Friday, May 27, 2022

Stranger Things 3! - The Weird



Stranger Things 3!

"Can you count, suckers? Because I say the future is ours...if you can count."

-Cyrus, The Warriors

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

-The Bible, New International Version, Mark 5:9

"Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.

Stranger: Indeed?

Camilla: Indeed it's time. We've all laid aside disguise but you.

Stranger: I wear no mask.

Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda) No mask? No mask!"

-The King in Yellow, Act 1, Scene 2. Robert W. Chambers

"They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; 

autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted...twice dead."

-The Bible, New International Version, Jude 1:12

"Strange is the night where black stars rise,

and strange moons circle through the skies,

But stranger still is

Lost Carcosa"

-"Cassilda's Song," The King in Yellow, Act 1, Scene 2

"My fantasy

has turned to madness

And all my goodness

has turned to badness."

-Michael De Barres, "Obsession," Animotion


BEFORE WE REALLY BEGIN...

This is part one of an exploration into the myths, conspiracy theories, horror films and occult concepts behind Stranger Things 3, the hit Netflix horror/sci-fi show created by my favorite geniuses, The Duffer Brothers. To fully understand what the frack we are about to discuss, you will want to read the first work discussing the first Stranger Things right here. After that, check out my observations on Stranger Things 2 over here. After that, follow me on Instagram. Please. Thank you!

INTRODUCTION

Just like you this writer watched Stranger Things 3 through one bloodshot, inebriated, very high eyeball and decided the whole show had gone someplace else, far beyond horror, into realms we saw in movies before during the 80's. Action and science fiction are now part of the pastiche. Even Dungeons & Dragons has been abandoned. It's all about being cool, getting chicks and going to the mall. The Montauk Project seems to be a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...


CONFESSION

So rather than break down Stranger Things 3 my writing time went to putting together a screenplay for a science fiction horror flick about mind control called The Populace. No, really! None of us can get away from the topic of the show. We always return, as if programmed to do so. The script got finished, and yet the conversation was still about Eleven and her wacky friends. Here we are again.

The problem was, at first there seemed to be nothing new I could tell you about the third season that wasn't already discussed before in the previous work done on the website discussing the show. You know about conspiracy theories like MKULTRA, PROJECT STARGATE, THE MONTAUK PROJECT, THE PHILEDELPHIA EXPERIMENT, tulpas, fallen angels and demons. You also already know about the Dungeons & Dragons references. What can I say that will entertain you, now?


The Day the Earth Stood Still

MORE SCI-FI FOR YOU

Surrealism began to creep in when I realized that a lot of sci-fi really is horror. The Day the Earth Stood Still is really just about the Greek myth of Talos and automata, or the mythical horror story Jewish folklore has about the golem. The Terminator is also about a golem. He's a killer robot, a card from The Horror Tarot Stephen King talks about in his masterpiece, Danse Macabre. The Thing is also a monster, and that shows up later by the end of Stranger Things 3. The living mind-controlled zombie men that show up controlled by the strange dark fluids they injected into themselves. This goes back to The Stepford Wives, which is also a sci-fi horror story.


Stranger Things is a sci-fi horror story. So is the conspiracy behind The Montauk Project, the government's exploration into alternate universes via time travel tunnels, and the id monster summoned by the psychic that destroyed the base and ended the experiment. The original conspiracy also dealt with time tunnels and cracks in reality that scientists attempted to explore, leading into alternate realities and very terrible places. So if Stranger Things 3 decides to add all those elements, plus films from the 80's like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Die Hard, and Back to the Future to the mix, who am I to argue?

GROWING OUT OF YOUR OWN MYTH

The real problem I had decided whether or not to write this intellectual excavation of Stranger Things 3 is because there really seemed to be nothing more to discuss. They sort of dropped the Dungeons & Dragons references, because the kids aren't paying attention to that. The show was now growing up, like the children, and reinforcing it's own structure with references to itself.

If The Duffer Brothers created a show based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the same way they created a show based on The Montauk Project, there'd only be so far we could go once we described a female burglar sampling porridge created and consumed by three bears. We can guess what's going to happen until the bears show up. So you can understand how once the Soviet Union showed up, built a secret base under a shopping mall, and now everyone is referencing Star Wars (or Raiders of the Lost Ark) by putting on uniforms and sneaking around a military installation, I just lost interest. That wasn't a part of the original conspiracy theory. Not my department.

