If you have an internet connection and a Netflix account, you should probably stop reading this and go watch Stranger Things.
Without getting into too many spoilers, Stranger Things follows the citizens of a fictional Indiana town in 1983, particularly a group of children, who learn that their small town may not be as normal as they once thought. The show is essentially a love letter to the 1980s, specifically referencing the works of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, and I loved every minute of the first season’s eight episodes. It scratched an itch that I’ve had since being let down by the second season of True Detective.
If you did a one-day marathon like I did, you’re probably eagerly anticipating the second season—and the release of the soundtrack. If you don’t have Netflix, the season one DVD will likely be released in the near future. While we wait, dive into some of the materials that clearly influenced the show.
E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Steven Spielberg masterpiece about a boy who befriends an alien from another world. Change a few words in that description and you’d have the synopsis for Stranger Things. Fun fact: E.T. takes place one year before the events of Stranger Things. Coincidence? Probably.
The Goonies (1985)
Based on a story by Spielberg, Richard Donner’s classic about a likable group of misfit children set out on a quest to save their neighborhood. Along the way they meet a strange creature who’s been treated poorly by his family. Again, this sounds familiar to Stranger Things, but trust me, the execution is completely different.
Stand by Me (1986)
A foursome of youngsters come of age while they search for a body in a rural town in Oregon. There may be nothing supernatural about this film, but watching the perfect chemistry between the youngsters in Stranger Things both made me want to revisit this outstanding Rob Reiner film based on the Stephen King novella The Body. And speaking of King …
A group of inseparable childhood friends? Check. A small town? Check. An otherworldly evil that threatens our very existence? Check. The book is terrific and I highly recommend it, but if reading a 1,138-page book seems too daunting, feel free to check out this made-for-television miniseries. Or wait for the big-screen remake now filming in Canada.
I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest you also check out the series Wayward Pines. Stranger Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer wrote a few episodes of the M. Night Shyamalan-helmed show, and it hits quite a few of the same story beats as Stranger Things. And it’ll make you believe in Shyamalan again!
The Duffer Brothers stated in an interview that, as they prepare for the second season, they’re going to rewatch some of their favorite sequels, namely Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, Aliens, Toy Story 2, Evil Dead II and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Why not check those out as well?
Don’t have Netflix? Check out the first eight minutes of Stranger Things below.
Want more strange things?Check out the Duffer Brothers' first feature film, Hidden
Ross works as a Clerk at the Mt. Washington branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He loves reading books and watching movies and will often ramble about the two here.