(Credit: Netflix)

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How ‘Stranger Things’ opening title was inspired by Stephen King

Netflix’s Stranger Things is Matt and Ross Duffer’s nostalgic love letter to the 1980s. The show stars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Sadie Sink, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and more, and has now become a cultural phenomenon with its massive cult-like following. Slated for a 2022 release, the fourth season of the show has already generated quite the buzz. 

Five years since its inception, the meteoric success of the show can be charted by taking a close look at how it managed to become a concoction of every child’s dream sequence. With supernatural threats looming large and brave kids on bicycles battling monsters, both literal and metaphorical, the premise is set in a fictional Indiana town of Hawkins. The creators are huge Stephen King fans and originally wanted to make a remake of his popular classic It. Once denied, they decided to make Stranger Things to pay tribute to King’s legendary novel while also using it as a way to reminisce about the romantic ’80s. 

The entire setting of the series feels like it follows the usual King-esque archetypes. A sleepy small town that harbours various secrets and boasts a group of daring kids whose sense of responsibility and wit surpasses the adults, is about as classic King as one can find. They also included King’s tropes of horror and double standards of morality in the series, deriving heavily from the works of the legendary maestro of horror

The makers did not hold back in evoking a sense of nostalgia with the vivid imagery and grunge aesthetics, trying to bring back audience attention to the impeccably loud era of popular culture. With its brilliant and sinister music score and equally memorable opening credits, the show reigns supreme as one of the best Netflix Original series ever made. 

Opening title credits usually make a long-lasting impact in the minds of viewers. Whether it is the iconic scene with the moving map of Westeros that signifies the beginning of Game of Thrones or the theme song from Friends, they have the innate ability to set the tone for the genre. With Stranger Things going to great lengths to evoke the atmosphere and contemporary culture of the ’80s, a memorable title sequence must follow suit.

According to creative director Michelle Dougherty, the Duffer brothers had already referenced the works of Richard Greenberg who had used the typography for iconic titles like Altered States and Aliens. They had also referenced the older books by Stephen King where the fonts were “chunky and big”, somewhat spooky and ominous, setting the overall thematic tone. 

After various alterations, the duo gave a nod to the chunky red fonts that became a quintessential part of the show, looming across our screens with every viewing. According to Dougherty,  her team apparently “came up with some different designs and we really liked this idea of having red against black” as it helped convey the emotions of anxiety, palpitation and paranoia for this “mystery”, “drama” series.

They went from using small white letters to big, chunky and bold red ones that mirrored the atmospheric vibe of the show. They also referenced various works of the ’80s, especially Grady Hendrix’s book that explored the provocative nature of the ’70s and ’80s horror books that looked jarring, garish and loud. As Dougherty concluded, she wanted to create a title sequence that gives “an extra sense like a sense of touch.” 

The opening title seems quite terrifying and along with the urgent and ominous music, foreshadows the various unsettling events that unfold across the seasons. 

Watch the title sequence below: