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Starcourt Mall was a shopping center located at 10 Old Highway 77, Hawkins, Indiana.[1][2] It was built and controlled by Starcourt Mall Corporation, an American subsidiary of the international Starcourt Industries.[3] The mall opened in or just prior to the summer of 1985.

Despite Starcourt's seemingly innocuous appearance, the mall was in fact a front to conceal the Soviet Union's construction of an underground base. The base's creation was facilitated by the corrupt Mayor of Hawkins, Larry Kline. The base served as a space where Russian scientists would attempt to create a gateway to an alternate dimension previously discovered by their American counterparts, using experimental technology to pry open the already-weakened fabric of reality in Hawkins.

History[]

1984[]

In late 1984, various property owners in the southeast of Hawkins, Indiana were approached by a mysterious international enterprise named Starcourt Industries, who were interested in purchasing their land. The mayor of Hawkins, Larry Kline, convinced the landowners to do business with Starcourt.

On December 3, a man named Robert S. Bullocks agreed to sell a six-acre plot of land adjacent to Jordan Lake - Property Lot 4652-1 - to Starcourt Mall Corporation, which called themselves an American subsidiary of Starcourt Industries.[3] Bullocks also transferred Property Lot 4578 to Starcourt "as a gift and donation".[4]

On another date, an unknown landowner transferred Lot No. 4281, located at 10 Old Highway 77, to Starcourt.[1][2] Another landowner, Bernard G. Hess, agreed to sell his farm to Starcourt at a cost of $80,000 on November 30, 1984.[1]

In truth, Starcourt Industries was a shell corporation controlled by the Soviet Union, who hoped to use the purchased land to build a covert underground base. Soviet scientists had learned the fabric of spacetime in Hawkins was healing from an interdimensional incursion; they sought to create a hidden space in the town where they could use an experimental technology to exploit the vulnerability and open a 'doorway' to the Upside Down. After some deliberation, the Soviets settled on a plan to obscure an underground base's construction by concurrently building "Starcourt Mall" above it, using shell entities to funnel resources in and out of the facility.

Mayor Kline was complicit in the scheme, with the shell corporations hoarding city funds and gifting them to Kline; in exchange, Kline agreed to pressure the landowners to sell their properties. The properties in southeast Hawkins were strategically targeted by the Soviets, as they hoped they could siphon power from a nearby power plant and redirect it to the hidden base.[5][6][7]

1985[]

January[]

In January, Hawkins's Office of Land Management conducted a correction survey of the claimed land per the request of Starcourt Industries.[1]

January - June[]

Starcourt Mall was built at a rapid pace, with construction potentially starting as early as mid-December 1984 and continuing through the early months of 1985.

Steve at Scoops

Steve at Scoops Ahoy

The mall opened by the summer of 1985, and quickly became a beacon of commercial enterprise. Mayor Kline claimed the mall's arrival was nothing but good news for Hawkins, praising how it created new jobs and stimulated the local economy. Steve Harrington and Robin Buckley were among those who found employment at the mall, working at the ice cream parlor Scoops Ahoy.

Say no to Starcourt

"Say no to Starcourt"

However, the mall's success directly correlated with the financial struggles of small town "mom and pop" stores, such as Melvald's General Store. Starcourt became divisive among the townspeople, with some gleefully indulging in shopping sprees, while others protested and boycotted the mall, and made clear their disdain for Mayor Kline.

Meanwhile, the Soviets continued their work beneath the mall, and communicated via coded radio transmissions. Russian agents, disguised as workers for 'Lynx Transportation', secretly delivered radioactive canisters to the secret base; they did this under the pretence of making deliveries to Starcourt outlets. The canisters, hidden within innocuous-looking cardboard boxes, were off-loaded at the elevator to the base, an area disguised to appear like a regular shipping room.

June 28[]

On June 28, 1985, the Soviets activated their newly-built Key machine in the underground base. The Soviet-owned properties in East Hawkins, all near transformers, were used to siphon off energy from the town's power grid, triggering a major power outage. The energy was redirected to the underground base, and channelled into the Key. The Key ray activated and fired into the base wall, with a gate successfully forming. In the days that followed, the Soviets were able to acquire creatures and genetic material from the Upside Down; they even captured a piece of the Mind Flayer and a pack of adolescent Demogorgons, which were incapacitated and shipped to the Motherland.

After the gate was successfully formed, the Upside Down's psychic link to Hawkins was also re-established, reviving the fragment of the Mind Flayer laying low at Brimborn Steel Works. The Flayer fragment began possessing hordes of rats, and had them consume different types of chemicals; many of the rats would then explode into bloody puddles of biomass to create a proxy form, through which Vecna (via the Mind Flayer) could operate in the human world.

June 29 - July 4[]

On June 29, various townspeople went to the town hall to protest Starcourt Mall's effect on their livelihoods. Mayor Kline sent Hawkins Chief of Police, Jim Hopper, to break up the protests.

