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Jul 21 2016

Pick Your Poison: The Hallmark Homages of Stranger Things

Daniel Crookehere.For the past two weeks,I've walled myself off from any pop cultural offering that doesn't include the letters LGBT while working around the clock atOutfest Los Angeles,our seminal,international queer film festival here in the City of Angels.Naturally the only external filmic force strong enough to infiltrate this border includes the words Winona Ryder.Slay,queen,slay.

I too have taken a long,hungry taste of the ananchronistic (and extra-colorful) Kool-Aid that is Netflix's '80s-setStranger Things,the sci-fi outing that investigates a humdrum Indiana small town as a local young 'un mysteriously disappears in their midsts without warning.Much has been made of the homage-heavy layers that bake into its Spielbergian,Carpenteresque,Lynchian,and Stephen King-adjacent baklava;although the reason it succeeds beyond the hat-tip recipe can be found within the rich,nitty gritty filling of its heart-achingly true familial dynamics,of whichSuper 8would have been smart to expand upon beyond the basic ingredients.So let's take a big bite and revel in its delicious influences.My personal favorite so far - despite Ryder's irresistible parallel to Melinda Dillon's momma bear on a misson fromClose Encounters of the Third Kind- goes beyond bicycles and plunges the references to disturbing depths.

Jonathan's secret photo shoot in the woods recallsBlue Velvet's voyeuristic view from the closet;despite their quests for homegrown veracity,neither he nor Jeffrey were invited to the peep shows of a teenage pool party or a transgressive Rossellini-Hopper assault,but they've shown up in the shadows nonetheless.And yet we're still glad to be in on the drama.We've spent some time getting to know the traumatic roots of their curiosity via their displaced family units but these Peeping Toms challenge that sympathy through sensually clandestine invasions of personal space.

Apart from the bedroom posters ofThe ThingandEvil Dead,whichStranger Thingsvisual reference sets your bicycle afloat?

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Reader Comments (4)

Even though it's full of 80s references/nostalgia,my favorite visual cue has to be the repeated call out to Under the Skin whenever Eleven enters the sensory deprivation tank.I had actually thought the actress resembled ScarJo before the first of those scenes even occurred.

July 21,2016 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Three boys and a girl in the 80s walking along the railroad tracks in search of a "dead,but possibly not dead"body,similar to four boys in the 50s (but filmed in the 80s) walking along the railroad tracks in search of a "dead,really dead"body.LOL

July 21,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Stand by Me!!!!

July 21,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo

There's somePoltergeistflavors.And definitelyUnder the Skin.

And the casting + hair/makeup/costuming was delicious.Although Jonathan and Steve looked like teenaged Norman Reedus and Ken Marino.

July 24,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

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