Are you able to transcend the Upside Down?
Stranger Issues, Netflix’s Zeitgeist-y ’80s sci-fi–horror collection, is likely one of the hottest and acclaimed TV collection of the previous decade. It’s additionally a love letter from its co-creators, the Duffer brothers, to the style films they grew up watching — E.T., Shut Encounters of the Third Type, The Goonies, and extra — which comprise a magic they hoped to re-create. The large last episodes of the present’s fourth season have lastly dropped, but when you end up wanting extra, why not sate your Stranger thirst by watching the works in its (jugular) vein?
That’s the place this listing is available in. Under, you’ll discover 40 films and TV collection that exist in Stranger Issues’ twilight zone, spiraling outward from its most evident and direct inspirations and influences to uncared for and forgotten flicks that ship on the Duffer bros’ promise. Learn on, log in, and stream away … should you dare…
The Stranger Issues canon
E.T. the Further-Terrestrial (1982)
If the movies of Steven Spielberg are Stranger Issues’ Bible, E.T. is its John’s Gospel: It might be much less immediately influential than different movies by way of the present’s surface-level horror-film aesthetic, nevertheless it has the guts and soul that moved individuals greater than its extra straightforwardly spooky analogues — and which ST is clearly making an attempt to evoke. From its sinister authorities brokers in hazmat fits to its iconic bicycle imagery to its normal suburbs-gone-weird vibe to its final emphasis on warming hearts over chilling spines (although it stays deceptively creepy and paranoid), this story of the little alien who fell to Earth is the Stranger Issues supply code.
The Goonies (1985)
One of many all-time nice populist collaborations, this teen-adventure basic was written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, House Alone, Harry Potter) and directed by Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman, Deadly Weapon) from a narrative by Spielberg himself. Starring showbiz scions Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, and Martha Plimpton and that includes tween celebrity Corey Feldman as comedian aid, its story of a gaggle of dirt-broke youngsters on the path of pirate treasure within the Pacific Northwest posited a world of discovery and hazard actually beneath its characters’ suburban toes. Sound acquainted?
Shut Encounters of the Third Type (1977)
Spielberg’s sci-fi breakthrough trafficked in a number of the similar “cover-up and conspiracy” mentality that Stranger Issues has utilized as a Watergate by means of The X-Information little bit of flavoring. Past that, although, it’s a narrative of an on a regular basis dad or mum awed by proof of different worlds, and like Stranger Issues, it makes use of kids menaced and kidnapped by these forces as emotional linchpins. A current theatrical rerelease has given its dazzling visible results (by 2001 and Blade Runner’s Douglas Trumbull) and five-note theme (by all-timer John Williams) a brand new grip on our collective creativeness.
“They’re heeeeere …” On the similar time Spielberg was engaged on the healthful science-fantasy of E.T., he was additionally collaborating with Texas Chainsaw Bloodbath auteur Tobe Hooper on this nightmarish demolition of the Reagan-era nuclear household. Starring Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as rich younger dad and mom elevating three kids in a suburban growth, its story of an more and more malevolent haunting centering on their angelic younger daughter Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Stranger Issues borrows rather a lot from its toolbox, from the mom determined to rescue her lacking little one to an digital technique of communication with the Different Aspect. The mother-daughter materials right here is white-hot with emotion, significantly while you think about older investigators performed by Beatrice Straight and Zelda Rubinstein; not like Stranger Issues, Poltergeist immediately indicts the American Dream, laying the blame on the toes of the rapacious real-estate developer who constructed the household dwelling. (James Wan, director of Insidious and The Conjuring, owes his complete profession to this film.)
Stand by Me (1986)
Stranger Issues has two dads: Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. Whereas the Grasp of Horror’s supernatural tales are undoubtedly a serious affect on the present, it’s director Rob Reiner’s adaptation of his resolutely practical coming-of-age story “The Body” that appears most immediately accountable for the banter between its younger male characters. A interval piece set in 1959, it stars a killer quartet of kid stars — Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, and Jerry O’Connell — as associates who uncover a lifeless physique and be taught rather a lot about life within the course of. Stranger Issues’ scenes of the gang traipsing alongside practice tracks are pulled immediately from this beloved drama.