If the original story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears suddenly has a big brother, some penguins, a centaur, talking trees and a bowl of clam chowder, it's going to be rather hard to predict or discuss these new elements as they relate to the original fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The Duffer Brothers did that with the original conspiracy theories behind their work. There's so much more that was never a part of the conspiracy theories that are now part of Stranger Things 3. Since that's not my department, we are done. Nothing more to talk about, right? Good bye!


Talos, an automata (robot) from Greek mythology.

THE MISSING THINK

Ha ha ha, just kidding, there's actually more to discuss because I fracked up! There are things I missed while discussing Stranger Things and Stranger Things 2 that watching 3 again helped me remember. It's actually embarrassing. The Duffer Brothers did more than reference The Montauk Project, alien abductions and horror movies about psychic powers. Other concepts are at work here, including deep parallels to western European folklore about The Gentle Folk and Greek mythology.

THE CHINA SYNDROME

At the beginning of 3 the USSR is attempting to blast a hole into the same underworld Eleven closed at the end of 2. The machine blows up, the tentacles emerging from crevasse before it does, and the resulting electrical backlash triggers the remaining detritus of the monsters from Stranger Things 2 to become a strange cloud that controls animals and then people. It's also an infection, associated by electricity, that is related to the weather, particularly thunderstorms. Why?


This concept of The Cold War getting so bad that an out of control corporation might do something that triggers the destruction of the Earth, or at least a good part of it, is very similar to The China Syndrome, a movie about what happens when beating the USSR becomes so important we end up going too far, with technology out of control. For instance, many scientists believed that when the first atomic bomb was tested in New Mexico ? It would cause all the oxygen in the atmosphere to ignite at once, killing all life on Earth. That's a lot better than losing to the Nazi's, so they tested the bomb anyways. The rest is history.

FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD

If the thought of Jason Voorhees from Crystal Lake walking around chopping people to death fills you with awe, glee and wonder, than by all means check out this flick. It has everything! Lighting brings Jason back to life! He's a zombie with a weapon now, totally brought back to life just like Frankenstein. Horror, sci-fi and electricity were really made for each other, huh? Just like electricity is a big deal throughout Stranger Things 3.

Now, here's the confession. Eleven's ability to use psychic powers is a total reference to this film. There's a young girl who is telekinetic in this movie! No, really! There's also no reason given why she has powers. She just does. The telekinetic eventually fights Jason and it's totally badass. Like, completely radical. Whey didn't I notice this when we talked about the first Stranger Things? Gag me with a spoon! Seriously, check out this film. Lot's of Stranger Things vibes to shake with.


FALLING LIKE LIGHTNING

The massive burst of lighting that reanimates the remains of the monsters becomes a whirling cloud that starts to control simple creatures, similar to how Dracula controls rats, and then moves on to control humans by grabbing them with tentacles. We were warned about this in the Stranger Things 2. The Mind Flayer, as the children call it, tried to control Will. Now it's controlling, and trying to control, everyone else.

The Duffer Brothers even give us a conversation with this horrific, extradimensional evil, and it's intent is pretty simple: conquest. Just like a disease, it wants to consume your body until you are something, or someone, else. This includes other free willed entities that die and become a monstrous collective.

I'm about to tell you a real life horror story. Trust me, it's horrific as it is scientific! You may want to skip down to the next part if you are faint of heart, have a mind that is easily broken, or are eating a pastrami sandwich. Take a deep breath. Brace yourself. It's about to get REAL.


Henrietta Lacks

CANCER...FOREVER!

Long story real short (I'll provide you with a link) there once was a woman that got cancer. The doctors studied it, but could not save her. She died. So far, so sad. Except...she lives! Apparently her cancer had a strange genetic mutation to it that meant it never died. Seriously. Worse yet, it kept growing.

The scientists kept feeding the cancer and giving samples to other scientist across the planet, who apparently aren't smart enough to watch horror films and learn to calm the frack down, until now the original sample is very, very big indeed. Bigger than the lady it came from! Like...tons! Maybe not tons, but dear Lord it's really big. Plus it's still alive, which is enough to make an army of atheists believe in The Devil.

Check out this link if you want. My point is that the body horror featured in Stranger Things 3 does relate to real life. The poor woman was afflicted by a genetic error that replicated, killed her, and lived on without her. It's still alive, like the horrific genetic monster in the Netflix show we know so well. A disease that controls the flesh, mutates it, and then kills the host, living on without them as the flesh that died creating it. Like The Mind Flayer, her cancer wanted to build. 

