5 Classic Horror Movies Netflix’s Stranger Things Reminded Us Of
No decade has more deep-seated nostalgia linked to it than the 1980s, and in the past several years, Hollywood has absolutely mined that nostalgia for all it’s worth. We’ve seen countless direct remakes of beloved ’80s films as well as movies that were clearly inspired by the decade’s finest, but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve finally hit peak ’80s nostalgia with exceptional new Netflix series “Stranger Things.”
Created by the Duffer Brothers, the 8-episode series plucks out pretty much everything we all love about ’80s cinema and rolls it into one big ole ball of nostalgia, and you’d be hard-pressed to find ANYTHING that feels more authentically ’80s than it does. Rather brilliantly, “Stranger Things” is very familiar while also being entirely its own thing, as the Duffer Brothers recapture the feeling of the show’s influences without hammering you over the head with references or trying to be those movies. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably believe that it was actually made in the ’80s, which is the strongest possible testament to how well executed it is.
Watching “Stranger Things,” it’s impossible to not be reminded of movies you hold near and dear, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Here are just five of the classic horror movies we were often reminded of throughout the series – be forewarned that there will be some spoilers within this article!
1) STEPHEN KING’S IT
The most common description of “Stranger Things” is that it’s “Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King,” which pitch-perfectly sums up the general vibe of the show. Two things that were quite obviously huge influences on the Duffer Brothers were Spielberg’s E.T. and King’s It, and it’s often so reminiscent of the latter that it feels like a better adaptation of the novel than the 1990 mini-series was. The show primarily centers on a group of pre-teen outcasts who willingly engage in battle with a nightmarish monster, and the tale kicks off, much like It does, when one of their friends is taken.
The young, often-bullied characters that comprise the “Stranger Things” group would all fit right in with The Losers Club (as well as the titular Monster Squad), and yes, they’re eventually even joined by a female member. I suppose it only makes sense that actor Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler in the Netflix series, will next be seen as Richie Tozier in Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of King’s novel!
As King himself noted, “Watching Stranger Things is like watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits.”
2) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
One of the main characters in “Stranger Things” is Nancy Wheeler, who is Mike’s teenage sister. A good-natured brunette who happens to be dating a handsome jock, Nancy shares more than merely a name with A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Nancy Thompson, so much so that she ends up being a way better version of Freddy’s arch-nemesis than the one we got in that awful 2010 remake. Unsurprisingly, the mild-mannered Nancy eventually becomes a total badass, bravely bringing the fight to the otherworldly monster that has taken her friend. Nancy Thompson, needless to say, would be proud.
Speaking of the monster, there are several scenes throughout wherein he literally presses through the wall of a house from the other side, taking a page directly out of Freddy’s playbook.
Winona Ryder stars in “Stranger Things” as Joyce Byers, the inconsolable mother of Will Byers: the child whose mysterious disappearance triggers the events of the series. As we learn, Will has been abducted by a supernatural force and taken into an alternate world wherein a terrifying beast roams free, the show essentially echoing the basic plot of the Spielberg-produced Poltergeist. Like Carol Anne, Will communicates with his mother via electrical currents, allowing her to hear him from the other side. There’s even a flashback scene early on wherein Joyce presents her young son with tickets to see Poltergeist, and they have a brief chat about the film.
Strong Poltergeist vibes are also felt during a scene at the Hawkins Laboratory, wherein an employee is tethered to the physical world for a trip over to the dark side – reminiscent of a similar scene involving Diane Freeling.
One of the standout performances in “Stranger Things” comes courtesy of young actress Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the peculiar Eleven. Her relationship with Mike Wheeler is undeniably similar to Elliot’s relationship with ET, and several nods are made to the Spielberg classic through her. But another character Eleven reminded us of is Charlie McGee in 1984’s Firestarter, which was of course based on Stephen King’s novel. In the film, Drew Barrymore played Charlie, a little girl with psychokinetic abilities who is, like Eleven, being targeted by a sinister government agency that wants to control her.
Nose bleeds, in both “Stranger Things” and Firestarter, are a side effect of the powers being used.
5) HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH
Though not quite as obvious as the others on this list, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to recently-embraced sequel Halloween 3 while watching “Stranger Things.” One of the show’s side plots sees police chief Jim Hopper investigating the strange goings-on at the Hawkins Laboratory, and eventually breaking into the building, and the whole thing calls to mind Dr. Dan Challis’ investigation of the Silver Shamrock factory. There’s even a scene wherein Hopper discovers a seemingly-human body that isn’t actually human, which is also one of the twists in Halloween 3.
As for series antagonist Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), who’s in charge over at the Hawkins Laboratory, he’s almost a dead-ringer for Season of the Witch villain Conal Cochran.
Oh and of course, it doesn’t hurt that the show’s score is pure Carpenter.
Did “Stranger Things” remind you of any other horror movies? Let us know!