An ancient monster from another world emerges from deep beneath our ground, killing every human in its path. Its origins are mysterious and unknown. Its evil is unquestioned. This terrible creature can even change its appearance to look like someone you know and trust. Is it attacking Hawkins, Indiana or a research station in Antarctica?
That depends on if we’re talking about Stranger Things or The Thing, two horror stories with a clear link. It’s a connection that might become even more direct in Stranger Things 4and the first promo for the upcoming season suggests John Carpenter’s classic film will be a major inspiration for the show.Netflix’s first look at Stranger Things 4 confirms our theory that Chief Hopper didn’t die and was the unseen “American” imprisoned in a wintry Russian prison in season three’s final scene. This teaser features a rough-looking Hopper working along a train track under heavy Soviet army guard and thanks to the Duffer Brothers’ note accompanying the promo, we know exactly where he is. The Russians are keeping Hopper on the Kamchatka peninsula, not far from the most eastern tip of Alaska.
Kamchatka makes perfect sense as a locale for the Soviets to be keeping their own demogorgon (also seen at the end of season three). The USSR declared it a military zone after WWII, and it was off limits to Soviet citizens until 1989. If you wanted to keep forgotten prisoners out of sight (along with a monster from the Upside Down), it’s an ideal spot—ideal so long as you don’t mind the cold and snow. Kamchatka’s winter is not as bad as Siberia and other parts of Russia, however, it still has a subarctic climate. And snow covers the region from October through May. Not exactly what one would consider a winter paradise.
That setting alone gives off major The Thing vibes. Hopper is isolated at a snowy outpost where an “alien” monster also lives. If the base is attacked by the demogorgon or Mind Flayer, both of which already have much in common with the alien shape-shifter dug out of the Antarctic snows, it would be an obvious reference to the iconic 1982 film. But the Duffer’s note implies an even stronger connection between the two. They write Hopper “will face dangers both human…and other” which is exactly what MacReady had to deal with in The Thing.Their note also says, “Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything…”
“Long buried.” Sounds exactly like the Thing, right? And a “new horror” that connects “everything” could combine the sheer physical terror of the demogorgon with the Mind Flayer’s ability to take over the bodies of others. We focused on the “Pod People” element of the Mind Flayer when its hive-mind controlled the people of Hawkins but we missed its similarities to the Thing’s ability to literally transform into others.
And if that’s not enough, this new promo ends with an inhuman scream (around the :45 second mark). What monster is screaming, though? We don’t know, but it does remind us of the Thing.Stranger Things had two clear references to The Thing in season three: the movie’s poster was seen in the Wheeler family basement, and Lucas mentioned the movie when discussing why he loved New Coke. Both of those now feel like prelude to a much more direct reference to the show’s plot, setting, and possibly tone.
That doesn’t mean we should expect Stranger Things 4 will necessarily reference the The Thing in a linear fashion. The show’s references aren’t always direct one-for-one references. For example, it drew from Fletch in season three, but they didn’t have Nancy Wheeler running around in disguises like Chevy Chase. Maybe the Russians will actually dig up an ancient monster buried in the snow, a monster that then threatens Hawkins. But The Thingcould end up being more of an “inspiration” for the show and it could be borrowing different elements of Carpenter’s movie throughout the season.
Even if we don’t know exactly how the show will reference the movie, The Thing being a major influence on Stranger Things 4 would mean paranoia and terror. It would also mean death and unimaginable horror in a frozen wasteland. And it would mean one of our favorite TV shows referencing one of our all-time favorite movies.
There’s nothing scary about how much we’d love to see that.
Featured Image: Netflix/Universal Pictures