Anyone that knows me.. knows - I am going to say this. Eleven reminds me so much of Karen Cooper in Night of the Living Dead. The stare does it in the most obvious way, but it's more than that. It's the idea that a young girl cannot be all powerful, cannot scare you, cannot prove you wrong. And yet, they both slay that in their own way. Karen Cooper, the character, changed my entire life as a kid. Letting me know I could get into the horror industry as a girl, as a woman, making it possible. Every horror icon I idolized was mainly male and much of what I do now feels like I'm sifting through a man's world until I can be taken seriously. Now this is not to say that there aren't a number of women in horror now doing amazing things and making names for themselves because I praise them and honestly don't need to list them here, they are all on their own time and well known. But, I grew nostalgic and fell in love with this idea that everything that motivated me as a kid loving horror can be relived again through a new heroine, through another unbelievable, female force. So much simulated like the one that sparked endless inspiration inside me.
Anyway, I'll get to the rest of it. I love the 80's throwback. You can't not love it when the Duffer Brothers manage to give you the horror nostalgia you crave. I love calling out the 80's horror movie posters, the board games, the haircuts, it's the whole thing! You can't even talk shit. Make a drinking game out of it and thank me later.
Here is what I love the most about this show beyond every single thing it does right. Realizing this show draws heavily from E.T. and the idea that innocent play of dangerous things translates into real life. This is the most unbelievable part and the most amazing part. As a kid my brother and I would gather leaves, rocks and bugs, sometimes dead birds and put them under a microscope, under the impression we could do something with that we found. Ride our bikes, play capture the flag, talk on walkie talkies and feel like our messages meant something in our neighborhood. And then at dusk, go home and know full well there was no one calling on us for the knowledge we acquired that day. I love this show because it challenges the notion and makes it real for the kids in the show. Everything you worked to fight against is now real and you have every tool, as a kid, to destroy the ultimate monster of your world, the demogorgon. Is that not every adventurous kids' dream??
I want to talk about Winona Ryder right now because she has always been my favorite for so many reasons and so many roles (feel free to list them in your head and come back to me). She embodies the understanding, relentless mother role beyond what anyone would come to expect, but give me 5 million shots of her holding Christmas lights inside a tiny crawl space and speaking to her missing son through them. Or the alphabet she scrawls on the wall, praying for the letters to illuminate, one by one, so that we all may put them together to find some answer to her real life horror. The insanity that no one believes in but her. What a place to live and yet she brings it to us so effortlessly in a beautiful, colorful, upside down message. Follow the lights to learn that message...