The must-watch telly phenomenon of 2016, Stranger Things is more than just the touching tale of a group of cute, plucky kids and a ravenous death-beast from a universe beyond your bleakest nightmares. No, it’s also a love letter (scrawled in blood) to 80s horror and pop culture.
You may have spotted the references yourself, but in case you were too busy keeping up with sinister sciencey shenanigans and Winona Ryder’s various panic attacks, here’s our handy list of the geekiest, awesomest homages in the show.
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
There are more ET references in Stranger Things than you can shake a glowing fingertip at. Example: the “whole kids cycling away from evil government types” thing…
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, again
And we wonder if Eleven’s outlandish blonde wig disguise was a pointed reference to ET’s outlandish blonde wig disguise? (Answer: yes.)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Remember in Close Encounters, when the dad babbles about aliens, turns his house into a tip, and makes his whole family think he’s gone nuts? Yep: suddenly Winona Ryder’s breakdown seems awfully familiar.
Firestarter, a Stephen King book and film about a young girl with a talent for making bad things happen with her mind, is part of the very DNA of Stranger Things.
Speaking of Stephen King, the very font of the Stranger Things logo is a pointed homage to the classic font used for King novels back in the day…
Nobody can tell us that dear, beloved Barb isn’t modelled on Martha Plimpton’s character in The Goonies. (Now, if only Barb had some of that Goonie sass, she might have avoided being monster-fodder.)
The film posters
If you didn’t whoop and point whenever the Evil Dead and The Thing posters came into view, then you simply aren’t a proper horror buff. Sorry.
Stand By Me
Yet more Stephen King influence could be felt with shots of the Stranger Things kids wandering woodlands and train tracks, all Stand By Me-like…
The Upside Down’s gooey, biological horror aesthetics owe a lot to the world of Alien. Also, the eggs. Check out those eggs.
And doesn’t the Demogorgon’s big flappy horrible face look like one of the opened eggs in the Alien franchise?
Stephen King’s book about a rabid dog makes a cameo appearance in Stranger Things. Not that you actually see the cover – it’s the sheriff’s comment on the “nasty mutt” that gives it away.
And finally… Eleven’s way of channelling her mental fury on her enemies does seem like a call-back to classic sci-fi horror Scanners. Except in Scanners they tended to suffer a bit more than a slight nosebleed…
Stranger Things is available to watch now on Netflix
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