Stranger Things Season 3 dropped a week ago and if you haven’t already watched it then frankly you deserve to be SPOILED! Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Max, Lucas, Will, Steve Harrington and Robin, Hopper and Joyce were up against not only the Mind Flayer but also subterranean Ruskies and Hawkins, Indiana was also flooded in a deluge of 80s references, Easter eggs and drenched in nostalgia for the period. Firestarter, Red Dawn, Day of the Dead, The Blob, The Stuff and many, many other films deserve a mention here, but space is limited and so here are the films you can stream now to take you back to the Summer of 1985.
The 1982 Cameron Crowe scripted high school comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High is referenced throughout Season 3, from Steve and Robin’s Sailor costumes to the Mall where they work. Also the moms who gawp at Billie poolside do so to the same song that soundtracked the iconic Phoebe Cates scene. The actress is also name-checked by Dustin to describe his new girlfriend to the incredulity of Steve.
Perhaps the best moment of the whole season comes in reference to the 1984 fantasy epic The Never-Ending Story. Or to be more accurate the theme song sang by Kajagoogoo lead man Limahl. There’s bound to be a re-release on the back of it, so get ready to hear it a few more times this summer.
The movie theater is a part of the mall and the kids get to two screenings. One is George Romero’s excellent Day of the Dead. The other is a hideout that just happens to be when Back to the Future is showing. A drugged Steve and Robin find the time-bending plot increasingly hard to follow and before quickly bail.
The nemesis of the show is the Mind Flayer which has been spawned from a number of filmic inspirations. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is certainly one as well as The Blob and Larry Crowne’s The Stuff. But over them all is John Carpenter’s The Thing. The paranoia of the ship-shifting alien is also a good match for ‘the reds under the beds’ subplot, though the Red Dawn derivation also has an uncomfortable proximity to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Watch The Thing now on CHILI
Another more human villain is the apparently indestructible Russian agent Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko). With boots of lead – judging by the thumping noise they make when he walks – his haircut and his wardrobe, Grigori is a Commie version of Arnold Shwarzenegger in The Terminator.
Of course, kids on a quest stories set in the 80s have to contend with the best example of the genre: The Goonies. Released in 1985, it could be the film that the gang go and see once the smoke has cleared and the movie house reopened. Richard Donner’s movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, who along with Stephen King remains a touchstone to the Duffer Brothers Netflix show. Whatever Season 4 holds for us we can be sure that there will be more of the eighties to come.