Prepping for Stranger Things

by Grant

Stranger Things debuted on Netflix earlier this year to near universal acclaim mostly because it was completely amazing. An homage to the some of the best 80s films, music and typeface. While we all wait for for it to be released on DVD, here is a slew of films that inspired or are similar to the show.

The heart of the show is the three middle school friends looking for their missing friend.  The eighties were a great time for the kids solving mysteries genre. The influence of the Goonies is seen in the relationship between the children. ET: the Extra Terrestrial, contributes the looming (evil?) government presence, as well as the outsider hidden by allies. Stand by Me based on a novella by Stephen King is another 80’s film that revolve around a group of friends.


Winona Ryder plays the mother of the child who goes missing. No one believes that she is hearing her son through the phone and that he is communicating with her via electricity. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss plays a man who is convinced he had a premonition about an alien encounter, and that the aliens are trying to communicate with people (spoiler alert: they are!) In They Live, from director John Carpenter, a man find out that alien overlords are hidden in our midst and controlling the minds of humans. It also contains the greatest and most ridiculous fight scene of all time.



As seen above John Carpenter and Stephen King are both major influences on the show, even down to the score and title sequence.  The font of the title is similar to the 80’s covers of some of King’s classic Horror novels. Firestarter based on a novel by King has a young girl with strange powers, while The Thing by director Carpenter deals with human being taken over by an alien virus.


When you start looking for influences for Stranger Things you can see them everywhere. Maybe I was the only one who saw these two, but when I see the Hooper’s hat combined with his right hook, I can’t help but think of Indiana Jones.  The show starts with the main group of kids playing dungeons and dragons, and that combined with the younger brother older sister dynamic, reminded me of the classic TV show Freaks and Geeks. Preppy love interest Steve reminds me of preppy jerk Steff (played by James Spader) in Pretty in Pink.


Any other influences I missed?

Tags: ,


2 responses to “Prepping for Stranger Things”

  1. Jackie says:

    I totally agree on everything on this list. I absolutely saw Indiana Jones in Hopper and Waters movies in Steve. I think the older/younger sibling thing was covered by The Goonies, but I don’t object to F & G. Awesome post.

  2. Lindsey Anderson says:

    These are all excellent influences and associations! Steve Harrington HAD to be influenced by Spader in Pretty in Pink.

Leave a reply (comments are moderated before posting)