Stranger Things Season 4 pulls out all the stops when it comes to delivering a horrifying experience. Vol. 1 of the new season has nightmare-inducing monsters, bone-breaking gore, and so many near-death experiences. Plus, the show makes plenty of callbacks to famous horror films, from A Nightmare on Elm Street to Poltergeist. Here are all the horror Easter eggs we caught in Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1.
[Spoiler alert: The following story contains spoilers for Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1.]
‘The Evil Dead’
Eagle-eyed horror fans likely noticed the Evil Dead poster hanging on Jonathan Byers’ (Charlie Heaton) wall in his room in California. Sam Raimi’s classic franchise began in 1981, so it fits right into Stranger Things‘ 1980s setting. The Evil Dead films follow Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (Brue Campbell), who unleashes undead creatures with The Book of the Dead.
Stephen King has been a major player in the horror genre for decades. It’s no surprise that Stranger Things 4 pays homage to one of the author’s novels. In the premiere, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) hang out at the local roller skating rink. Unfortunately, Eleven runs into her bully, Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin). Angela and her friends bring Eleven out to the rink to embarrass her and dump a milkshake on her.
This scene is a clear callback to Stephen King’s Carrie, where school bullies dump pig’s blood on the protagonist at a dance. She gets revenge by setting the gym on fire. Sure, Eleven doesn’t go that far, but she does whack Angela in the nose with a skate.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’
One of the biggest horror references throughout Stranger Things 4 is A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Duffer Brothers take inspiration from the 1984 franchise in several ways. For example, Vecna’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) character design is almost identical to that of Freddy Kreuger, the supernatural serial killer in Elm Street. Additionally, Freddy Kreuger actor Robert Englund appears in Stranger Things 4 as Victor Creel.
In general, Vecna and Freddy Kreuger are pretty similar. Both villains haunt their victims subconsciously. Plus, the way Vecna levitates his victims before killing them is a callback to the first kill in Elm Street.
Some savvy camera work in Stranger Things 4 doubles as an Easter egg from Wes Craven’s Scream (1996). After Chrissy Cunningham’s (Grace Van Dien) death, the police take her body away on a stretcher, covered by a sheet. The camera pans over the scene from above. This is a recreation of a scene from Scream.
Perhaps the most obvious horror Easter egg in Stranger Things 4 is a verbal nod to the Halloween franchise. When Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) interviews Eddie Munson’s (Joseph Quinn) uncle in episode 2, he recalls the story of Victor Creel, who was accused of murdering his family. Uncle Wayne compares Victor to serial killer Michael Myers from Halloween. Michael was responsible for the death of his sister, Judith.
‘Silence of the Lambs’
In Strange Things 4 Episode 4, Nancy and Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) visit Victor Creel at Pennhurst Mental Hospital to ask about his family. They walk down a long and dark hallway as other prisoners verbally harass them from their cells. Once Nancy and Robin reach Victor’s cell, they stand several feet away before slowly getting closer.
The entire scene feels eerily similar to 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, in which FBI trainee Clarice (Jodie Foster) meets serial killer Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) for the first time.
Gates to the Upside Down are all over Hawkins, Indiana, and they’re a lot like something out of 1987’s The Gate. In Stranger Things 4 Episode 6, Steven Harrington (Joe Keery) dives into Lover’s Lake to find a “snack-sized” portal to the Upside Down. The idea of a gate to another dimension that holds horrifying creatures ties back to The Gate, in which a group of teens accidentally opens a gate to hell.
In addition to Freddy Kreuger, Vecna takes inspiration from Hellraiser‘s antagonist, Pinhead. Vecna and Pinhead may not look the same, but their origin stories are similar. Both characters start out as humans who become dangerous monsters once they enter another realm. In Stranger Things, young Henry Creel grows up to become an orderly at Hawkins Lab, where he eventually fights Eleven. She sends him into the Upside Down, causing him to become Vecna.
It’s also worth noting that Vecna’s actor, Jamie Campbell Bower, told Entertainment Weekly that he auditioned for Stranger Things using script sides from Hellraiser.
‘Poltergeist’ and ‘The Amityville Horror’
Stranger Things 4 tells the story of Creel House, where Victor Creel allegedly killed his family. In the days leading up to the murders, the Creel family experiences what seems to be paranormal activity. They see visions of their fears and trauma and witness unexplained occurrences, like the radio turning itself on.
The paranormal activity seems to be a callback to 1982’s Poltergeist, where spirits terrorize a family in their home. Meanwhile, the legend of Victor Creel nods to 2005’s The Amityville Horror, which begins with a man killing his family and claiming he was possessed.
Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Vol. 2 drops on July 1.