An image from the Netflix series "Stranger Things."

An image from the Netflix series "Stranger Things."


Let's face it. Netflix's cultish summer hit, Stranger Things, is just one big #tbt homage to the sometimes heartwarming, slightly creepy, Cold War-era cinematic world of the 1980s. 

So now you've finished binge-watching season one, what's up next? We've got you covered with a list of the best films to keep your Stranger mood going strong.

Warning: This post is dark and full of spoilers.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The entire storyline of the young kids and Eleven in Stranger Things is straight out of Steven Spielberg's 1982 adopted alien story. The bikes, the flashlights, the dress-up scene in episode five — it's all E.T. 

Alien (1979)

The depiction of the Upside Down in the season one finale relies heavily on H.R. Giger's designs for Alien. When Will is discovered with some kind of slug thing down his throat, it's impossible not to think of the Xenomorph facehuggers. (Bonus: An unconscious Will attached to the monster's wall is also reminiscent of this super creepy scene cut from Alien.)

Stand By Me (1986)

The young cast of Stranger Things had to audition using lines from this 1986 coming of age story. It's a classic because it hits a balance between being an adventurous child while having to deal with adult themes like death and danger. Sound familiar?

The Goonies (1985)

If you're going to talk about 80s adventure stories, you can't forget The Goonies. Like many of these classics, the young heroes are working through deep, adult-world conflicts (foreclosure, divorce, etc.) while participating in an "innocent" adventure. Plus, how can you not love how Chunk and Dustin are so similar?

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 

Stranger Things isn't all fun and games. Remember when Barb gets totally eaten (or something) in a dream world that sucks up kids and spits out demon monsters? That's a little less E.T. and a little more Freddy Kreuger. 

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter was a strong influence of the Duffer brothers, who created Stranger Things. The synth-heavy theme alone would be a big enough tip of that influence, but you add in how Carpenter defined horror through movies like Halloween, and you see where the Duffer brothers got many of their creative ideas.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

One of the things that makes Stranger Things stand out is how genre-bending it can be. Take out all that Demogorgon stuff, and the Nancy-Steve-Jonathan storyline is pure John Hughes.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Another Stranger Things episode, another Spielberg reference. Before he made aliens lovable with E.T., Spielberg was exploring secret government programs at Devil's Tower, Wyo. Just like Judy destroys her family's living room in Stranger Things, Richard Dreyfuss tears his family home apart trying to recreate the national monument in Close Encounters.

Heathers (1988)

Winona Ryder. 'Nuff said.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Read our review of this summer's remake, but in the meantime make time to revisit the paranormal comedy of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Co., and hope that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man makes a cameo in Stranger Things season two. 

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The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Speaking of remakes, The Force Awakens was nice and all, but have you re-watched Empire recently? It's so good. Also, bonus points for a direct Stranger Things reference: Lando.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Jonathan keeps a poster of this 1981 blood bath on his bedroom wall in Stranger Things. The original cabin-in-the-woods horror movie, the special effects in The Evil Dead are almost so gory they're funny. Almost.

Breaking Away (1979)

Hawkins, Ind., clearly doesn't exist. But Southern Indiana is full of beautiful — and sometimes deadly — limestone quarries, a key setting in the Oscar-winning Breaking Away. (There's also a massive Naval base hidden in the hills of Southern Indiana, but we can't comment on that.)

Firestarter (1984)

Secretive experiments on a young girl with telekinetic powers? The flashbacks that Eleven has throughout the first season of Stranger Things pull from the Stephen King story starring a young Drew Barrymore.

The Shining (1980)

Stranger Things has a lot of visual similarity with The Shining, including when axe-wielding Judy goes to town on her living room wall. That, plus another psychically-gifted child, earns this Stanley Kubrick classic a spot on our list.

Carrie (1976) 

So, do we need to have a talk about why this era was obsessed with kids who have psychic powers? Let's hope Eleven — because let's be honest, she's totally alive — doesn't take a card out of Carrie's book and go all crazy in the Upside Down.

Blade Runner (1982)

Does it freak anyone else out that this movie is supposed to take place in, like, three years? Despite being re-cut, then super-cut, then really-final-last-time-ever-cut, Blade Runner's dystopian fantasy stands out.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

Twin Peaks is an outlier on this list for two reasons: It's a TV show and it's the 90s baby that wishes it was an 80s kid. But the whole time we watched Stranger Things, we kept thinking FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was gonna show up in Hopper's police station for a cup of strong black coffee.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 

An image from the Netflix series "Stranger Things."

An image from the Netflix series "Stranger Things."


Speaking of Hopper, who's he kidding with that hat? Just because he's a cop in Indiana doesn't mean he has to go full Indiana Jones.

Labyrinth (1986)

First and foremost, a moment of silence for Jareth the Goblin King.

The themes of child-snatching, alternate-universe hopping, fantasy-creature sighting run through both Stranger Things and Labyrinth. If you're into that sort of thing, don't miss this Jim Henson fantasy.

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