There was no such thing as Netflix in the era Stranger Things crawled out of. There were also no DVD and Blu-ray players. Back in 1984, all we had was VHS tapes.
It would make perfect sense that VHS cases would be the emblem of a decade whose version of binge-watching an entire series required rewinding and fast-forwarding. This is why artist Luis Atao, whose imaginary Stranger Things 2 movie posters are the next thing you’ll want to plaster all over your walls, has mashed up his poster art with that obsolete technology we call VHS and turned it into a different (appropriately faded and dented) video cover for each episode in the second season.
On the heels of the Stranger Things-Sesame Street mashup that takes the supernatural thriller to a whole new level of bizarre, this is just genius.
Not only are the covers a dead ringer for the real thing, but the retro art could have fit right into that painfully cool video arcade the boys and Max hit up for Dragon’s Lair marathons. Even the faux Netflix branding and signature red Stranger Things font fit into the whole time-before-digital-streaming aesthetic. You just can’t ignore how all nine episodes, from Mad Max to The Gate, have that signature rainbow band you’d see on multipacks of blank tapes back in the day, with a genuine-looking “Netflix VHS” on the front and “VHS hi-fi” on the bottom of the spine. Even the tapes themselves have that “be kind, rewind” sticker. Oh, the memories.
The art on the covers also references an entire playlist of '70s, ‘80s, and early ‘90s movies, from the cover of The Spy that puts Will into something that eerily resembles the original movie poster from Alien to the Mind Flayer-Jurassic Park crossover. Atao’s tribute to this season’s Ghostbusters tie-in includes a shrieking Demogorgon being crossed out on the Trick or Treat Freak cover and something strange creeping out of Dustin’s duct-taped trap in The Pollywog (which is also a love letter to Gremlins). There is also no ‘80s character Hopper could possibly be more suited for than Indiana Jones, whose DNA was obviously injected into the cover of Dig Dug. He already wears khaki most of the time.
While the VHS tapes are a one-off that forever stays on the internet, Stranger Things fans everywhere would probably be willing to descend into the Upside-Down just to get their claws on those time-warped posters. If only prints of them could appear in the right-side-up.