The Winona Ryder-fronted supernatural Netflix hit pays tribute to The Goonies, Alien, E.T and more
Stranger Things has been a huge hit: the Netflix horror series, starring Winona Ryder, charts the hunt for people mysteriously gone missing in a small American town. It’s a fresh take on the sci-fi genre with a stellar young cast, while also going full nostalgia levels by paying tribute to all your fave 70s and 80s cult films.
The show’s been called a “love letter to the ubiquitous cult classics of the ’80s”, as it explores “a series of mysteries involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl”. In doing so, there’s thoughtful homages to everything from E.T to Commando, Nightmare on Elm Street and Stand By Me.
Video editor Ulysse Thevenon has made an absolutely killer video of side-by-side shot comparisons, which compares the huge influences on Matt and Ross Duffer’s series. The horrifying visuals of Nightmare on Elm Street (who could forget the figure coming through the wall) and extra-terrestrial horrors of Close Encounters of the Third Kind obviously permeate the show. You can’t help but think of Alien when the cast comes face-to-face with the demogorgon and the Upside Down world. The supernatural power of Eleven also brings the pyrokinetic abilities of Firestarter’s Charlie to mind.
There’s also the thematic influences of E.T, Goonies and Stand By Me: the friends-til-the-end, close bond shared by the boy trio on their hunt for young Will, as they handle a mysterious, mute being in a blonde wig (though without E.T’s spindly fingers). The long shots as the group search for the gate to the otherworld, trailing train tracks and forests, could easily be transplanted into the similarly boyish but dark quest of the Stand By Me lot.
Fans of the show have also suggested other examples the short video has left out: John Carpenter’s synthy musical legacy in The Thing and Halloween, the creatures of Predator and the darkness hidden in smalltown America we see in Twin Peaks and The X-Files. Check out the video yourself and make your own suggestions.