It (2017) and It Chapter Two (2019)
Arguably Stephen King’s masterpiece, It couldn’t probably be extra immediately analogous to Stranger Issues: It’s a couple of bunch of boys and a single lady dealing with off in opposition to a horrible monster. King’s authentic novel was a interval piece, like Stand by Me, and its authentic 1990 TV miniseries adaptation adopted go well with, that includes Tim Curry because the shape-shifting clown entity Pennywise in a career-high efficiency. The more moderen blockbuster theatrical adaptation modifications the time-frame to the Nineteen Eighties, hitting the identical nostalgic candy spot as Stranger Issues. The presence of younger actor Finn Wolfhard in each definitely helps, to the purpose the place many youthful viewers really feel It ripped off Stranger Issues as an alternative of, arguably, the opposite method round.
It’s neither one among King’s greatest books nor one among his most extremely regarded movie variations, however from its superpowered younger feminine lead (Drew Barrymore) to her origin in shadowy authorities experiments, Firestarter has a complete lot in widespread with Stranger Issues. It’s arduous to think about Eleven with out this pyrokinetic protagonist as her forerunner.
If Nancy had been Stranger Issues’ psychic superweapon relatively than Eleven, you may need wound up with one thing near Carrie. One of many all-time nice King variations, it’s primarily based on his debut novel a couple of religiously repressed teen outcast who discovers she has unimaginable telekinetic powers, however needs nothing greater than to slot in — till bullies provoke her right into a murderous rampage. Directed by the ’70s “New Hollywood” scene’s number-one Hitchcock acolyte, Brian De Palma, and written by Larry Cohen, who would additionally pen the It mini-series, it’s thought of a masterpiece in its personal proper. However Stranger Issues followers may think about doing a double characteristic with De Palma’s different psychic thriller, 1978’s The Fury.
The third member of Stranger Issues’ holy trinity, writer-director-composer John Carpenter made his mark on the present in various methods, from his more and more influential synthesized scores to the autumnal “hell comes to the suburbs” vibe of this landmark slasher movie. Whereas its teen characters are a extra mature demographic than Stranger Issues’, Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers and Natalia Dyer’s Nancy Wheeler really feel like they may very well be the older and youthful sisters of star Jamie Lee Curtis’s “final girl.”
The Factor (1982)
Halloween has its place within the horror canon, however for my cash, that is Carpenter’s masterpiece: a claustrophobic sci-fi nightmare set deep within the Antarctic, during which Kurt Russell leads a forged of character actors to rival 12 Offended Males in opposition to a shape-shifting alien designed by Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. With out this movie, the Demogorgon wouldn’t exist, interval.
A Nightmare on Elm Avenue (1984)
Wes Craven’s supernatural slasher flick launched nearly as many sequels as imitators, because of the for-the-ages work of actor Robert Englund as its knife-gloved killer Freddy Krueger. (He’s a method much less wacky man within the authentic than he turns into in subsequent installments, for what it’s value.) Its lack of polish actually reveals while you’ve seen sufficient different films of its sort, however when it clicks? Hoo boy, Craven and firm stumbled throughout a deep, fetid swamp of teenage terrors. Whereas Johnny Depp getting swallowed by his mattress and vomited forth in a geyser of blood is its most memorable scare, a shot of Freddy’s hand prodding the wall of the movie’s “final girl” Nancy like a membrane ultimately discovered its method into Stranger Issues, as did the heroine’s identify (and pajamas!).
