12 Movies that inspired Netlix's hit show 'Stranger Things'
When Stranger Things first arrived on Netflix last year, it quickly became the most talked about show on television. From its intriguing plot and stylish-as-hell opening credits, it struck gold with audiences, quickly earning itself a second season, which is due to be released at the end of October.
Another reason Stranger Things was so successful is in the ways it blended different genres, drawing from a range of different influences to make a Frankenstein's monster of cool concepts. The showrunners, the Duffer brothers, are the first to point out how the show is inspired by other works, from the writings of Stephen King to the movies of the 80s that they grew up with. But what films in particular inspired the show that we can't stop talking about?
Director Stephen Spielberg is definitely a huge influence on Stranger Things, and none of his films more so than E.T. The imagery of a group of children outrunning shady government agents (often seen in hazmat suits) on their bikes, escaping their big town to the forest, is clear enough, but there are even more parallels.
Both sets of characters take in a supernatural being into their care without their parents' knowledge and dress them up in a dress and wig disguise. On top of this, both E.T. and Eleven have telekinetic powers, with the former floating objects around Elliot's room and even giving his bike the power of flight at one point.
There's a lot of Stephen King in Stranger Things, as the creators have admitted. The 1976 movie, based on King's first novel, has certain influences on the character of Eleven. They both had sheltered upbringings, with Carrie's religious zealot of a mother and Eleven's controlling scientist "father" pressuring them, their powers are often revealed during stress. Though they are both sweet-natured, they are often provoked to horrific violence.
A flashback scene shows Joyce surprising Will with tickets to see Poltergeist, but there are further allusions aside from this. When Will disappears, Joyce hears her son trying to communicate from a dimension linked via the walls of the house. This is much like the haunting in Poltergeist, wherein young Carol Anne communicates in a similar way.
4. The Goonies
With its many influences from movies of the 1980s, it's hard not to see the The Goonies in Stranger Things, as we follow the friendship of outcast nerds as they head off on a great adventure.
While the Demogorgon stalks people much like Michael Myers did in the slasher classic, the main influence drawn from this movie is the look and sound. The music is very similar to John Carpenter's iconic scores for movies such as Halloween, with the title sequence and look of the credits similar to this too.
6. Stand By Me
The Duffer brothers actually had the actors run lines from Stand By Me when they were auditioning for the roles of Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Will. This isn't surprising when you see how these stories line up. Both involve a group of kids at a carefree age dramatically changed by tragedy and loss.
Their friendship is put through the ringer but is ultimately strengthened by their ordeal. On top of this, both groups journey through the forest, following train tracks.
7. Minority Report
In Minority Report, the telepathic powers of the "pre-cogs" are used to solve crimes before they happen. These pre-cogs are kept floating in tanks to help improve their abilities. Eleven is lowered into a sensory-deprivation tank at the lab to accentuate her telepathic powers, and the children improvise the same thing with a kiddie pool and road salt.
Scanners, which you might recognise from the much-used head explosion gif that is all over the internet, followed a similar path to Stranger Things in some ways. The telekinetic powers present in people in the Scanners universe are sought after by the heavily-armed government forces, hoping to use them as new form of weapon.
9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
In Close Encounters, the father becomes obsessed with the alien beings communicating with him, making him look mad to his family. Similarly, Joyce's destruction of her own home and use of Christmas lights looks crazy to everyone who meets her. Also, her communication through the lights is similar to the conversation of sounds at the end of the film.
Like Carrie, Firestarter also follows a young girl with supernatural powers. Charlie is closer to Elle's age, as a pyrokinetic 9-year-old, and the movie was one of the first to associate psychic powers with nose bleeds, and also leans on Stranger Things' notion of experimental government testing too. In addition, the brain sensors worn by Barrymore's character for "the Wood Chip Test" resembles the apparatus placed on Eleven's head whenever she's monitored in the lab.
When creating a sci-fi monster story, it's pretty hard not to be influenced by Alien. The Demogorgon's faceless creature is combines design traits both from Alien's xenomorph and a little from Predator. It also behaves similarly, taking victims to its domain and keeping them alive as incubators much like the creatures do in Aliens. In Stranger Things, we also see that the creature has been laying eggs of some kind, which is a familiar sight...
"It is obviously a huge inspiration for the show," Ross Duffer said, and you can see why - a group of children have to evade bullies while also investigating the disappearances related to an unseen monster.
The show is so similar in feel to Stephen King's story that many newer fans saw 2017's 'It' adaptation and said it was reminiscent of Stranger Things, not knowing that Stephen King's book landed in 1986 and the TV movie in 1990, which the creators have said they watched when they were young.
With Stranger Things' second season being released this month, there's the possibility for even more movie references and influences to come through as we get to see the next chapter of this sci-fi coming-of-age mystery mash-up. But did you know there are actually several real life conspiracies that inspired the show?