‘Stranger Things’: These Are the Horror Movie Monsters The Duffer Brothers Used For Inspiration

Ross and Matt Duffer promised fans months ago that Stranger Things 4 leans hard into horror. Once writers finished the script, they shared an image of a whiteboard filled with movie titles from their “Video Store Fridays” and told fans the formula for the upcoming season lay somewhere in that group of movies. Each week, the writers gathered to watch movies and kept a running list of which ones they watched. It’s no surprise that plenty of the films listed landed squarely in the horror genre. Let’s take a look at some of the monsters that inspired Stranger Things.

'Stranger Things 4' villain Vecna, seen here, was inspired by horror movie monsters from their childhood.
Vecna | Cr. Courtesy of Netflix

‘Stranger Things’ Season 1 gave us ‘Jaws’ vibes

The Duffer Brothers have said that Jaws is “probably” their favorite movie, and the inspiration for the Demogorgon comes from the famous bloodthirsty shark. Like the shark in Jaws, the creature terrorizing Hawkins in Stranger Things Season 1 is drawn to blood. When Barb cuts her hand at Steve’s party, the Demogorgon snatches her away. Later, when Jonathan and Nancy set their monster trap, they lure the creature by slicing their palms open. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2017, Matt Duffer said, “Our big reference for [the Demogorgon] season 1 was mostly Jaws. It’s a shark and, the other dimension is the underwater.”

Bob Newby mentions a clown that sounds a lot like Stephen King’s famous Pennywise

Poor Bob Newby. The guy only wanted to help Will with his supposed nightmares. In one scene in Stranger Things Season 2, Bob gives Will advice on how to get rid of his monster by telling him how he got rid of the clown that haunted his dreams as a child. Unfortunately, Bob’s advice caused Will to get possessed by the Mind Flayer, but that’s neither here nor there. That man died a hero. 

The clown Bob describes sounds frighteningly similar to the nightmare-inducing clown from Stephen King’s novel, It. In a recent interview with IGN about Stranger Things 4, the Duffers mentioned Pennywise as one of the monsters that scared them growing up.


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From Pinhead to Freddy Krueger, ‘Stranger Things 4’ packs in the scares

The Duffers’ recent breakdown of the Stranger Things 4 trailer mentioned both Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise and Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The full-length trailer features a voiceover from the new big bad himself, Vecna, and audiences hear him say, “Your suffering is almost at an end.”

Matt Duffer calls this their “Hellraiser line,” but the upcoming season features a lot of Nightmare on Elm Street inspiration. The Duffer Brothers revealed Robert Englund, who played the iconic Freddy Krueger in several movies, approached them for a role in Stranger Things.

Matt told IGN, “The fact that he came to us in a season that’s so deeply inspired by the Nightmare series and by his performance especially in those movies, it felt like fate. It felt like, ‘okay, this is meant to be.'”

Fans only have a few more weeks to wait to see if Stranger Things 4 lives up to the hype. Part 1 premieres on May 27, 2022.