For those of you who’ve been either outright ordered to watch or heard of just how amazing The Duffer Brother’s love song to the 1980s is and really just want it broken down for you, here you go. If you were alive and not living under a rock in the 1980s, regardless of your age, movies like “The Goonies,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” “Stand by Me,” “Alien(s),” and “Scanners” (to name a few) probably ring a bell. Anyone who was at an impressionable young age during these years knows intimately the connection with the adolescent players and their self-discovery through adventures together as friends as a team on a mission. What Matt and Ross Duffer have accomplished in “Stranger Things” is an accurate recreation detailing meticulously the nuances of the decade. The couture, the lingo, the prototypical teenagers with their prototypical teenage angst, the prepubescent set with their prepubescent issues all exquisitely played out in a setting which oozes with nods and homages to the unforgettable movies, timeless songs and conventions of ’80s culture. “Stranger Things” tastefully and tactfully pulls at our heartstrings. A young boy vanishes, his three nerdy (by era’s definition) best friends and fellow brothers in Dungeons & Dragons arms ally with a telepathically gifted girl of the same age and off they go. That bond presented so magically in movies like “Stand By Me,” “Explorers,” and “The Goonies” is laid out spectacularly with the proper dosage of horror and creepy sci-fi seen in the films of master of horror director John Carpenter and the screen adaptations of Stephen King novels. In fact, “Stand by Me” was based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body,” which by no coincidence is the title of Episode 3. On that note, the font used in the opening credits of each episode is identical to that of King’s novels. While trying to point out the innumerable references to 1980s films, a closer look reveals such benchmark items as old phones attached to the kitchen wall by long, coiled cords, yellow kitchen gloves, mixed tapes, and frozen-in-time jocks and bullies. The antiquated technology at which kids today might laugh confusedly is prominent in nearly every scene, from rabbit ears on TV sets with bad reception to boom boxes.The “Stranger Things” score brushes a little too closely to The X-Files, but the soundtrack is simply stunning: The Clash, Peter Gabriel, Toto, Joy Division each song evokes memories and emotions associated with where we were and what we were watching and feeling at the time. Some see nostalgia as a form of trickery, a bait to draw the viewer in based on generating a warm and fuzzy feeling. Stranger Things does just that with no tricks. It’s all there for the taking and America is basking in the warmth and fuzziness.
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