As horror films about maternal anxiousness go, few can prime James Cameron’s flawless action-horror sequel to Ridley Scott’s tense and terrifying sci-fi basic. The scene during which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) rescues the younger orphan she’s come to take care of from the viscous alien hive was repurposed by Stranger Issues into the climactic beat for its corresponding characters, Joyce Byers and her long-lost son, Will. And by each identify and nature, the Demogorgon and Xenomorph have rather a lot in widespread. Stranger Issues’ Paul Reiser co-stars as one among cinema’s best slimeballs, by the best way.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo from his comic-book collection of the identical identify, Akira was one of the vital profitable and influential anime movies of the last decade; in America, it was, for a few years, nearly the one sport on the town. A lot of Eleven’s powers and their visible signatures stem from this dystopian thriller about younger bikers who get combined up of their authorities’s weaponized psychic-power program within the sprawling metropolis of neo-Tokyo. In case you’d want to observe Eleven wreak havoc and not using a gaggle of adorkable dudes in tow, that is the film for you.
The Monster Squad (1987)
Directed by cult favourite Fred Dekker (Night time of the Creeps), who co-wrote the script with future screenwriter and script-doctor extraordinaire Shane Black (Deadly Weapon, Predator, Iron Man 3), this zippy, creepy action-horror gem reads like The Goonies vs. Common’s Darkish Universe. That includes redesigns of basic fright-film icons Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon by the nice Stan Winston — the make-up results and creature-design genius behind The Factor, The Terminator, Predator, Aliens, Jurassic Park and extra — it’s received a foul mouth and a very good coronary heart, a mix that went out of favor till Stranger Issues and It introduced it again.
The Misplaced Boys (1987)
All due respect to Close to Darkish and Fright Night time, however Joel Schumaker’s fashionable horror comedy a couple of band of goth-metal-surf-punk California vampires and the fellows (and lady) who staff as much as cease their reign of terror is palms down one of the best vampire film of the Nineteen Eighties. With a vibrant forged from throughout the leisure spectrum — Kiefer Sutherland! Dianne Wiest! Edward Herrmann! Barnard Hughes! Jason Patric! Jami Gertz! Corey Feldman and Corey Haim! — and a murderously good soundtrack (together with the shirtless sax anthem “I Still Believe,” the inspiration for Jon Hamm’s SNL skit “Sergio”), it might be probably the most pleasant “teens vs. monsters” flick on this listing, which is saying one thing.
The Breakfast Membership (1985)
Whereas there’s nary a supernatural be aware to be heard (give or take a Bizarre Science), the ’80s high-school dramedies of auteur John Hughes are nonetheless an integral a part of Stranger Issues’ DNA. Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, Fairly in Pink: It’s a protracted listing, and The Breakfast Membership takes the highest spot. With a killer Brat Pack forged, it makes use of a bunch of sturdy teenage stereotypes — jock, nerd, princess, burnout, and so forth. — and turns their day in detention into memorable film magic. Chances are high good the Hawkins gang would see a little bit of themselves in Hughes’s forged of characters.
Related Stranger Issues vibes
Super 8 (2011)
Nominally one of many few J.J. Abrams tasks that didn’t entail him adapting different individuals’s concepts (cf. Misplaced, Mission Inconceivable, Star Trek, Star Wars, Westworld), this nostalgic popcorn film is nonetheless simply as indebted to the work of Steven Spielberg (who produced it) as The Power Awakens is to George Lucas. In case you get via Stranger Issues and suppose “Y’know, I sure could go for another modernized riff on the old-school ideal of good-hearted small-town folk beset by forces beyond their understanding,” give this one a strive.
Whereas Spielberg’s maritime monster-movie masterpiece helped inaugurate the blockbuster enterprise mannequin that has dominated Hollywood for greater than 40 years, it didn’t outline its aesthetic the best way his subsequent movies did. Certainly, watching Jaws now looks like going to church on Christmas Eve and listening to outdated, semi-sacred songs — that’s how highly effective and elegant it’s in its classical simplicity. Actor David Harbour’s Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper owes a complete lot to Roy Scheider’s Chief Brody, a household man doing his damnedest to guard the individuals of his city whereas fearing what’s going to occur if he admits the true hazard they face. From the “Vertigo Shot” closeup on Brody throughout an surprising shark assault to the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” jump-scare to Robert Shaw’s legendary USS Indianapolis monologue (“Anyway, we delivered the bomb”), this film accommodates moments of the rawest, purest genre-film energy.
Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
With the identical stage of shamelessness you both cherished or hated throughout its first season, Stranger Issues 2 options its quartet of child heroes dressed up in Ghostbusters’ gray-brown jumpsuits and proton packs. It’s arduous to get too judgmental about it. Whereas components of the movie’s gender politics have aged poorly, it stays one of many tightest mixtures of big-idea science fiction and down-and-dirty stomach laughs ever put onscreen — thanks largely to co-writer and star Dan Aykroyd, each a Saturday Night time Dwell authentic forged member and a real-life paranormal professional. The movie’s sequel-slash-reboot, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, relocates the motion from New York Metropolis to the Midwest and options Finn Wolfhard, proving that in the case of Stranger Issues and inventive affect, “the door swings both ways.”
Invasion of the Physique Snatchers (1978)
Practically as sturdy a remake of its Fifties creature-feature supply materials as John Carpenter’s The Factor was a number of years later, Philip Kaufman’s modern basic shares lots of these movies’ hallmarks: a killer forged (Donald Sutherland, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams), grotesque body-horror creature designs, and an environment of relentless paranoia. The sentient-plant biology of the Demogorgon owes a hell of rather a lot to the so-called “pod people,” as does the horticultural hellscape of the Upside Down.
Although much less regularly cited as an affect on Stranger Issues than Spielberg, Carpenter, or King — almost definitely as a result of he’s not as a lot of a mainstream expertise — David Cronenberg casts a protracted shadow over Hawkins. Scanners was a breakthrough movie for the cerebral, perverse Canadian horror filmmaker, chronicling a conflict between corporate-controlled telekinetics/telepaths and their rivals in a murderous insurgent underground. In a method, it may be learn as a prequel about what may need occurred had Eleven really gone rogue. Its exploding-head scene remains to be one of the vital gorgeously gross sights within the historical past of the style.
Earlier than Stranger Issues, earlier than Sport of Thrones, there was one other runaway small-screen science-fantasy phenomenon. Misplaced is the unique mystery-box TV collection: a pulpy and propulsive romp that crosses “stranded on a deserted island” survival tales with an overarching time-and-space-warping story line that continually twisted, turned, and raised new questions. Within the pre-binge TV world, followers tuned in for the solutions week after dizzying week. The divisive ending didn’t cease co-creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof from conquering Hollywood. Stranger Issues’ ever-expanding scope owes rather a lot to this one.
The X-Information (1993–2002) and The X-Information (2016–2018)
And earlier than Misplaced, there was The X-Information, Chris Carter’s paranoid paranormal thriller. The present starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Brokers Mulder and Scully (their “will they, won’t they” vitality was off the freaking charts), an odd couple — he’s a real believer, she’s a skeptic — tasked with investigating circumstances too bizarre for the bureau to deal with in any other case. The present famously combined monster-of-the-week outings with episodes that constructed up the present’s dizzying conspiratorial mythos; Stranger Issues is type of an “Oops! All Mythos” remix of the X-Information strategy. A protracted-awaited revival arrived a number of years in the past, and there are two X-Information characteristic movies for additional investigation.
Gravity Falls (2012–2016)
In search of extra family-friendly fare for while you and yours make it via Stranger Issues? You may’t beat Gravity Falls, Disney’s animated reply to The X-Information. Over the course of two tight seasons, creator Alex Hirsch’s forged of children discover the paranormal mysteries of the titular city, which vary from foolish to sinister. In an period of formidable animated collection for teenagers, this is likely one of the most achieved of the bunch.
