Chapter Two - Trick or Treat, Freak
E.T. - Wishing to go trick or treating, Eleven wears a sheet with a couple of eyeholes cut out, pretending to be a ghost and explaining that in this costume no one would recognize her. In the film, E.T., this is exactly what’s done to keep E.T. hidden, obscuring his very obvious alien-ness with a simple ghost costume.
Ghostbusters - Even though El can’t go trick or treating, the boys do, dressing up as the characters from that summer’s biggest hit, Ghostbusters: Spengler, Stantz, Venkman and Venkman. Yes, two Venkmans, with both Mike and Lucas dressing as Bill Murray's character. Their costumes are really top notch, with proton packs and everything. Dustin even has a replica of the trap the Ghostbusters use to trap ghosts, using it to contain another creepy creature later on.
The Evil Dead - Back to El for the moment, the second episode reveals that she has been living with Sheriff Hopper in his family’s old cabin. It is literally a cabin in the woods, but it’s bears some resemblance to the cabin from Sam Raimi’s horror film, The Evil Dead starring Bruce Campbell.
The Terminator - The T-800 makes an appearance while El is watching television, showing up in an commercial for the film, which as we saw in episode one, is now playing.
All My Children - After channel surfing, El lands on an episode of the daytime soap opera, All My Children, quoting the dialogue of Susan Lucci’s character, Erica and David Canary’s Adam.
“Very Own Chinatown” - While at the precinct, Hopper’s fellow officers refer to the situation of farmers accusing each other of poisoning their crops as Hopper’s “very own Chinatown.” What they’re most likely referring to is the 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson in where a P.I. becomes involved with a dispute over water reservoirs in southern California, somewhat mirroring the dispute Hopper is overseeing between the farmers.
The Karate Kid - At the Halloween party that Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan attend, one of Billy's friends is dressed as Daniel LaRusso's nemesis, Johnny Lawrence from 1984's The Karate Kid. You can even hear someone utter the line the film, "Leave him alone, man - he's had enough!"
Madonna - Another girl at the party is dressed as Madonna from her infamous 1984 MTV Music Awards performance of "Like A Virgin", which would have only aired in September.
Risky Business - Steve and Nancy's costumes are of Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay's characters from this 1983 romantic comedy.
Animal House - There's yet another boy at the part dressed similarly, though not exactly, to John Belushi's toga-wearing character from Animal House. He's the one calling the punch, "Pure fuel!"
Radio Shack - It’s revealed in this episode that Joyce’s boyfriend, Bob works at Radio Shack, even suggesting if they were to move he could likely be relocated to another Radioshack in another city. Like Family Video, Radio Shacks and their stock of electronics are a relic of their time, but in 1984 they would have been all over the country.
Halloween - Max eventually joins the boys for trick or treating, at first scaring them with her Mike Myer’s mask from the 1978 film, Halloween. In fact, there would have been three Halloween films by the year this season of Stranger Things is taking place.
Frankenstein - El watches a lot of TV throughout this episode, including the 1933 Universal original, Frankenstein. The scene playing has the monster meeting a little girl, joining her in throwing flower petals into a lake, and once he’s run out of petals, tossing in the girl. It’s a scene illustrating how naive the monster is but also how dangerous, possibly intended as a little commentary on El herself.
Friday the 13th - While trick or treating, Will is harassed by some older teens wearing masks - one of which is the hockey mask made famous by Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th franchise. Earlier in the year, the fourth film in the series - Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - would have released. (It was by no means the final chapter.)
Poltergeist - When El is sitting in front of the television and it turns to static, she uses its white noise to recreate the sensory deprivation tanks from her time at Hawkins Lab. What it’s visually reminiscent of is the scene in 1982’s Poltergeist where the young girl in that film, Carol Anne is sitting in front of static television; the infamous “They’re here,” scene.
Music From This Episode: Ray Park Jr.'s "Ghostbusters"; Ted Nugent's "Wango Tango"; Mötley Crüe's "Shout At The Devil"; Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers' "Islands In The Stream"; Bobby Picket's "Monster Mash"; Duran Duran's "Girls On Film"
Chapter Three - The Pollywog
Gremlins - At the start of the episode, it’s revealed that what Dustin discovered in his trash can is a small, slimy lizard creature. He names it D’artagnan after the Three Musketeers bar he feeds it, deciding to keep it as pet. This isn’t all that different from the premise of the 1984 film, Gremlins, in which a teen has a strange creature of his own, a mogwai named Gizmo, and winds up with quite the handful when it spawns more mogwai and they run amok all over town.
E.T. - The lost alien from Spielberg's film make a cameo as a figure (or possible stuffed toy) on Dustin’s dresser next to the aquarium he puts D’artagnan in. There’s also another toy next to it, which is either a He-Man figure or a wrestler action figure. Your guess is as good as ours.
1984 Election - With Stranger Things season 2 taking place right at the end of October, the upcoming election is only weeks away. In addition to the lawn signs, a “Vote Here Sign” can be seen outside of the Hawkins public library. There’s also a photo of President Reagan seen in the school later on, another reminder of the impending election.
Nightmare on Elm Street - When comforting Will and offering him advice, Bob shares his own childhood nightmare involving a character he calls, Mr. Baldo. Though not exactly the same, the idea of a scary man frightening kids while they dream bears at least a little similarity to Freddy Krueger, the monster from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series who torments teens and children in their dreams.
Star Wars - Once the boys have their suspicion that D'art is from the Upside Down, Dustin still doesn't want to believe his new discovery is evil, to which Mike makes the analogy, "That's like saying, 'Just because someone's from the Death Star, doesn't make them bad.'"
Music From This Episode: Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around With Jim"; The Psychedelic Furs' "The Ghost In You";