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Stranger Things Familiar and Feared Demogorgon

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Aaron SIms Creative
January 14, 2021

The Stranger Things universe has only continued to grow since its release, with new characters, an evolving timeline and an ever-expanding universe that contains more creatures, far-reaching philosophy and an interesting social commentary of both the mid-80s and our contemporary climate.

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Of all the characters, few have had as little screentime, yet more of an impact than the Demogorgon, whose nightmarish stretched skin and bone form quickly became one of the contradictorily most loved and feared creatures on contemporary screen. 


Created by Aaron Sims Creative, whose ‘sketch to screen’ approach encompasses the entire process, from early conceptualisation to what we eventually see scaring our favourite characters. So, what exactly does it take to create one of these monsters? It starts with an idea, one that is in the writer's head when they visualised what it is that provokes such an intense sense of fear in their characters. 


Intrigued by the idea initially as a sort of homage to 80s features and, having worked with the directors before, ASC set out to conceptualise something akin to Guillermo del Toro’s iconic Pan’s Labyrinthe creature - the one whose eyes are on its hands - that has a story all of its own, a unique lore where it makes sense for the creature to be on our screens. 

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Working from an original brief of “a bi-ped with a lot of teeth and no face”, the studio began to allow their imaginations to run riot. Having a pedigree of Hollywood VFX and working on such 80s cult-classics as From Beyond and Evil Dead 2, it was a natural fit for the studio to continue in this lineage, coming up with ideas evolving from their creature-feature foundations.


The finished product drew inspiration from a combination of those aforementioned films and from nature itself, the Demogorgon’s face being a combination of a blooming flower and a snapping turtle’s terrifying front-to-back teeth. Something about basing it in reality provides the creature with a believability, almost a familiarity with our own nightmares, a feature that allows it to be as insidious after its reveal as the fear of the unknown was before. 


Combined with the body language of a humanoid creation, ASC have made something that is ‘familiar yet creepy’, a tribute to cinema of old, whilst still chiselling away at some new territory, giving the writing team behind Stranger Things an opportunity to fully realize and explore the potential narrative scope of fear as it exists in the minds of its young protagonists, but also its multigenerational audience.

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