“Stranger Things” Satisfies All of our 80s Nostalgia Needs

Illustration by Hilton Dresden

When we learned Winona Ryder would be returning to acting with a starring role in a sci-fi horror Netflix fable, we naturally could only hope to see her rock a choppy mullet-esque haircut, sit sullenly on a couch with an axe, and cry into a telephone between puffs on her cigarette. But the queen of the 90’s delivers on all these, and more, in Strangers Things, all while emoting raw, authentic sorrow, anger, and fear.

Stranger Things is the product of filmmaking pair The Duffer Brothers, twin sci-fi writers who’ve previously worked on shows like Wayward Pines. The world they’ve created for Netflix is one of 80’s nostalgia – the show is highly reminiscent of Spielberg’s The Goonies (1985) and Poltergeist (1982), and it’s title sequence and posters are a Stephen King novel-enthusiast’s wet dream. And while the visual effects of the multidimensional world where Stranger Things takes place are equally stunning and horrifying, it’s the emotional core of this story – a mother (Ryder) looking for her missing son – that keeps the show grounded and riveting from beginning to terrifying end.

We open on superimposed text reading “November 6th, 1983, Hawkins, Indiana,” and are immediately whisked away to a world of chunky sweaters, cool fall breezes, and faceless monsters who snatch children away in the night. It’s the Goonies sequel we forgot to ask for but desperately needed, and this time the technology allows us to get way creepier than a pirate skeleton. Following a group of tween boys as they seek out their missing friend, Stranger Things is a charming, intriguing piece of television that adults and children alike can enjoy – as long as the kids have some grit.

“I don’t have kids, so my mom helped me a lot on this,” Ryder recently told the New York Times. “I’d call her sometimes and say: ‘Mom, what would you do if every indication is that your child is dead, but you believe that lights are telling you that he isn’t?’ And she’d say: ‘Honey, I’d totally believe that. It’s primal.”

On casting the legend, The Duffer Brothers explained to Vulture, “To have someone like Winona, who has that movie-star presence where you just point a camera at her and she pops off the screen, it’s not something most people have. So we were excited by the idea of her doing this. And I don’t think even two years ago she would have agreed to it.”

Ryder is joined by a terrific ensemble cast of child actors who give Stand By Me-quality performancesThe show is a breath of fresh, gloomy 80’s air in an era of television oversaturated with “irreverent” comedies and superhero spinoffs. If you’re looking to escape to a simpler time, a time of football games, and family dinners, and spectral monsters lurking in the shroud of nearby trees, then stop what you’re doing and go binge Stranger Things. The only way you’ll regret it is if you’re terrified of being sucked into another dimension where slugs and vines creep inside your body and clutch you in a perpetual trance-like state until Winona Ryder finds you and rescues you.

Watch the trailer below.



Nightlife That Makes You Feel Like A Good Person

On Wednesday night we dressed like Eskimos and attended a private screening of director Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman at the Bryant Park Hotel’s screening room. Club legend Danny A. Abeckaser invited me and mine to the show. Danny plays a pivotal role in the flick as the best friend to leading man Michael Shannon. Michael plays hit man Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski who had somewhere between 100 and 250 successful whacks before they caught him in 1986. The film is filled with familiar faces, from Ray Liotta, James Franco, Chris Evans, Stephen Dorff, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. Winona ruled. Danny A. had his usual crowd of models and the folks that hang with them, and a good time was had by all. It’s good to see one of the good guys in the club world breaking out and living his dreams on the silver screen. The movie is chilling and captivating. It will come out in a couple of months.

Advance tickets are on sale for The 4th Annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball Benefit for The Lower East Side Girls Club happening at Le Poisson Rouge on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12th. They have Cyndi Lauper and ?UESTLOVE doing the King and Queen of the Mardi Gras thing, and performances by Pitchblack, EMEFE, The Ambitious Orchestra and powerhouse DJs Roxy Cottontail and Beverly Bond. All sorts of other acts and stilt walkers and body painters will be part of this for such a great cause. The Lower East Side Girls Club helps young girls climb out of bad places, giving them guidance and support as they try to make their dreams come true. My pal Jenny Dembrow is a honcho over there working tirelessly to make it work. Tickets are $25 or $125 for the dinner, booze, and reserved seating. Get them here.

Just a word to all: it’s real cold out there, even for those who can afford warm clothes and shelter from the elements. Be aware that around us there are people who don’t have the ability to get by on their own. If you have stuff you’re not wearing that can help another, this is a good time to make room in your closet. Donate your goods to one of Goodwill’s NYC locations here and feel like a good person instantly.

See New Photos of Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, and Chris Evans on Set of ‘The Iceman’

Based on true events, Ariel Vromen’s murderous thriller The Iceman is set to premiere early next month. With a cast of Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, and James Franco, the film tells the story of Richard Kuklinski, the chilling and notorious contract killer who was arrested in 1986. After leading a double life—half loving and devoted father, half cold-blooded killer—Shannon, of course, takes on the titular the role with a frightening presence and the rest of the cast shines as well—namely an almost unrecognizable Chris Evans. Indiewire has an exclusive set of new photos from set, so take a peak and get acquainted with the film before it’s May 3rd theatrical run.






Bravo Is Developing a ‘Heathers’ TV Series

Here’s some news from the Unnecessary Ideas file: Bravo is expanding their original scripted programming (because the Real Housewives franchise is "unscripted," you know), which would include a TV series based on the cult classic Heathers. How very, etc. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

The NBCUniversal-owned network, as part of its goal to have original scripted fare on the air next year, is redeveloping Heathers, the 1988 Winona Ryder and Christian Slater feature that The Big C‘s Jenny Bicks and Sony Pictures Television initially sold to Fox three years ago.

