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Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
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not only ethically
but metaphysically"
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De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
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De Palma/Lehman
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

The juxtaposition above comes from a video assembled by Ulysse Thevenon, titled "References to 70-80’s movies in Stranger Things." Stranger Things is Netflix' latest series, which has become a hit since premiering on the streaming site last month. Several have noted an obvious nod to Brian De Palma's Carrie, as well as a thematic similarity with De Palma's The Fury. Here are some links to explore:

Brian Lowry, CNN

"Press materials describe the series as a 'love letter to '80s supernatural classics that captivated a generation.' Clearly, there are touches of Poltergeist and The Goonies baked into the idea, as well as The Fury, Brian De Palma's 1978 psychic thriller. Still, Stranger Things ultimately has to stand on its own. And too often the pacing just limps along -- spooning out story in a way that practically demands bingeing, and even then never really disgorging all its secrets."

Scott Tobias, Vulture

Every Major Film Reference in the Show, From A–Z

Body Double (1984)
Brian De Palma’s deliciously pervy riff on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window plays with voyeurism and murder, casting Craig Wasson as a house sitter who uses a telescope to spy on a beautiful woman and witnesses a murder. In Stranger Things, Jonathan scours the woods with his camera in search of his missing brother, Will (Noah Schnapp), but pauses to catch some shots of his crush, Nancy, as she’s partying at her boyfriend’s house. The image of Jonathan peering through the blinds with telephoto lens as Nancy is about to lose her virginity recalls Body Double and its poster."

Carrie (1976)
Elle is a hybrid of two Stephen King stories about girls with telekinetic power, Carrie and Firestarter. Of the two, Stranger Things owes a little more to Carrie, if only because Elle and Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) have a broader range of skills and a similarly sheltered upbringing. Though Carrie’s age feeds into a more meaningful and excruciating story of her coming-of-age as a woman, the two characters are products of needy, controlling parents — Piper Laurie’s religious zealot in Carrie; Matthew Modine’s experimental scientist in Stranger Things — who don't allow socialization with other kids. And while Elle and Carrie are fundamentally sweet-natured, they’re capable of startling violence when provoked. (When they’re flashing trance-like stares, look out.) Stranger Things also includes a nice homage to the famous stinger that closes Carrie: Just as Carrie’s hand reaches through the soil at her gravesite — Nancy’s hand punctures through the goo when she climbs out of the Upside Down in episode six."

Vulture's Scott Tobias on Episode 6

"The Monster" makes a hard shift toward supernatural horror, with two serious jump-scares in the pre-credits sequence alone, so I'm going to make a hard shift toward talking about Stephen King, whose influence on Stranger Things I haven't mentioned to this point. The shot of Nancy's outstretched hand puncturing through the portal to the netherworld is a nod to the closing scene in Brian De Palma's adaptation of King's Carrie, one of the all-time-great stingers in movie history. And both are premised on reversing the same false assumption: Once you cross over to the Great Beyond, there's no coming back.

Yet the differences between the two are telling. In Stranger Things, the outstretched hand is a simple misdirection, shocking the viewer into thinking the creature is grabbing at Jonathan when, in fact, it's Nancy emerging from the portal. In Carrie, it's a nightmare, fueled by a teenager's guilt over her role in ostracizing one of her fellow students. One is an effective scare that dissipates; one is an effective scare that lingers. And that, in a nutshell, is the significant flaw in this otherwise entertaining series. There's nothing in the Duffer brothers' nostalgia trip that's uniquely resonant or built to last. It's a temporary endorphin rush.

Consider the biggest King connection here: Eleven, or Elle, whose telekinetic powers bring her in line with the heroines in King's Carrie and Firestarter. I haven't read Firestarter — which, given the girls' ages, may be the more appropriate comparison — but Carrie is essentially a coming-of-age scenario tweaked into a horror novel, expressing the dramatic swings of adolescent emotion as a violent flurry of psychic activity. Carrie becomes dangerous when she no longer has control of her feelings, and thus, no longer has control over her powers. It's an extreme version of the growth that confuses and torments all teenagers: Our bodies betray us at the most vulnerable time, and for Carrie, that betrayal is devastatingly complete.

There are flashes of Carrie's third-act aggression in "The Monster," which finds a distressed Elle turning her stress and anger on the manager of a grocery store and the bullies who force Mike to jump off a cliff. We've seen it before, in the flashback where Elle fatally smashes one handler into a tiled wall and snaps the neck of another like a twig. In the last episode, she knocked Lucas unconscious while trying to break up a fight, which led to a temporary rift between close friends. Elle's power is always a lingering threat, particularly when she gets upset or feels under attack.

But Elle's telekinetic abilities aren't really a metaphor for anything. They're a storytelling device — an effective one, to be sure — meant to recall the childhood stolen from her. Stranger Things doesn't register the trauma of that as much as it should, but "The Monster" does explain how she got to this point, far enough to make you marvel that she has a shred of humanity remaining. It turns out that Elle has been property of the Department of Energy since birth, when Dr. Brenner and company swiped her from her mother, then claimed the baby had died in the third trimester. The show has consistently doled out scenes from Elle's childhood under Brenner's watch, which has required a push-and-pull between emotional manipulation and ruthless weaponization. She's been built to fight the Soviets. And she has, improbably, remained an empathetic child, if not a joyful one.

Sean Hutchinson, Inverse

"Netflix’s newest hit, Stranger Things, is a treasure trove of 1980s genre references, but what separates it from a fan film that simply makes Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter references is the way it incorporates those nods into the texture of the show itself. These references go deeper than just superficial winks to some of the most iconic books and movies of the decade.

"Sure, it’s a nice visual callback, Nancy Wheeler’s outstretched hand from the Upside Down giving us a flashback to Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, but more importantly, Matthew Modine's sinister government scientist in Stranger Things is in the same vein as the similarly controlling parent played by Piper Laurie in De Palma’s film. And while it’s obvious that the main characters tearing around their suburban neighborhoods on BMX bikes with a supernatural being in tow is a shout at E.T., the truly important aspect they borrow is that Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is the same single mother trying to make ends meet as Dee Wallace’s parent in the Spielberg classic. It’s not just that a group of kids go on a huge adventure like in The Goonies, it’s that the adventure tests and strengthens their friendship in the movie and the Netflix show as well."

Ashley Hoffman, TIME

"In the movie Carrie based on the Stephen King novel, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) has telekinetic powers that she sometimes uses for violence. Sound familiar? Carrie and Eleven are both total goody two shoes who wouldn’t harm a fly. Unless they’re provoked, in which case they would totally harm several flies, household objects and people. But it’s the sixth episode that has the most blatant Carrie callback when Nancy’s hand bursts through the portal to the Upside Down. It resembles the scene when Carrie’s hand pops out of the dirt covering her grave."

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2016 12:21 AM CDT
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