Few cultural phenomena explode like “Stranger Things” did when it premiered in the summer of 2016. It was instantaneous. The series about a bunch of kids trying to find their missing friend hit so many beats that audiences flocked to the series. What was essentially a throwback homage to works of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, became must-watch television. Stars were crowned, including David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, and Millie Bobby Brown. Winona Ryder and Sean Astin have been introduced to a whole new generation.
“Stranger Things” is Netflix’s biggest hit, and has left a massive cultural footprint. Now it’ll go Halloween Horror Nights, and offers a lot of reasons to get excited. Let’s break down what’s likely to appear in the house, as well as some stuff to watch to get even more hyped for the house.
EXPECTED WAIT TIME ON A GIVEN NIGHT
3 Hours (I feel it could easily be more on peak nights)
LOCATIONS WE HOPE TO SEE
Traditional houses travel through about a dozen to two dozen scenes in a given narrative. However, some massive houses are able to add even more than that. The “American Horror Story” houses over the past couple of years have proved that. With “Stranger Things” likely to be one of the biggest houses ever, this house will have to justify the insanely long wait we’re expecting. The house is likely to have a high capacity, in order to ensure many guests are experiencing it simultaneously. So what are some key locations they should showcase in the house?
- The Toolshed – Will disappears in the tool shed, and the little house could be an excellent location to insert the first appearance of a Demigorgan. How much they’ll use a Demogorgon will be interesting, but here’s a spot where it makes a lot of sense to bring him out early.
- Hawkins National Laboratory – This can be flipped with The Toolshed, but unveiling it too early might mean a repeat trip later. The Upsidedown will undeniably be a big part of this house, so the question is whether or not they drop us straight in or not. The show opens in the lab, and we can watch some redshirt doctors get murdered before we explore the location where the scientists enter the upside down.
- The Forrest – The Forrest is where we run into characters on a consistent basis. There have been several houses that used trees in the past, and this year looks like there’s going to be more of the same. The woods will make for dark and creepy scares, from scientists to cops to potentially Eleven and the other kids.
- Joyce’s House – The Christmas lights on the walls is an iconic shot, and we should probably revisit the house a 2nd time with the Demogorgon later. However, you can’t deny that Joyce screaming about the lights isn’t an iconic piece of the first season. Plus we’ll get a blast of “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now” from The Clash. Another element that can get introduced here is the Demogorgon in the walls, which can pull from other houses that used fabric walls in the past.
- Steve’s House – Barb gets grabbed by the Pool, and then gets murdered by a Demogorgon. The pool may not feel like an essential location, but if they “Upside Down” the area, it could be extremely creepy.
- The Sensory Deprivation Chamber – The Darkness of the Sensory Deprivation tanks would be extremely compelling to walk to through. While it’s doubtful that the room will be silent like it is on the show, Barb’s body in the upside down is one of the most disgusting moments of the season. It’s worth showcasing the horrific death, and also pay homage to the #JusticeforBarb moment. How can we have a house without Barb at all?
- The Upside Down – the most horrifying part of the world is the Upside Down. There’ll be a lot of production design involved here, recreating areas we likely walked through. It’s deeply creepy, and again will likely involve using the woods as an effect. It could even be used periodically throughout the house, as we enter and exit the upside down. This might be the best way to utilize the creepy world, and integrate the Demogorgon throughout the house.
- Back to Hawkins Institute – Like I said, we should get it again. Just a hope that we get a few times, especially with the creepy basements.
- The School – This is where we should get the finale, potentially after we leave the Upside Down. There are soldiers here, as well as the Demogorgon. It’s the location of the final events of the show and should be able to work as a final setpiece.
SCARES TO WATCH FOR
- The Demogorgon (expect a lot of them, probably more than any other character)
- Will (2 ways: 1), he’s plastered into a wall, “Alien” style. That’s going to scare the hell out of someone; 2) the time when he’s on the other side of the wall from Joyce. That could be cool to use translucent walls with characters stuck on the other side)
- Random, Ambient Sounds like Radios and Will’s screaming
- Mike, Dustin, Lucas
- Steve/Jonathan/Nancy with a Baseball Bat
- Hazmat-suited scientists (this could be surprisingly creepy)
WHAT TO WATCH
- “Stranger Things” Season 1– This one is an obvious choice, especially because the Horror Nights House will be based on the first season. Michael Aiello, the Senior Director of Entertainment Creative Development for Universal Orlando, has stated as much in interviews. It’ll help set up the house and give you the knowledge of the places in the house.
- “It” – One of King’s greatest works was adapted into a very strong movie last year. Pennywise the Clown is one freaky villain, and the story of the Losers Club joining together to fight a monster had some obvious influence on this one.
- “E.T.” – The story of children running amuck over a small town on bikes, while hiding their activities from their parents again sounds familiar. There’s no more seminal work of ’80’s VHS cinema than “E.T.” which is among the most influential films of the decade. The highly emotional story of suburbia remains one of Spielberg’s greatest triumphs and holds a place in pop culture history for eternity.
- “Goonies“/”Monster Squad” Double Feature – These two movies are very similar and continue to spark debate decades after their release. Pretty much everyone’s seen “Goonies,” and if you haven’t, jump on in right now. After all, it stars teenage Thanos (Josh Brolin), Elementary School Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) and a group of 1980’s child stars (also Martha Plimpton). On the flip side, who knew that “Monster Squad” would pick up so many supporters after its original run? The movie is a super ridiculous version of “Goonies” if all the kids were dicks. It’s super fun in that way, and also they answer the age old question…does Wolfman have Nards? Also, there’s a child who chain-smokes. It was the ’80’s.
- “Stand By Me” – If you’re looking for a film that is not scary, but instead dramatic as hell, throw on “Stand By Me.” The film is based on a short story by King, “The Body,” and follows four boys as they go to find a dead body. On the way they fight their personal demons about who they’re meant to be, what growing up means, and how their families have messed them up. It’s an absolute treasure and one of the most impactful movies for any man to watch. The distinct lack of women may find some audiences alienated, but the story of brotherhood should ring true to any audience.