‘Stranger Things 3’: Why the New Season Will Feel Strangely Familiar

Those of you who’ve watched Netflix’s Stranger Things from the beginning know that the look and feel of the show was already based on early 1980s Spielberg films. The obvious nod to Spielberg (and similar sci-fi/horror films of the era) has made it one of the few shows Generation X audiences can enjoy watching with the intended Millennial/Gen Y demographic.

We can look forward to a third season starting July 4, this time with the story jumping ahead to 1985, a gilded time for pop culture/movies. The Duffer Brothers have recently revealed this season is going to bring even more tributes to movies from the time period, plus other films not exactly from 1985.

Despite plot details being scant, take a minute to see how these movies might fit into this season’s plot points.

Stranger Things
Stranger Things | Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The movie tributes will be movies before and after 1985

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ross and Matt Duffer decided to give away some of the movies they’ll be paying tribute to throughout Season Three. They listed roughly six films, not including a list of flicks from a specific iconic horror director of the era.

How these tie in to what happens this season is mere speculation, though we can try based on where the show last left off. In Season Two, we saw Will Byers found, yet still haunted by the Upside-Down. Latter is also becoming a bigger threat to the entire town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Based on the episode titles of the third season, it looks like we’ll be seeing the main kid characters heading toward adulthood, or at least in the general direction. We’re also going to see the evil of the Upside-Down start to evolve and begin to create bigger problems for the populace.

Reports are the timeline will take place during the summer of ’85 when Back to the Future was playing in theaters. As for the film tributes, there’s some intriguing choices.

Going beyond the monster films of the era

Out of the six films the Duffer Bros mentioned to EW, only The Thing will be hinted at with a monster theme. They’ll also be including various David Cronenberg film references throughout, which clearly means plenty of horror elements. After all, Cronenberg made The Dead Zone and The Fly remake nearly back-to-back during the mid-’80s.

The 1980s were a great decade for Cronenberg classics, but that’s where it ends when it comes to horror. According to the Duffers, you’ll also see some references to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a film in theaters a year before Stranger Things begins in 1983. Anyone who was a teen then knows most teens were still talking about the movie throughout the middle ’80s.

How this film ties into the plot is anyone’s guess, unless there’s references when seeing the kids in high school. Their adventure side might be played out through a reported tribute to Romancing the Stone as well, a film we all know was huge at the box office in 1984.

Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park will additionally be referenced, outside the decade difference in release dates between the two.

One classic cop film will be noted in tribute

There is one film on the list that’s slightly incongruous to all the others. Midnight Run will get a specific reference, even though we all know it didn’t come out until 1988.

Having several films referenced not fitting into the mid-80s time frame is a bit random. Regardless, these definitely are 1980s classics we saw define the era.

With Midnight Run on the list, it gives hints we’ll see the kids maybe go beyond the confines of Hawkins, giving us a wider view of what the Upside-Down might be doing to wreak haunting havoc on a larger scale.