Stranger Things is a loving, fantastically unsubtle homage to classic horror and a nostalgic return to 1983, a time when kids rode their bikes alone at night and the best films had synth-laden soundtracks. Stephen King is arguably the strongest influence in the series, from the title sequence based directly on his book covers to the narratives popularized in their film adaptations, especially Firestarter and Stand by Me. Writers/Directors the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, obviously watched a lot of Stephen Spielberg—that bike chase scene is straight out of E.T. There are also nods to John Carpenter, especially The Thing, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, and the entire Alien franchise.
Season one of Stranger Things was basically a checklist of visual references to horror classics, and the upcoming season looks to continue the trend. Just take a look at those promotional posters based on classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Evil Dead. In advance of tomorrow’s premiere, here are a few of the most prominent references in Stranger Things you need to know.