This is what the Mind Flayer from Stranger Things 3 looks like in real life

1 August 2019, 12:18

Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

Unsurprisingly enough, there was not a giant monster made of human body parts stomping around on set.

At this stage in the game, we all know how CGI works, right? We’ve all seen how they created the dragons in Game of Thrones and we’ve all seen the crazy motion capture suit that Mark Ruffalo has to wear in order to become the Hulk on screen. But have you ever actually seen how they created the monsters in Stranger Things?

In season 1, the show used an actual person in a suit with an animatronic head to portray the Demogorgon. In season 2, the Demodogs were created using CGI. (In the scene where Bob Newby is killed in Hawkins Lab, they had someone wear a green screen “ninja” suit and wrestle Sean Astin to the ground.)

READ MORE: Stranger Things season 4: News, spoilers, release date, cast and everything we know

But in season 3, there's a much bigger monster at large and it's definitely not the shape or size of a human. So, what the hell were the actors looking at and working with when they filmed those scenes with the physical Mind Flayer monster? The answer: A beach ball on the end of a stick... and a man in a red suit with a huge helmet on his head.

Stranger Things 3: This is what the Mind Flayer looked like in real life
Stranger Things 3: This is what the Mind Flayer looked like in real life. Picture: Netflix, @strangerwriters via Twitter

In Stranger Things 3, the VFX team used two methods to bring the Mind Flayer monster to life.

The first one involved a stunt man wearing a round mirrored helmet and a red all-in-one skin suit. The video below, shared by cinematographer Tim Ives, is what Charlie Heaton and Natalia Dyer were working with when they shot that scene with the monster in the hospital.

Speaking to befores & afters, senior visual effects supervisor Paul Graff explained that the stunt performer was literally just "spreading his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs, and then just charging down the hallway," to give everyone on set the energy they needed for the scene.

The reason for the shiny helmet? So the flickering light effect bouncing off it in the scene could be replicated when the VFX team recreated the monster on screen.

And in the final scene, where Billy came face to face with the monster, all Dacre Montgomery had to play off was a beach ball being held by someone off screen on a very long pole. The ball itself was the focus point for the monster's mouth. Kinda makes his performance in episode 8 even more impressive, huh?

Even in the Jurassic Park-inspired scenes where the kids are all hiding behind counters, the beach ball was used as the face of the monster.

Stranger Things 3: Here's how they created the Mind Flayer
Stranger Things 3: Here's how they created the Mind Flayer. Picture: @strangerwriters via Twitter, Netflix

In case you were wondering, the Mind Flayer monster was inspired by 1982 film The Thing, which also serves as inspiration for a lot of the series itself.

On the behind-the-scenes Stranger Things 3 podcast, visual effects supervisor Paul Graff said: "So what would that look like if this Mind Flayer reincarnates itself in a creature that’s much more like a dinosaur or like a deformed dinosaur, like Frankenstein’s deformed dinosaur? It’s not a well-designed creature; it’s a thrown-together, nasty, weird body parts creature so it should be limping. Maybe some of those limbs you see are completely dysfunctional and it’s just dragging them behind him.”