List Of 80s References In 'The Spy' - Stranger Things 2, Episode 6
80s ExpertBy Gareth Bellamy
Compiled by the Higgypop Professor of the 1980s, Gareth Bellamy. He's so old, he can remember the 70s!
Whilst Will's connection to whatever evil is lurking below Hawkins grows ever-stronger, nobody seems to have a clue how to save him. Elsewhere, Dustin and Steve form an unlikely bromance, bonding over girlfriend tips and Steve's haircare advice. But will we, the viewers, discover any fresh 80s references? Let's get the next coach to Hawkins and find out...
Before the credits roll we're straight into Exorcist territory as a team of medics try to save Will who's gone into a fit triggered by the Hawkins Lab dudes torching the underground tentacles as they rescued Hopper, Joyce and Bob from the tunnels. The Exorcist, if you haven't seen it (and if not, why not!?!) is a 1973 American supernatural horror film which tells the story of a teenage girl possessed by a demon, and the fight involved in freeing her from it. Directed by William Peter Blatty, it is considered by many a foundational film of modern horror and is genuinely terrifying in parts no matter how many times you've seen it. Joyce demanding answers from the doctors about how to cure Will as he seems to be taken over by forces unknown is very much a tribute to this classic horror.
As Steve and Dustin descend into the storm cellar hunting for Dustin's pet, and find a shed skin, and a growing alien creature, we're pretty sure we've seen something similar in Ridley Scott's 'horror in space' Alien, released in 1979, as the xenomorph rapidly grew once hatched. The tagline for this film was 'In space, no one can hear you scream'. We might update this to 'In Hawkins, none of the residents appear to have noticed a HUGE NETWORK OF ALIEN TUNNELS UNDER THEIR TOWN!'
When Harry Met Sally
Whilst Jonathan and Nancy continue their will they/won't they 'romance at a distance', comprising what must be the world record for teenage foreplay, When Harry Met Sally popped up on our 80s radar. This 1989 comedy starring, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, featured an infamous 'faked orgasm' in a diner scene – “I'll have what she's having.” The major question the film sought an answer for is, can men and women be friends without sex getting in the way. Based on Jonathan and Nancy's antics in this episode, we'd say the answer is most definitely no.
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Jonathan and Nancy in separate rooms expressing their frustrations has a much clearer 80s parallel in the Indy sequel from 1984, where Willie, the nightclub singer and Indy are suffering a similar evening of frustration.
This David 'X Files' Duchovny starring science fiction film from 2001, whilst not an 80s film, seems to be an inspiration to all the scenes with the scientists dealing with the underground infestations. Biohazard suits, alien life forms, spores blasting out, it's all here!
The series seems to reference itself again in the hospital when Bob notes that the kind of weird stuff that's happened to Will is usually the preserve of 'movies and comic books' – to which we'd add 'and streaming series from Netflix', though as this series is set in 1984 that would probably be going just a bit too far.
The poster on Max's bedroom wall is for the 1966 surfer film 'Endless Summer' – the title describes the idea that if you had enough time and money you could follow the summer between the Northern and Southern hemispheres and enjoy 12 months of sunshine and freedom. We know Max is into skateboarding, perhaps her dream is to get out there in the surf? Also, we find out more about her troubled home life in this episode so that dream of escaping to the big wide world seems more real.
Stand By Me and Jaws
Two for the price of one. We can't go five minutes without a nod to the god of horror fiction, Stephen King, and we might as well cram Spielberg in there too. The scene of Dustin and Steve walking along the railway line is harks back to a scene in Stand By Me, the 1986 Rob Reiner film, based on Stephen King's novella 'The Body' – published in 1982. The scene already received a tribute in Season 1. Throwing the raw meat out as a bait for the baby Demodog had us thinking of the baiting scenes in Jaws, Spielberg's 1975 film.
Steve and Dustin teaming up, whilst unlikely, has definitely been a series highpoint for us, some much needed comic respite from Will's suffering.
Steve reveals the secret of his fantastic hair is a hairspray advertised by Farrah Fawcett. Farrah was an American actress who rose to fame as one of the leads in the original TV series of Charlie's Angels which aired from 1976. The same year she also appeared in an iconic poster, wearing a swimsuit, that went on to sell over 20 million copies.
But will Steve's hairspray reinforced locks be enough to beat Billy in the Stranger Things Season 2 battle of the manes?
This has to be THE 80s reference of the episode. Aliens, the James Cameron sequel to Alien was released in 1986. Let's go through the similarities…
A bunch of heavily armed troopers journeying into the lair of the alien enemy, armed with flamethrowers to attack them – check.
Video cameras mounted on the soldiers to relay footage back to HQ – check.
Motion detector's that show the aliens encroaching on the troops – check.
The actor Paul Reiser, who plays company git Carter Burke in Aliens, and Dr Owens in Stranger Things, watching the action unfold – check.
