Where Did Stranger Things Draw Its Cinematic Inspiration?

Even if you think ‘Stranger Things’ rocketing fame is unexpected, its classic movie references are not at all.

by Diana Shi
05 August 2016, 7:34pm

All images via

This article contains spoilers.

Taking a look back at the movie offerings of the 70s and 80s and it’s obvious the cinematic epoch was an overflow of wealth. The 70s gave us such titles as Carrie and Halloween while the 80s came in with a bang with The Shining, Poltergeist, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. On the genre flip-side, the decades also stood out in terms of pioneering the science fiction aena. The 1970s was a time that defined the future of sci-fi, from the time of Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Alien.

These movies fired the first shots in terms of meditating on the potential of technology to challenge human autonomy,  the face of extraterrestrial life and interstellar exploration, and the climate of the future in general (hence the Logan’s Run tagline, “Welcome to the 23rd Century”).

And then there is the current pop culture phenomenon, Stranger Things.The Netflix series is known for its twist on the classic stylings of sci-fi and horror flicks, carrying heavy nostalgic references to earlier tentpole works that defined a quarter of a century of film. The series has acquired accolades for its ability to scoop up an enthusiastic and nostalgia-hungry fan base while transcending problems in pacing and storytelling.

Now, a four-minute Vimeo short is in the wings to clear up all those aching feelings of familiarity. From Ulysse Thevenon, the video plows through a dozen different likely references forming a fully-fleshed out guide to sci-fi and horror history. Moreover, a neat side-by-side format directly compares one scene of classic movie to one Stranger Things scene—all to the throbbing arcade drone of the show’s theme song.


At times, it’s almost startling to see the likeness of cult 70s/80s movies pulled right into the show's shots and motifs. But the eight-chapter series is a solid bet, consistently keeping an audience’s interest with tried-and-true visual tropes rather than relying on cliché dialog.

Catch Stranger Things on Netflix now, and see more videos from Ulysse Thevenon on his Vimeo page, here.


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stranger things
film history
ulysse thevenon
movie inspiration