Fans of Netflix's hit show Stranger Things have fallen in love with the show's 1980s vibe. Someone in a popular entertainment forum asked for recommendations for movies set in the 80s, noting they are “on the younger side and missed out on the 80s and 90s.” These iconic movies from the 1980s capture the unmistakable look and feel of Stranger Things' setting and should be on every fan's watchlist.
1. Poltergeist (1982)
A family tortured by the disappearance of a child and a desperate attempt to communicate with a mysterious and unseen world. Are we talking about Poltergeist or the first season of Stranger Things? It could be either considering Tobe Hooper’s 1982 paranormal flick heavily inspired the Duffer brothers. The Byers family parallels the hapless Freelings from Poltergeist quite a bit, particularly with how much the showrunners aimed to torture them.
2. Fright Night (1985)
The 1980s were ripe with horror movies that saw an awkward group of adolescent friends taking on dangerous monstrosities. Sometimes, they’re accompanied by a skeptical adult, as seen in both Stranger Things and Fright Night. In the latter, 17-year-old Charley recruits a “vampire hunter” to stake his new blood-sucking neighbor. In Stranger Things, Jim Hopper finds himself entangled in the antics of Eleven and the gang, duking it out with Russians and Demogorgons.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It’s difficult to overlook the similarities between Stranger Things’ harrowing third season and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Apart from looking like a slightly mutated version of burned child killer Freddy Krueger, Stranger Things baddy Vecna also snags his victims in a dream-like world that he has unlimited control over. Even Eleven’s role in the third season parallels the Dream Warriors of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
For the ultimate 80s comedy, it's hard to beat Ferris Bueller's Day Off, starring Matthew Broderick as the title character. Ferris skips school and lives the day to the fullest with his friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane.
5. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Never has a babysitter had so many crazy adventures! Chris (Elisabeth Shue) sets off to rescue her friend in the city, taking the kids with her. They get wrapped up in a series of unlikely circumstances, which includes singing the blues so they can leave a nightclub.
6. The Princess Bride (1987)
The film shows a young boy's grandfather reading the titular story while he is home sick in bed. It follows a farm boy turned pirate who encounters several enemies and allies in his quest to be reunited with his true love.
7. The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies features a young Sean Astin, who you may recognize as Joyce's love interest, poor ‘ole Bob Newby, in Stranger Things season two. In The Goonies, Astin's Mikey leads the titular troop on a quest for the lost treasure of the infamous pirate One-Eyed Willy. It's full of Stranger Things vibes — only the monsters are a trio of escaped convicts who also want the gold.
8. The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys is a supernatural black comedy horror film that has a classic campy 80s feel. There are two groups of kids, older and younger, so multiple audiences can relate to and enjoy the characters.
It follows two brothers, Sam and Michael, who move into their eccentric grandfather's home in Santa Carla, California, with their mom, only to find the town plagued by rambunctious vampires. Along with the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), Sam sets out to save his brother and stop his mother from dating the vampire leader.
9. Back to the Future (1985)
In Back to the Future, teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally gets thrown back to the 1950s after an experiment with his eccentric friend and inventor Doc Brown goes awry.
Marty runs into the younger versions of his parents and must ensure they fall in love, or he'll cease to exist and won't return to 1985. Back to the Future II is equally enjoyable, if not more so, and both movies ooze that 1980s charm Stranger Things fans love.
10. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Steven Spielberg‘s 1982 classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, gives Stranger Things ambiance, right down to the government agency spying on the kids to track down a strange telepathic anomaly.
It follows Elliott, a young boy who befriends an extraterrestrial dubbed E.T. He was left behind on Earth, and Elliott must find a way to help E.T. find his way home. It also features Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas in their second theatrical roles.
11. The Monster Squad (1987)
The Monster Squad is a 1987 black comedy horror film and a cult classic. It includes a mishmash of Universal Monsters led by Count Dracula. However, a group of pre-teens who idolize classic monster movies is there to ensure the Wolf Man, Gill-man, the Mummy, and Frankenstein don't wreak havoc around the world.
12. Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy film following three eccentric parapsychologists who, after being fired, start a ghost-catching business in New York City.
They inadvertently discover a gateway to another dimension that will unleash evil upon New York, invoking the eradication of humanity unless the Ghostbusters close the gate. Ghostbusters wasn't just an influence on some of Stranger Things' second season; it made an on-screen appearance as Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will all don the iconic flight suit.