Superior Stranger Issues research
Twin Peaks (1990–1991) and Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
And earlier than The X-Information, there was the granddaddy of all of them: David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking mystery-comedy-horror-soap-surrealist masterpiece Twin Peaks. An antecedent to Mulder and Scully, Agent Dale Cooper (a superb Kyle MacLachlan) headed to the small logging city of Twin Peaks to unravel the homicide of high-school homecoming queen Laura Palmer. Over 25 years after the present’s unceremonious cancellation by ABC, it returned for a shocking third season on Showtime, directed in its entirety by Lynch, including real avant-garde touches to its continued exploration of the supernatural forces swirling round Laura’s killing. The Black Lodge could strike me down for placing it this fashion, however consider it as Stranger Issues for grown-ups.
The Brood (1979)
When you get previous Scanners, there are different Cronenberg movies you may cite as Stranger Issues–esque earlier than you hit this one; the parasitic slugs of Shivers, the membranous message-from-the-other-side results of Videodrome, and the conspiracy/telepathy combo of The Lifeless Zone may conceivably transfer these films to the entrance of the road. However I’m going with The Brood for a number of causes. For starters, it’s anchored by one of the best lead efficiency in any of Cronenberg’s pre-mainstream movies, because of the magnetic he-man machismo of Oliver Reed as an experimental psychotherapist. (A lot like to Jeremy Irons, Jeff Goldblum, and Viggo Mortensen, however he’s nonetheless my favourite Cronenberg main man.) However most essential, this film comes throughout just like the dark-side model of Joyce Byers’s narrative: As an alternative of attempting to rescue her little one from supernatural forces, Samantha Eggar’s ignored and institutionalized mom character is channeling her frustration into creating murderous new offspring.
Altered States (1980)
An enchanting slice of sci-fi psychedelia, this singular collaboration between author Paddy Chayefsky (Community) and director Ken Russell (The Who’s Tommy) didn’t finish effectively for the 2 artists. Nevertheless it influenced Stranger Issues in no less than two distinct methods: The maverick researcher performed by William Harm topics himself to sensory-deprivation experiments related to people who assist Eleven unlock the voidlike pathway to the Upside Down, whereas the stunning title sequence by Richard Greenberg (Alien, The Lifeless Zone) was a direct reference for the collection’s personal memorable opening credit.
The Exorcist (1973)
You may’t speak about troubled-tween horror, superpowered 12-year-old women, or, actually, any trendy populist-genre filmmaking in anyway with out speaking about William Friedkin’s immortal story of demonic possession. Tailored by William Peter Blatty from his novel of the identical identify, it’s one among a handful of movies — additionally together with Peeping Tom, Psycho, Night time of the Residing Lifeless, The Texas Chainsaw Bloodbath, Jaws, Halloween, and Alien — that set up the grammar of up to date horror filmmaking. Its emotional depth and willingness to be appalling whereas nonetheless interesting to the broadest doable viewers could effectively make it probably the most influential of the lot.
Although it earned numerous comparisons to Stranger Issues in its early episodes — the 2 reveals share a community and, no less than partially, a nostalgic ’80s setting — the German import Darkish is, effectively, rather a lot darker than the Duffer brothers’ collection. Spanning a number of generations, it focuses on a gaggle of households on the middle of a mysterious, Möbius strip–like time anomaly that threatens not simply their small city however the whole world. If you need one thing new to binge on Netflix when you make it via that season-four finale, this one’s for you.
Donnie Darko (2001)
As Stranger Issues’ characters have aged, Richard Kelly’s concurrently overrated and underrated high-school mind-bender Donnie Darko turns into a increasingly more direct touchstone for the present’s supernatural teen angst. An ’80s throwback lengthy earlier than that period grew to become one among Hollywood’s favourite aesthetics to mine, DD sees one thing uncanny within the blue skies, inexperienced lawns, and stonewashed denims of its setting and period — one thing unusual sufficient to rewrite the foundations of actuality itself. Plus its stellar soundtrack (it’s the film that introduced Gary Jules’s cowl of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” to the lots) paved the best way for giant Stranger Issues needle drops equivalent to Max’s beloved “Running Up That Hill.”
