The Upside Down plays a vital role in the first season of Stranger Things, functioning as Will’s prison and the home of the Demogorgon. Now, the show’s executive producers discuss what went into creating a setting that was suitably nightmarish.
On Thursday, the Stranger Things Twitter account tweeted a video of the Duffer Brothers and Shawn Levy talking about how they came up with the look of the Upside Down.
“We always knew…we wanted this scary alternate dimension that Will was going to get pulled into and they didn’t know how to get him back,” says Matt Duffer in the video. “In terms of the look of it, we looked at the video game Silent Hill, we talked about that a lot,” an inspiration the brothers have discussed before, along with other video game influences like The Last of Us and Dark Souls.
“We wanted it to look, you know, we wanted to be able to shoot in our real world environments. We didn’t want it to be completely computer graphic,” Duffer adds, a desire that is being taken to the next level in their approach to the Upside Down in Season 2.
Naturally, they didn’t nail down the appearance of the first season’s Upside Down on their first attempt. “There was also a lot of trial and error with the look of the Upside Down — the vines, the spores that float in the air,” Levy says. “We definitely made a lot of mistakes and did bad versions of the Upside Down, and ultimately kind of got to this look that has become now very signature and definitely carried over into Season 2.”
“So we build those vines, we blow spores in their face, you know, and then we enhance it all,” Duffer says.
The tweet itself includes a quote from the fifth episode of Stranger Things, “The Flea and the Acrobat,” from when Mike, Lucas, and Dustin try to figure out how to get to the Upside Down by talking to Mr. Clarke. “You know how in Cosmos, Carl Sagan talks about other dimensions? Like beyond our world?” goes part of the tweet, as Mike asks Mr. Clarke in the episode. Mr. Clarke’s explanation on how to get there draws a lot on Sagan words from Cosmos, replacing Sagan’s apple and square with the titular flea and acrobat, respectively. Sagan’s words can be heard in the video attached below:
As something that has been so embraced by fans, it makes sense that the Upside Down required a decent amount of reworking to get just right.
Stranger Things: Season 2 will premiere on Netflix on October 27.