At Bradley’s Big Buy, the kids treat Eleven’s injury as she sits in the middle of an aisle. Behind her, you can spot boxes of Ziploc bags featuring Gizmo from “Gremlins.” Sure, “Gremlins” came out a year earlier, in the summer of 1984, but one gets the impression that retail turnover at Bradley’s may not be that high.
‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’
The gold standard when it comes to movies about possessed townspeople will always be “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of the 1956 sci-fi film by Don Siegel. The first half of Season 3 — particularly in scenes featuring possessed characters like Billy and Heather (Francesca Reale) — offers variations on the concept of pod people: normal-looking folk who aren’t quite in complete command of their own actions. Both cinematic versions could be influences, but Kaufman’s visceral, terrifying take on alien assimilation seems the most apparent.
The influence of Spielberg’s movies are all over “Stranger Things,” perhaps none more than “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” But for Season 3, the Duffer Brothers harked back to a Spielberg film from 1975: Both “Jaws” and “Stranger Things 3” feature plots that spin around the Fourth of July, and both feature incompetent mayors named Larry, who don’t seem to care much about the well-being of their constituents.
‘The Karate Kid’
Max (Sadie Sink) is excited when Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) takes an interest in the “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio in the centerfold of a teen magazine. The martial arts-inspired outfit worn by Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) for the bulk of the season might also be a nod to that movie, which the kids in Hawkins — like so many American kids in 1984 — probably saw multiple times. Sweep the leg, Lucas.
The Russian enforcer on the motorcycle who keeps coming for Hopper like a silent killing machine (Andrey Ivchenko) bears a striking resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action thriller, “The Terminator.” The supernatural goop that slides through the bars of the rat cage in Episode 2 and under the door in Episode 6 could be a nod to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” but that could also be coincidence: The Duffers seem to mostly reference films and TV shows from before or during the era in which the show is set; “Terminator 2” didn’t arrive until 1991.
We know Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is a fan: The poster for this 1982 horror masterpiece from John Carpenter — a remake of “The Thing From Another World” (1951) — has been hanging in his basement since Season 1. But the movie is also referenced by Lucas when the gang is in Bradley’s Big Buy. (Much to the dismay of his friends with better taste, Lucas compares it favorably to New Coke.) Billy and others are taken over by a force not unlike the alien of “The Thing,” and the Mind Flayer bears a striking resemblance to that alien as well, not least because of its spider-like legs.
Max introduces El to “Wonder Woman” comic books at the start of Episode 4, telling her about Princess Diana and her life in a place filled with only Amazon warrior women. Perhaps the comics helped give El the confidence she needed for her own heroism in the final episodes.
Dustin calls his high-powered machine Cerebro, a name-check to the device used by Professor X in this Marvel Comics series to find mutants around the world. The device first appeared in the comic books in 1964 and is still a major part of the X-Men mythology, playing a role in recent print editions and feature films.
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