“Stranger Things” is the series to binge on this summer, I absolutely loved it. Secondly it’s very obvious that The Duffer Brothers are fans of The Goonies, E.T., Poltergeist, Gremlins, Close Encounters and fully succeeded in replicating the nostalgic vibe of those movies for the Netflix series this summer. They gave us that special feeling we’ve all missed for so many years, especially if you grew up in those times. People are already clamoring for a second season, so what are we all supposed to do in the meantime? Well I’ve put together a list of some movies that I think likely were an inspiration to the hit series that you might have totally missed out or haven’t seen in a while!
Most of these flicks follow the “Amblin” formula. Amblin cranked out a lot of the spooky 80’s Speilberg style movies. It was a formula that seemed to put kids on dangerous adventures, most often supernatural ones, usually in small towns or the suburbs and most often trying to prove to their parents some crazy story to be true with often times unlucky results. These stories were filled with wonder and most of all they were so undeniably fun to watch that to see a series like Stranger Things in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. So here today in response I’d like to honor 10 of the lesser known movies you’ve gotta hunt down if you dug Stranger Things as much as I did.
1. The Gate (1986) To say they weren’t influenced by this movie when making Stranger Things would be a crime!!
I just finished ‘Paper Girls’ #1 by hotshot writer Brian K. Vaughan and it’s one of best debut issues I’ve read in a long time. What’s even better is at it’s $2.99 cover price it’s a double sized issue filled with a great little story just waiting to burst into a retro ‘Amblin’ style adventure set way back in 1988. Not only do we get an intriguing story here but also some great artwork by Cliff Chiang. We follow twelve year old Erin as she heads out onto the streets to do her paper route in wee hours of the A.M. after a extremely peculiar dream, involving apples, aliens, winged astronauts and classroom demons speaking what seems to be gibberish. I love the way the dream sequence is played out in the pages here, with a ton of strange symbolism, conversations that seemingly make no sense and some frightening creatures, it really feels like an actual dream which is quite nice.
The setting in the morning is the night after Halloween, so as Erin hits the streets with her sack of papers she encounters some neighborhood bullies still roaming. Luckily three other paper girls arrive on rad bmx bikes to the scene to her defense. From this point Erin decides to ride with the girls on her route and discovers that the three of them too had been jumped by some strange “people” dressed as ghosts who stole one of their walkie talkies.
I don’t want to spoil any of the story as there are some cool surprises that develop along the way. But what I will say is this has the perfect setting for a lost 80’s flick and puts some cool supernatural elements in the mix that leave you longing for issue #2. A super solid debut and just the kind of comic book story that I love even if for some reason we get a bit of prominent product placement by the way of Apple computers. Check this one out, this issue gives you more bang for your buck too as it’s twice the normal size. A great scheme to get people to drop their hard earned cash these days on a comic book!
I’ve been out doing a ton of cool summer stuff lately and decided to take a break from the blogging for a couple weeks, kind of summer break. It’s tough to find cool shit to write about everyday that’s not just regurgitating stories from Ain’t it Cool or Bleeding Cool and sometimes I feel like adding even more hype to huge Hollywood blockbusters is an uninteresting, uninspired waste of time. I mean what’s Hollywood done for me lately?! So I was waiting until something cool that’s a little more under the radar got me pumped to do a blog again. Well it came in the form of bad ass little flick called “Under the Bed”!
This cool little monster movie is brought to you by director Steven C. Miller who brought us Automaton Transfusion, The excellent Aggression Scale and more recently the Silent Night, Deadly Night remake. I honestly have been looking forward to Under the Bed for a while now and thankfully it delivered the goods. The movie is described as a ‘suburban nightmare’ which rings true, however I see it as a more Dante-esque style “kids in danger” monster movie. It’s basically a tale of two brothers who go to battle with a vicious creature who lives under their bed.
Older brother Neil, comes back to live with his father, his new wife and his younger brother Paulie. After a two year leave of absence trying to deal with the death of his mother and his previous battle with the monster he returns to his small hometown where everyone thinks he’s bat shit crazy and his father is on the verge of a mental breakdown himself. He soon learns that his younger brother Paulie has also been terrorized by the same evil force for the last two years.
The movie takes it’s time to get to the real action, but the movie doesn’t lose steam at any point. It’s well shot, well acted and pretty dang creepy. Once the boys decide to make their stand the movie changes direction drastically and the films third and final act suddenly delivers a heavy dose of unexpected gore-which was a welcome surprise! The monster also looks great and the film is pretty much devoid of CG which gives it a much more organic old school feel which I personally love.
Once the creature appears the film jumps into hyper drive, without giving away too much it seems to have hatched from films like Poltergeist, The Gate & Insidious while still bringing something fresh and new to the suburban horror genre. I will definitely be looking for this on dvd when it’s released and I’m quite sure it will be one of my fave horror films of 2013. Right now you can see it VOD, so if you’re tired of the usual overblown, glittery, hype stuff summer blockbusters maybe it’s time to get back to the basics with a good old fashioned creature feature….