Your “Stranger Things” Viewing Guide: Watch the Movies that Influenced the Series

With school out and many of the usual summer entertainment options unavailable due to COVID-19, we know that many of you are revisiting or catching up on binge-worthy TV, and Seasons 1-3 of the cult hit Stranger Things may win top prize in that category. Although Season 4 was originally anticipated for this summer, its release has been significantly delayed due to the pandemic, and probably won’t be released by Netflix until 2021.

Until then, we thought that you might want to use this time to get up to speed on the many 1980s movie references and “Easter eggs” embedded in the show. Its creators, Ross and Matt Duffer, have publicly acknowledged some of their influences, in particular the early novels of Stephen King and the early films of Steven Spielberg. They even named a list of works that influenced Season 3, and they have intentionally cast actors from influential 1980s films, like Sean Astin and Paul Reiser. They have also acknowledged that some of the influences may be “more subconscious than specific,” but that hasn’t stopped their fans from creating countless web lists of possible influences and cultural references from the era.

Start your own research below with our list of movies (by no means comprehensive!) held at Patten or requestable from the greater Minerva lending system. Beware, some of these films fall squarely into the horror genre and are not for the faint of heart, and some are definitely “of their time” and may not always jive with today’s mores. Happy digging and happy viewing.

“Stranger Things” Movie References and Influences:

Alien and Aliens (1979 & 1986)

All the Right Moves (1983)

Back to the Future (1985)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The Exorcist (1973)

E.T. (1982)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Firestarter (1984)

The Fly (1986)

Freaks and Geeks (1999)

Ghostbusters (1984)

The Goonies (1985)

Gremlins (1984)

Jaws (1975)

Jurassic Park (1993)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Karate Kid (1984)

MadMax (1979)

Mr. Mom (1983)

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

The Neverending Story (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Of Unknown Origin (1983)

Poltergeist (1982)

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Red Dawn (1984)

Risky Business (1983)

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Scanners (1980)

Stand by Me (1986)

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

The Terminator (1984)

The Thing (1982)

The X-Files (1993-2002)


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