Ah, the 4th of July. A perfect excuse to gorge yourself on delicious food, get an awkward tan by the pool and set off jumbo, possibly illegal fireworks. It’s the same old thing every year. But this year the Stranger Things fandom was buzzing with anticipation thanks to the upcoming 3rd season. So, this July 4th, Stranger Things fans around the world retreated to their own personal caves to stock up on snacks and tune in as soon as the season dropped. This resulted in breaking the streamer titan’s viewership record in the first 4 days of its release!
According the the Netflix U.S. Twitter account, “40.7 million household accounts have been watching the show since its July 4 global launch — more than any other film or series in its first four days.” The tweet concluded by saying “18.2 million have already finished the entire season.” And honestly? I’m not surprised one bit. In my opinion, this season was by far the show’s best. It was totally worth the wait. Well done, Duffer Brothers.
And it wouldn’t be a new season of Stranger Things without the Duffer Brothers, known cinephiles, dropping in plenty of nods to the 80’s and to the horror and sci-fi films that may have influenced certain elements of the infamous Upside Down. Because I’m obsessed with this season, I’ve happily fallen down my local rabbit hole to point out some of these awesome Easter Eggs. I’ll be going episode by episode so consider this your major spoiler warning!
Episode 1: “Suzie, Do You Copy?”
The season kicks off with a scene in a spooky top secret Russian lab. When a certain experiment fails, a tall Russian baddie (who gives me serious Terminator vibes) strangles one of scientists in the exact same way Darth Vader does in the beginning of Star Wars.
The Star Wars nods don’t end there! Later in the episode when Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) is returning from science camp, he attempts to reach his friends via walkie talkie with the message “Gold Leader returning to base!” Gold Leader is the call sign Lando Calrissian uses in the Battle of Endor in the 1983 movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Day of the Dead
At the new, fabulously 80’s Starcourt Mall, we see the gang sneaking into a preview of George A Romero’s Day of the Dead. We know it’s only a preview because the movie didn’t premiere until July 19 and this season takes place over the course of several days leading up to the 4th of July. Including the zombie flick in the series is some good old fashioned foreshadowing to the Mind Flayer’s infection. It could also be a nod to John Harrison, whose score for Day of the Dead was an obvious inspiration for the Stranger Things opening theme and score.
We get some more foreshadowing on Jonathan’s (Charlie Heaton) bedroom wall. This is where we see a poster for the Sam Raimi’s comedy-horror film The Evil Dead. Which is all about the Necronomicon, the undead and possession. Fun stuff!
Meanwhile, on Eleven’s (Millie Bobbie Brown) wall you’ll get a quick glimpse at posters of a dinosaur and a butterfly. This could be a nod to a recent film Brown starred in, Godzilla: King of the Monsters? That dinosaur and butterfly look an awful lot like Godzilla and Mothra.
When Dustin returns from camp he introduces his friends to his ham radio named Cerebro. This is a reference to the the device that Professor X uses to find mutants in the X-Men comics.
When Dustin is describing his girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) he tells his friends, “Think Phoebe Cates, only hotter.” Cates is known for her roles in Gremlins, Private School and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In Fast Times viewers can see Cates driving a lovely 1979 Chevy Camaro. We see this exact same model of car being driven by this season’s baddie, Billy (Dacre Montgomery).
We get another Fast Times reference in the season finale. At the arcade Steve (Joe Keery) bump into a cardboard cut out of Cates in her infamous red bikini.
Episode 2: “The Mall Rats”
In this episode it is revealed how The Mind Flayer “takes over” people when it attacks Billy. It sets loose a face-hugger type thingy that looks an awful lot like the one the Xenomorph uses in Alien.
More Bedroom Posters
In Max’s (Sadie Sink) bedroom we see a poster for John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing. This is most likely another nod to this season’s plot as The Thing is all about a strange lifeform that takes over people’s bodies. You may also get a quick glance at another poster for the 1966 surfer movie The Endless Summer. Clearly someone is missing California.
