The Shining doesn’t have as strong a hold on Stranger Things as Carrie and Firestarter do, but for a few key scenes Winona Ryder magnificently channels Jack Nicholson from the 1980 film version of Stephen King’s haunted hotel tale. In the film Jack Torrance, who thinks he can communicate with the hotel’s ghosts, goes mad, takes up an axe, and infamously carves his way through a locked door. Ryder’s character Joyce Byers likewise thinks she can communicate with her presumed-dead son and her sanity takes visible damage in the process. When she finally takes up a hatchet to go on the hunt for him, she hacks away in a manner that would make Nicholson proud.
9) The Mist (2007)
There’s one more Stephen King reference that cannot be ignored. King’s 1980 novella The Mist would not see a film adaptation until the far-off year of 2007 but in the 1983 realm of Stranger Things its horrors are alive and well. The Mist saw a town overrun by waves of extradimensional abominations. Stranger Things’ locale of Hawkins, Indiana is terrorized by (possibly) only one such beast. But in both instances top secret experiments into contacting other universes are the cause. Given the Hawkins’ monster’s physiology, it would probably be right at home among the horrors of Frank Darabont’s film.
8) The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
No kid in the early 80’s could escape the lure of Star Wars and the three young heroes of Stranger Things are no exception. When they discover that their new friend Eleven has psychic powers they immediately liken her to a Jedi, and any member of the group whose loyalties become uncertain is immediately labeled a “Lando” after The Empire Strikes Back’s infamously duplicitous ruler of Cloud City. Adult geeks may cringe watching Dustin carelessly fling around a vintage Millenium Falcon toy, but if you found yourself caught up in your own Jedi-like adventure would you be any less reckless?