Stranger Things: Reference Recommendations | NowThis Nerd

Hey guys, I’m Dev and I firmly believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery And when it comes to ‘Stranger Things,’ the Duffer brothers do a whole lot of flattering

Look, if you haven’t seen the obvious inspirations– We’re talking ‘ET,’ ‘The Goonies,’ ‘Stand By Me,’ ‘Close Encounters,’ Pause this videoright nowand watch those immediately But if you’re already familiar with these timeless classics, We’ve got some deeper cuts that influenced the Duffers, and we’re gonna showcase them right here on ‘Stranger Things:’ Reference Recommendations We’ll begin with ‘Firestarter’ It’s no secret that ‘Stranger Things’ owes a huge debt to the stories of Stephen King, But the main plot is actually a take on a lesser-known King adaptation called ‘Firestarter

’ Just see if this sounds familiar: The government experiments on some folks who give birth to a girl with supernatural powers, then she’s abducted by an evil agency that wants to use her as a weapon One of the agents takes on a parental role to earn her trust, But after the illusion is shattered she goes on a rampage It probably sounds like I’m talking about Eleven, But everything I said applies to Charlie, the protagonist of ‘Firestarter’ They're gonna kill you, daddy We have to run, we have to hide

That's what they're wanna do, they wanna kill you like they did mommy and take me away! They’re not completely identical, though For one thing, her dad is alive He’s got mind control powers of his own, and he’s the one who springs her from ‘The Shop

’ Charlie’s powers are different, too She’s a pyro-kinetic, meaning she can create and control fire with her mind Hence the title Little on-the-nose, but I’m into it As far as King movies go, this one kinda fell through the cracks

Which is weird, considering the cast that’s involved You're a liar! Now what kind of talk is that from a nice little girl like you? Go to hell! On top of Drew Barrymore and Martin Sheen, there are three Oscar winners in ‘Firestarter:’ George C Scott, Art Carney, and even Nurse Ratched herself, Louise Fletcher Also, ‘Firestarter’ was originally in the hands of ‘The Thing’ director John Carpenter, It was actually ‘The Thing’s’ failure at the box office that made Universal replace him with ‘Commando’ director Mark Lester Still, if you want to see a cute kid roasting government goons alive, You could do way worse than ‘Firestarter

’ Don't you understand what she's doing? Can't you feel it? Don't be stupid! Charlie isn’t quite as endearing as Eleven, and we don’t know what kinda breakfast food she likes, Maybe she’s a toaster strudel kinda girl Never But let’s see El take out a damn helicopter by squinting at it Speaking of her powers, the Duffers represented her psychic abilities with some inspiration from ‘Under the Skin’ When Eleven enters a sensory deprivation tank, her astral form manifests in a vast expanse of nothingness All we can see is El and her reflection in the dark liquid below her feet

It’s an extremely cool visual, but we can’t chalk this one up to the Duffer Brothers It’s taken almost verbatim from a 2013 movie called ‘Under the Skin’ It’s by an English director named Jonathan Glazer, who also made ‘Sexy Beast,’ And I’ll just say: It’s extremely weird We’re 13 minutes into ‘Under the Skin’ before a single line is spoken, but the haunting visuals and complex performance by Scarlett Johannson make this a must see She plays an unnamed alien who lures unsuspecting men back to her house, And a lot of these scenes were actually recorded with hidden cameras

Scarlet's character was interacting with real people who were completely unaware they were in a fictional film Her victims aren’t actors, they’re mostly just random Scottish dudes who got in a van because Scarlett Johannson asked them to Want a lift? Aye, why not? They wind up in a black, reflecting void that looks exactly like Eleven’s experience in the sensory deprivation tank But for Scarlett, it’s more like a feeding chamber Her hypnotized prey sinks through the floor, Where their skin shrivels away and their blood and guts get fed into a conveyor belt

It's verrry weird Is it tough to explain? Yes Is it gorgeous? Yes It’s a beautiful exploration of an alien slowly finding her own humanity If you’re interested in a disturbing story told through incredible visuals, you should check it out

And, if you’ve got a strong stomach, you should check out ‘Elfen Lied’ Government experiments giving kids horrific powers is an anime trope that goes all the way back to ‘Akira,’ But a more obscure 2004 series called ‘Elfen Lied’ was one of the Duffers’ biggest inspirations for ‘Stranger Things’ Pa pa They said it reminded them of an extremely violent, anime version of ‘ET,’ and they’re not wrong Die, you monster! You son of a bitch! The main character is Lucy, a member of a mutant offshoot of humanity called “Diclonius” In the first episode, she stages a bloody escape from an evil research facility, just like Eleven

She’s taken in by some kindly locals, too But Lucy and the other Diclonii differ from humans in two ways: They’ve got two little horns on their heads, And invisible, razor sharp arms called “vectors” El might be the master of brain squishing, but she can’t slice and dice the way Lucy does ‘Elfen Lied’ is one of the most violent animes out there, And that’s saying something There's the scene where the guy turns his head and it just falls off

It's just insane The whole hallway scene is insane The brutality and sadistic torture makes for an extremely bizarre contrast with the ultra-cute art style, But if you're a fan of the old ultraviolence, Or you want to see ‘Stranger Things’ filtered through Japanese weirdness, Give ‘Elfen Lied’ a shot

It’s not the only Japanese export to influence the Duffers though There’s also the survival horror classic ‘Silent Hill’ I’m sure this comes as a huge shock, but the Duffers are big gamers They’ve talked at length on how the fungus-filled Upside Down was inspired by imagery in ‘The Last of Us,’ And how they tried to capture the lonely, uncomfortable feeling of ‘Dark Souls,’ Not to mention the giant Lovecraft monsters straight out of ‘Bloodborne’ But the clearest gaming shout out has to be ‘Silent Hill

’ It’s a psychological horror franchise that takes inspiration from movies like ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and the work of David Lynch, as well as Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’ The story changes over the course of the series, But they share some common elements, Like spooky nurses with no faces, and a murderous cult called The Order But the biggest influence on ‘Stranger Things’ is its depiction of the ‘Otherworld’ It’s a foggy, desolate mirror lurking just below the reality of a small American town, with a crackling old radio as your only form of communication This is the most impractical form of communication

Every person who takes a radio into a supernatural environment never works It's always "Hello! Hello? I guess we're dead

" The Duffers have cited Silent Hill’s fog and dripping forests as a major influence on the visuals of the Upside Down, But it’s not a one-to-one comparison While the Upside Down seems to be an alternate dimension home to alien creatures, ‘Silent Hill’s’ Otherworld is populated by manifestations of your subconscious mind In other words, the monsters inside are representations of your own issues Very scary For example: the series mascot, Pyramid Head, might seem like your typical executioner with a giant buster sword, But he’s actually a symbol of our hero James’ guilt over his wife’s death

I’m not really sure what the Demogorgon here could represent The frightening changes of puberty? The tragedy of lost innocence? Or maybe Will Byers is just really afraid of salad? If you’re going to check out the games, you should probably start with ‘Silent Hill 2’ Relax Don't order me around! It’s a little dated, but it’s still one of the most unsettling experiences you’ll ever have Or, if videogames aren’t your thing, the ‘Silent Hill’ movie is actually one of the best game adaptations out there, Not that it’s a high bar to clear So, we’ve given you guys a few suggestions to keep you entertained after bingeing the new ‘Stranger Things’ Of course, you could take your time and stretch it out over a couple months, But who am I kidding? I’m blasting through Season 2 at least twice before Halloween, and I bet you will too So hopefully, our recommendations can hold you over until Season 3

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