At one point our beloved Jim Hopper (David Harbour) directly quotes Jaws’ Chief Brody when he says “I can do anything I want, I’m the chief of police.” Peace, Love, Hopper.
Another nod to The Evil Dead comes in the form of Billy’s infected arm. It looks an awful lot like how the poison from the movie’s Deadites spread through a host’s body. Fun stuff.
Steve turns brainiac when he discovers that the song from the background of the coded Russian message is played by a fun fair ride in the mall. This tune may sound familiar to sci-fi fans. The song, “On A Bicycle Built For Two”, is the same thing HAL 9000 sings as he’s being shut down in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s also featured in the 1986 movie The Hitcher when character John Ryder hums the song. In a very creepy way might I add.
Episode 3: “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”
During one dark and stormy night Eleven and Max don a pair of bright raincoats. This not only protects them from the rain but, it offers a nice touch of color to offset the dark. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such a tactic used. Bright raincoats have been included in iconic movies like It, Don’t Look Now, Friday the 13th and Milo. This dynamic duo even offers some The Shining twins vibes in a scene where they menacingly stand side by side.
Another nod to vintage horror can be found in another shop in the mall, Kaufman Shoes. This is a reference to the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers which was directed by Philip Kaufman.
Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) faces a bit of bullying at her new job at the Hawkins Post. This bullying includes a new nickname, Nancy Drew, when she’s trying to be helpful. The episode title itself, The Case of the Missing Lifeguard, could be a reference to this nickname as it does sound an awful lot like a Nancy Drew book title.
Episode 4: “The Sauna Test”
When Hopper confronts mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes) the two get into a tussle. This results in Hopper jamming Kline’s finger into a cigar cutter and threatening to chop it off. This strategy can also be found in the 1990 action flick Darkman. The only difference is that Hopper didn’t actually go through with it.
When Scoop Troop leader a.k.a the love of my life, Robin (Maya Hawke), gets blueprints for the Starcourt Mall she points out the vents as their only way to travel through the mall undetected. This leads to some cool vent crawling scenes that maybe a reference to Alien and or Die Hard.
Later in the Scoop Troop’s adventure, the group discover boxes that contain cylinders filled with a strange green liquid. These cylinders open up in the exact same way the Nostromo’s power cells do in Alien. The Alien references don’t stop there as the green liquid, which is very, very acidic, looks identical to Xenomorph’s blood. Though it could also be compared to Promethium, which was used in the creation of Cyborg in the DC comic.
We’ll Meet Again
The song at the end of this episode is a 1939 British bop called We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn. This same song plays at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, which just so happens to be a Cold War satire.
Episode 5: “The Flayed”
After meeting Russian scientist Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff) Hopper gives him the nickname Smirnoff. While it’s most likely a reference to the vodka brand, it may also be a reference to the comedian Yakov Smirnoff. Smirnoff, a Soviet-born American, jokes often revolved around a naive Soviet who finds American culture confusing. Much like the adorable Dr. Alexei.
We soon find out that the missing lifeguard Heather (Francesca Reale) is killed by drinking chemicals. This could be a nod to Winona Ryder’s role the 1988 film The Heathers. In this movie a girl also named Heather is killed in the same way.
The gang only spends a short time at the local hospital. However there are plenty of juicy callbacks to more vintage horror. First we see the possessed Bruce (Jake Busey) stalking Nancy through the hospital in an almost leisurely fashion. This could be a reference to the manner Michael Myers stalks his victims in Halloween II.
Next we see Bruce busting through a glass window on the hospital door and saying “Hi there.” This gives off even more Shining vibes as this scene is pretty reminiscent of the infamous “Here’s Johnny!” scene.
This hospital tango finally comes to an end when Jonathan and Nancy kill Bruce and Tom Holloway (Michael Park). Once dead, their bodies melt down into mush then ooze towards each other to merge into a monster. This is totally another reference to The Thing. The monster in that movie absorbed a whole bunch of sled dogs to becoming bigger and more powerful. It could also be a reference to The Blob, which is all about a goo monster that eats people and gets bigger. Fun!
