‘Stranger Things‘ is a huge homage to the science fiction and horror films of the 1980s. The Netflix series felt like the lovechild of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Carpenter. It gave us the innocence of a world seen through kid’s eyes, a bit of a coming of age story, and the suspense that could more easily be found in a place where everyone isn’t online with access to unlimited information 24/7. A great cast of actors made this 8-episode series quite enjoyable to many but one has to ask themselves after binge watching this surprise Netflix hit which seemed to come out of nowhere, what next? While a Season 2 is likely there is still too much time to fill before it comes out.
So here are 10 films that will bring the same kind of magic to your life that ‘Stranger Things’ did and fill the void until we hopefully get a follow up!
The first cinematic adaption of Stephen King’s ‘It’ probably has you remembering Pennywise more than anything else. Honestly, he was the clown that put generations off of thinking clowns were funny so I get that. What you may forget though is that just like ‘Stranger Things’ it is about a group of kids, part of “The Loser’s Club” to be specific, who come together against all odds to stop a great evil that they should have no business going up against. Hell, even the reboot of ‘It’ is trying to capitalize on the series by saying it will share the same tone as the show!
In 1981 David Cronenberg released a horror film about people who had telekinesis which clearly feels like the inspiration for Elle. In fact, many of the shots where we see her taking out security guards are very reminiscent of the film! ‘Scanners’ might not have shared many other features with the film but the telekinesis was right on point.
8. Flight of the Navigator
A child who goes missing and is experimented on? Check. David from ‘Flight of the Navigator’ goes through many similar experiences to Elle in ‘Stranger Things’. However, the end result is that one gets to pilot a really neat spaceship while the other seems to disappear possibly into the Upside Down.
7. The Monster Squad
Kids on BMX bikes in the 80’s taking on monsters with a sheriff that needs some anger management. While much more lighthearted than parts of ‘Stranger Things’ there are quite a few similarities. The Demogorgon is probably a little more terrifying than the classic Universal Monsters these days
6. The Goonies
Richard Donner directed this Spielberg produced classic and while we’re seeing suspense here over horror, it is about a bunch of kids who could be thought of as losers getting together and having an adventure. The 80s, friends coming together against all odds, and a lot of fun put this one squarely on the list.
5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
I doubt that anyone could see ‘Stranger Things’ without references to Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic coming up. The bikes as transportation were a staple for 80’s films with kids but this is where you really make that connection. Not only that but we’ve got kids who are hiding away a creature (or girl) with powers in the middle of suburbia and it just feels right to have this one listed here.
4. The Thing
Clearly, the Duffer Brothers took inspiration from ‘The Thing’ when creating their monster. Aside from the fact that the kids’ teacher is at home watching the film on a date but how similar does the Demogorgon feel to one of Carpenter’s most iconic horror creations? While a much darker tone than ‘Stranger Things’ the inspiration for the monster is quite clear.
3. Silent Hill
I know what you’re thinking. How does ‘Silent Hill’ at all compare to this amazing series? Honestly, it’s all about The Upside Down. The mirror world to our own feels like the concept was taken straight from ‘Silent Hill’ and the Demogorgon could likely easily call it home.
2. Stand By Me
Rob Reiner’s 1986 classic didn’t just star Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell all before they were big but it also laid the groundwork for the 80s kids tackling something that they shouldn’t be in a movie. It is the staple that you could think of that really trumps everything else of the time period such as ‘The Goonies’. Oh, and of course, it was written by Stephen King which is why so much of the tone will have ‘Stranger Things’ reminding you of it.
1. Super 8
J.J. Abrams did a great job in his 2011 film though there are still many who haven’t seen it. Much like ‘Stranger Things’ this was an homage to 80’s science-fiction and horror movies but with a huge budget. It took place just shy of the 80’s in 1979 but like ‘Stranger Things’ followed a group of kids as they tried to survive and flourish during a monster who was attacking their world. Brilliant casting and special effects (even with lens flares) has this as a stand out on this list!
Obviously, there are a ton of other movies that could fit on this list as well and that doesn’t include television shows. Do you have any that stand out in your mind which really should have been included? Share your thoughts below!
Stuart Conover is an author, blogger, and all around geek. When not busy being a father and husband he tries to spend as much time as possible immersed in comic books, science fiction, and horror! Would you like to know more? Follow him on Twitter!