During the Super Bowl there was a moment that lead to a great many people crying. I’m not talking about the first half when the Patriots were getting clobbered. Or the second half when the Patriots came back from what seemed like an impossible deficit to overcome. I’m talking about when the trailer for STRANGER THINGS season 2 aired, and so many innocents learned that it would be nearly 9 months before they could see Eleven and the gang in a new adventure.
The cries were so loud, and lasted for so long, that there were some who wondered if this would become the normal state of the world until Halloween. In time, the yelling died down, but even now if you go to your local supermarket and watch the frozen breakfast aisle, you’ll see men, women, and children walk by the Eggos and sigh, a tear forming in their eye.
I can’t take it. I can’t idly stand by while so many suffer for so long! No! I, your friendly Blumhouse freelance writer, like so many intrepid writers before me, must do all I can to help the people of the world! That is why I have dove deep into the annals of entertainment to find a few things that could help tide you over. Some of these may seem like odd choices. Some of them may appear to be in no way related to STRANGER THINGS, but I promise you, they all share connective tissue. Perhaps it is the innocence of the kids, or the homages to Stephen King, or the sense of 80s independence. Hell, it could be something deeper and more primal than I can put into words. The point is, these are all awesome things that can help you keep your sanity while you count down the days to STRANGER THINGS season 2.
Let’s do this…
GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE
This British comedy series isn’t just a perfect spoof of Stephen King, but of horror TV in the 70s and 80s. The series, a TV show created by and starring famed horror writer Garth Marenghi (Matthew Holness) is only six episodes, but they are endlessly rewatchable, if only to pick up on the jokes you missed from laughing the first seven times you watched the show. Along with Holness is the show co-creator Richard Ayoade, better known for the popular series THE IT CROWD, Matt Berry, also from THE IT CROWD, as well as THE MIGHTY BOOSH and SNUFF BOX, and Alice Lowe, co-writer of SIGHTSEERS.
FIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
Growing up in the 80s, it was impossible to find a kid who didn’t love FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, which is impressive since it was kind of a box office dud. I suppose HBO turned it into a cult classic. The plot is quite a mouthful, see if you can follow…
David is a 12 year old boy who hits his head and goes unconscious in 1978 only to wake up in 1986 to find that while he’s still 12, time has progressed 8 years. During the time David was missing, an alien ship crashed on Earth and is taken by NASA for experimentation. The ship telepathically reaches out to David for help – David, as it turns out, was abducted by aliens and spent the last 8 years on another planet, and the information to get the ship back to it’s planet lies in David’s mind.
The military, looking to create a super soldier, builds a super intelligent robot boy. Why they choose to build a robot boy instead of a robot man is something you’ll need to watch the movie to find out. The robot boy, named D.A.R.Y.L. (Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform) is so convincing as a real child that one of the scientists working on the project helps Daryl escape the military base he’s kept on.
Daryl is found and taken to an orphanage where he’s taken in by a foster family. His life as a normal boy doesn’t last long – the military tracks Daryl down and brings him back to the base where they plan to terminate him. I am a huge fan of D.A.R.Y.L. but aside from me and Roger Ebert, it seems like no one else dug it. All the same, I don’t want to ruin the third act, which is real crazy if you ask me.
I have to be honest, I haven’t seen MOMO since I was maybe 11 or 12, but I remember it being real weird. The movie, based on the book by Michael Ende (who also wrote THE NEVERENDING STORY) is about a homeless girl named Momo. Momo is a super awesome listener, and the people of the city she lives in love to tell her their problems, though I guess they don’t love it enough to give her a home.
When the Men in Grey arrive, things get kooky. The Men in Grey work for the Timesavings Bank, which claims to save time for people. Like, literal time. You give them time from your life and they hold it for you. Your saved time gathers interest so that when you need it, you have more time. Sounds great, but these guys being called the Men in Grey should make it clear they aren’t nice.
Again, haven’t seen the movie in ages, but I remember it being really cool. If you can find it, give it a go. While I couldn’t find the trailer in english, I know that the movie was dubbed for American audiences.
ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
Everyone knows this one. Kids with superpowers are chased by the goons of a rich dude who wants to use their powers to get richer. If you didn’t grow up with ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, I kinda feel bad for you.
Like ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, I feel like this one doesn’t need much of a description. If you’re on this site you have at least heard of the adventures of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigate the unsolvable cases that no one else wants. This is the show that made us all want to believe.
Growing up, all my friends loved THE GOONIES, but I kinda hated it. These days I really hate it, which is why you won’t find it here. Bunch of screaming kids being mean to a Spanish cleaning lady and making a fat kid shake his belly. Screw those jerks.
While everyone wanted to hang out with Sloth, I was all about Wak and Neek from EXPLORERS. Directed by Joe Dante and starring River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, and Jason Presson, the movie is about three kids who build a spaceship and head off to explore the universe, though they don’t get far before being taken in by some friendly aliens on a bigger ship. With a shared love of TV, the aliens and the kids have a great time hanging out in space, which is my ultimate dream – watching TV in space.
Dick Miller is also in this, but once I said it was directed by Joe Dante you already figured that out.
Of every movie and TV series here, TIME BANDITS has the most messed up ending, but then the whole movie is a nightmare hidden inside a child’s fantasy. Written by Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, with Gilliam directing, I suppose it isn’t surprising that two members of Monty Python would make one of the most messed up kids movies of all time.
If you’ve somehow missed it, TIME BANDITS deals with a kid named Kevin getting caught up in the poorly planned get rich quick scheme of a group of mystical dwarves who are using a map to travel through time and steal lots of gold. As they’re chased by the Supreme Being and an evil being aptly named Evil, the Time Bandits bounce around time trying to keep from getting killed.
THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE
This one I almost left off. I considered replacing it with EERIE, INDIANA, but you can read all about that here. I also thought about FREAKS AND GEEKS, which is all about teens in the 80s and is well worth checking out. In the end, I had to give it to the Wrigleys.
THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE isn’t sci-fi or horror, though it does goof on both genres from time to time. In the end, I decided to include this show about two brothers with the same first name because it encapsulates something the other shows and movies here don’t; a universe where kids and adults are treated as near equals. On STRANGER THINGS the kids are never pushed away by the adults; the two groups work together to figure out what is going on, and I really appreciated that. On THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE, the kids are treated as rivals to the adults, but equal rivals. The kid revolution, with it’s leader Little Pete, isn’t laughed off by the parents, but taken as a serious battle, and I love it.
Also, THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE is just awesome. Watch it and enjoy.
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK
For a lot of you, ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK was likely your introduction to horror. This kids horror anthology series ran for seven seasons and has quite the following to this day. I must admit that I can’t remember most of the episodes these days, but I do recall one about a hippie girl in a high school who ended up being a ghost.
With guest appearances from Bobcat Goldthwait, Neve Campbell, Gilbert Gottfried, Ryan Gosling and others, you never know what young face you’ll see when you put an episode on. What fun!
So there you go. These shows and movies should help you deal with the long wait for STRANGER THINGS season two. If they don’t help, maybe try a self-induced coma*
*Blumhouse does not suggest you try a self-induced coma. This is a joke. If you do it, your family can’t sue us.
*Header Photo: STRANGER THINGS; Netflix