Dustin Robin and Steve outside Sam Goody

Dustin, Robin and Steve try to make sense of the transmission in the mall's after-hours

After Dustin Henderson's ham radio Cerebro accidentally intercepted a Russian transmission, he asked Steve to help him decipher the message. His Scoops Ahoy co-worker, Robin, offered to weigh-in; the three translated the message to English and uncovered a seemingly nonsensical set of phrases. In the meantime, Steve recognized the recording's background music from a coin-operated horse machine inside the mall. The group realised that, while the code may have been Russian, the transmission was seemingly broadcast from within Starcourt itself.

Starcourt Map WithPath

The annotated Starcourt blueprints

Upon getting a shipment, a piece of the code - "silver cat" - stuck out to Robin, seemingly related to "LYNX Transportation"; they then learned one of the shipping rooms was manned by armed guards. Not to be easily deterred, Robin collected a copy of the mall's blueprints from the County Recorder's office, hoping to find out more. After poring over the blueprints, the group discovered that the vent system connected Scoops with the suspicious shipping room. Erica Sinclair, who was just small enough to fit through the vents, was persuaded to traverse the vent system and access the shipping room. Upon reaching the room, Erica flipped a switch, allowing the other three to enter. After finding a radioactive canister hidden inside a Kaufman Shoes box, the doors suddenly shut, and the entire room plummeted miles beneath the mall, revealing itself as an elevator to the secret base.

After reaching the bottom, the four were stuck inside the elevator for several hours, leaving them hungry and fatigued. The group later hid atop the elevator roof while Russian workers seized the boxes, leaving the door momentarily open, which gave them an opportunity to escape and explore the base. Later, the group watched from a distance as the Soviets refuelled the Key using fresh radioactive canisters, with the machine emitting a luminous energy beam that created a tear in time and space. Soon after, however, Steve and Robin were captured, with Dustin and Erica having to rescue them; despite numerous close shaves, the group returned to the surface, and ducked into "Starcourt Cinema" to avoid scouring Soviet agents.

July 4[]

Later that night, the Party went to Starcourt to meet with Dustin, after learning he had located a gate to the Upside Down. Upon arriving in the food court, Eleven suddenly writhed in pain and fell to the ground; the group realised a flesh creature was embedded in a wound inflicted by the Spider Monster earlier that night. Jonathan forced the creature out, the thrall escaping before being dramatically crushed underfoot; Chief Hopper, Joyce Byers, and Murray Bauman had arrived at the mall, who hoped to infiltrate the Russian base and destroy the gate. Taking what Dustin, Steve, Robin and Erica had learned from their own adventure inside the base, Hopper, Joyce and Murray travelled there via the secret elevator. After gunning down various Soviet soldiers, the trio took and donned their military uniforms, going incognito as they entered the facility.

In the food court, Eleven discovered she had lost access to her psychokinetic abilities, leaving her and her friends vulnerable to attack. Not long after, a possessed Billy Hargrove and the Spider Monster arrived at the mall, intent on defeating Eleven. After some time, Billy captured Eleven and dragged her to the middle of the food court, where she was to be consumed by the flesh monster. In a last-ditch effort to stop them, the kids started launching fireworks at the creature. Eleven tried to break through to Billy’s conscience while the creature was distracted, talking through his memories in an attempt to connect with him. The strategy worked: Billy’s long-dormant humanity re-awakened within him.

S3E8 Spider Monster kills Billy2

The Spider Monster kills Billy

S3E8 - Spider Monster10

The creature’s corpse

After the fireworks fizzled out, the proxy monster regained its composure; it launched a spiked tendril directly at Eleven, only to be intercepted by Billy. The creature, enraged by Billy's betrayal, launched a dozen more tendrils at him, fatally wounding him. At the same time, Hopper and Joyce reached the Soviet control room and disabled the Key machine; the new gate was destroyed, though Hopper apparently perished in the process.

The battle's aftermath[]

Following the gate's closure, the psychic link to the Upside Down was cut off once again, causing the flesh monster to collapse and become inanimate. The US Military arrived to assess the damage and stormed the Soviet base; Dr. Owens reached the room containing the Key, and surveyed the smouldering remains of the shuttered gate.

Later that night, a "mall-fire" engulfed Starcourt, bewildering the general public. The blaze likely originated from the food court, spreading from the flames surrounding the Spider Monster's corpse. For reasons unclear, Dr. Owens and the US Military allowed the fire to spread; this was likely done to cover up the Spider Monster's existence and the Russian presence. The Hawkins Fire Chief, Nick Schumacher, was either clueless to the cover-up, or an active participant; in a statement published in the Indianapolis Gazette, Schumacher claimed the fire was a "Class E [classification]- involving live electrical conduits". The same article said the fire claimed thirty fatalities, including Chief Hopper; the thirty fatalities also included the members of the Flayed, whose bodies could never be recovered. The flesh creature’s corpse, meanwhile, was seized by the American or Russian government, or alternatively, burned up in the mall-fire. The fire solidified rumors that Hawkins was a cursed town.[8][9]

Some of the Soviets escaped back to Russia to continue experiments involving the Upside Down, taking a captured Jim Hopper with them. What remained of Starcourt was either abandoned, or demolished. Mall employees were forced to find new jobs, such as Steve and Robin, who started working at Hawkins' local Family Video.

