Daniel Crooke here. For the past two weeks, I've walled myself off from any pop cultural offering that doesn't include the letters LGBT while working around the clock at Outfest Los Angeles, our seminal, international queer film festival here in the City of Angels. Naturally the only external filmic force strong enough to infiltrate this border includes the words Winona Ryder. Slay, queen, slay.
I too have taken a long, hungry taste of the ananchronistic (and extra-colorful) Kool-Aid that is Netflix's '80s-set Stranger Things, the sci-fi outing that investigates a humdrum Indiana small town as a local young 'un mysteriously disappears in their midsts without warning. Much has been made of the homage-heavy layers that bake into its Spielbergian, Carpenteresque, Lynchian, and Stephen King-adjacent baklava; although the reason it succeeds beyond the hat-tip recipe can be found within the rich, nitty gritty filling of its heart-achingly true familial dynamics, of which Super 8 would have been smart to expand upon beyond the basic ingredients. So let's take a big bite and revel in its delicious influences. My personal favorite so far - despite Ryder's irresistible parallel to Melinda Dillon's momma bear on a misson from Close Encounters of the Third Kind - goes beyond bicycles and plunges the references to disturbing depths.
Jonathan's secret photo shoot in the woods recalls Blue Velvet's voyeuristic view from the closet; despite their quests for homegrown veracity, neither he nor Jeffrey were invited to the peep shows of a teenage pool party or a transgressive Rossellini-Hopper assault, but they've shown up in the shadows nonetheless. And yet we're still glad to be in on the drama. We've spent some time getting to know the traumatic roots of their curiosity via their displaced family units but these Peeping Toms challenge that sympathy through sensually clandestine invasions of personal space.
Apart from the bedroom posters of The Thing and Evil Dead, which Stranger Things visual reference sets your bicycle afloat?