The new Netflix show Stranger Things is going to remind you of a plethora of supernatural films from the 1980s — and the series is perfectly fine with that. Starring Winona Ryder as Joyce, Stranger Things takes place in the town of Hawkins, Indiana (a fictional city) in 1983. The setting is an important part of the story as Joyce's son Will goes missing after coming across a mysterious beast outside of the Hawkins National Laboratory, but also because half of the fun of Stranger Things is it's throwback style, paying homage to the masters like Steven Spielberg and Stephen King.
The original title for Stranger Things was Montauk, and it was going to be set in the real Long Island town of Montauk, New York. The creators of the Netflix series, twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, told The A.V. Club that the they had chosen Montauk because they originally wanted Stranger Things to take place in a coastal town — à la Jaws. "We were excited about the idea of doing something coastal. Probably our favorite movie of all time is Jaws, and Montauk is one of the bases for Amity, so I think that’s where that idea came from," Ross said. "Logistically, it became more necessary for production reasons to set this not in a coastal town."
While it might not have been the original vision of the Duffers to have Stranger Things move from the east coast to the Midwest state of Indiana, the final location of the show is rather fitting when it comes to the nostalgia factor that the brothers are after. As Will's friends and Joyce will be searching for the boy, they'll discover the horrors that are living in their small town. And when you start watching the Netflix series, which premieres on Friday, July 15, set in Hawkins, the locale is bound to make these seven movies and TV shows pop into your brain.
Although E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial takes place more than halfway across the country from Indiana since it's set in California, Will and his friends riding their bikes through the neighborhoods of Hawkins is intentionally supposed to make you think of the 1982 classic boy-and-his-alien film.
Like E.T., the western part of the U.S. was the setting for many of the '80s films that Stranger Things is channeling and that includes The Goonies . Set in Astoria, Oregon, the Goonies discover that their town has got some secrets and though Stranger Things won't have a beach setting despite the Duffer's wishes, Hawkins also has some secrets of its own.
Another '80s flick featuring a group of kids on an adventure and set in Oregon is Stand by Me . The town of Hawkins searching for Will in the woods in Stranger Things will definitely remind you of the kids in Stand by Me hiking from their small town to find the dead body of a missing boy.
Richard Dreyfuss is not only in Stand by Me as the adult Gordie, but he also stars in another film with supernatural elements that the Duffers were inspired by — Close Encounters of the Third Kind . Dreyfuss' character Roy is from Indiana — the same state Stranger Things is set in— and that's where he experiences aliens messing with his car before eventually traveling to Devils Tower in Wyoming later in the film.
Indiana is apparently all about the paranormal if you consider Stranger Things, Close Encounters, and the almost forgotten, but totally excellent '90s kids TV show Eerie, Indiana. The small town of Eerie isn't actually real, just like Hawkins, and it hosts plenty of urban legends and abnormal stuff. (Bonus trivia: Eerie, Indiana starred Omri Katz from Hocus Pocus !)
While Freaks and Geeks dealt with the very real world scenarios of growing up, it's a retro series that takes place in the fictional Chippewa, Michigan, which means it shares a Midwest setting and 1980s timeframe with Stranger Things.
Apparently, if you want to find spooky things, you should be on the West coast or in the Midwest. Super 8 , J. J. Abrams' own love letter to the films of Spielberg, is a throwback with it taking place in 1979 in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio. It's almost impossible not to think of Super 8 when you embark on Stranger Things.
Although you can't travel to Hawkins, Indiana, you can experience the fictional town in all of its scary glory when you catch Stranger Things on Netflix this summer.
Images: Netflix, Curtis Baker/Netflix; Giphy (7)