Stranger Things has landed and, already, it has conquered. For anyone who loves horror and science-fiction, this series is a treat of gigantic proportions. And if your love for the genres goes back to the 80s, it’s a gift from the heavens. Stocked full of 80s nostalgia, including great 80s superstars (Matthew Modine & Winona Ryder), a heavy synth score and amazing wardrobe and set design, Stranger Things is about as close as this generation might get to an easily traversable bridge back to 80s film.
For classic horror fans, there's no doubt that the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things is the best thing we've been given in a long time. For many, each episode is a trip down memory lane to a time when kids rode bicycles and went outside together. Sure, you saw a ton of references you recognized, some you didn't even know you caught, and now you're ready to go back in. But wait! Before you go back for your second viewing, take a look at this movie reference guide so you'll be sure to catch all the best homages on your second lap. Just in case it isn't clear, there will be spoilers below, so turn around and watch the series through to its conclusion before going any further.
When we first begin to devour Stranger Things on Netflix, it becomes very obvious very early that this is a love song to 80s horror and children adventure movies. While Steven Spielberg is the primary target of the ballad, there are countless little nods to other films, directors and stories. The show is chock full of direct references to The Lord of the Rings, such as Radagast and Mirkwood, the X-Men, like the neat tie-in to Vol. 134, the comic that Will wants from Dustin—also the first appearance of Jean Grey's unstable alter-ego Dark Phoenix, and many more. Even without direct references, Stranger Things follows the pattern set out by so many classic 80s and early 90s films. It's nearly impossible to watch the journey without being reminded of similar journeys like The Monster Squad, The Gate and Cloak & Dagger. Part of the fun is seeing and understanding a reference, giving you a glimpse into the Duffer Brothers' motivations. The film sets itself like an Easter egg hunt that fans of the genre can get a real kick out of. I haven't found nor included all of them, but I've tried to collect the best. Here are 15 movie references in Stranger Things that you may have missed. And let me know which ones I've missed.
15 Stand By Me On The Train Tracks
14 As Evil As Evil Dead
13 Hugging Your Face Like Alien
12 Score Like Carpenter In Halloween
11 A Lando Calrissian Decision
10 Doing The Thing Like You Do
9 On The Run Like Firestarter
8 Writing Reports Like Jaws
7 Booby-Trapping A Nightmare on Elm Street
6 We Can Do It Like It
5 Poltergeist And The Demogorgon
4 Getting Close To Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3 Flying With E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
2 The Goonies And Chunk's Truffle Shuffle
1 As Pretty As E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
There are so many E.T connections in Stranger Things that it needed another entry all to itself to name more of them. While El and E.T. obviously have a lot in common, there are some interesting parallels in their stories as well. Both El and E.T. mimic speech from the people around them, learning simple combinations of words, usually as spoken by their caretakers. Then there's the fantastic connection between the disguises that the two put on, the dress and blonde wig that El definitely wore better. There's also some cool mirroring in the first encounters within the two flicks, Will and the Demogorgon meeting in the shed, the same place that Elliot first met E.T. This last one may be more coincidental, but it's an interesting thought nonetheless.
Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Netflix, MoviePilot
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