Someone warns the troops to "Stay frosty, boys" – check.
Earlier in the episode Dr Owns tells Joyce she 'needs to trust me' – again, a line Paul Reiser also uses in Aliens and said in almost exactly the same way.
The demodogs arriving in a cloud of fog is a nod to the 1980 horror classic The Fog from John Carpenter, who also developed the Halloween movies.
Remember how, in the 1993 Spielberg directed dinofest, the velociraptors outwitted the game warden Muldoon, played by the fantastic Bob Peck, by having one of them sneak up on him from the side whilst he was focussed on the beasties in front? It looks like maybe the demodogs were trying the same trick on Steve, the look very velociraptorish (is that a word?) in the way they try to attack him.
Another John Carpenter horror classic, The Thing was released in 1982 and stars Kurt Russell as one of a group of scientists in a remote Antarctic base being attacked by a shapeshifting alien. In the Thing, the alien had tentacles that come out of its body, similar to those smoky tendrils invading Will. The alien also changes form to look like its victims, and in this episode the alien appears to have taken over Will for at least part of the time. The alien in The Thing was also a fan of the cold, and not so keen on flamethrowers.
Queen – 'Hammer To Fall'. Steve driving Dustin, questioning him about Dart, then Steve getting his nail-studded bat out of the boot.
Yes, what better track to soundtrack Steve wielding his 'justice-giver' than Queen's Hammer To Fall? The single was released in 1984, and was the fourth single taken from their album The Works. The song was one of the tracks the band performed at Wembley in 1985 for Live Aid. The lyrics reference the Cold War, and following much conjecture, song writer Brian May said the song is really about death being a part of life, it's something you can't avoid. This doesn't sound promising for the good citizens of Hawkins.
It's worth noting from this point that the music associated with Murray is surprising good for someone sporting such a terrible beard!
Cameron Brooks – 'Where Django's At'. Plays in Murray's 'flat/warehouse' whilst he, Nancy and Jonathan copy her recording from the lab and package them up to be sent out to the media.
There's not a lot of info about Cameron Brooks out there on the web, but we did find out that he's a Los Angeles based composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who likes combining retro musical gear with new recording techniques to create a new multi-genre sound.
Artie Shaw & His Orchestra – 'There Is Frost On The Moon'. This is the music playing as Murray, Nancy and Jonathan have a drink or two of vodka or two to celebrate finishing packaging up their tapes. Murray then starts asking them about their relationship status!
Artie Shaw, who died in 2004, is widely regarded as one of jazz's finest clarinetists and also a bandleader, composer, actor! This track dates from 1936, we think, we're not sure as they didn't have the interwebs then.
Billie Holliday – 'You Better Go Now'. Accompanies Nancy and Jonathan as they think about what Murray said to them, and then discuss it in his living room.
Billie Holliday was a ground-breaking jazz musician and singer-songwriter whose thirty year career, ending with her death in 1959, has a lasting influence over American music since. This track was originally released on a 10” shellac disc in 1946. Thank the lord for Spotify, eh folks?
Roy Orbison – 'Blue Bayou'. Murray cooking breakfast for 'the kids'.
Murray really is soundtracked with some great tracks, isn't he? This track was first released on a double A side single in 1961, then later appeared on the album In Dreams. (If you don't know, a double A side single was fairly rare, but in the days on vinyl 7” singles you obviously had an A and a B side, A being the single, B being a less important track. Double A side means both sides were designated the A track!)
Ratt – 'Round And Round'. Billy pumping iron and working up a sweat.
Ratt are an American heavy metal band that saw commercial success in the mid 80s. Round and Round was released in 1984. They were also considered part of the 'hair metal' scene along with groups like Motley Crue.
And now, what synthy loveliness did the soundtrack composers for Stranger Things, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, provide in Episode 6?
'The First Lie' – Nancy and Jonathan meet up in the living room, have that all important first kiss and then disappear into her room. We'll leave it there.
'They Hurt Me' - Will reveals that when the soldiers attacked the vines with the flame-throwers it was hurting him.
'Lay-Z-Boy' – Steve revealing his hair management techniques to Dustin.
'Walkin in Hawkins' – Lucas telling Dustin that he's told Max everything that happened to Will in season 1.
'Soldiers' – The soldiers in the lab get their gear on to head down and investigate the vines.
'On The Bus' – Max reveals some of the family problems to Lucas on the bus.
'Sick Of Cow' – Whilst losing patience with Dart to come and eat their bait, Steve suggests it could be because he's sick of tasty beef, so decides to go outside and offer himself as a snack.
'Descent Into The Rift' – Dr Owens takes Hopper on a fun ride down to see how the organism has been growing.
'It's A Trap' – The soldiers arrive in the area Will sent them to as Will confesses that he was made to send them there.
On To Chapter Seven
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