Warning: Potential Stranger Things spoilers lie ahead
The Stranger Things Season 4 trailer is here, and it’s left us with a lot to unpack. Of all the images that stand out when watching what’s to come for Netflix’s hit show, two of them have our hearts pumping the hardest. The first is the appearance of Vecna, the seemingly human hybrid who is set to play the villain this season. The second is a secret image hidden within a single frame of the trailer.
What could this villain mean for our Stranger Things friends, and what secret is hiding in the preview? Grab your Farrah Fawcett hairspray and memorize Planck’s constant as we take a look at the series’ newest villain and the mysterious picture lurking in the season preview.
Since Netflix released the episode-title teaser back in November 2021, viewers have speculated that Vecna would be this season’s villain as episode two is titled: “Vecna’s Curse.”
By the time the humanoid-looking bad guy first appeared in the trailer, the Duffer Brothers had officially confirmed that, yes, that is Vecna.
A side-by-side comparison of Vecna from D&D and the villain in the ST4 trailer:
While the ST4 version appears to have played a game of “Got your nose” and lost, the similarities are uncanny, nevertheless. This strays away from previous iterations of Stranger Things’ treatment of D&D characters as many do not typically resemble their namesake.
As Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) explained in season 2, episode 8 of Stranger Things, they only use D&D characters to represent the monster they’re facing:
“Unless you know something that we don’t, this is the best…analogy for understanding whatever…this is”
Given that, examining Dungeons and Dragons’ Vecna and his attributes should reveal at least some of what to expect from the Stranger Things Season 4 malefactor.
What does D&D say about Vecna?
According to Greyhawk Online, he is considered “one of the greatest villains.” This authority for D&D goes on to explain that Vecna was born human, taught magic by his mother, and then was “a powerful wizard who became a lich”.
(To put it simply: A lich is a type of undead creature.)
Furthermore, Greyhawk Fandom describes Vecna as being “the god of secrets” and influencing the knowledge domain.
Given all these things, it is a fair assumption that the Stranger Things version of Vecna may:
- Have once been human
- Possess specific knowledge, especially about the creation, existence, or destruction of the Upside Down
- Be the most formidable opponent thus far.
Perhaps even more prolific than Vecna himself are his hand and his eye. Powerful artifacts in Dungeons and Dragons, Forgotten Realms Wiki explains that these parts of Vecna each give its user different abilities with the same clause: anyone who would wield this power would “[change their] worldview towards a neutral evil disposition.” Meaning, that this person would essentially turn evil and only look out for their interests with no feelings of guilt or compunction toward anyone who should stand in their way.
Will we see someone working with or under the influence of Stranger Things’ Vecna? Is this the “curse of Vecna” that the titular episode refers to? Moreover, if he was once a mortal…
Who was Vecna before he was a Stranger Things Monster?
Interestingly, the actor playing this season’s villain is being kept secret for now. This leaves viewers pondering his human identity.
Given the unresolved disappearance of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) from the show, along with the penultimate episode title: “Papa” (the childhood name Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) had for Brenner), there is speculation that the scientist who started it all may be the new supervillain.
However, viewers have also speculated whether this may be the return of Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) or the transformation of new cast member Victor Creel (Robert Englund). Even the possibility of a resurrection of Barb (Shannon Purser) has been postulated. Only time will tell. Whomever Vecna may have been; his present form stands to make trouble for our group moving forward.
Hidden Message in ST4 Trailer
There is so much happening in the Season 4 trailer that it is no surprise that the following hidden image snuck right by many viewers.
The image above can be found at the 1:59 mark of the original trailer. Be warned; even at a playback speed of 0.25, it can be difficult to capture.
YouTube channel New Rockstars highlights the numbers lurking in the image:
When examining the numbers emphasized by red arrows, it is revealed that each number correlates to a moment in the ST4 trailer. The hidden message is revealed when a viewer goes to the time listed and superimposes the hidden image over top. It is then that they will find the white portal for the corresponding timestamp now covers a portion of letters from the original scene.
To exemplify this with another screencap from the New Rockstars video:
Going to the fifty-two-second marker in the original trailer, and superimposing the hidden image on top, reveals that the white portal now covers the word “Hell” on the shirt Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) is wearing.
When this is done with each of the four timecodes, we are left with the jumbled words: “S Master M A I Hell.” When the words are organized by the chronological order of their time codes, the message: “I am Hell’s Master” is revealed.
This has direct ties to D&D as Hellmaster is a class.
D and D Wiki defines this class as such:
“A hellmaster is a mortal who sold his soul to the dark legions for dark powers. He swiftly [learns] how to use his newfound power and conjure powerful nightmarish abilities.”
