I guess at this point you are all already big fans of the Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things. It got us all fascinated for many reasons, most millennials were born in the ’80s (later ’80s for me), we are the generation that loves technology but grew up without smartphones, getting dirty in the mud and riding bikes all summer. Stranger Things has it all, in just 8 episodes it became the nostalgic phenomenon we all needed. One of the unique characteristics of the TV Show phenomenon is the 80’s style that surrounds the whole package; taking us back to good old times, making us wonder where all the inspiration came from. Everyone was talking about it: friends, colleagues, magazines, blogs, twitter… everyone had a saying, and that’s how I ended up in a film marathon screening 6 films that inspired Stranger Things at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.
I discovered The Prince Charles Cinema a few weeks ago, and I fell in love instantly. Back when I was living in Los Angeles I had the pleasure to work as a volunteer for the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian, I used to be in the entrance taking tickets, a little price to reach the prize: watching my favorite classics on 35mm. It was painful leaving such an amazing organization so you can understand my happiness when I discovered a sister organization in London. As soon as I checked the showtimes I enrolled as a member and booked 4 tickets in advance for the following 2 weeks. Membership costs £10/year or £50/lifetime and you can enjoy: £2.50 off every ticket, weekly £1 film screenings and discount at the bar. My first movie was the £1 weekly screening of Edward Scissorhands on 70mm and later on, the 5th of November, one of my favorite movies of all times, V for Vendetta.
I convinced one of my colleagues who is also a Stranger Things fan to come with me, and there we were, queuing in front of the cinema having no idea what was waiting for us. Neither of us had been on a movie marathon before and half of the movies were new to us.
I knew the seats were not numbered, so I was cautious enough to get there at least 30 minutes earlier so we could enjoy the marathon from the best seats (in this case, the first 5 lines are the best, the screen is considerably small for the room). Before queuing you need to have the tickets with you, you can either get them from the box office inside or the machines outside. The line started getting longer and we realized perhaps we were not ready for the marathon… we started seeing people with sleeping bags, pajamas and themed costumes. Were we ready for 13h non-stop movies? We just had a couple of candy bags a coke… To our great surprise, breaks between films were long enough to go to the loo and get some popcorn (the bar was open all night long)
Finally we got in (3rd line) having a splendid view and excited about the ambiance, full of Stranger Things and film lovers. The cinema organizer gave a great welcome speech, giving away free memberships for all those who dressed up for the occasion: from Elevens in hospital the robes to the non-forgotten Barb. I was especially excited because most of the films were new to me, or I haven’t seen them in a long time (Except E.T. that’s a yearly mandatory).
I have to tell, being awake all night wasn’t difficult at all, movie after movie, it seemed the right thing to do (I confess I closed my eyes a couple of times during Firestarter, but I could totally follow the plot afterward) and we made it through the night! We are proud survivors of the marathon, as the photo below proves. It was a great first experience, the program was awesome, and the seats were comfortable enough to hold our butts for over 10 hours.
*SPOILER ALERT – The films that inspired Stranger Things.
1. Stand by me inspired…. the strong bond between friends. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” The bond between childhood friends and the loyalty they follow beyond adult rules, the law or the unknown has no limits.
2. The Goonies inspired… the kids, the teens and the bad guys. One of the biggest reference character-wise. Almost every character in the movie is reflected on Stranger Things. My favorite? Nancy and Barb, the teens.
3. E.T. the Extra-terrestrial inspired… the kids, the bikes and ET. The relation between Elliot and ET is very similar to Mike’s and Eleven. They trust and support the newly come from the innocence of a child, helping them escape no matter what are the consequences. They trust their instincts and know they are doing the right thing.
4. Firestarter inspired…. Eleven. A little girl with super powers. Like Marvel taught us on Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility” but a girl still a girl, and needs her parents, friends and people who respect her and helps her have a normal life. Useful tip: don’t piss them off.
5. Poltergeist inspired… Joyce (Will’s mom) and the “Unknown dimension”. Mothers have special bonds with their kids, and the will to protect among all things can make a mom became a kind of superhero. These two moms have suffered the disappearance of her child, and they are the first to realize they are still in the house but in another dimension, and because of their faith, they both can communicate with their kids through the light/electricity.
6. The Thing inspired…. The monster. We’ve seen monsters of all kinds, but this one, in particular, has a humanoid look with disgusting skin and scary jaws. They are both predators and terrorize people. Useful tip: fight them with fire!
The Best: The program. The room full of film lovers. The costumes.
The Worst: The AC. My nose was frozen until the second movie when we asked the second time they finally turned it off.
Popcorn: Two options: salty and sweet. The salty was way too salty, but was alright, after all, I love salty popcorn as mush as butter popcorn. BTW, Where are the butter popcorn in this country?
Tip: If you love cinema, become a member. And check the program often, there is always new and exciting movies to view on the big screen for the first time.
Awesome job from Ulysse Thevenon putting together movies that inspired Stranger Things scene by scene. Thanks!
Once I wrote the article my friend who is crazy about Stranger Things and all-thing-vintage just shared this video with me. Isn’t it the best thing you’ve ever watched? P.S. I love the fact the video is made by two brothers like the original show.