List Of 80s References In 'Suzie, Do You Copy?' - Stranger Things 3, Episode 1

80s Expert
By Gareth Bellamy
July 04, 2019 6:00 AM ‐ TelevisionStranger ThingsNetflixLong Reads
Stranger Things Season 3 - Chapter 1
June 28, 1984: Dustin returns to Hawkins after a month away and excitedly tells his friends about his new love interest, Suzie from Utah, who is apparently a genius and hotter than Phoebe Cates. While trying to contact Suzie via Dustin's huge ham radio tower, "Cerebro", the gang intercept a coded Russian message.

Spotted any 80s references in Stranger Things season three we've missed out? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.

80s Alert: Opening scene

The scene where the two Russian scientists need two keys to activate ‘the device' at the start of this season strongly references a similar scene from the Matthew 'Ferris Bueller' Broderick starring 1983 film Wargames, where two air force personnel are required to turn keys simultaneously in order to launch nuclear missiles.

70s Alert: Scientist strangled

We thought this looked a bit like Darth Vader strangling the rebel soldier at the start of the original Star Wars from 1977, raising him off the ground then leaving him to plop onto the floor.

Set in Russia, so maybe that fan theory about a Chernobyl tie-in wasn't so wide of the mark?

80's Alert: Russia & USA

Putting this in context, although 1984 puts us into a heightened state of international tension as Russia and the USA were locked in a nuclear arms race. A race that Russia, or the USSR as it was then, including all the countries it had as ‘pact' with, would eventually lose. But not before both countries had spent decades trying to out-compete each other with ever more powerful weapons. That this season opens with the Russians trying to access the potential power of the Upside Down.

80s Music: Corey Hart – Never Surrender

While Mike and Eleven Kissing. Bang on schedule, this power ballad was released by the Canadian singer in July 1985, reaching number 1 in Canada and number 3 in the USA. (It didn't chart in the UK!). Taken from Hart's album, Boy in the Box, It was one of the big tracks of the summer that year in North America. Power ballads aren't really around much anymore, you can think of them as slowed down rock songs where the singer attempts to sing something ‘deep and meaningful' to their audience, usually about how in love they are, or how the person who loved them has left them and now they feel sad. So, a good track to soundtrack a teenage kiss! Corey Hart is best known for his single ‘Sunglasses at Night', which featured in season 1 of Stranger Things.

80s Alert: Magnum PI

Hopper is seen watching Magnum PI on television. Tom Selleck was HUGE in the early 80s. You might know him from playing Monica's love interest Richard Burke in Friends, but Selleck was the original first choice to play Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Director and writer George Lucas didn't think using Harrison Ford, by that time best known as Han Solo in the Star Wars films, in the Indie films. Although he screen-tested for the role, he'd already filmed a pilot for Magnum PI, and couldn't get out of the contract. Much though we love Tom's tache, we think Lucas made the right choice.

Having said that, Magnum PI, where Selleck played a private investigator on Hawaii, ran for 162 episodes between 1980-1988 and was consistently one of the most popular shows on US television, and was shown globally. Magnum PI is an 80s TV classic.

Stranger Things Music: Mike cycling to the Starcourt Mall
This track is called Starcourt from the long-running producers of Stranger Things incidental and theme music, Kyle Dixon and  Michael Stein.

80s Alert: The Mall

So we're all used to shopping malls now, but in the 80s these things were relatively news, and were therefore regularly featured on 80s films. So you'll see them popping up in such films as the Arnold Schwarzenegger starring Commando, Weird Science, The Blues Brothers and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

80s Alert: Cinema Posters

Stranger Things Day Of The Dead Poster

When the gang walk through the cinema after Steve lets them into the service walkways of the mall, they walk past posters for a number of films released in the summer of 1985.

Back To The Future – the Michael J Fox starring time travel movie.

Day of the Dead from noted zombie movie director George A Romero (Romero's 1978 film is famously set in a shopping mall, and is seen by many as a satire of capitalist consumerism. Yeah, perhaps, but also it's about people battling undead monsters in a shopping mall, something we guess we might see something of in this season of Stranger Things?)

Weird Science – A fantastically fun 1985 comic sci-fi film where two ‘nerds' use their computer programming skills to create their ideal woman in the form of the actress Kelly LeBrock. She arrives with seemingly magic powers to make all their teenage boys dreams come true.

Cocoon – Oscar winning sci-fi released in the summer of 1985, directed by Ron Howard, the film is about aliens returning to earth disguised as old people to collect their friends from 10,000 years ago who were stored in rock cocoons in the ancient kingdom of Atlantic. As good as it sounds.

Stranger Things Music: Power outage in the Starcourt Mall
This track is familiar, we've heard it before, it's called The Upside Down and is from the producers of Stranger Things music, Kyle Dixon and  Michael Stein.

80s Alert: Day of The Dead

Just to confirm, the film they're watching in the cinema is Day of the Dead. After the power comes back on and Will is freaked out with a flashback to his days in the Upside Down,  that's the films theme tune playing, Day of the Dead (Main Title), from John Harrison.

80s Music: Gentlemen Afterdark - Open The Door

Nancy and Jonathan waking up together. An indie rock band from Arizona who were active in the 1980s.

80s Alert: Posters on Jonathan's bedroom wall

REM – Murmur. The debut album from American alt-rockers REM was released in 1983. Featuring an iconic wall of weeds, this album regularly appears on rock critics ‘must have' lists. Before REM got chart-friendly with such hits as Shiny Happy People, they ploughed a more left-field line of hard-to-decipher lyrics set to an indie sound, so, perfect for Jonathan then.

