There is so much John Carpenter love in Stranger Things 3, our heads are still spinning from it. Aside from the awesome The Thing poster we've seen hanging on the wall in Mike's basement since the show's very first episode, there are many references to Carpenter's classic body horror flick throughout these new episodes. In Episode 4, our core group is fractured -- with Dustin, Steve, Maya, and Lucas' little sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) dealing with that whole Starcourt mess -- leaving El, Mike, Max, Will, and Lucas to figure out a way to deal with the Mind Flayer… if he truly is back in Hawkins. (Spoiler: He is.)
Taking a page straight from MacReady's (Kurt Russell) playbook from The Thing, the group decides to trap Billy in the public pool's sauna, and slowly turn up the heat, to see if he really is being controlled by the Mind Flayer. You see, The Mind Flayer loves the cold -- we learned this in Season 2 when Will was the one possessed by the monster. It's also a similar plan of attack for MacReady who, when he learns that the Thing wants to sleep in the cold, to just wait it out for the rescue team to come, he sets fire to the damn base in an attempt to stop that from happening.
Then there's that odd moment in Episode 6 where Lucas compares the original version of The Thing to Carpenter's as his way of saying New Coke is far more superior to Coca-Cola. Blatant in-program advertising, Stranger Things has it. And while it's clear Lucas has some issues when it comes to taste -- and how he treats his girlfriend -- he's spot on in his assessment of Carpenter's classic.
And of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't briefly talk about the possessed people of Hawkins. "The Flayed," as the gang calls 'em, are all being controlled by the Mind Flayer and, when he needs them, these zombified citizens are activated to do his evil bidding. That character detail is quite reminiscent of Carpenter's 1982 movie as, on the surface, no one in the film is certain who is safe and who is compromised. And once they do learn who the enemies are, the gross nature of the monsters that exists under human skin becomes a discovery that's almost too much to bear.