In the updated take, Heathers picks up 20 years later, with Veronica (Ryder’s character) returning home to Sherwood with her teenage daughter, who must contend with the next generation of mean girls: the Ashleys: the daughters of the surviving Heathers.

There’s been talk of a movie sequel to the classic for years—Winona Ryder herself "confirmed" that the film was in the works back in 2009 with the original creative team—but nothing much had moved forward since then. Could this be a good idea? Sure, maybe if Ryder was involved, but what are the chances that she’d stoop so low to be on a basic cable TV series? And, because it may be on Bravo and not, say, Showtime or HBO, how will the original movie’s dark treatment of sex and murder translate to a Bravo audience? I’ll believe it when I see it. 

Contact the author of this post at tcoates@bbook.com, and follow him on Twitter.

Morning Links: Kim Kardashian Obsessed with Hair Removal, Evan Rachel Wood Is Bisexual

● Kim Kardashian got her first bikini wax at the jejune age of twelve and has since been hooked. “I’m, like, obsessed with hair removal,” she said of her grooming habits, which apparently include forehead waxes. [DailyMail] ● Pulitzers were announced yesterday, and Jennifer Egan’s acclaimed A Visit From The Goon Squad took a much-deserved place in the winners circle. [Pulitzer] ● James Franco and Winona Ryder are set to star together in the insanely meta-sounding film The Stare. Ryder’s character is a playwright haunted by her work as it moves toward production. Franco, who’s producing the film alongside one of his NYU professors, will play a performer in the playwright’s production. It’s hard to imagine a film like this could have been better cast. [Deadline]

● Hey ladies, newly professed bisexual Evan Rachel Wood sounds like quite the catch! “I’m up for anything. Meet a nice guy, meet a nice girl,” she told Esquire. “I’m opening the doors, I’m buying dinner. Yeah, I’m Romantic.” [Esquire] ● Rod Stewart looked really very jolly in his stripped suit while out to dinner with his socialite daughter/Benicio del Toro baby-carrier Kimberly last night. Family dinners should only get more interesting from here on out. [Daily Mail] ● Prince Frederic von Anhalt’s hunt for Zsa Zsa Gabor eggs is on, and right in time for Easter! Apparently the aged star saved a batch of her eggs when she was single back in the 1960s in hopes of one day having a son. It seems unlikely, however, that this is the way she was hoping to use them. [TMZ]

Morning Links: Charlie Sheen Locked in Hotel with 3 Porn Stars, Kanye’s Cover Art Banned On Purpose

● Director Baz Luhrmann believes in the green light of the orgiastic future, taking The Great Gatsby, with Leo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, to 3D. [HollywoodReporter] ● H&H Imports’ stock spiked 355% after rapper 50 Cent encouraged his Twitter followers to invest in the electronics company that’s helped sell George Foreman Grills and 50’s own Sleek headphones. [RapRapar] ● With the 40/40 Club well established, Jay-Z has secretly invested in another restaurant — his cousin’s Brooklyn buffalo wing joint, Buffalo Boss. [TMZ] ● After downing vodka shots at the hotel bar, Charlie Sheen has taken to his room in Las Vegas’ Palms Hotel with three porn stars. If you see this, Charlie, call your people — they are worried about you. [TMZ]

● After rejecting all the woman on his first go, the lovelorn Bachelor Brad Womack is indicating that he’s pretty much won this season. “I’m in love, head over heels,” he says of the woman he chooses. . [People] ● A New Yorker profile of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover artist, George Condo reveals that Kanye West asked, specifically, for “something that will be banned.” [NYMag] ● While a little internet-anxiety is healthy for anyone living in public, Winona Ryder’s fear of Google seems to come from a slightly different place: “We are a button away from joining Al-Qaeda,” she told Jimmy Fallon on last night’s Late Night. [Gawker]

Links: Winona Ryder Remembers Drunk Mel Gibson, Kevin Spacey Almost Says He’s Gay

● Winona Ryder knew about Mel Gibson’s penchant for drunken tirades long before everyone else: “He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it.” [GQ] ● Ryan Reynolds may have cheated on Scarlett Johansson with his Green Lantern costar Blake Lively, known in some circles as Johansson with emptier eyes. [Popeater] ● Breakfast at Tiffany‘s director Blake Edwards, also known for the Pink Panther series, died at the age of 88. [HuffPo]

● Kevin Spacey insists on not discussing his personal life, but basically winks at the whole world, allowing insinuations to be made that he is, in fact, gay. [The Daily Beast] ● Demi Lovato, currently in rehab to deal with a host of issues, can now add “sexy pictures on the internet” to her list of worries, because being a teenager (owned by Disney) isn’t hard enough. [Egotastic] ● Michael C. Hall’s divorce might have something to do with Julia Stiles, from that one dancing white girl movie. [Celebitchy]

The Lady Suit

It’s no mystery—the suit look is hot right now for ladies. Seen on red carpets and celebrities left and right, it has caught on like wildfire. Some have pulled it off, like Jessica Alba at the FN Achievement Awards, while others have come off a bit masculine (ahem, Winona Ryder). While I do think the suit look is cute, I don’t like when it veers off of the trendy road and into the man zone (they’re already making a run on our purses). Here are some pointers on getting the look while maintaining your femininity. Stick to fitted styles, tapered pants, and cropped blazers. Also, lose the men’s tie and go for a more feminine bow collar. Yes, ladies we can do everything men can, but we don’t need to dress exactly like them.

Ann Taylor Wool Sateen Collarless Jacket, $218.


Theory Tie-Neck Blouse, $139.


Decades Denim Nadia Velvet Tux Pant, $129.


Vince Camuto Kain2 Pump, $89.