Stranger Things season 3 was released less than a week ago (You can read Tori’s season 3 review here), so at this point, you’ve probably already blown through all eight episodes, and are looking for more ’80s goodness. Now, my original idea of posting a bunch of ’80s-inspired YouTube videos of me dancing sweatily to Whitney Houston while I occasionally ran out of breath or pant through the song “look…at…us…we’re…having…fun!” was nixed, I’ll have to give you the next best thing: a list of other TV shows and movies (and a bonus book thrown in for good measure) to get you through the lean times until season 4 pops up, whenever that may be.
Here’s the deal, I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting the obvious choices of The Goonies, Back to the Future, or Stand By Me, here. We’re in season 3, you know all of these. No, friends, I’m going to dip into my bag of tricks and offer up some deep cuts you probably haven’t thought about in a long time (or ever, if you’re a “youth.”) Please note, I was going to include Moonlighting, because it’s an awesome show about solving mysteries, but it isn’t available to stream anywhere, so if you come across a DVD set for sale that isn’t ridiculously expensive, buy it and thank me later.
There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t softly sing to myself while doing something “connect the dots, la la la….” Pee-wee’s Playhouse is the ultimate ’80s show, and is still enjoyable as an adult, although there is a lot of screaming, which I wasn’t prepared for.
You can stream the show on Netflix. Unfortunately, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure isn’t available to stream for free right now, but honestly, it’s worth the cost of the rental to never make the stupid mistake of asking to go to the basement in the Alamo again.
You Can’t Do That On Television
Look, you’re not an ’80s (or early ’90s) kid unless you secretly wondered what it was like to get slimed. Ever want to know where that glorious Nickelodeon tradition stems from? Look no further than You Can’t Do That on Television. It was a sketch show that aired on Nickelodeon well into the ’90s (it ran original episodes from 1979-1990, but they juiced that series for years after 1990) and is known for not only dumping slime on anyone who said “I don’t know” but also splashing water on you if you said “water.” Alanis Morrissette was on the show for a bit, see if you can spot her in YouTube clips, which is where you have to catch this show, but it’s worth it.
…never mind, there she is.
This too is an ’80s classic, and while it doesn’t have anything to do with a monster who eats teenagers, it does have fraggles who live below ground, so that’s kind of like the Upsidedown, right? Anyway, Fraggle Rock needs no justification to be on any list of good shows. It simply is a good show.
Adventures in Babysitting
So, this is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the one I watch just as often as Con Air. It has everything you’re looking for: ’80s hilarious hi-jinks, suburban kids being chased by an organized crime syndicate, and Keith Coogan kicking Bradley Whitford in the ass, into a dessert tray. Don’t worry, he had it coming.
While this frequently pops up on one of the big 3 streaming services (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon) it’s only available to rent right now, but honestly? We had to rent in the ’80s (if the damn video was even in stock. Ask your parents about that anguish.) so this will just add verisimilitude to the entire experience.
The Last Star Fighter
An ordinary boy is called to become an intergalactic space pilot because the arcade video game he loves turns out to be a training program to seek out excellent pilots to go fight evil space aliens. Sure, that kind of sounds like the plot to Jupiter Ascending, but it’s also the plot to The Last Starfighter. Look, this era was all about ordinary boys getting into extraordinary situations, and sometimes, girls were there, too. This is another entry into that pantheon.
You can rent it on the streaming platform of your choice. Make it a double feature by also renting Space Camp, which stars Joaquin Phoenix back when he went by “Leaf.”
Yes. That is Mariska Hargitay. Yes. That is a movie about weird ghoulies who pop up in a mansion after a satanic ritual gone wrong, all those years ago. Now stop reading about it, and go watch this hot mess of a movie, OK? It’s gloriously ’80s, and definitely has a Stranger Things vibe to it.
You can stream Ghoulies on Prime, so that’s good news!
Flight of the Navigator
This movie was always on TV when I was a kid, and yet I can only remember the last 10 minutes of the movie, go figure. Basically, a kid discovers aliens on earth, shenanigans ensue, and Sarah Jessica Parker is there also. If that doesn’t sell you on this, nothing will.
It’s a Disney movie, when they still made kids’ live-action movies that weren’t just remakes of their animated movies, so don’t expect anything like dead Barb to pop up, but do expect some sweet animatronic robot aliens.
You can rent Flight of the Navigator on the platform of your choice.
I mean, look, I love Fear Street books, so if you’re not familiar with that glorious trash series by R.L. Stine, go check it out. For those of you who already are well acquainted with Stine’s work, I suggest “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix, about a bff pair of teenagers and the trials they face when one of them gets possessed by a demon after swimming in a lake. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read in the past 5 years, and it takes place in the ’80s, so win!
Well, there you have it. Leave your own Stranger Things-withdrawal pop culture touchstones in the comments, and any questions you might have about how truly awesome Popples or Pillow People were.
Header Image Source: Netflix/YouTube