'Stranger Things' And 80's Pop Culture
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'Stranger Things' And 80's Pop Culture

How many references must Stranger Things make?

'Stranger Things' And 80's Pop Culture

"Stranger Things" is the kind of show that looks like it was made thirty years ago. You don’t see any cell phones; just a lot of walkie talkies. Nobody plays Pokémon Go; Dungeons and Dragons is all the rage. And when it’s time for school, don’t be surprised to find most of the students using trapper keepers.

To summarize, "Stranger Things" is the perfect Throwback Thursday, bringing back memories of time when imaginations ran wild.

It’s no secret this wildly popular Netflix series ought to give credit to a wide variety of 80’s pop culture for making it one of the most talked-about shows of the year. But what things, in particular, deserve a shout-out?

Let’s start by looking at the poster for "Stranger Things." According to IMDB.com, Kyle Lambert drew the poster in accordance with the style of 80’s poster designer Drew Struzan. Struzan is responsible for designing the posters of such movies as "Star Wars" (1977), "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), and "Back to the Future" (1985).

Even the font for the title is vintage; it bears a striking resemblance to the font used by Stephen King for the first editions of his works "Cujo" and "Christine."

Talking about Stephen King, "Stranger Things" pays homage to the king of horror frequently over the course of season one. This is mainly because the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, wanted to direct the upcoming remake of "IT" but were turned down.

Hence, you can see a state trooper reading Cujo while on the job; there’s even a scene in episode four where Mike, Dustin, Elle, and Lucas are walking along some railroad tracks, much like "Stand by Me."

Coincidentally, Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler, will be starring as Richie Tozier in next summer’s "IT" reboot.

John Carpenter is another subtle influence for the show in terms of its theme song. It echoes his electronic scores from such films as "Halloween III: Season of the Witch." The main theme is also heavily influenced by the band Tangerine Dream, and some scenes even feature the band’s music playing in the background.

Furthermore, the poster for John Carpenter’s "The Thing" is visible in several episodes.

The law enforcement of Hawkins, Indiana is a plethora of 80’s nods. For example, the police cars and uniforms look a lot like the ones used in Steven Spielberg’s "Jaws" films. The chief’s beige uniform has a triangle shaped Amity Island patch, just like Roy Schneider’s character from the movie. Also, a beige SUV is driven by both Schneider and the Hawkins police chief. The patrolmen wear blue uniforms and trooper/sheriff style hats that are exact replicas of the Amity Island uniforms in "Jaws."

Plus, the "Jaws" poster in its originality can be seen in the bedroom of one of the main characters.

The state trooper in "Stranger Things" is named O’Bannon, a nod to screenwriter Dan O’Bannon - "Alien" (1979) and "Dark Star" (1974). Police chief Jim Hopper got his name from the character that Arnold Schwarzenegger searches for in the 1987 film "Predator."

Even more interesting, there is an Officer Powell in "Stranger Things;" because he just so happens to be African American, this might be a nod to the "Die Hard" character of the same name.

The demeanor of Officer Powell and Officer Callahan parallels that of the assistants to the paranormal investigator in "Poltergeist."

Coincidentally, fans of the 1980’s "Police Academy" franchise will recognize officer Callahan’s name as being the same name as the officer in the movies. (Alternatively, Callahan is the name of the priest in "Salem’s Lot").

In conclusion, "Stranger Things" would not have existed without Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and pretty much any sci-fi family film from the 80’s. Even "E.T." and Eleven have lots in common — Extraordinary beings trying to navigate the real world.

Season two begins streaming next year, and only one question remains: What will the Duffer Brothers reference next?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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