Spoiler alert: There are minor spoilers if you haven't watched the first season of Stranger Things yet, so proceed with caution!
I know I'm not the only one who's recently binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix. One of the reasons I'm so compelled by this series is the overwhelming sense of nostalgia that it evokes, and the fact that while watching each episode, I'm reminded (fondly and frighteningly) of a hundred other films and television shows that made me feel similarly. The Duffer Brothers, who created the series, seem to acknowledge this, too, citing inspirations from classic and contemporary film and television. After finishing (or during watching) Stranger Things, you may find yourself yearning for some of these similar titles, so I've got you covered with some suggestions below.
Loved the monster? Watch these:
The Duffer Brothers cite Guillermo del Toro as an inspiration for Stranger Things, and when I watched it, Pan's Labyrinth is the del Toro film that first came to mind. Not only is the monster similar visually, but you'll also see some parallels thematically between Stranger Things and Pan's Labyrinth.
The special effects in The Thing are pretty impressive, and there's no CG involved. The Duffer Brothers used a combination of animatronics and visual effects and CG to create their monster. Because of this, the monster seems real and tangible, which (in my humble opinion) makes it more terrifying. Read more about the monster here.
Loved the kids? Watch these:
If you loved the Dugeons-&-Dragons-playing A.V. nerds in Stranger Things, you're going to love the Dungeons-&-Dragons-playing A.V. nerds in Freaks and Geeks. Both shows take place around the same time period, too, and in many ways share a warm and nostalgic aesthetic.
One thing all of the kids in these films/TV shows have in common is that they are outcasts. They don't quite fit in, which pretty much always ends up making them cooler in the end, because they have weird on their side. You'll find this to be true in Stand By Me, too, a favorite of mine from childhood.
Loved the Upside Down? Watch these:
A Nightmare on Elm Street features the infamous Freddy Krueger, who travels through dreams, much like the demogorgon in Stranger Things travels through the Upside Down. We even see a scene in Stranger Things that is reminiscent of Freddy Krueger stretching through the wall above Nancy's bed in Nightmare (pictured to the right).
Communication from the other realm in Poltergeist comes through the television. Similarly, when we see Will trying to contact his mother in Stranger Things, it happens through electronics, like the telephone and lights. So, if that part of Stranger Things grabbed you, Poltergeist is definitely up your alley. In one episode's flashback, Joyce even takes Will to see Poltergeist at the movie theater.