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When Netflix series first switched on the Christmas lights in 2016, it found a winning formula with ’80s nostalgia, supernatural horrors, and a cast of headstrong and close-knit kids.
It’s a special show, and it’s not easy to replicate the feeling you get while watching it. But now that we’re encountering a between two volumes of a single season, on top of the years-long hiatuses between one season and another, I’ve realized it’s time to pull out a flashlight and start searching for something similar.
Venture below, and you’ll find a list of shows that relate to Stranger Things in one way or another. You may find something to fill that chilling, post-season void. Prepare for otherworldly entities, touching friendships, and lots and lots of kids on bikes.
Movies with a Stranger Things vibe
Super 8 (2011)
Where to stream: HBO Max
No list of this kind would be complete without Super 8, directed by Star Wars helmer J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. In the summer of 1979, while filming a homemade zombie movie, a group of teens witness a truck collide with a train. Unexplained events proceed to rattle the area. For mystery, some supernatural action and young friends who ride bikes and use walkie-talkies, give this one a watch.
Fright Night (1985)
Where to stream: You can rent Fright Night for $3 at services including Amazon and Vudu.
In this mildly scary horror movie, teenager Charley Brewster (Yes, that’s his actual name) discovers a ghastly secret — his neighbor is actually a vampire behind several disappearances in their Iowa town. For a tale about teens taking on monsters, an ’80s feel, fantastic special effects (and I’ll say it — smokin’ hot vampires), Fright Night is the way to go.
Where to stream: You can rent Ghostbusters for $3 at services including Amazon and Vudu.
We know four best friends who would give Ghostbusters a mega Marshmallow Man-size stamp of approval. A memorable Stranger Things season 2 scene is when Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will wear over-the-top Ghostbusters costumes to school… only to find out that no one else dressed up for Halloween. In their honor, spend some time with Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and the rest of the cast of this beloved comedy.
Red Bank Films
Where to stream: Prime Video
Carrie is targeted by some ruthless bullies in the 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic novel, much like our girl Eleven, who faces viciously mean teens in this season of Stranger Things (culminating, of course, with that Carrie-esque scene at the roller rink). Stephen King himself has the season’s “Carrie riff,” though he didn’t explicitly say what he was referring to. Anyway, you have to watch Sissy Spacek’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the prom queen at least once in your life. Why not now?
The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
Where to stream: Netflix
Yes, I’m counting this as three movies. When Netflix dropped the Fear Street installments last summer, I had no idea what a treat they’d be. Nostalgia is an element here — the first film winds things back to the ’90s, the second to the ’70s and the third to the… 1600s, because who doesn’t like to look back fondly at bonnets and flouncy sleeves. Joking! If you’ve loved the focus on Max (Sadie Sink) this season, the actress is a big part of this trilogy.
Where to stream: HBO Max
This horror flick dealt another brutal blow to the reputation of clowns. Based on the classic Stephen King book, the movie pits six likable outcasts against a sewer-loving supernatural entity. The Duffer Brothers, who created Stranger Things, the book’s big influence on the show. You’ll also spot Finn Wolfhard (aka Mike) among the movie’s cast.
A Quiet Place (2018)
Where to stream: FuboTV, Paramount Plus
John Krasinski’s suspenseful horror film about a family trying to survive a monster apocalypse is far more harrowing than Stranger Things, but there are some similarities. In the character of Millicent Simmons, you’ll find a fearless young protagonist the Stranger Things kids would happily welcome onto their team. See how she and the others cope with terrifying creatures that attack when they detect sound.
Gunpowder & Sky
Summer of 84 (2018)
Where to stream: AMC Plus, Shudder
Can a movie be too much like Stranger Things? The first 20 minutes of Summer of 84 evoke so many Stranger Things-isms, it feels impossible not to compare it to the beloved show. Walkie-talkies, bikes, synth music, strange disappearances and teen friends hot on the trail of the perpetrator are all in there. But since you’re checking out this list, that may just mean it ticks all your boxes.
Where to stream: It’s free with ads on Tubi. You can also rent Coraline for $3 at services including Amazon and Vudu.
“Kids vs. malevolent forces from a parallel universe” could describe both Stranger Things and this animated stop-motion kids horror movie. And both are excellent choices for your evening.
New Line Cinema
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Where to stream: Netflix, HBO Max
The chilling ending to episode 1 and what happened to Eddie afterward felt vaguely familiar to me while watching season 4. Then it hit me — A Nightmare on Elm Street. If you’ve been digging this season of the show, it’s time to revisit the 1984 horror classic. Another fun fact: Victor Creel, the former Vecna victim Robin and Nancy meet in episode 4, is actually played by original Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund.
The Goonies (1985)
Where to stream: HBO Max
Do kid adventure movies get more classic than The Goonies? A squad of distinct youngsters set out on a dangerous search for hidden treasure. Because booby traps and unfamiliar terrain apparently aren’t enough, a family of mobsters is also tailing them. If you, like me, were too scared by the horror elements in this film as a kid to fully appreciate it, it’s definitely worth putting on again.
ET the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Where to stream: Peacock, FuboTV
After spending so much time with Stranger Things season 4 evildoer Vecna, I’d imagine an appointment with a benign imaginary creature like ET sounds pretty good (it’s certainly well-earned). Tear open a box of Reese’s Pieces and get watching.
Where to stream: It’s free with ads on the Roku Channel. You can also rent Goosebumps for $3 at services including Amazon and Vudu.
When a horde of monsters from R.L. Stine’s iconic Goosebumps Classical Books invade the real world, Jack Black and some teen actors team up to take them down. This family-friendly horror comedy is cheesier than Stranger Things, but it may serve as a solid distraction from the pause in the supernatural show.
Warner Bros. Pictures
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Where to stream: It’s free with ads on Tubi. You can also rent The NeverEnding Story for $4 at services including Amazon, Vudu and iTunes.
This might be a wild card, but it’s necessary for Stranger Things fans or those who missed out on the film as a kid. Adventure, a friendly dragon and child protagonists are all a part of the pie. And you can finally sing the theme song with Dustin and Suzie when you rewatch season 3, episode 8.