It has now been exactly four weeks since Netflix released Stranger Things, which is more than enough for everyone to count the references to Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and practically every 80s sci-fi product ever made.
Nonetheless, the most detailed tribute and list of the show's never ending 80s tributes has been this video by Ulysee Thevenon on Vimeo, as she goes through the entire season in order to list the homages to classic three-decade old movies.
By this video's count, E.T. is the heaviest influence on Stranger Things, as there are six montages of clips put side-by-side with similar moments from that movie alone. Coming in second is The Goonies with four montages, followed by Alien with three and Close Encounters and A Nightmare on Elm Street with two. Seven other films get one montage, including Stand by Me, Firestarter, The Shining, Carrie and Poltergeist.
Any child of 1980s cinema, and anyone who's heard even a little bit about Stranger Things online, could have likely guessed it was a cross between E.T. and The Goonies before seeing it. While The Goonies has a close-knit group of young best friends and outsiders like the Stranger Things gang, both films have a mysterious, seemingly monstrous but young and kind hearted being to befriend, only Stranger Things's version of E.T. and Sloth is an actual human girl with mind powers named Eleven.
Technically, the Goonies homages are ahead of their time, since Stranger Things is set in 1983 and The Goonies first came out in 1985. Then again, the casting of Winona Ryder as missing boy Will's frantic mother has been cited as one giant 80s homage onto itself, and a teenaged Ryder didn't start rising to fame until the mid-to-late 80s.
Since E.T. and The Goonies are the most referenced films in the video and in the series, that may make Stranger Things feel more like Spielberg's work than like King. Even when things get more horrifying thanks to the "Demogorgon" monster and his realm in the "Upside Down", non King works like Alien and Elm Street appear to be the biggest influence, especially in the finale.
Whatever the exact references and parodies are, they have made Stranger Things into an Internet watercooler phenomenon. What's more, according to the Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman, it is "the cure for TV's summer gloom" this season. It even has the viewership to back it up, since Netflix claims more people streamed it in its first 16 days of release than any other Netflix show this year except for Fuller House and Orange is the New Black.
With all that in mind, Stranger Things's many online viewers may not stop pointing out references, listening to the synthesized music, or paying tribute to early victim Barb any time soon.