It’s no mystery that Stranger Things (2016) takes a ton of inspiration from ’80s pop culture, whether it’s Ghostbusters (1984), Aliens (1986), Predator (1987), The Goonies (1985), Firestarter (1984), or Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980). After all, the show takes place in the ’80s, which has become a very popular trend in many films.
But the latest season, titled Stranger Things 4, draws countless comparisons with the iconic 1984 horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), which was directed by the late Wes Craven. Four seasons into the supernatural/sci-fi horror drama series, it’s really no surprise that the Duffer brothers have chosen Freddy Krueger as their source of inspiration.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Stranger Things 4 Volume 2!
As per the Netflix website, here’s the official synopsis for Stranger Things 4:
It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.
This time, all bets are off, as a sentient creature known as “Vecna”/One/Henry Creel (Jamie Campbell-Bower) emerges from the Upside Down, boasting the same psychokinetic abilities as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and more. And the “dark wizard”, as so named by our Hawkins heroes, is leaving a series of grisly murders in his wake.
One of his powers includes being able to telepathically “observe” the residents of Hawkins, honing in on any individual who harbors a dark secret. And once a victim has been chosen, Vecna proceeds to kill them in their sleep, not unlike Freddy Krueger. It’s a little bit more complicated than that, sure, but the writing’s on the wall (or in this case, the blood).
Technically speaking, Vecna actually kills his victims in their minds, while in the real world their bodies levitate (evoking memories of Freddy’s first victim Tina). And, just like in A Nightmare On Elm Street, a local “bad-boy” is present for the first murder, so is blamed by the police, which forces him to go on the run. In this case, it’s the now-fan-favorite Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn).
Like Freddy, Vecna himself was also previously a murderer who went by the name of Henry Creel. And before being sent to another dimension (the Upside Down, which is a dream-like version of Hawkins) by Eleven where he is burned alive (sound familiar?), Creel also murdered several children at Hawkins Lab, reminiscent of Krueger’s pre-afterlife murder spree in Elm Street.
While Vecna has a sort of organic and veiny look (like Robert Englund, Jamie Campbell-Bower also underwent hours of prosthetic make-up application for the role), with slithering tentacles adorning his body, his deep demonic voice certainly echoes that of Freddy Krueger. Vecna even sports a clawed hand, mirroring of course the iconic razor-gloved hand of the ’80s dream demon.
There are other A Nightmare On Elm Street Easter eggs in Stranger Things 4, from the song “Dream a Little Dream” by Doris Day to a cameo from Robert Englund as Henry Creel’s father Victor. Even the Creel house resembles Elm Street’s “1428”, which is where some of our heroes attempt to destroy Vecna’s “real-world” form, which is similar to the only way one can kill Freddy.
As per IMDb, here’s the synopsis for 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street:
In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
Like many other slasher franchises such as Halloween (1978) and Child’s Play (1988), A Nightmare On Elm Street was plagued with several bad sequels, with the only two good entries being A Nightmare On Elm Street: Dream Warriors (1987) and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). 2010 saw the release of a reboot of the original, but it was a critical and financial disaster.
For the last 12 years, there hasn’t even been so much as a whimper about another remake or a sequel of any kind, or anything that will take us back into the world of Elm Street. As such, we think it’s time for a new version of A Nightmare On Elm Street, and we can’t think of anyone more perfect for the director’s chair than the Stranger Things creators, the Duffer brothers.
Who better to bring Freddy Krueger back to life (for the tenth time) than Matt and Ross Duffer, who clearly know the ’80s like the back of their hands. Not only that, but if Stranger Things 4 is anything to go by, A Nightmare On Elm Street reboot under their guidance could end up being a creative masterpiece, rather than the uninspired, gore-fuelled CGI fest that is the 2010 reboot.
Needless to say, with a concept that involves the dream world, A Nightmare On Elm Street is a property that gives filmmakers a huge opportunity to flex their creative muscles. But who’s to say we even need a new movie? Why not a TV series? Perhaps A Nightmare On Elm Street would work best in this format, especially in light of the success of Stranger Things 4.
Millie Bobby Brown recently criticized the latest season of Stranger Things for having too many characters, urging the creators to start killing people off. Well, there’s another reason why the Duffer brothers should turn their hands to A Nightmare On Elm Street! In many ways, though, Stranger Things 4 already feels like a reboot of the 1984 classic.
Meanwhile, Stranger Things will also be getting a spin-off series, which the Duffer brothers are hoping to hand off to someone else. So here’s to hoping they use their time well and bring the iconic dream demon back from the dead. If not, we always have Stranger Things 5 to look forward to, which will no doubt see the return of Vecna, and probably lots more Elm Street references.
Stranger Things 4 stars Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Paul Reisner (Dr Sam Owens), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Matthew Modine (Papa/Martin Brenner), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), and Jamie Campbell-Bower (Vecna/One/Henry Creel).
Stranger Things 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.
Would you like to see A Nightmare On Elm Street rebooted by the Duffer brothers? Let us know in the comments down below!