11 classic movies that inspired Stranger Things

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

9. The Thing

Release Year: 1982
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr (story)
Starring: Kirt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, T.K Carter, Richard Dysart, David Clennon, Charles Hallahan

Paranoia runs high in isolation, especially when combined with a terrible alien danger that could be masquerading as one of your cohorts. That’s, really, what John Carpenter’s The Thing is all about; a theme that is carried by the face-meltingly horrific alien designs.

The Thing has some of the best practical effects in 80s cinema, creating one of the most viscerally terrifying films in the process. The titular “thing” is not a one-trick pony; it transforms through the course of the film, bringing a fresh new horror each time. The Duffer Brothers have gone on record citing its inspiration for their creation of the Demogorgon using animatronics to offer that real, physical, tangible threat.

There’s a bit of a tip-of-the-hat to Carpenter’s film in one Stranger Things scene. The character of the science teacher – Mr. Clarke (Randy Havens) – is watching The Thing on his TV at home during a date, explaining the monster’s simple yet impressive construction. I don’t know about you, but that’s an ideal Friday night right there.

John Carpenter is also known for his heavy-on-the-synth soundtracks. The score for The Thing was composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone, utilizing a dramatic combination of soaring minor tones with tension-pressing staccato for its main theme. Stranger Things also uses a lot of nostalgia-building synth for their score as a clear homage to Carpenter’s films – many of which he composes himself.