If You Loved Stranger Things, You Need To See These!
Stranger Things, the Netflix sensation that is encapsulating everyone and everything at the minute, is one of the best things we’ve seen recently. Like a cross between X-Files and E.T/The Goonies! If you haven’t seen it, do, and if you have seen it, watch these (full list can be seen here)!
1. Firestarter (1984)
In Firestarter, based on the novel by Stephen King, Charlie (Drew Barrymore) is born with psychic abilities, namely pyrokinesis (she can start fires, ya know, WITH HER MIND) and them gov’mint boys want to use her as a weapon. Turns out her parents were test subjects in a secret government psy-ops programme (Mom can move things, Pop can control minds but gets nosebleeds from doing so) and passed on their abilities to her.
Sound familiar? In Netflix’s Stranger Things, Eleven (Milly Bobby Brown) is also being trained as a government weapon, is subject to experiments to develop and enhance her abilities, and gets nosebleeds from using her powers. lt’s also revealed her mom was part of MK Ultra. And her dad… well, maybe we’ll find out in Season 2.
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Electrical lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an encounter with a UFO while out in the desert. Despite official denial of what he’s seen, he’s haunted by strange visions and becomes obsessed with UFOs. Unable to cope, his wife leaves him. Meanwhile, Jillain (Melinda Dillon), the mother of a young boy, is being plagued by similar visions.
Much like Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) in Stranger Things, Roy and Jillian are dismissed as crazy but are ultimately vindicated when they discover the government is set to make contact with alien life. There’s also a thing with lights.
3. Poltergeist (1982)
More Spielberg (on production duties this time): supernatural forces, kid trapped in another realm but able to be heard and seen (at times) from ours, desperate parents fighting said supernatural forces.
There’s even a flashback in Stranger Things where Joyce surprises her son Will (Noah Schnapp) with tickets to see Poltergeist. Less of a nod and a wink, more of an outright homage.
4. The Goonies (1985)
Stranger Things is basically The Goonies written by Stephen King: They share the group of geeks and misfits, the Anywhere, USA, town, the BMX bikes, the cooler outcast older brother vying for the attentions of the jock bully’s girlfriend, the girl’s best friend with the big glasses (Barb!)… All that’s missing in Stranger Things is a treasure map. *Crosses fingers for Season 2*
The Duffers told Vulture they originally wanted a coastal location like Montauk, which would have been even more Goonies-esque, but eventually went inland because of budget stuff. Money sucks.
Bonus: Listen out for a Goonies-esque musical cue 40 minutes into Episode 1.
5. Explorers (1985)
You know what’s cool? Science is cool. And the kids in Stranger Things are really good at science – they’ve won the Science Fair every year (except last year when they came third because of “politics”). In Explorers, three boys – including a very young Ethan Hawke and a very young River Phoenix – uses science geekery to build their own spacecraft. Despite interference from “the government” (the man had a real problem with kids in the ’80s), they manage to leave the atmosphere and end up making first contact.
The gang in Stranger Things don’t build anything as advanced as a spaceship, but they do figure out how to build a sensory deprivation tank (1,500 pounds of salt!), and how to get to the Upside Down (compasses!).
6.Minority Report (2002) & Mad Max: Fury Road(2015)
In Episode 7, when Elle is floating in the improvised sensory deprivation tank, the shot recalls Agatha (Samantha Morton) in Spielberg’s Minority Report, a character who also has a shaven head and psychic abilities and spends much of the film submerged in a tank.
On the shaven head, to persuade Millie Bobby Brown to cut her hair off, the Duffers told Variety, they showed her how cool Charlize looked with a close crop in Fury Road.