THE GATE

The Gate is a movie about a rift that opens to Hades, releasing little demons that try to murder everybody. This movie even (spoiler alert) kills a kid! Woah! They open the gate by doing the usual stupid things protagonists in horror movies do to open a gate to Hades like in Night of the Demons. Science always does that. Just ask Stephen King about The Mist. Or the scientists who worked on The Manhattan Project. So quite obviously Stranger Things 2 and 3 reference this, just like the first installment referenced alien abduction stories and conspiracy theories.


THE THEATER

A lot of attention is paid to the opening sequence inside the theater with some of the kids. A tunnel opens up in the film screen, broadcasting images into their little heads, living as electricity becoming holograms in their heads. This concept, that the film screen is a dimensional gateway into other dimensions of understanding, is very Stanley Kubrick. Just ask Rob Ager! The Duffer Brothers, like many good directors, are also very Kubrickian.

THE BEGINNING MOVIE

This one baffles me. Sorry. A young woman in a white room, obviously trapped. Kind of like Eleven was, huh? Is this even a part of the zombie flick the movie says it is? I don't think so. This, to me, is Eleven's dark side, The Demogorgon, living on as an image that taunts her and those wacky kids across film and television. The young woman certainly looks like an evil Eleven. Or maybe it's a reference to Eve in Genesis and Sophia in Gnosticism. A woman trapped by an evil god in a world of flesh and sin. So The Mind Flayer is kind of like Demiurge.


2001, A Space Odyssey

Which brings us back to Eleven, again. Is she from the future, maybe? It would explain why the scientists and soldiers trying to capture Eleven in the first Stranger Things were killing people. Perhaps they were trying to prevent a paradox. Does that mean the USSR military and scientists we keep seeing are also from the future, or even the past? I'm not sure. Later on the kids hide in a movie theater and a giant, flaming 11 appears on the screen from the film Back to the Future. If you understand The Duffer Brothers, you known by now that's not a coincidence.


Back to the Future

THE WILL TO CONTROL 

Have you noticed that the entire series is about control? Eleven was controlled in the first one. The laboratory shoved her into a room and made her obey. The second series saw Will get controlled. The third is also about control. The Sheriff tries to control Eleven by keeping her in a room in a cabin in the woods and makes rules, telling her what to do. When another character tries to investigate, she enters a room and is controlled by the men.

Eleven controls the robots in the very first episode. The Mind Flayer controls live humans. The adults try to control the kids, and are controlled by their government agents. Will is also a control freak, too. Did you notice that? Remember, Will was possessed in the last season. He also had a tube from The Upside Down (or Vale of Shadows) in his mouth throughout the last half of the first season. Of all the people in this show, Will is controlled the most.


When the Mind Flayer activates, because of the USSR electrical experiment, it starts to control everything. Rats and then humans. Will also does this. Throughout the first episodes he's doing the same thing. Trying to get his friends to play Dungeons & Dragons. He feels the sensation in the back of his neck when there is strange weather, and in the theater. He's part of the Mind Flayer, even though he's not possessed, and his personality still reflects it.

I honestly spent the first episodes of season 3 trying to figure out if Will was totally insane, or just a typical hormonal teenager trying to figure out life. He just wants to get his friends into a room and make them play his game. Like the Mind Flayer, the government trying to control Eleven, or the Sheriff trying to control her too, Will wants to control his friends and make them live in his imaginary world.

Dungeons & Dragons is the ultimate drug if a person is a control freak. A good Dungeon Master listens to the players, creates an imaginary world where their opinions, hopes, dreams and decisions matter, proceeding to reflect their freedoms through visualizations created for entertainment purposes only. Its like good comedy improv, "Yes, and..." where everyone is a participant.


Trapped in a world inside his imagination.

A bad Dungeon Master puts his players into a box (you know, a dungeon) and controls them. The players must play the game they are given. Their choices are preprogrammed. It's an illusion of free will. As his players begin to make choices that don't reflect the reality Will wants, he loses his temper. Later on, he destroys the tree house because the agony of watching his friends ditch a game for real life tortures him. It's as if being possessed by the Mind Flayer reinforced something in him that needs to enslave others, just like the disease itself.

When you think about it, Will's plan to get everyone together helps out The Mind Flayer. Occupied by a game inside of their heads, locked in a room, they won't notice all Hades breaking loose in the town. They'll be too busy counting experience points instead of corpses. Will's redemption is when he realizes that fighting evil in real life is a true adventure.

To be continued!

https://www.netflix.com/title/80057281

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