'Stranger Things': Every Horror Movie Referenced in the Hit Netflix Series So Far

While we wait for Stranger Things Season 4, we have two choices. We can either rewatch seasons 1-3 on repeat until one day we’re pleasantly surprised to find the upcoming season available to watch, or we can ponder over the Easter eggs in the first three seasons. Today, we’re doing the latter. Check back next week, and we might be on our fifth rewatch. Who knows?

However, today, let’s look at all of the horror movies referenced in the first three seasons of Stranger Things. Some of these might surprise you.

‘Stranger Things’ uses a lot of Stephen King stories for inspiration

We’ve already talked about how much Stranger Things was inspired by Stephen King’s tales from the ’70s and ’80s. Here’s a quick refresher, though:

  • Carrie – The titular character in Carrie and Eleven both have telekinetic abilities. The only difference is that Eleven only uses her powers against monsters and evil government agents … so far. However, some fans have wondered if audiences will finally see Eleven have her Carrie moment in Stranger Things Season 4.
  • Christine – The possessed car in Christine murdered several people. While there’s no evil car in Stranger Things, there is Billy, who drove a similar model car and was slightly evil himself. A couple of shots of the car look almost identical to the shots in Christine.
  • IT – King’s novel about the killer clown terrified audiences in the ’80s. You won’t find any clowns snooping around in Hawkins, Indiana, but you will see a group of kids trying to fight off supernatural monsters. The group is very reminiscent of the Loser’s Club in the book.
  • Needful Things – Folks won’t find anything similar about the story from King’s book in Stranger Things, but audiences might notice how the show’s font and the novel’s title font look almost the same.
  • The Body – King’s novella about a group of boys experiencing the pains of the teenage years hits pretty close to home in Stranger Things. The movie adaptation includes a scene of the group walking down the railroad tracks, and you’ll find a similar scene in Stranger Things.
  • Firestarter – This is another of King’s tales that focuses on a telekinetic little girl. Eleven’s character was inspired by Charlie in Firestarter.

’70s horror movie Easter eggs in the series’ include ‘Alien’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’

Stranger Things Season 1 saw Will Byers snatched by the Demogorgon on Nov. 6, 1983. Each season advances another year, with Stranger Things Season 4 occurring in 1986. However, the Duffer Brothers used plenty of ’70s horror movies for inspiration.

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The 1977 film featuring Richard Dreyfuss directly inspired Joyce Byers’ character in Stranger Things. Roy Neary (Dreyfuss), a blue-collar worker in Indiana, has a close encounter with an alien, but nobody believes him. Joyce also experiences a similar situation with nobody believing her.
  • Jaws – Remember the greedy mayor in Jaws that wanted the beaches open on the Fourth of July? He wanted to make sure he got his tourism dollars, all while knowing there was a giant man-eating shark in the water? Carey Elwes’s character of the slimy mayor of Hawkins could give that guy a run for his money.
  • Aliens – Ridley Scott’s horrifying space movie about gigantic Xenomorphs gets a callback in Stranger Things Season 1. When Hopper and Joyce finally find Will in the Upside Down, the creature attached to his face looks a lot like a Face Hugger.

It wouldn’t be ‘Stranger Things’ without some ’80s horror movie references

Stranger Things relishes in its ’80s references. The series has a vibe similar to that of Steven Spielberg movies from back in the day. While Spielberg didn’t dip into horror all that often, the Duffer Brothers took plenty of inspiration from horror movies in that period.

  • Poltergeist – Joyce mentions the movie directly at one point in Stranger Things Season 1. Will’s ability to talk through the Christmas lights is very similar to Carol Ann and her TV in Poltergeist.
  • Gremlins – The Joe Dante Christmas horror movie accidentally terrified little kids whose parents thought they were taking them to see a sweet Christmas flick for the holidays. In Stranger Things Season 2, Dustin discovers what turns out to be a baby Demogorgon. It gives us the same feelings we had when we watched Gremlins. Plus, if you listen carefully, there’s even the echo of the movie’s theme song in season 2, episode 3.
  • Predator – Chief Jim Hopper’s name comes directly from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Predator. Plus, when the Demogorgon opens its mouth, it looks very similar to the Predator’s gaping maw.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street – The Duffer Brothers are upfront about the inspiration they took from the famous teen slasher from the ’80s. The scene where the Demogorgon stretches through Joyce’s wallpaper looks almost exactly like Freddy Krueger’s move in the original Elm Street movie. Some fans think a large part of Stranger Things Season 4 takes inspiration from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
  • The Thing – The alien monster Kurt Russell’s character fights in The Thing can invade other people’s bodies. It can also mimic everything from their looks to their voices. The Mind Flayer in Stranger Things Season 4 had similar abilities.

We might have months to wait before we see everything that goes down in Stranger Things Season 4, but there are plenty of clues the Duffer Brothers have dropped along the way. By the time summer of 2022 rolls around, we’ll be more than ready for the story to continue.

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