So it’s been a few weeks since Stranger Things, Season 3 started streaming worldwide. If you’re anything like us, you probably binged just a little too quickly and are now faced with the seemingly interminable wait for the (potential) fourth season. What to do? Check out some of our suggestions and keep your nostalgic, monster-hunting, mystery love alive!
[ Please note that the below recommendations mention themes and characters from all three seasons of Stranger Things, so if you haven’t yet watched, this is your SPOILER ALERT! ]
It: Chapter 1 (2017)
Looking for more kids vs terrifying monsters? It: Chapter 1 just might be your jam. The 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel is definitely much scarier (and more R-rated) than anything in the Stranger Things world, but the close-knit friendship between the group of kids, plus this version’s adjustment to a 1980s setting is more than enough reason to give it a try if you haven’t already.
Side Note: While neither the writing nor the special effects of the It TV miniseries (1990) can really compare to the more recent theatrical adaptation, it is worth checking out for Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise. He bounces from over-the-top-campy to chillingly menacing from one breath to the next, and the resulting performance is quite possibly the reason so many 80s kids currently have a fear of clowns.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) or (1978)
If you were intrigued by the shadow monster’s eerie takeover of the minds and bodies of Hawkins, Indiana’s citizens, you won’t be disappointed by either the original or the Donald Sutherland-helmed remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Just like in Stranger Things, it’s a guessing game as to whether or not someone might already be part of the invaders’ hive mind, and it’s up to the main characters to figure out who can be trusted.
Red Dawn (1984)
Did you think Steve and his teen (and pre-teen) crew were pretty awesome while fighting off and resisting the Russians? Who didn’t, right? You “can’t spell America without Erica,” after all.
In any case, if fighting off invading government forces is your thing, you should definitely take a look at 1984’s Red Dawn, wherein Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen lead a fierce squad of teens into battle, but their foe is an entire army of invading Russians rather than just a couple units in a mall basement. Full of Rambo-esque imagery and machismo, it is definitely a product of its time, but it’s still worth a view for the nostalgia factor if nothing else.
Bonus: The young cast features a veritable who’s who of 80s young Hollywood. The aforementioned Swayze and Sheen headlined the film, with Lea Thompson (Marty McFly’s mom to the those not in the know), C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey, and Brad Savage rounding out the teen roster.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seasons 1-7 (1997-2003)
Though a couple years older than the Stranger Things kids, Buffy’s tightly knit squad of lovable, monster-fighting outcasts will seem charmingly familiar. The three main teens fight far more supernatural forces than just vampires, and they do it all while tossing witty dialog to one another. The “Scoobies,” as fandom has dubbed them, are often aided by the handful of adults who are also aware of the supernatural goings-on of the town, but at the heart of things, it’s all about the younger generation.
Remember Dart from Season 2 and how cute he was as a polywog? Remember how quickly he became very NOT cute, particularly when he turned from a nougat-loving pseudo-tadpole into a feline-eating beast? If you’d like another 80s romp with a “pets gone bad” theme, make sure you watch Gremlins. The Mogwai are adorable, fluffy little creatures it’s impossible not to “awww” over, but if you own one, you must follow a strict set of rules. Break the rules and bad things happen. Very bad.
Bonus: Phoebe Cates (the girl Dustin brags his new girlfriend is hotter than) is in both Gremlins and Gremlins 2!
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
OK. So this one’s not so much a “if you like Stranger Things then you’ll like” pick so much as a “if you want to know what in the world Dusty-bun and Susie-poo were singing about then you should watch” pick. Also, it’s just a fun, 80s nostalgia-tinged fantasy film with a catchy theme you will never get out of your head.
The Terminator (1984)
Back to the Future (1985)
Day of the Dead (1985)
Stand By Me (1986)
The Pagemaster (1994)
Super 8 (2011)