Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Love Stranger Things? Then you’ll love these movies too!

Stranger Things has taken the world by storm, confining millions of people to their couches in a binge of 80s throwbacks, Spielbergian adventures and Stephen King-esque spookiness.

A second series is almost certain but until then, here are a few of the movies that inspired the show to fill the post ST hole in your life.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Stranger Things is unashamedly inspired by Spielberg’s late 70s/early 80s output, with the bright lights and unearthly events of Close Encounters an obvious influence.

Close Encounters is a classic example of Spielberg merging the mundane and the magic, with a blue collar worker from an Indiana town encountering a UFO and becoming obsessed with discovering the truth behind it.

Unlike many sci-fi movies, Close Encounters is optimistic about the intentions of our extra-terrestrial cousins and is full of awe and wonder.

Buy Close Encounters of the Third Kind on DVD

Buy Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Blu-Ray

E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial


Spielberg’s most famous alien adventure (sorry, Close Encounters) is possibly Stranger Things’ biggest influence.

A young boy finds an alien in his back garden and, with the help of his siblings, attempts to help him phone his mum and dad (or whatever the alien equivalent is). Unfortunately, some shady government officials have other plans…

The parallels between E.T. and Stranger Things are obvious, although E.T. is much lighter and optimistic than the show it inspired. It’ll still make you weep like a baby though.

Buy E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial on DVD

Stand By Me

Stand By Me is the ultimate coming-of-age story. It follows four boys from very different backgrounds as they set out on an adventure to find a dead body but really, it’s a movie about growing up and the power of friendship.

It’s impossible not to feel nostalgic when you watch Stand By Me because it captures the excitement and thrills of childhood adventure so well… a bit like Stranger Things.

In fact, Stand By Me was such an inspiration for Stranger Things that director/writers Matt and Ross Duffer had actors read lines from the film in their auditions!

Buy Stand By Me on DVD

Buy Stand By Me on Blu-Ray

The Goonies


A brave group of kids go on a dangerous adventure and worry their parents to death. Sound familiar?

Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin share obvious similarities with The Goonies, although the latter’s hunt for pirate treasure is slightly lighter and played more for laughs than the spooky events of Stranger Things.

Oh, and Steven Spielberg produced this one too. Obviously.

Buy The Goonies on DVD

Buy The Goonies on Blu-Ray

Super 8

Although JJ Abrams’ Super 8 was released in 2011, it has Spielberg’s mitts all over it (he did produce it, to be fair).

Super 8 follows a gang of friends from a small Ohio town (so far, so Spielberg) who witness a train crash while filming a zombie film. After some unexplained and mysterious goings-on, the kids get on their bikes and start digging for the truth.

Super 8 is pretty much an 80s Spielberg movie with 21st century special effects. What’s not to love?

Buy Super 8 on DVD

Buy Super 8 on Blu-Ray


This pitch-black comedy is arguably Winona Ryder’s best movie.

On the surface, Heathers seems like your standard high school comedy, with the cliques and the drama and the dodgy ”˜of the time’ fashions.

But actually, it’s a lot darker than that. Ryder and her on-screen boyfriend Christian Slater accidentally kill the most popular girl in school and cover it up as a suicide ”“ inadvertently making suicide popular.

It’s a biting take on high school and teenage life that happens to have a sweet 80s vibe too.

Buy Heathers on DVD

The Thing

The movies of John Carpenter are another big influence on Stranger Things, with The Thing referenced numerous times.

The Thing pits a shape-shifting alien against the inhabitants of an Antarctic research base, with paranoia and fear abound. It was a groundbreaking moment in horror, with some truly disgusting special effects and bucketloads of gore.

It’s a lot darker and much more violent than Stranger Things, but an essential watch if you love 80s movies!

Buy The Thing on DVD

Buy The Thing on Blu-Ray

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