It's almost time to return to Hawkins, but before your summer vacation starts, Matt and Ross Duffer have some homework for you. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the series creators shared the classic films that influenced Stranger Things Season 3, and it's a doozy of a list. The Duffer brothers cite everything from '80s teen rom-com Fast Times at Ridgemont High to the works of horror maestro director David Cronenberg. That's a wide range of genres, but that's exactly what fans have come to expect from a show that so effortlessly melds character drama with clever pop culture touches.
Per EW, the movies that fans should check out if they want some hints about what's ahead for Eleven, Mike, Steve, and the rest of the gang are: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Thing, Romancing the Stone, Midnight Run, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Cronenberg's films, which tend to lean heavily on body horror. These disparate titles don't have a whole lot in common on the surface, but each of them includes a theme that can be found in the Season 3 trailer.
Ross teased to EW, "We would say that this is our most unapologetically fun season. Yet at the same time, it is also our most horrifying and intense season. It's this wild mix of tones that we think really sets this season apart." And if you compare that synopsis to the trailer and the films mentioned as inspiration, the general vibe of Stranger Things Season 3 begins to make sense.
Netflix previously confirmed that this season is set in the summer of 1985 — the last summer before Eleven, Mike, Max, Dustin, Lucas, and Will start high school. There's an emphasis in the trailer on how the kids are growing up, which could lead to some Fast Times at Ridgemont High style hijinks (although that particular movie seems to be most heavily referenced in Billy's new lifeguard gig at the pool).
Meanwhile, Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone are both adventure films with a dash of romance. Could Hopper and Joyce being going on a quest of sorts? These two have been dancing around each other long enough, and there are hints in the scenes that have been teased so far that they could be planning a date.
The biggest clue about where this season might be heading can be found by analyzing the unlikely trio of The Thing, Jurassic Park, and Cronenberg's films. PopSugar editor Quinn Keaney previously tweeted that the monster in the new season could be a character fans know, like Steve or Billy, based on scenes of Steve being injected with an unknown substance, and Billy seeming to have a nasty wound on his arm. Cronenberg loves to make movies about people turning into monsters (think The Fly and The Brood). And The Thing is about a group of people stranded in Antartica with a monster that can take the form of its victims.
Add in Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs stage an escape from captivity, and you have a trio of films about experiments gone wrong and not knowing who you can trust. All of this fits in neatly with the idea that this season's monster will be one of the group's own.
The only outlier is Midnight Run, a movie about a bounty hunter whose easy job goes sideways. But then again, Season 3 is set to introduce new characters like a local reporter, Bruce, played by Jake Busey. In April 2018, Deadline described him as someone with "questionable morals and a sick sense of humor." That definitely sounds like someone who could cause trouble and maybe even end up at odds with Hopper.
Season 3 of Stranger Things is hitting Netflix on July 4, so that gives everyone a little over a month to watch these classic '80s and '90s films, and form new Hawkins conspiracy theories before the premiere.