Stranger Things has been dropping nods and references to classic '80s movies from the very beginning, and drawing clear inspiration from projects like E.T. and Stand by Me. The upcoming third season was influenced by a number of films as well, although one of them technically comes from the early '90s.
Stranger Things showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer are keeping a pretty tight lid on spoilers, but they did reveal several movies that inspired the third season. Take a look:
Indiana Jones (1981, 1984, 1989)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
The Thing (1982)
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Midnight Run (1988)
Jurassic Park (1993)
David Kronenberg films
Fans may have had reason to expect that Stranger Things Season 3 would be packed with references to and inspiration from '80s movies, but there are definitely some surprises in there. In fact, not all of the movies revealed to EW by the Duffer brothers were even out by the summer of 1985, which is when Season 3 is set. So, let's take a look at these movies and consider how they might influence the next batch of episodes.
Indiana Jones. The Duffer brothers apparently didn't specify if it was Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, or The Last Crusade that inspired Stranger Things Season 3. (I'm just going to assume that it wasn't Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.) Perhaps it was more the tone of the films than any specific event or plot. Then again, maybe there are specific elements from all three movies that will be included, and the Duffers just didn't want to bother listing all three separately.
Interestingly, Stranger Things has included homages to Indiana Jones before with relation to Hopper. In Season 2, he even went back to grab his hat in the Upside Down tunnels despite a threat to his life. Would I be on board with somebody needing to flee a monster like Indy from the boulder in Raiders? Absolutely. But the nods could be more subtle than that. The Last Crusade came out four years after Season 3 is set, so we shouldn't expect anybody overly referencing that movie.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This movie is a comedy that features some older and younger high school kids, including one who gets embarrassed when he's caught wearing a pirate costume to make a food delivery for his job. It's probably safe to say Fast Times at Ridgemont High was an inspiration for Steve and Dustin's story, along with new character Robin and (based on first looks at Season 3) everybody's favorite breakout character from Season 2.
The Thing. This movie is definitely not a comedy, so I'm guessing it won't involve Steve and Dustin as much as other characters. In the classic sci-fi horror movie, an extraterrestrial parasite takes over the bodies and minds of people. The Thing has a group of characters isolated, and the paranoia as they lose track of who is and isn't taken over results in serious conflict.
Based on the trailer that shows some folks in Hawkins looking somewhat zombie-esque, there could definitely be a parasite taking over locals. Will the characters lose their trust in each other?
Romancing the Stone. This movie is packed with romance, comedy, action, and adventure as Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas' characters follow a map to try and find treasure and save a family member. Although Stranger Things Season 3 is being touted as the "summer of love" and footage has showcased Mike and Eleven's romance over others, my money is on Nancy and Jonathan's story as the one inspired by Romancing the Stone. The treasure they're searching for probably isn't an emerald, but rather the truth.
I could see it as Hopper and Joyce's story, but it feels more Nancy and Jonathan, who seem to be working for a newspaper in Season 3. Besides, Hopper and Joyce are supposed to be the responsible ones in the story, right?
Midnight Run. This is another movie that came out after 1985, so we shouldn't get any characters mentioning Midnight Run specifically. This is also the movie that I'm betting is the inspiration for Hopper and Joyce's storyline. In Midnight Run, one of the major characters was once a big city cop, and the protagonists are struggling with the authorities and confidential information. Again, this could work for Nancy and Jonathan as well, so I could be wrong. We'll have to wait and see.
Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park was produced in an entirely different decade than Stranger Things, so the kids of the show are still eight years away from being able to endlessly quote the iconic dino film. Interestingly, a lot of Stranger Things fans felt there were some serious Jurassic vibes from the Season 2 sequence of Bob switching on the power at Hawkins Lab, a la Dr. Sattler in Jurassic Park. Will Stranger Things be more overt in Season 3? Perhaps recreate some iconic scenes with a monster instead of a dinosaur?
David Cronenberg films. David Cronenberg is one of the pioneers of the body horror genre of films, with films like Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, and The Fly to his name. Since the Duffer brothers didn't mention any specific Cronenberg film -- one of which could have been Return of the Jedi if he hadn't turned it down -- then we may want to just count on a lot of grossness. Could it be even grosser than Season 1, with the Demogorgon drooling over Jonathan, and Season 2, with demodogs ripping Bob apart? I'm guessing yes.
Fortunately, the Season 3 premiere of Stranger Things is finally coming up. The hiatus following Season 2 will have lasted for more than a year and a half by the time Season 3 debuts on July 4, 2019, so fans are more than ready for some new episodes. It will bring back New Coke, of all things, and probably plenty more '80s classics. It also won't be the last season, but hopefully future seasons will premiere after a shorter hiatus.