11 classic movies that inspired Stranger Things

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix
Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix /
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11. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Release Year: 1977
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, Cary Guffey

Steven Spielberg, like Stephen King, has a constant presence in Stranger Things. His work is an obvious influence on the Duffer Brothers and is instantly recognizable for anyone that grew up with the same pop culture education.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind follows a series of incidents in which strangers experience a close encounter with an alien craft. In some cases, individuals are mysteriously abducted. Three-year-old Barry (Cary Guffey) is one of those cases, causing his mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) to begin a frantic and persistent search.

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Electrical lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) and Jillian are considered, well, crazy after their obsession with the UFOs overwhelms their day-to-day existence. Their ostracizing dedication is much like Joyce Byers’ own manic focus. She is adamant that Will is still alive, causing those around her to sincerely question her sanity.

Another obvious connection between Stranger Things and Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the makeshift communication methods they create. Joyce speaks to Will using a simple method of Ouija Christmas lights, where the government scientists in Close Encounters rig up an elaborate system using musical tones and corresponding lights.

Like Roy and Jillian, Joyce Byers has her own redemption when others finally realize she’s actually on to something with her crazed theory. And she gets her son back! Win-win.