11 classic movies that inspired Stranger Things

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix
Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix /
3 of 11

3. Firestarter

Release Year: 1984
Director: Mark L. Lester
Writer: Stephen King (novel), Stanley Mann
Starring: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Freddie Jones, Martin Sheen, George C. Scott

In Firestarter, based on the Stephen King novel, a man (Andy, David Keith) and a woman (Vicky, Heather Locklear) meet in college while participating in a paid medical study where they agree to take a dose of a low-grade hallucinogen called LOT-6. While the drug causes an adverse reaction in many of the participants, but it grants Andy and Vicky telepathic abilities.

They fall in love and have a child, Charlie (Drew Barrymore) who is gifted with pyrokinetic abilities. When Charlie is nine years old, the government agency that sponsored the experiment attempts to abduct her, killing her mother in the process. Andy and Charlie embark on a frantic escape with agents of the Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “The Shop”) hot on their trail.

Vicky and Andy’s participation in the LOT-6 experiment is likely a direct inspiration for Eleven’s (assumed) mother – Terry Ives – and her involvement with Project MKUltra. There’s even a line from Terry’s sister in reference to Eleven’s abilities. Joyce Byers asks what she means, to which the sister responds “read any Stephen King?”.

The Hawkins National Laboratory uses Eleven for their work the same way that “The Shop” submits Charlie for testing. The scenes where Eleven is all hooked up to brain sensors is a perfect homage to Charlie’s own scientific headgear.

Like Charlie, Eleven has a complicated relationship with her abilities. With agencies seeking to harvest her powers for their own gain, she is isolated by her gift and scared of what she could be capable of.