Could this be a reference to the ST4 villain Vecna, given his presumable post-mortal status?
While that is yet to be seen, what we do know is that this is only the first part of a puzzle.
When we went to IamHellsMaster.com, we were taken to a countdown with a picture of the clock featured prominently in the trailer. Now that the countdown has ended, we can click Enter, which leads us to a virtual Lite Brite with coordinates and different colored pegs.
While we can’t give away all the answers, we can say that June 1st promises to be significant.
Although this has all the trimmings of becoming an augmented reality game, ARGNet is hesitant to call it one just yet.
As the penultimate season of Stranger Things gets closer, we are positive about one thing: We wish this was a never-ending story. *Cue Dustin and Suzie vocalization*
CREEPSHOW SEASON 4 is Coming—”The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Being Scared” Is Back! [TRAILER]
Friday the 13th this year marks the return of a classic horror spectacle—and not that guy in the hockey mask. We’re talking about Creepshow!
We’re getting a fourth season of the Shudder fan favorite Creepshow, produced by Brian Witten and Greg Nicotero, the horror makeup legend who became a household name for his work on From Dusk Til Dawn and The Walking Dead. The anthology series is back with a new array of 6 frightening short stories of supernatural delight, and with Creepshow, we’re sure to get monsters both mundane and mystical, bringing terror to the small screen.
Just as the franchise began with George A. Romero’s 1982 film, the Creepshow series retains that classic feeling of being under the covers with a flashlight and an old EC horror comic. The first three seasons gave us campy, gory fun, which the trailer proves is still plentiful in this run of episodes. And you can watch that trailer right here!
Get ready for wild werewolves, vicious vampires, and rare rotoscope nightmares. Also, Tom Atkins is there! Neat.
It debuts on Shudder, AMC+, and the AMC channel. All 6 episodes will be available to stream on AMC+ and Shudder, while it releases on a weekly basis for cable viewers (at 10:00pm, EST and 9:00pm CST). So, remember to mark your calendars for this premiere: Friday, October 13th.
See you on the other side of the release date, reader, and stay tuned for more news here on Horror Press!
Help Make the Paranormal Queer Again!
A team of queer filmmakers is exploring the weirdest corners of the paranormal—and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to make their shows a reality.
A Fresh New Take on the Paranormal
What comes to mind when you think of paranormal television? A group of dudes yelling at ghosts? Hackneyed narratives about banishing demons and sending spirits “to the light”? Most mainstream paranormal shows have gone stale, falling back on profitable formulas that the networks prefer, even if that means leaving the weirdest parts of the story on the cutting room floor.
Two new queer paranormal TV shows, New Blood and Inhuman Beings, want to change that. Renowned occult expert Michelle Belanger (Paranormal State, Portals to Hell, Conjuring Kesha, Monsterquest, and more) and paranormal podcaster Fen Alankus (Follow the Woo) have teamed up with a crew of film professionals and paranormal investigators to take an honest, fresh look at the strange and unusual.
Encounter a Secret Society of Vampires
The documentary series New Blood follows a film crew that sets out to learn about a secret society of Vampires. When paranormal podcaster and witch Fen Alankus meets two modern-day Vampires, she follows a string of bizarre coincidences all the way down the rabbit hole. With the help of spellwork, she pulls together an investigative film crew and digs into the world of modern vampirism. What began as a look at the true nature of Vampires becomes an intense initiatory experience for the cast and crew.
Explore Haunted Locations
The paranormal investigation series Inhuman Beings explores a new location with a reputation for high strangeness in each episode. But this is no ordinary ghost-hunting show: the team tries new methods and is open to anything, looking at cryptids, the fae, aliens, ghosts, and more. Season one includes experiments using dream sigils to communicate with entities, crossing a remote river to traverse land ruled by the fae, and investigating a strange castle with a mysterious past.
A Kickstarter Badge of Approval
Slated for a Fall/Winter 2023 release, the first seasons of both shows are underway, with more than 100 hours of footage shot so far. In celebration of Pride Month, they’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the filming, editing, marketing, and distribution. Less than a week into their campaign, Kickstarter hand-picked New Blood TV as a “Project We Love,” which is Kickstarter’s way of highlighting standout projects that go the extra mile regarding quality, creative vision, and boosting underrepresented voices.
Rewards for Kickstarter backers include magically imbued Ouija planchettes, Bigfoot and Pride Demon T-shirts, subtle-body portrait readings, bonus and behind-the-scenes content, executive producer credit, guest spots on their shows, and more.
Spread the word and help make the paranormal queer again!