Stranger Things Lead Sound Effects Editor Reveals The Specific Star Wars Reference The Duffer Brothers Wanted In Season 4

Stranger Things Season 4 Joyce and Murray crashed in Russia
(Image credit: Netflix)

The hours are counting down before Vol. 2 of Stranger Things Season 4 finally releases on Netflix, and theories have abounded in the weeks since Vol. 1 ended on a huge reveal about Vecna and his Game of Thrones-inspired look. The first batch of episodes was packed with plenty of nods to classic ‘80s projects, including Empire Strikes Back. The second Star Wars movie released in 1980, and lead sound effects editor Angelo Palazzo revealed the very specific reference to the galaxy far, far away that the Duffer brothers wanted.

Angelo Palazzo – who also explained the origins of the disturbing sounds for the big Vecna deaths – spoke with CinemaBlend about his work in Season 4, including how the sound effects team helped reference a Star Wars scene when it came to Yuri’s plane. He said:

Early on, the Duffer brothers had talked about how much they really loved the – in Star Wars, there's a scene with the Millennium Falcon where they're in this panic situation, and they gotta get out quick and go into hyperdrive. Then Han Solo cranks up the starter, and then the inertia starter of the motor craps out and it starts to shake and whine. That was the reference that they gave us. I was like, 'Okay, let me start doing some research,' and I went into researching some old World War II airplanes, some biplanes, P-51 airplanes. These old planes that had these kinds of old carburetor-type engines, diesel engines with these inertia starters, and I ended up getting this really great library together of all these things.

Star Wars fans know that The Empire Strikes Back is not the movie with the most functional Millennium Falcon. According to the lead sound effects editor, Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer wanted something similar for Yuri’s plane in Season 4. Admittedly, Yuri wanting to take Joyce and Murray to the Soviet Union against their will isn’t exactly the same as Han Solo and Co. trying to escape the Empire, but the similarities are definitely there, and Angelo Palazzo turned to some older models of plane engines to find the right sound for Stranger Things. He continued:

One of the challenging things, believe it or not, with that scene was the very beginning when we see Yuri and he's working the screwdriver, and then something happens in the engine, and then he bangs it a few times, and then it fires up. When I first got that scene, and [sound supervisor Craig Henighan] and I were talking about it, he's just like, 'Alright, dude, you got to somehow make this work, because all he's doing is hitting the hull of the plane. It's got to be funny. It's got to sound mechanical. It's gotta be believable.' I got all my elements together. I just started experimenting with faulty engines and gear grinds and different malfunctioning engines, and backfiring and things like that.

The scenes with Yuri, Joyce, and Murray did provide a good amount of the humor of Vol. 1, especially compared with Eleven back with Dr. Brenner and Max narrowly escaping a Vecna death with the help of a Kate Bush song. The whole sequence involving Yuri’s unfortunate plane might not have worked without the various sound elements that were brought together, and I would say that the finished product is worthy of Han Solo himself. Angelo Palazzo elaborated: 

Then the whole piece came together. It was probably a combination of five different planes that starts off clanking and backfiring and then the smoke spews out the side. That was actually challenging just to get that thing started, and then once it got started, it starts humming along. Then at that point, it was about making the plane kind of feel unstable while they're flying it because it's just this banged up old kind of a junker.

The “banged up” junker ultimately didn’t safely take Joyce and Murray to Russia as Yuri’s prisoners after they managed to take over the plane and crash it, leading to a daring rescue of Hopper rather than the two of them joining him as captives in the work camp… or worse. They still have to escape Russia and return home, and it’s safe to say that the home they return to will be very different than the one they left, considering everything that has happened since Joyce left California. More chaos is definitely coming!

Honestly, the best-case scenario at this point might just be if Vecna is somewhat contained and the Demo-Bats (which have some fascinating sound origins as well) are still stuck in the Upside Down. Find out what Vol. 2 has in store with the final two episodes of Stranger Things starting on Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. PT with a Netflix subscription.

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).