of punk teens, they face off against this invincible crowd over the holiday weekend.

The Return of the Living Dead – The Surprisingly Influential Sequel That's  Only Kind of a Sequel - Hollywood Suite

I mean, what couldn’t be more American than dropping a nuclear bomb on the problem and labeling it as a solution, despite making things worse? The film also serves as a scathing commentary on the nuclear scares occurring during the Cold War area and how nuclear warfare could lead to more destruction than aid to their cause. This was a common topic that horror films addressed during the 80s–adding further to my “horror-social commentary” point that I’ve made on many posts (if not all).

This is the film that introduced the concept of zombies feasting on brains as well as one of the first that was not a Romero. On top of that, it is a gorefest that is unrelentless in its hour and a half runtime, making this a quick watch for the holiday so you can go out and catch some fireworks. If not, it has plenty of sequels that are equally ridiculous and could make for an entertaining (and possibly drunken) night.

Where to watch: Free with Ads with Tubi and Pluto TV. Rent/Buy on Amazon Video and Apple TV.


Well, whether you enjoy the holiday or not, hopefully these suggestions give you ideas for some new holiday traditions. The macabre never sleeps, so I hope to offer a tradition for those that indulge in it daily like me. What are your favorite nonconventional horror movies? Let me know in the comments and I can feature them next holiday–it doesn’t have to be horror either, I love unconventional matches for every genre.

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 and have a great Fourth of July.

Spooky Season, Welcome: A Guide for September Spooky Flicks

It’s now September, therefore I declare that spooky season begins now, for all of our sanities. As an author of a horror blog, I am always in the mood for a scary movie. However, sometimes it’s hard to convince the viewing party to join the fanatical ways. Therefore, I took the time this week to conjure up a loose fitted plan to ease even the biggest scaredy cat into spooky season.

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times
A preview of what’s to come next month…

This will be the first installment, and while there isn’t necessarily horror forward movies on the September catalogue, there are plenty of good romps on here. This plan starts now, as Halloween candy and pumpkin spice are already making strides into a part of our regular diet for the next few months, so what are we waiting for? Let’s begin this journey and explore other genres’ takes on the spooky season.

The First Half of September: Easing In

Most of the films listed in this first half could easily be in the final week of October. I prefer to ramp up the scares then, so I put a lot of comfort in this first half. As the sunshine drifts away and seasonal depression might start to sink in for some, nothing is more comforting that goofy, sometimes heartfelt movies. I’m talking 1990s and early 00s cheesefest kind of movies. That is not a derogatory sense, as I love all of these movies myself. The movies also listed here can be good replacements for October films if you either A) have little ones to be cautious of or B) don’t like to get scared.

Practical Magic, BeetleJuice and Ghostbusters

spooky season

Topping my list is actually not a horror movie, but rather a movie about family, magic and of course midnight margaritas: Practical Magic. This movie has always been a staple for my mom and I during fall time, so not only does it bring fuzzy feelings, but also a boat load of nostalgia. It also includes many familiar faces, with the two main stars being Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Check it out if you haven’t, it probably is my favorite film about witches (see below for hot take about Hocus Pocus, I’m sorry).

spooky season

This is also where Beetlejuice goes for me surprisingly. I usually get to this movie later in the season despite me placing it here, but this movie fits in with the semi-lighthearted, cheesy vibe, even though it is a magnificent film. I haven’t ran into many people that hasn’t heard this story before, especially with the recent surge in popularity of its Broadway counterpart, but if you haven’t seen it, I have a few questions. First, what are you doing still reading this? Second, why aren’t you watching it right now?

Spooky season

With the new sequel coming out in November, it is impossible not putting Ghostbusters on this list. This movie was a childhood staple for me, and my favorite character isn’t even pictured here and that is Rick Moranis’ character, Louis. This is forever a classic, and a good light felt romp fit for younger kids when you’re looking for some Halloween classics.

Hocus Pocus and Others: Family Friendly (Except One)

Spooky Season

Okay, okay, yes. A large chunk of the population watches this on Halloween, and I get that. But most years, I don’t even watch Hocus Pocus. It isn’t one of those comfort movies for me, even though it can be enjoyable, but–in the most hipster way possible–I kind think it’s overrated. I’m not alone in this opinion either, check out this piece from Sarah El-Mahmoud: Who Decided Hocus Pocus Was A Great Movie?Other than the three witches, every character annoys me and if the film just consisted of Winifred and the gang causing chaos rather than the weird plot they forget about half the time, I would probably like it more and consider it part of my ritual. It’s a staple for most however, so no judgement if this is in your regular spooky regimen.

Below is a gallery of other films that I like to partake in/think fit this tone. Most are kidfriendly but they are fun films nonetheless.

The Second Half of September: Dancing Through Life

The leaves actually start changing, the equinox comes and there is fall euphoria in the air. It feels like you could burst out into song any moment. So why don’t you? There are plenty of spooky musicals out there. Most are cult classics at this point, while others might have been revisited since childhood.

The Rocky horror Picture Show & Little Shop Of Horrors

spooky season

There is an obvious crowning jewel to this subgenre, which is most enjoyed at midnight in your local theater. If you aren’t giving yourself over to absolute pleasure, a couple viewings of this masterpiece will have you doing so whilst scantily clad and throwing toast at the screen. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has quite a legacy, and what kept alive is fans and notoriety. Most people have seen this film, and I haven’t met anyone who has absolutely hated it. Even musical haters have a soft spot for this film. It is truly a transcendent cultural icon, and should be indulged every spooky season, every year for how many times that you wish to watch it (I average about four times a year, it’s a deep comfort of mine). Also, yes, this gif embodies probably my favorite Frank-N-Furter moment.

spooky season

Another comfort film of mine is a bit more hush hush than the previous, but a cult classic nonetheless. Little Shop of Horrors features a great array of actors and one of the most impressive uses of practical effects and puppetry. All the songs are bops and will get stuck in your head, so much so that they may sound familiar. You’d be right, as the writers are the same people that did the music for Disney’s 90s Renaissance. “Somewhere That’s Green” is the same exact tune as “Part of Your World,” meaning it isn’t plagiarism if you steal from yourself. and the characters are likeable, even when they are doing terrible things. There’s also a weird but hilarious S&M scene between Steve Martin and Bill Murray that is not one to miss.

Claymation Classics: Thanks, Laika

Stepping into the spotlight is Laika Studios, who is responsible for most of the claymation films we see today. Not all of these are musicals, but a lot have musical elements and are perfect for spooky season. The two I want to feature are Corpse Bride and Coraline. Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas should be a feature here too, but I do consider that film a November film in between seasons. Corpse Bride features beautiful music from Danny Elfman and adopts Tim Burton’s usual style. Coraline revolutionized claymation and pushed the limits on what is advertised as a children’s film or not. Both are spooky and perfect for pushing the limits on older kids looking for a mild scare. If they love them, congrats, you’re raising a future horror fanatic.

Honorable Mentions for A Playful End to September

Below is a gallery of other films to consider as we ramp up to October. Yes, we embrace the Bowie Bulge here.

Conclusion

I warned there was not a lot of horror on this list, and while I believe every time is horror time, this is a guide for everybody. Some people don’t like the spooks, and sometimes needs coaxing to be down to watch the scarier movies. That’s completely okay! However, if you’re depraved like me and are ready for the scares, stay tuned, as October 1st comes 31 Days of Horror, a calendar strictly for horror fans and those ready to be scared this October. Don’t forget to sign up for email notifications and I’m excited to embark with you all on The Void of Celluloid’s first spooky season. Now to feast on copious amounts of pumpkin bread.