The best holiday of the year is rapidly approaching, and there’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than by watching as many creepy films as humanly possible. Don’t know where to start? Well, luckily, I’ve got you covered, and if you loved the Netflix series Stranger Things, you should definitely watch these movies.
Some of us are feeling a little glum because we marathoned all eight episodes in a single weekend (or was that just me?) — and now we have to wait until sometime next year for Season 2 of Stranger Things. But, there is some good news! Stranger Things is full of movie references and pays homage to a number of horror and sci-fi classics — so, to get in the Halloween spirit, here are 11 movies that’ll remind you of everyone’s latest Netflix obsession.
Stranger Things drew inspiration from the work of Stephen King. Carrie is the totally creepy story of a lonely teenage girl whose telekinetic powers aren’t always in her control. Needless to say, Eleven’s character is heavily influenced by the now-iconic sheltered young girl who ends up slaughtering her classmates through telekinesis. Having supernatural powers can have its downsides, you know?
As showrunner Matt Duffer told The Telegraph, “Steven Spielberg films were huge touchstones for us growing up,” and the series draws heavily from Spielberg’s mid-career movies. But, let’s not overlook this 21st century gem, which is set in 1979 and stars the incomparable Elle Fanning. When a group of kids witnesses a mysterious train crash, they set out to investigate the crash and the subsequent series of supernatural events that occur in their small town. Further proof that sometimes kids make the best detectives, am I right?
If you need a Halloween-appropriate dose of comedy during your scary film marathon, look no further than Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. The Duffer brothers describe Burton as another influential filmmaker — so naturally they were ecstatic when Beetlejuice star and Burton muse Winona Ryder agreed to star in Stranger Things. This iconic film about a pair of recently-deceased ghosts who take matters into their own hands when an obnoxious family moves into their house is a must-see.
Another Stephen King character that influenced Stranger Things is Charlie from Firestarter, who’s played by Drew Barrymore in the film adaptation. After her parents take part in a mysterious medical experiment, Charlie is born with pyrokinetic powers that cause her to have nosebleeds. Sound familiar?
There’s no better time to watch this slasher flick than, well, Halloween. The film’s writer-director John Carpenter also served as an inspiration to the Duffer brothers, and Halloween is not to be missed if you love straight-up scary movies. There’s nothing creepier than a six-year-old who stabs his sister to death on Halloween night… until he escapes from a mental hospital 15 years later and returns to his hometown to take care of unfinished business.
Fun fact — Stranger Things was originally supposed to be set in Montauk as a tribute to Steven Spielberg and Jaws, which the Duffer brothers consider their favorite movie of all time. The show’s setting shifted to small-town Indiana for production reasons, but Montauk remains relevant to Stranger Things because it’s one of the bases for Amity. The adventure-thriller about a series of shark attacks will keep you on the edge of your seat, whether you’re watching it for the first time or the tenth.
Stranger Things pays homage to this creepy ghost tale as early as episode 1, when a flashback sequence shows Joyce giving Will tickets to Tobe Hooper’s suburban ghost story. After his disappearance, Will attempts to communicate with his mom through a dimension linked to the walls of their house — just like little Carole Anne communicates with the apparitions in Poltergeist.
Scarlett Johansson’s character admittedly doesn’t have a whole lot in common with Elle — she’s an adult and, oh yeah, she happens to be an alien masquerading as a human. But, like Elle, she’s being used as a weapon against men. One exceptionally creepy scene of humans being consumed into a liquid darkness parallels all the times Elle is placed into the netherspace of a sensory-deprivation tank.
Stranger Things‘ faceless creature is reminiscent of the onscreen presences in Alien. Another thing that will seem mighty familiar? The way humans claw their way through goo in order to reach the netherworlds is depicted in both Stranger Things and the Alien films.
Like Joyce, Richard Dreyfuss’ character becomes increasingly paranoid and obsessed with all things supernatural (in his case, it’s due to an alien premonition). At least Joyce doesn’t fill her living room with mashed potatoes and dirt in an effort to ward off evil, but her devotion to Christmas lights and painting letters on the walls in a desperate attempt to reach her son is quite disturbing to everyone around her.
After a massive dose of creepiness, why not conclude your Halloween marathon with a feel-good Spielberg sci-fi film that features a friendly alien? E.T. isn’t here to hurt anyone — he just wants to get home to his parents. Little Elliott and his siblings band together in an effort to help E.T., but a government intervention presents a major roadblock. Spoiler alert for the people who haven’t seen this classic — E.T. and Elliott get the happy endings they deserve.
So, Stranger Things fans — what are you waiting for? Halloween is almost here, and there are a whole lot of great movies to watch in order to celebrate the holiday properly.