Description[]

Starcourt Mall is Hawkins' first premium shopping center featuring many trendy shopping facilities, where families, friends and teenagers can come together to hang out, shop, dine and enjoy.
— Starcourt Industries[10]


Overall, Starcourt was an archetypal mid-1980s shopping mall, albeit one that was slightly larger-than-life, and seemingly out of place in the small sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana. Many period-accurate brands and stores were featured throughout the mall, including Sears, Montgomery Ward, Orange Julius and more. The architecture, design style and interior décor were typical of Starcourt's time.

Outlets[]

Books
  • B. Dalton Bookseller
  • Waldenbooks
Clothing
  • Casual Corner
  • Contempo Casual
  • County Seat
  • Deb Shop
  • Dora Dale
  • Fashion Bug
  • Gadzooks
  • Lovelace Lingerie
  • Jean Nicole
  • J. Riggings
  • Lane Bryant
  • Merry Go Round
  • SHAPES Activewear Outlet
  • Steve Windsor
  • The Gap
Department Stores
  • JCPenney
  • Sears
  • Montgomery Ward
Electronics
  • Brookstone
  • Camera Repair
  • Electronics Boutique
  • RadioShack
  • Sharper Image
  • The Game Player
Eyewear
  • The Eyewear House
Food Court
  • Bresler's 33 Flavors
  • Burger King
  • Great Panda
  • Ground Round
  • Hawkins’ Heroes
  • Hot Dog on a Stick
  • Hot Sam Pretzels
  • New York Pizza
  • Ole' Amigo
  • Orange Julius
  • Piccadilly Cafeteria
  • Scoops Ahoy
  • Steak Escape
  • Taco Bell
  • Teppanyaki Japanese
  • The Cookie Company
  • Wyatt's Cafeteria
Gifts/Toys
  • Claire's
  • Chess King
  • Fine Perfumes
  • Hickory Farms
  • KB Toys
  • The Natural Company
  • The Present Peddler
  • Spencer's Gifts
  • Wicks 'N' Sticks
Jewelry
  • Bailey Barks & Biddle
  • Goldman Jewellers
  • Zales
Misc.
  • Jazzercise
  • Flash Studio
  • Regis Hairstylists
  • Starcourt Cinemas
  • Time-Out Arcade
Music
  • Tape World
  • Sam Goody
Shoes
  • Heel Quik
  • Kaufman Shoes
  • Kenny Shoes
  • Thom Mcan
  • Qualicraft Shoes
Sports
  • Herman's World of Sporting Goods

Lynx Transportation[]

Lynx Transportation Corp[11] was a delivery company affliated with Starcourt Industries, and one of various Soviet-controlled shell entities at work in the mall and beyond.

Lynx Truck and shipping room

'Lynx' truck and the shipping room

Lynx Transportation delivered goods and food to the various commercial areas in the mall, including Scoops Ahoy. Lynx operatives played a crucial role in the Soviets' scheme, discretely funnelling key resources in and out of the mall. Sensitive items and materials, such as radioactive canisters, were hidden amongst otherwise benign goods sold at various Starcourt outlets; these materials were smuggled into the secret base via an elevator disguised as a regular shipping room. Lynx was presumably shut down due to the events of July 4, 1985.

Uniform[]

The delivery man wore a black uniform complete with a cap, which included a couple of Lynx Transportation logos. Lynx guards wore totally black uniforms, and were armed with guns.

Behind the scenes[]

Starcourt Map

Starcourt Mall Directory, taken by a fan on-set.

The filming location for the Starcourt Mall was the Gwinnett Place Mall, located in Duluth, Georgia. In preparation for filming, a portion of the mall was remodeled to resemble a mall from the time period, including several popular outlets from the '80s.[12]

During the filming of season three, many mall guests of the mall looked into the site through the separating curtain and recorded with their phones. This caused distress with the cast and crew.

The movie theater façade was built completely on the set.[13]

In celebration of the third season's release, an event titled the Starcourt Mall Experience was held at Tower Records in Hollywood, California on July 5-7.[14]

Trivia[]

  • Early into the third season's development, writer Curtis Gwinn came up with the idea of a mall coming to Hawkins.[15]
  • Kaufman Shoes, one of the stores at the mall, is entirely fictional, and didn’t actually exist in 1985.[13]
  • The name "Starcourt" is a possible reference to the Soviet Union's star and sickle flag, which itself appears in the opening scene of "Suzie, Do You Copy?".
  • The Gwinnett Place Mall, where filming occurred, closed in early 2021 and will apparently be demolished.
  • A murder occurred in the food court several months before filming occurred. The body was not discovered for some weeks, since it was in an unused stall in the food court.
  • According to Steve, he earned three dollars an hour at Scoops, which would be nine dollars with current inflation.

Gallery[]



References[]

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