How Stranger Things Produced The Disturbing Effects For The Big Vecna Deaths, According To The Lead Sound Effects Editor

Spoilers ahead for Vol. 1 of Stranger Things Season 4 on Netflix.

If any fans of Stranger Things doubted that the show could somehow get even darker after the gruesome and deadly first three seasons, then the first volume of Season 4 must have been a rude awakening. New villain Vecna (whose look was inspired by Game of Thrones’ Night King) doesn’t even have to leave the Upside Down to kill his victims, tormenting them within their minds while using his powers to crack their bones, gouge out their eyes, and brutally kill them to create gates in Hawkins. The sound played a big part in delivering the horror of the deaths, and lead sound effects editor Angelo Palazzo revealed the surprising sources for the disturbing sounds. 

Angelo Palazzo spoke with CinemaBlend about Season 4, sharing the delightfully unexpected sources for the Demo-Bat sounds. Not everything about the season has been delightful for the characters of Stranger Things, however, as I noted that the subtitles included sound descriptions including “bone snapping” and “wet squelch.” The lead sound effects editor revealed how the team found the right sounds for the Vecna deaths, saying:

With the bones, we went through a few iterations. I did early recordings with that where I – like I was saying, I always try to start with real world organic sounds that are familiar to us, but I do them in a way and I present it in a context that's completely foreign, so it still registers. So I did a whole recording of fibrous cabbage recordings where I would twist vegetables. Also I would wrap them in a wet cloth, so that sounds like your skin and the bones breaking underneath your skin. So I did a whole series of celery, peppers, cabbage. The cabbage was one of the best, because it sounds like tendons.

Is anybody else going to look at their vegetables a little differently after learning that one of Netflix’s biggest shows used produce to create some of the scariest sound effects? Apparently, cabbage is a great option for the sounds of bones breaking under skin when wrapped in a wet cloth and twisted, not to mention the sound of tendons. Fans may not have been thinking about cabbage or celery or peppers when watching characters like Chrissy die their gruesome deaths (or fearing that Max would meet the same fate when Vecna caught her), but the sound team delivered the scares in some unexpected ways. 

It wasn’t all cabbage, however, and the snapping sounds came from different vegetables. Angelo Palazzo continued to explain the sources of audio for the Vecna kills, and even admitted that the end result was “disturbing.” He said: 

But then for the bone breaks, it was a lot of carrots and celeries. I just built up a huge library of a bunch of new gore and that kind of stuff. Then it was really a process of just cutting it in really tight and processing it so it's very aggressive and disturbing, because when I first saw that scene... I was disturbed. I was like, 'This is where we're going! Okay!'

Being disturbed by deaths on a show that’s already three full seasons in is a sign of a job very well done by the sound department, and Angelo Palazzo got very creative to build up the new gore library. For all of the people who have been killed off over the years on this show, none of them ever died quite like those killed by Vecna, starting with Chrissy. Plus, Palazzo made it clear that the work on Stranger Things was fun, even if it was also disturbing. He elaborated: 

I mean, it's fun for a sound effects editor [and] sound designer. It's a blast making those sounds and editing them and putting them to use. There was a lot of that for the season, especially with all the vines in the Creel house, and Vecna. If you notice, his body's always kind of moving with slippery, slimy stuff. We did a ton of that early on. The bats were a lot of fun. It was good to have a whole new creature to work with.

On the whole, Vecna has been a terrifying successor to past season villains like the Mind Flayer and Demogorgon. He even has a scary origin story, as he was once a human before being banished to the Upside Down by young Eleven, after he massacred almost everybody at Hawkins Lab as One. Prosthetic makeup artist Barrie Gower explained the process of transforming actor Jamie Campbell Bower into Vecna via practical effects, and the finished product is enough to keep fans very worried about Nancy during the wait for Vol. 2.

Luckily, the wait for Vol. 2 of Stranger Things is quite short compared to the wait for Season 4 after the third season released back in 2019. Netflix subscribers can watch the final two episodes of Season 4 starting on Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. PT on the streaming service. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).