Stranger Things is the new Netflix original series that has taken the worlds of horror, sci-fi, and 80s film nostalgia by storm, and none other than Stephen King, the master of horror and one of the show creators’ primary influences, is a huge fan. If the incredibly positive reviews and word-of-mouth Stranger Things has been getting have not convinced you to binge-watch the eight hour show yet, King’s endorsement very well might.
The Duffer brothers, who directed Stranger Things, make it very clear even during the show’s roughly 50-minute long episodes that it is definitely a King homage by throwing many references to Stephen King works into the dialogue and general concepts of the show.
For example, one of the show’s characters references the Stephen King book Cujo, while another one is heard asking “You ever read any Stephen King?” when describing the supposed telekinetic powers of another main character. Those very powers take inspiration from Carrie White and Charlie McGee, protagonists penned by King.
The boyhood camaraderie aspect of Stranger Things’ central plot also inspired the casting director to ask the boys trying out for the leads to read lines from hugely successful Stephen King movie adaptation Stand By Me, points out Vulture. Even the font used for the show’s title card is the same one used on several vintage Stephen King book covers, the most notable being Needful Things, says Inverse.
And lo and behold, the Duffer brothers’ pandering to one of their horror idols did not fall on deaf ears; the praise Stephen King has been voicing for the show on his active Twitter account is beyond what anyone could have expected.
“Watching Stranger Things is looking watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way,” King posted on Sunday.
When an author as impossibly successful as Stephen King actually comes out and says a third-party body of work belongs right beside his own greatest novels (of which there are nearly 70 in total, along with 200 short stories), you know it is really, really close to that author’s style. After all, Stephen King is basically saying that Stranger Things is like one of his books in TV show form — what else is there to say?
Well, as Stephen King demonstrated, there are also the performances of the show’s actors to praise. King was wild about the work on the series by Winona Ryder, who took on her first TV role. He also took the opportunity to shower the show with more praise.
“Stranger Things is pure fun. A+. Don’t miss it. Winona Ryder shines,” King posted.
That certainly speaks pretty well to Ryder’s performance, as it strongly suggests she nailed one of the hardest things for an actor to do on a series like this: embody the vibe the show’s creators were going for. In other words, a Stephen King vibe.
Even long before its release, Stranger Things was hyped as an amalgamation of a Steven Spielberg movie and a Stephen King novel, and King was one of the foremost members of the very large hype train on board with that idea.
“My only question about the Netflix series Stranger Things is whether or not it will be popular enough to crash their servers. It might be,” one of King’s posts read.
Well, no, Stranger Things did not crash Netflix, but it certainly did not disappoint, either. As Vox writes, the series is certainly a bit cliche and utilizes a boatload of tropes seen many times before in classic coming-of-age thriller TV shows and books. Many of those tropes, though, were originated in Stephen King masterpieces like It and The Body. The creators of Stranger Things reused those tropes, but they did it in a way that felt fresh and interesting to create a product that intrigued even King himself.
Have you watched Stranger Things yet? If so, what did you think? Did you enjoy the Stephen King-esque vibe? And if you have not seen it, you can click here to stream it from Netflix.
[Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images]