Stranger Things 2 was epic. Let’s just get that out of the way. It was a thrill ride for all 9 episodes, and never let you sit back and breathe. But it was also full of some really awesome and clever pop culture references and easter eggs. From the really obvious ones like the Party going to the arcade to play Dragon’s Lair, to more obscure ones like casting Sean Astin, an original member of the Goonies in a show that also about a group of kids going on a wild adventure, there were tons of references! So, I figured I’d pick out 7 of my favourite ones!
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched all of Stranger Things 2 yet, this post will contain spoilers!
An Alien Intro
Did you recognise the actor who played Doctor Owens in Stranger Things 2? Well, if he did seem familiar then you might have seen this little movie called Aliens. You see, in Aliens he played the evil corporate businessman who betrays everyone and puts them all in even more danger. But that’s not really what this reference is about.
Both of these characters are actually introduced to their respective shows in very similar ways. Both show up as an employee of a company that the protagonists already dislike and do not trust, putting them on the defensive immediately. On top of this, and even more suitable, was the fact that both characters first appear next to the sickbed of one of the survivors of the previous storyline. It was a veru low-key throwback to Paul Reiser’s previous blockbuster role, and it was handled really well!
That Wasn’t Kiss
At one point in Stranger Things 2, Jonathon makes his way to a Halloween party at the invitation of Nancy. As soon as he walks in, a girl comes up to him in a costume that he (mistakenly) guesses to be of a member of the rock band KISS. Now, as a Brit myself, I thought this was a really cool little easter egg that I am sure a lot of people will miss.
She was, in fact, dressed up as the lead singer of British punk rock band Siouxsie, aptly named Siouxsie Sioux. Considering I’m a fan of punk rock as well, this was really awesome to see!
A Repeat Warning
In episode 3 of Stranger Things 2, Dustin managed to capture a little “friend” in his Ghostbusters trap, which he proceeded to bring into the house. When he gets cornered by his mother and her cat, we see the cat react in a very aggressive manner toward the trap. Did you notice the similarities between the cat (Mews) and Jonesy from the first Alien movie?
Both have very similar fur, maybe even be the same breed (I’m terrible with animal breeds) and both have the exact same reaction to a potential, yet largely unknown threat. Maybe we should all start listening to our pets a bit more, eh?
A Body Snatched
In episode 5 we see Will, now possessed by the Shadow Monster, have a very freaky and horrific reaction to the Upside Down’s tunnels being burnt. Whilst it was easy to miss at the time, especially due to the hectic scene it was a part of, the face that Will made eerily resembled that of possessed people in a different franchise…
As you can see, the facial expression is very, very similar to those made in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Since both occurences of this expression are made by people “possessed”, or simply who are no longer truly themselves, I find it hard to believe that this is a coincidence in a show full of some many pop culture references.
The Misty Town of Hawkins
Did you notice how the demodogs appeared when there was a fog or mist around the place? In fact, this is specifically shown when the soldiers go down into the tunnel and find themselves are “the graveyard”. Everything is quiet until a batch of fog (or mist) rolls in, with the demodogs hiding inside.
This is incredibly similar to that of The Mist by Stephen King which was originally published in 1980. On top of that, if you were to compare the design of the demodogs and the Shadow Monster to the creatures hiding in the mist in the 2007 movie adaptation, you’ll see they share a pretty resemblance.
A Jurassic Trap
Okay, let me just say that Steve Harrington was the MVP of Stranger Things 2! The man rocked it! Especially when, after the Party had tried to set a trap for Dart (Dustin’s pet demodog) and he wasn’t taking the bait, Steve decided to use himself as bait as well. It probably helped that he was carrying a nailbat, but still… The man was awesome!
However, in a definite callback to the scene from Jurassic Park (also featuring a brave character), he is then confronted by a surprise appearance of another demodog to his right. This particular event is mirrored in the “clever girl” scene from Jurassic Park, when Robert Muldoon is hunting a raptor, only to realise that it had set a trap for him instead when a second raptor appears to his left. It then proceeds to jump at Muldoon and kill him. The difference in Stranger Things 2 is that Steve manages to avoid the pounce attack and make it back to a (very slightly) safer place.
The Thing Inside
One of my all time favourite horror movies was John Carpenter’s The Thing. It is about an alien who can make itself look and sound exactly like a living creature it has killed, and it takes the form of various members of the protagonists throughout the movie. From here, because it is hiding as one of the group, it is able to spy on them and learn their plans, set traps for them and attack them from within.
Sound familiar? Well, that’s because this is exactly what Will ends up doing when possessed by the Shadow Monster. Acting as a spy, he sends a group of soldiers into a trap, brings the demodogs to attack the Party and generally just relays information to the Shadow Monster from within the Party. But that’s not just a fleeting reference… At one point, Joyce even refers to the possessed Will as “that thing“. And when you consider the fact that The Thing was released in 1982, it is likely that Joyce would have at least heard about it, if not seen it by then.
And That’s All Folks
Okay, so that last one is a bit of a stretch, but it’s still a really cool little link to another great horror movie from the 80s. And of course, there are dozens of more pop culture references and easter eggs in Stranger Things 2, so I’ll probably do another post in the near future to cover more of them. However, those of 7 of my favourite, obscure ones.
What did you think of Stranger Things 2? What was your favourite reference in it? Let me know in the comments below!