Equally influenced by Steven Spielberg’s family-adventure films, 80s nostalgia, Stephen King’s novels and John Carpenter’s retro synth soundscapes, “Stranger Things” was one of the best received shows of 2016. Not only did it gain a lot of popularity in a very short time, but it already feels like a classic. Last week, the second season was released on Netflix and continues to receive acclaim from both critics and audiences.
If you’ve finished binge-watching the newest episodes and you’re looking for similar stories, here are 15 movies to enjoy until next season.
15. Ghostbusters (1984)
Well, this is a little bit of a stretch, but if you’ve already seen Chapter Two of the second “Stranger Things” season, you must have noticed the boys’ Halloween costumes, which are exact replicas of the ones worn by Bill Murray and co. in “Ghostbusters.” And let’s not forget the famous theme song, which was featured during the episode and was also played during its credits.
This all-time classic follows four guys from New York (parapsychologists, to be exact) who form the Ghostbusters, a paranormal investigation and elimination service. Basically, they are ghost hunters.
“Ghostbusters” is one of the most entertaining action-comedies ever made. It’s funny and witty, fast-paced, has memorable performances from its cast, great special effects, and the catchiest theme song ever. Really, is there anyone out there who doesn’t like the “Ghostbusters” theme?
What you gonna watch? Ghostbusters!
14. I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)
This 2016 quirky thriller flick flew under the radar of mainstream audiences despite being one of the most original films to come out in the last couple of years. The film stars Max Records as John, a troubled teenager who struggles with homicidal thoughts, and Christopher Lloyd in what is probably his best role since the “Back to the Future” days. He is perfectly cast as Crowley, John’s old creepy neighbor who also happens to be a serial killer.
Despite being set in present-day and not featuring a bunch of eighth graders, “I Am Not a Serial Killer” has the same isolated, American small town atmosphere as “Stranger Things” and will probably appeal to many of the latter’s fans. It is a dark film, but it doesn’t take itself completely seriously and can be pretty fun at times. It also features some freaky alien stuff, Stephen King references, bike riding, and an old-school à la John Carpenter soundtrack filled with organ songs and rock tunes. What more can you ask for?
13. Gremlins (1984)
Remember that episode in “Stranger Things 2” when Dustin finds a small larva-like creature in his trash can, then takes it home only to discover a few days later that it turned into a creepy Demogorgon? All of this is pretty reminiscent of “Gremlins,” Joe Dante’s famous comedy-horror from 1984.
The story in “Gremlins” is simple, yet very effective. Mr. Peltzer decided to buy a special Christmas present for his teenage son and he thinks the cute and fluffy little creature he just found in a Chinese store is just perfect. The store’s owner says the creature – called a Mogwai – isn’t for sale, but his kid sells it behind his back. However, there are three rules to be followed: you must not feed the Mogwai after midnight, give him water, or expose him to bright light. When one of the rules is broken, Gizmo the Mogwai starts multiplying and his new versions don’t seem to be as cute as the original.
Gremlins manages to be a Christmas movie, a scary movie and a black comedy at the same time. It feels like a mix between “Home Alone,” “Jumanji” and a B-horror movie, and this should be read as “it’s Christmas and dangerous creatures have invaded the town.”
12. The ‘Burbs (1989)
“The ‘Burbs” stars Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern and Carrie Fisher as the residents of an apparently perfect neighborhood. After an elderly man goes missing, they begin to suspect the bizarre new neighbors are responsible for the disappearances. They start an investigation but soon everything goes crazy.
This underrated film is one of the funniest and most peculiar comedies of the eighties. Its score is absolutely charming, it has very unique characters (Dern is hilarious as the former war veteran who got kind of paranoid), and it is a completely fresh and unprecedented take on the comedy-mystery genre. Its only flaw is the short running time. This film is so enchanting that you’ll want to see more of the wacky neighbors and their insane adventures.
11. Explorers (1985)
This science fiction family film marks the acting debut of both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, and is another throwback to times where all kids were adventurers.
Directed by Joe Dante (who’s also done “Gremlins” and “The ‘Burbs” – both on this list), this is a fun alien tale about three boys who build a spaceship and plan to explore the galaxy in search of extraterrestrial life. “Explorers” was released the same year as “The Goonies,” but it was a box office failure, which is a bit unfair. Yes, the movie has some flaws, but overall it is a lot of fun and has a great story, especially if seen at a younger age. And isn’t it every schoolboy’s dream to travel to outer space?
10. The Goonies (1985)
Chris Columbus, who is widely known for directing the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter films, wrote the screenplay for this film, which is based on a story conceived by none other than Steven Spielberg.
“The Goonies” is the staple of kids’ adventure films and it has inspired a lot of later ones, some of them also present on this list. One of the best elements in “Stranger Things” is the kids’ group dynamic, and this is also the case with “The Goonies,” which features a realistic portrayal of how children acted in the 80s, and yes, this means they also swear and make inappropriate jokes. The film follows a group of misfit kids on their quest to find a hidden pirate treasure. On their way, they encounter the Fratellis, a family of outlaws who wants the treasure for themselves. Trouble ensues.
Fun fact: one of the kids from “The Goonies” is played by Sean Astin, who now stars in season two of “Stranger Things” as Bob Newby, RadioShack’s manager and Joyce’s life partner.
9. Monster Squad (1987)
This is a more childish film, but it’s about kids fighting an all-star team of Universal Monsters consisting of Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, so you can’t expect it to be too serious.
While not being so suitable for adults, this is the perfect film for schoolkids who just got into horror. There are many similarities between “Stranger Things” and this cult classic. There’s a group of children (cool detail: one of them wears a “Stephen King Rules” t-shirt) who use walkie-talkies, call themselves the Monster Squad and fight evil; there’s the typical bullies, the useless policemen who won’t believe what they’re told until they see it with their own eyes; and of course, there are the five monsters who remain the most entertaining part of this movie.
As said before, seen through adult eyes, “Monster Squad” is not the best film you’ll get to watch, but for a movie aimed at children, it’s just pure fun.