Much has been made of the numerous '80s references contained in the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, further encouraging nostalgic fans to binge watch the adventures of Eleven and her newfound friends.
From Aliens and Poltergeist to more realistic fare like Stand By Me and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Stranger Things is chock full of little easter eggs that are fun to look out for, but of all the influences that have impacted Stranger Things, Stephen King's sizeable body of work looms large over the rest.
While this may have been obvious to many fans who watched the show, what you may not have realised is that the connections between King and the Duffer Brothers are far more tangible than they first appear.
Imagine A World Without Stranger Things...
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the creators of Stranger Things revealed that before they began work on their '80s homage, the Duffer Brothers tried to pitch their own take on the new reboot of Stephen King's It:
“We asked, and that’s why we ended up doing this, because we’d asked Warner Brothers. I was like, “Please,” and they were like, “No.” This was before Cary Fukunaga. This was a long time ago,” Matt explains. His brother, Ross, elaborates, stating, “When we asked to do it was before, then he got on it afterwards because he’s established. So, he got on it and we were excited just because we’re huge fans of what he does, and one of the few people who hasn’t made a bad movie.”
Were The Duffer Brothers Disappointed To Miss Out On 'It'?
Despite their obvious passion for all things King, the Duffer Brothers also felt understandably reticent at the prospect of tackling such a huge and widely loved project:
“How do you do ‘It’ in two hours? Even if you’re separating the kids, how do you do that right?” You don’t really fall in love with them the same way you’re going to when I read that book.”
The two brothers do have a point. After all, It truly is one of King's largest projects — the story of four childhood friends taking on the evil Pennywise is an epic tale that spans two separate time periods across over 1000 pages. As excited as we are for the upcoming reboot, it won't be easy to condense all of the characterization into a theatrical release. It looks like the The Duffer Brothers echo this sentiment;
“It’s like, “Could you be truer to the sensibilities of It if you had eight or ten hours?” We thought that you probably could more than if you were confined to two hours. At least that’s how we made ourselves feel better about not getting the movie adaptation. We still would have done it, obviously. I’m really excited about that movie. I think it will be cool.”
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Was the Original 'It' a Perfect Movie?
The pair went on to discuss the problems with the original TV movie, including the giant spider reveal at the end and that problematic gang bang from the novel. Ultimately, the brothers expressed relief that they didn't take on a classic Stephen King story and potentially ruin it:
"It would make me nervous. I like that it's our own original story that's inspired by this stuff, but if we screw it up we're not screwing up anybody else's work. You know what I mean? It's all our material. I would feel really nervous doing something, especially something like one of Stephen King's classic books that meant a lot to me, because there would be nothing worse than screwing that up."
Instead, the Duffer Brothers did the next best thing and lovingly paid homage to King through numerous references in Stranger Things. Remember when Nancy claws her way out of the Upside Down like Carrie, and isn't Firestarter's Charlie essentially just Eleven with hair?
The Influence Of 'It' Can Be Seen All Over Stranger Things
Perhaps because they were disappointed to miss out on directing It, echoes of Stephen King's classic novel can be seen throughout the eight episodes of Stranger Things. You could even make the case that Stranger Things is a loose remake of the It original TV movie.
The idea of childhood friends banding together to make sense of the world and stand up for themselves isn't uncommon in King's work. But in Stranger Things and It, this theme is taken further- the friendships forged in both are integral to their respective plots.
That's not all though. Both It and Stranger Things kick off after a child goes missing, both feature monsters that rise up from the sewers and a slingshot proves instrumental in the defeat of both Pennywise and the Demigorgon. It's almost like the Duffer Brothers wanted to make their own version of It without being sued by Stephen King's estate.
Let's just hope that the Duffer Brothers don't take this idea even further in Season Two of Stranger Things by throwing in a bizarre, clown-like creature who emerges from the Upside Down. These clowns are terrifying enough, thanks!