Written and directed by “splatterpunk” auteur Clive Barker (adapting his personal novella, The Hellbound Coronary heart), this BDSM-influenced landmark pushed horror’s evolution towards the acute by introducing Pinhead, one of many all-time-great monster designs, to an unsuspecting world. Shot on a small price range and starring a forged of primarily unknowns (the largest identify, Andrew Robinson, performed the Scorpio killer in Soiled Harry — he’s the goddamn good man on this factor), it has Halloween season ambiance to burn and visceral, blood-and-guts creature results any modern-day results home would kill to re-create digitally. In case you’re able to kick Stranger Issues’ coaching wheels off, this wild experience is ready for you.
The Final Unicorn (1982)
One of the lovely, melancholy, magical, and genuinely grownup animated options in American movie historical past. This adaptation of fantasist Peter S. Beagle’s novel involves us courtesy of Rankin/Bass Productions and Japanese animation studio Topcraft — the previous accountable for the stop-motion Christmas classics Rudolph the Pink-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to City, the latter ultimately evolving into Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. Collectively, they produced the J.R.R. Tolkien cartoons The Hobbit and The Return of the King, plus this gut-punch of a movie, a couple of unicorn who turns into trapped within the physique of a younger human lady. With a body-horror subtext worthy of Cronenberg and a ridiculously spectacular voice forged (Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and Alan Arkin), it’s like a cross between Stranger Issues and a narrative from the Dungeons & Dragons sport its characters play.
Directed by Bernard Rose — who would later adapt Hellraiser writer-director Clive Barker’s brief story “The Forbidden” into the acclaimed urban-horror movie Candyman — this harrowing supernatural/surrealist movie facilities on an 11-year-old lady who discovers her desires and drawings are coming to life and consuming her actuality. She’s received to determine easy methods to take cost and reassert management. Paperhouse is what I consider when Stranger Issues is at its greatest.
Let the Proper One In (2008)
Recast the connection between Eleven and Mike Wheeler as a tragedy as an alternative of a heroic fantasy, and also you may wind up with this morbid proto-romance between a bullied child and the younger vampire who concurrently befriends, protects, and makes use of him. There’s stuff occurring right here about abuse and loneliness, for characters of all ages, that digs method deeper than something Stranger Issues has achieved; if Netflix’s collection is a 101 entry-level course, that is graduate work.
It Follows (2014)
In case you really feel Stranger Issues’ older-teen dynamics deserve additional exploration, It Follows is perhaps the film for you. David Robert Mitchell’s slow-burn horror movie facilities on a small group of youngsters being stalked by a supernatural entity; the one option to escape demise at its palms is to have intercourse with another person, making them the factor’s new goal. Stranger Issues’ reluctance to punish younger individuals for sexual exercise is one among its few bona fide improvements. It Follows subverts that generosity, asserting that, sure, it’s nice to have intercourse, and, sure, terrible issues could occur to you anyway.
Underneath the Pores and skin (2013)
Am I snug saying that is one of the best film on this listing? Sure. Am I snug asserting it’s probably the greatest films ever made? Once more, sure. Jonathan Glazer’s bone-scrapingly darkish sci-fi-erotic-horror movie stars Scarlett Johansson as a lady who picks up random males and invitations them again to her place, at which level … effectively, actually, I’d relatively not say, simply to spare you the spoilers. Stranger Factors’ deep-black psychic void, and its telepath Eleven’s progress via it, is swiped so immediately from this film that your head’ll fuckin’ spin — however because the film’s thesis is how straightforward it’s to make use of individuals to your personal ends, that’s weirdly becoming.