Episode 6: “E. Pluribus Unum”
The episode title, E. Pluribus Unum, is Latin for “Out of many, one”. This phrase is on the Great Seal for the United States and acts as the country’s unofficial/offical motto. In the show this is most likely referring to the Mind Flayer monster. You know, that blob thing that is slowly but surely getting bigger thanks to all the Hawkins citizens that it’s absorbing.
Murray’s (Brett Gelman) house is littered with loads of cool stuff. This includes wall decor! In the kitchen viewers might see a poster for The Conspiracy Stomp, a live concert from 1969, that may be a nod to Murray’s hippie past. Then there is a poster behind his sofa with the phrase “Informed Opinion Counts” on it. This particular piece of art was a propaganda poster made by the U.S. sometime between 1935 and 1943.
Murray’s Phone Number
That’s right, guys. The phone number works. When Alexei finally reveals the Russian’s plans Hopper calls for backup on Murray’s phone. At the end of the call he gives the poor soul on the other end Murray’s phone number so they could call back if needed. The whole scene looks pretty inconspicuous on the surface. That is until you actually dial the number and are met with an oh-so-charming voicemail. Try it for yourself. It’s good. The number is 618-625-8313. “Hang up and never call here again! You. Are. A. Parasite!”
Episode 7: “The Bite”
We see more Evil Dead parallels when the gang is hiding out in the cabin. First we see a deer head on the wall. Johnathan then arms himself with an ax just like Ash does in the film. And when one of the Mind Flayer’s limbs is cut off it crawls away. Just like Ash’s evil hand does.
A Mouth Within a Mouth
It’s official. My heart grows three sizes each time I see an Alien reference. It’s getting serious. We see yet another one of these references during the Mind Flayer’s attack. It’s revealed to have a little mouth within its mouth, just like the Xenomorph!
In the cereal aisle of the supermarket, we can get a look at some limited edition cereals that were, in fact, real and popular back in the 80’s. This group of sugary concoctions include Pac Man cereal, Smurfberry Crunch, Donkey Kong cereal, Mr. T cereal, Rainbow Brite cereal, G.I. Joe Action Stars and Ghostbusters cereal. I will take one of each, please and thanks.
We also get a nice callback to seasons 1 and 2 when Eleven is blindfolded in front of a freezer full of Eggo’s. Just when we feared she was getting over her obsession.
The Theater’s Marquee
The movie theater’s marquee reveals the theater is currently playing some familiar flicks. These titles include Return to Oz, Cocoon, Fletch and The Stuff.
Hall of Mirrors
Grigori’s pursue of Hopper leads the men to a funhouse’s hall of mirrors. This adds a bit of intensity and confusion to the chase. We’ve seen this trope used plenty of times in films such as The Lady From Shanghai, The Man With the Golden Gun and The Guest.
Dawn of the Dead
In the 1978 squeal to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, we see a bunch of the survivors hiding out in a mall just like the strange gang. This scene includes display cars on the main floor and is complete when Robin slides down the middle of the escalator, just like they do in the film.
Episode 8: “The Battle of Starcourt”
National Lampoon’s Vacation
With a plan in action, Dustin gives each group their own call sign for the walkie talkies. He graces Nancy’s group as “The Griswold Family”. This is probably because the group is driving around in a station wagon. Just like the Griswold family did in the 1983 road trip comedy, National Lampoon’s Vacation.
When Dustin’s very real girlfriend Suzie finally makes her brief appearance in the finale we get a quick glimpse into her bedroom. We see essential geeky stuff like a ham radio and a Wizard of Oz poster on the wall. We also see something else on Suzie’s nightstand. Something very special you might be able to see if pause at just the right time.
In the previous 2 seasons Dustin is seen almost always wearing his iconic red, white and blue hat. However, this season it was swapped out for a yellow, green and orange trimmed hat. You might be asking, what happened to his OG hat? Reddit user shannoncottr has the answer they made last week. She has the hat, guys. She has the hat! Talk about couple goals!
What was your favorite Easter Egg this on this list? Were there any we missed? Let us know! The 3rd season of Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix!