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‘Stranger Things’: An ’80s love affair

“Stranger Things” is a popular Netflix original series produced by 21 Laps Entertainment. It is directed by the Duffer Brothers (“Hidden,” “Wayward Pines”) and stars David Harbour and Winona Ryder.

If you love the 1980s and all the culture of that time, “Stranger Things” is worth a watch.

Movies like “E.T.,” “Poltergeist” and “The Gate” that captured viewers’ imaginations and carry childhood memories are clearly major influences for this popular Web series. Ryder is highly believable as a distraught mother, willing to go to any lengths (even if considered insane) to help her son.

Harbour is fantastic as a grumpy sheriff and father figure.

It’s hard not to compare this show with the aforementioned greats of filmmaking, but the influences of horror are weirder than the grueling gore shows that are popular today.

For those with a more refined taste in horror, the show is a throwback to the early writings of H.P. Lovecraft from the early 1930s, with the main plot line of extra-dimensional beings crossing over into our reality. Add the modern aspect of government andcorporate cover-ups, and the show becomes a thoroughbred of sci-fi horror.

The show is centered around a group of odd friends, the typical ’80s nerds in love with Dungeons and Dragons and all things geeky.

Two things immediately happen: One, a mysterious child in a hospital gown named “Eleven” (played by Millie Bobby Brown) with incredible psychic abilities befriends the group. Two, one of the friends, Will (played by Finn Wolfhard) disappears into what is later described as “the upside down,” another dimension that parallels our own. These two individuals are the primary focus of strange things that go in the town.

In the best tradition of Stephen King-style storytelling, horror is not far away, and the hunt is on for Ryder’s character as she looks for her son after his disappearance.

What seems like a ghostly visitation from Will becomes an obsession of making contact with him from some unknown place. The result is much like the ones familiar with “Poltergeist.”

The town begins to be plagued with many odd occurrences and more disappearances. The “upside down” is bleeding into our reality, and monsters are unleashed upon the town’s residents. The only ones who have a clue are this childhood group that can’t seem to get adults to listen.

With two seasons done and a third installment eagerly expected next year, “Stranger Things” promises to be as influential to the new Web series format as “Avatar” was to 3D-film making, with a planned five to six seasons. So, grab your high tops and role-playing dice, things are about to get strange.

To reach Brian Fitz-Gerald email him at bfitz-gerald@rosebudmedia.com.

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