If you loved Stranger Things as much as everybody and their dog did, you probably have plummeted into the ‘waiting for season two’ abyss. As Stranger Things season 2 doesn’t even have a release date yet (Heck, filming hasn’t even started. The scripts aren’t even finished. This abyss is as huge as the Upside Down), plant your butt on the sofa and start watching any of these ten movies. They will bring you just as must viewing pleasure, or at least take some of the waiting time off.
1. The Goonies (1985)
Perhaps the ultimate eighties movie, The Goonies is a movie about friendship, bravery and adventure, all of which feature heavily in Stranger Things. Another comparison are the two groups of friends: the younger kids and the teenagers. The Goonies is much lighter in setting and plot but the bonds between the friends are similar and the young cast is equally enjoyable. If you loved Mike, Dustin and Lucas you’ll love Mikey, Mouth and Data.
Nutshell Plot: to save their homes, the Goonies try to find the long lost treasure of pirate ‘One Eyed Willy’, while running from a criminal family who has the same plan.
Fun Fact: the entire cast (including the now very famous Sean Astin and Josh Brolin) came together last year to celebrate thirty (!!) years of ‘Goonies never say die’.
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
While Eleven as a character ofcourse isn’t comparable to loveable alien E.T, their stories are similar in that they both have to flee from a dodgy government organisation and are looking for a friend or someone to trust (and they both love food). This is also a movie about friendship more than anything else. The friendship between a strange creature with weird powers (ET/Eleven) and a young boy (Elliot/Mike) is very comparable.
Nutshell Plot: an alien gets stranded on earth and desperately wants to get home. He gets help from 10-year old Elliot, his brother Michael and sister Gertie.
Fun Fact: the ET Atari videogame was so bad (it was dubbed the worst game ever), hundred thousands of copies were buried in the ‘Atari video game burial’ in 1983.
3. Stand By Me (1986)
Based on short Stephen King novella ‘The Body’ this again is one of those amazing films about friendship. Just like in Stranger Things, four boys have the lead, although they don’t encounter any strange beings or things. This is a coming-of-age story with great dialogue and acting. Another comparison to Stranger Things: it is set in a different time. Stranger Things ofcourse is the ultimate eighties homage, while Stand By Me is set in 1959.
Nutshell Plot: four young friends go on a trip to find a body of a missing child. They tell stories, have conversations and get to know each other and theirselves.
Fun Fact: Wil Weaton (Gordie Lachance) stated: “I think it’s spooky how the four of us ended up being so much like our characters.”
Though technically a miniseries, this horror can’t be absent from this list. Based on the massive book by Stephen King, this also centers on a group of young friends facing their fears. The ancient evil they come across could be compared with the Demogorgon from Stranger Things. Although, without a doubt, clowns are much more scary. The first part of the series focusses on the children, the second part on the same group, now adults.
Nutshell Plot: evil clown Pennywise terrorizes a small town and preys on children. It’s up to a group of seven friends to stop this monster.
Fun Fact: in 2017, a new adaptation of It will hit theaters, with Stranger Things very own Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler) as Richie Tozier.
5. Super 8 (2011)
Just looking at the awesome poster from Super 8 will give you Stranger Things vibes. You know you’re in for a treat when the names of J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg appear on screen. As so many films on this list, this one too focusses on a group of young friends who are in for more than they could imagine. While the sci-fi part of Super 8 is a bit standard, the overall plot and young cast make this a very fun movie to watch while waiting for season 2 of Stranger Things.
Nutshell Plot: a group of tweens witnesses a massive trainwreck while making their own zombie flick. Then, strange things start to happen around town.
Fun Fact: Super 8 was actually the first original movie for director J.J. Abrams, since his previous work were a sequel (Mission: Impossible III) and reboot (Star Trek).
6. Explorers (1985)
Explorers is far from being the best movie on this list (it actually was a huge flop at the box office), but it’s a much overlooked feelgood film that shouldn’t be ignored. It stars a very young Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix in their feature film debuts, which alone should make you want to see this. This again is a film about friendship, but also builds on following your dreams (quite literally, in fact). This is perhaps the most young kids-friendly movie on this list.
Nutshell Plot: three young boys dream about going to space and make their own spaceship. The make it to space and even encounter aliens.
Fun fact: Director Joe Dante has stated that this is not the movie he had planned to make, but he had to stop editing to get Explorers into cinema’s quickly.
7. Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is perhaps the odd one out in this list, since it’s not about a group of young friends and not a feelgood movie in any way. It is a weird film, hard to understand at some points and just plain crazy at others. But it is very well written, catches the eighties vibe perfectly, has an equal awesome soundtrack as Stranger Things and the cast (including star Jake Gyllenhaal in only his second film) is absolutely superb. It’s a must see cultclassic.
Nutshell Plot: the film includes time travel, a vortex, a giant monstruous rabbit named Frank and a crazy kid called Donnie Darko in the centre of it all.
Fun Fact: Donnie Darko has nods to E.T. (the bike ride after the Halloween party) and It (someone reading the novel).
8. Beetlejuice (1988)
This list wouldn’t be complete without Winona Ryder’s (Joyce Byers in Stranger Things) biggest hit from the eighties. This is from a time when Tim Burton didn’t cast Johnny Depp is everything and still had original ideas. It’s 92 minutes of crazy fun. Beetlejuice still lives on as fans go crazy everytime a possible sequel is mentioned. Both Ryder and Burton have confessed wanting to make one. So untill then, just play this on loop as it never gets old.
Nutshell Plot: a recently deceased couple has to haunt the new owners of their house. They enlist chaotic ghost Beetlejuice, who does his fair amount of ‘help’
Fun fact: scriptwriter Michael McDowell named Beetlejuice after Betelgeuse, one of the brightest stars in the nightsky.
9. The Thing (1982)
The Thing made it onto this list since Stranger Things creators and creative geniuses The Duffer Brothers have claimed John Carpenter as one of their big influences. It even goes so far that Mike has the filmposter for The Thing on his wall and Mr. Clarke actually watches the movie in episode seven. While were on that subject: Mr. Clarke is probably the most underrated character of the show and he should get more screentime next season.
Nutshell Plot: an American research station in Antactica is visited by an alien who can assimilate everyone it touches. Is everybody still who they say they are?
Fun Fact: in 2011, a not so well received prequel also titled The Thing came out, with the ending being the exact beginning of the 1982 classic.
10. The Lost Boys (1987)
Let’s end this list with another movie from the eighties featuring kids who have to team up to fight evil. The Lost Boys features ‘The Two Coreys’: Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, who starred in lots of films together in the 80’s. It also features everyone’s favorite movie villain: the vampire. Set in this decade these are not sparkly, but tough Billy Idol look-a-likes, clad in leather. The title is ofcourse a reference to the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, who also never get old.
Nutshell Plot: two brothers move to California. The oldest falls in with a bad crowd which turn out to be vampires. It’s up to the younger brother to save him.
Fun Fact: Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is developing a tv-series for the CW. Each season will span a decade, with season 1 starting in 1967.