There’s a lot to celebrate this July 4th. Not only is it Independence Day, it’s also the debut date of Season 3 of the Netflix hit show Stranger Things. When you’re done barbecuing and watching fireworks, you can settle down to watch this memorable cast of characters as they deal with life, love and the paranormal — not to mention some downright scary monsters — in the made-up town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s.
To get you revved up for the debut, here are ten of the best scenes from Seasons 1 and 2 to enjoy in your home theater. Dim the lights, crank up those subwoofers and surround speakers, and prepare to be terrified! (Note: there are spoilers galore in this article.)
1. Season 1, Episode 3: Will Tells Joyce to Run
12 year-old Will Byers has been kidnapped and brought to “The Upside Down,” a parallel dimension filled with demonic creatures. Joyce, his mother, has been desperately searching for him. She becomes convinced that her son can communicate to her through electricity and so she rigs her house up with Christmas lights, including some that correspond to letters in the alphabet, which she’s painted on her wall. After some initial flickering, he sends her an ominous one-word message: “Run.” Then all heck breaks loose. This scene has no music, just some incredible sound design … and it will send shivers up your spine. Check it out here.
2. Season 1, Episode 6: Mike Jumps Off a Cliff
Will’s buddies Dustin and Mike are accosted by a pair of bullies who threaten Dustin with a knife unless Mike jumps off a cliff into a gorge. After trying to decide what to do, he finally jumps … but as he’s falling, their new friend Eleven uses her psychokinetic powers to stop him in mid-air and save his life. Music is building throughout, helping to ratchet up the tension, but it stops completely when Mike jumps, and the contrast between its intensity and the near silence of the fall adds an extra touch of drama to the spectacular visuals. Check it out here.
3. Season 1, Episode 7: Eleven Flips a Van with Her Powers
The friends are riding their bikes when confronted by the evil Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), who arrives with a crew of men in white vans. After a short chase scene, our heroes are cornered, and it looks like they’re about to be captured. Just in the nick of time, Eleven uses her mental powers to flip one of the vans in the air, blocking the other two as it lands and allowing the kids to escape. There’s a fantastic slow-motion shot of the van flying through the air backward, underpinned by powerful audio. Check it out here.
4. Season 1, Episode 7: Building a Sensory Deprivation Tank
Eerie synth music and sound effects accompany the protagonists as they finish building a sensory deprivation tank in a small swimming pool — something that will allow Eleven to enter The Upside Down to look for Will. After she gets into the water, there’s a crack of thunder guaranteed to shake your subwoofer … and suddenly Eleven is alone in the other dimension. Check it out here.
5. Season 1 Episode 8: Fighting the Demogorgon
Will’s older brother Jonathan and his friends Nancy and Steve wait in the house, hoping to trap the monster known as the Demogorgon. Eventually the creature appears and a close-quarters fight ensues. The terrifying fracas features fast edits, monster roars, gunshots and even the sickening sound of Steve’s baseball bat studded with protruding nails hitting the Demogorgon’s stomach. Finally, they light the monster on fire in a spectacular ending to the scene. Check it out here.
6. Season 1, Episode 8: Will is Found
Joyce and Jim Hopper (chief of the Hawkins Police Department) are walking inside The Upside Down wearing protective suits and helmets, looking for Will. What you mostly see is darkness, punctuated by moving flashlight beams, all underpinned with spooky low frequency sound effects. They find a dead body (at which point you hear a huge, subwoofer-rattling synthesizer chord), which fortunately isn’t Will. When they do find him, however, he’s not in great shape, and Hopper has to pull a disgusting looking bug-like creature out of Will’s mouth to help save him. Check it out here.
7. Season 2, Episode 1: Will Sees the Shadow Monster
In the Season 2 premiere episode, Will is standing by himself (or so he thinks) in the hallway at the laboratory where The Upside Down was discovered. He suddenly sees the Shadow Monster — a giant swirling, gaseous thing — coming at him through the walls. He runs outside to escape, but the monster emerges from the building as a vast apparition that towers over Will, filling the sky. It doesn’t end well for Will, as the monster catches him, infiltrates his body and takes over his mind. The scene features both astonishing visual effects and massive monster sounds. Check it out here.
8. Season 2, Episode 6: Steve Fights the Demo-Dogs
The kids hide inside an old school bus, hoping to trap the creature that was once “Dart,” a lizard-like animal that could fit in the palm of Dustin’s hand but is now a giant dog-like monster. When their original bait doesn’t work, Steve steps outside with his spiked baseball bat, hoping to draw out the creature. This dark and tense scene builds in tension as first one, and then two other creatures appear. Pulsing synths and brilliant sound effects — notably the crash of the monster throwing itself against the bus — make this scene a scary, audio-visual feast. Check it out here.
9. Season 2, Episode 8: Escaping the Building
The Demogorgons have gone on a killing spree at the laboratory, wiping out much of the staff in horrible fashion. The kids, who were inside the building at the time and somehow survived, manage to escape with Chief Hopper’s help … but Joyce’s boyfriend Bob is still stuck inside. Lab director Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser), who is trapped in the facility’s video monitor-equipped security room, gives Bob instructions via radio, guiding him out of the building and helping him avoid the monsters — well, almost. Fantastic action, animation, sound effects and an unexpected ending make this nightmarish scene truly unforgettable. Check it out here.
10. Season 2, Episode 9: Steve and Billy Fight
For once, it’s not human versus monster, but human versus human as Steve and the thuggish outsider Billy duke it out in the living room. Steve gets the worst of it and is getting a serious (slow-motion) beatdown until Billy’s sister Max stops her brother in his tracks with a hypodermic needle to the neck. Compelling visuals and a deft mix of music, dialogue and sound effects help make this scene memorable. Check it out here.
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