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SYFY WIRE Stranger Things 4

'Stranger Things 4' creators say new D&D-inspired baddie is Pennywise meets Freddy Krueger

This Vecna sounds like a real nasty piece of work.

By Josh Weiss

With our return to Hawkins a little over a month away, Netflix finally released an official trailer for Season 4 of Stranger Things — a season whose story is so massive, it'll be rolled out in two separate parts over the summer. In addition to featuring an absolutely sick remix of Journey's "Separate Ways," the chilling footage also gave fans their first look at a brand-new supernatural entity that will serve as the Big Bad across the fresh batch of episodes.

Keeping in line with the Dungeons & Dragons motif of the last three seasons, the humanoid villain is named Vecna, after one of the most dreaded beings in all of D&D lore. Stranger Things creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, broke down the trailer's biggest moments for IGN, explaining that Vecna was inspired by some of the greatest boogeymen to come out of the 1980s like Pennywise (Stephen King's IT), Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Pinhead (Hellraiser).

"Those were the monsters that really inspired us this season,” Ross explained. “Something else we really wanted to do [was] go back to Season 1 and actually do a monster that we could do mostly practically. What you’re seeing here is 90 percent practical [effects]. And Vecna, throughout the season, is 90 percent practical. We wanted a presence on the set that our actors could react to, whereas in Season 3, they were reacting to a beach ball. We wanted something there that we could actually film, and I just think that that makes this villain scarier and more real and tangible and we’re just really excited for people to see him this season."

Vecna seems pretty certain that our heroes stand no chance against his powers. "You have lost," he declares in the trailer, getting the literal last word. What he may not have banked on is the young characters bringing the fight to the Upside Down. 

“We didn’t get to go into the Upside Down in last season at all due to the narrative,” Ross continued. “And this season, we wanted to really go in there and spend some time there. So that’s something we’re super excited about this season. I mean, we spend more time in the Upside Down than any other season. It’s not even close.”

Funnily enough, the new season does have the involvement of Freddy himself, Robert Englund, who plays a convicted murderer by the name of Victor Creel. We get a super brief shot of him in the trailer, but the visual of the man with his eyes sewn shut is enough to haunt our dreams, which, come on — do we have to say anything else? Stranger Things has a pretty great track record of tapping '80s icons like Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice), Sean Astin (The Goonies), Paul Reiser (Aliens), and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride).

It was only a matter of time until Englund hopped aboard the nostalgia train, but instead of getting cast in the traditional sense, he actively lobbied for a role on the show. "The fact that he came to us in a season that’s so deeply inspired by the Nightmare series and by his performance especially in those movies, it felt like fate,” Matt admitted. "It felt like, 'Okay, this is meant to be.’"

The first half of Stranger Things 4 lands on Netflix Friday, May 27. Vol. 2 arrives Friday, July 1.

The series plainly wears the influence of Stephen King's early output on its sleeve. Universal Pictures will delve into the imagination of the literary horror master with a new film adaptation of Firestarter (hitting theaters and Peacock May 13) this summer, to keep the scary kid horrors aflame.