How Nightmare on Elm Street influenced Stranger Things’ new monster


Stranger Things returned to Netflix today courtesy of a new season that brings with it a new monster, and said villain is heavily influenced by A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger, both in terms of prey, tactics, and kills. But be aware, there are SEASON 4, EPISODE 1 SPOILER AHEAD…

Season 4 of Stranger Things is finally upon us, and finds the characters scattered across the globe, with the action playing out in Los Angeles and Russia, as well as Indiana. And the villain is a creature that will feel familiar to fans of 1980s horror.


In the first episode, a teenage girl is stalked by a character that projects voices and visions into her mind, messing with her head and playing on her deepest, darkest fears.

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Then in the episode’s shocking finale, the creature violently murders her while she’s in a trance, in a manner reminiscent of horror icon Freddy Krueger.

robert-englind-as-freddy-krueger-in-a-nightmare-on-elm-streetNew Line Cinema
Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

How Stranger Things Pays Homage to Freddy Krueger

Freddy Kruger was the monster at the heart of 1984 horror hit A Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as the many sequels that followed, a TV spin-off, and a 2010 reboot.

The character was a child killer burned alive by the parents of his victims. He then returned from the dead to kill more kids in their dreams, which ended their days in the real world, too.

Stranger Things’ new big bad preys teenagers, much like Freddy. In the first episode, he upsets his victim by mocking her insecurity about her weight, which is something Krueger would do. The monster then makes her think she can hear the voice of her mother, which is another Krueger tactic. Then he goes full Freddy, putting her in a trance, and smashing her body to bits while she’s unconscious.

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It’s a scene that could be from the original Nightmare movie, both visually, and in terms of the brutality. And it’s followed by a cameo in Episode 4 that makes the connection even more pronounced, though we won’t spoil that appearance here.

doug-bradley-as-pinhead-in-hellraiserEntertainment Film
Doug Bradley as Pinhead in Hellraiser.

Hellraiser also an influence on new monster

There also seems to be some Hellraiser in that first episode. The creature tells his victim “it’s time for your suffering to end” which sounds like something Hellraiser villain Pinhead might say. Though he’d probably end that sentence with “begin.”

The reference isn’t coincidental. The Duffer Brothers – who created Stranger Things – have gone on record with the fact that Hellraiser is another influence on Season 4.

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Speaking to IGN, Ross Duffer said “Pinhead really freaked us out when we were younger. We really wanted to imbue [redacted] with some Pinhead vibes.”

We won’t reveal the monster’s name here, but if you want to know what the kids of Stranger Things call him, it’s uttered at the end of Episode 2…