Netflix’s Stranger Things is the word-of-mouth TV hit of the summer, an infectiously creepy mix of ’80s nostalgia, Amblinesque wonder, and sci-fi horror. Part of the fun of the series is recognizing its many, many—seriously, so many—loving homages to genre films of the ’70s and ’80s, a project video editor Ulysse Thevenon took on with a video of side-by-side shot comparisons.
All the biggest influences on Matt and Ross Duffer’s—Stranger Things’ sibling creators and two avowed ‘80s-loving freaks—story about friendship, alienation, adolescence, and loss are here: E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, Goonies, Explorers, The Shining (hell hath no fury like Winona Ryder with an ax), Stand By Me, Carrie, Firestarter, Commando (Rambo could also double for that scene of Lucas tying on his bandana), Nightmare on Elm Street, and more.
Seeing which movie references stick out to whom is part of what makes talking about the show with friends so much fun. E.T. is often a first choice, what with the pack of tight-knit nerds speeding through the woods on bikes, flashlights in hand, protecting the alien-like superbeing they’ve befriended. Shades of Alien are in nearly every scene dealing with the "Demogorgon," the lab in Hawkins, and the Upside Down, too. (Thevenon omits one of my favorite shots: Officer Jim Hopper touching what looks exactly like an Ovomorph, or Xenomorph egg, right down to its grotesque, tulip-like opening.)
There are, of course, a ton more not included here: the lights in Joyce’s house blinking furiously in otherworldly communication, just like the lights of the spaceship in Close Encounters; Hopper swashbuckling his way past the baddies and unexpectedly appearing on the bus, just like Han Solo. Close your eyes and you can hear the movies of the ’80s in Stranger Things too, from the eerie clicking sounds that both the Demogorgon and the Predator make, to the synths favored by John Carpenter.
We could go on forever—even newer films like Minority Report and Under the Skin, not to mention TV shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files leave fingerprints on Stranger Things too. Watch for yourself above and nerd out.