Evil Dead film poster. This 1981 horror film from Sam Raimi was one of the original ‘video nasties', films that were deemed so horrifying for the newly emerging home video market, that copies of the videos were seized from rental shops across the UK. Of course, this just increased demand form the film and ‘black market' copies were hugely popular.

Dustin on the walkie talkie - he says "Gold Leader returning to base"  - references both the original Star Was film, used by the Y Wing fighter pilot leader, and is the callsign used by Lando in the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.

80s Alert: Toys

Stranger Things 80s Retro Robot Toy

The toys coming to life in Dustin's room. A very clear reference to Steven Spielberg's 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and perhaps a bit of a nod to Poltergeist, the 1982 film which Spielberg produced, which again featured a couple of scenes where toys apparently come to life.

Some of the toys we spotted in Dustin's room included R2D2 from Star Wars, the Transformer Ultra Magnus, a Ghostbusters poster, a clapping monkey (as seen in Close Encounters)

Dustin grabs a can of Farrah Fawcett hairspray to defend himself. You'll recall Steve Harrington sharing his haircare tips with Dustin in one of season two's more unlikely moments. Farrah Fawcett was a very popular glamorous actor in the 70s and 80s, best known perhaps for her role in the Charlie's Angels.

Cerebro - Dustin's device is named after a fictional device in Marvel's X-Men, specifically a device which can be used to identify mutant humans.

80s Music: Stray Cats – Rock This Town

Playing at Hawkins Community Pool. The Stray Cats, despite sounding like they're of the Elvis era of 1950s rock, are an American band formed in 1979, and first saw success in the UK. This track was released originally in the UK in 1981, and in the US in 1982. They've got a new album out this year, Cat fans!

Billy calling a kid lard ass - has to be a nod to the use of this name in Stand By Me, the Rob Reiner film which is based on a Stephen King short story.

80s Alert: New Coke

Pictured slurping a refreshingly cold beverage by the pool is Nancy's mum, Karen Wheeler. New Coke was an attempt by the Coca Cola company to fight losing market share by re-launching their product with a new formulation. It bombed, and has been used as an example of not messing with a winning formula since then.

80s Alert: Tender is the Storm by Johanna Lindsey

Mrs Wheeler's book – Tender is the Storm by Johanna Lindsey. A historical fiction book originally released in 1985, think of it as a bodice ripper.

80s Music: The Cars – Moving in Stereo

 As Billy struts poolside, The Cars plays. Released in 1978, The Cars were a new wave American rock band active from 1976-1988. An instrumental version of this track appeared in classic 80s teen film Fast Times at Ridgmont High.

80s Music: Huey Lewis and The News – Workin' for a Livin'

While Nancy is hurrying to the newspaper office. Best known for their track ‘The Power of Love' which you'll know from Back To The Future, this track was a 1982 hit in the US for Mr Lewis and his ‘News'. The song is a good choice, as it was written about the working life of tricky jobs Huey had before he found success in a band. Something Jonthan and Nancy seem to be struggling with.

80s Alert: Hawkins Post

A local newspaper office in the pre-digital era of the mid 80s. All the journalists are using typewriters in the pre desktop publishing (DTP) era. Jonathan is in the dark room doing photo developing by hand using chemical baths and fixers. Time consuming, messy, and all swept away by digital photography.

80s Alert: Dustin's Inventions

Dustin invents an electric hammer he calls the slammer. This seems very similar to the ‘electric Hammer', one of the inventions from Billy Peltzer's inventive father in the 1984 film Gremlins. Which, as you'll recall, was about a small American town overrun by evil beasts.

80s Alert: Dustin's girlfriend

He mention's she looks like 'Phoebe Cates, only hotter'. Phoebe Cates is best known for starring in Gremlins, Drop Dead Fred and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and has been compared to Winona Ryder in both her appearance and film roles. 

80s Music: Foreigner – Hot Blooded

Stranger Things Season 3 - Chapter 1

Foreigner plays while Billy is on lifeguard duty. A 1978 hit in the US, reaching 3 on the billboard chart, but only peaking at 42 in the UK. Foreigner are perhaps best known for their 1981 power ballad ‘Waiting For a Girl Like You'.

Music: Vincenzo Salvia - Gigolo

Billy attempting to seduce Mrs Wheeler. The electro-pop track in the background here is from synthwave artist Vincenzo Salvia, called Italian Gigolo, although it sounds very 80s, it was only released in 2015.

Stranger Things Music: The gang putting up the radio mast
This is called ‘Kids Two' from the resident musical gurus for Stranger Things, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, first heard in season 1.

80s Alert: Cheers

Joyce settles down to watch one of the greatest sit-coms of all time after a day at work, still regularly hailed as a classic of the genre, it's Cheers, starring Ted Danson. Set in a Boston bar, the series ran for 275 episodes between 1982 to 1993. A minor character in Cheers got his own spin-off series in the form of Frasier. The series also starred Woody Harrelson who played an intellectually challenged barman.


80s Music: REO Speedwagon – Can't Fight This Feeling

REO Speedwagon – Can't Fight This Feeling, clearly power ballads are in, this 1985 hit from American rockers REO Speedwagon was taken from their 1984 album Wheels are Turnin'. It hit the top spot in the US charts, but still reached 16 in the UK, back in the days when getting into the top 20 still meant something in terms of sales.

80s Alert: Russian coded radio broadcast

The seemingly nonsensical broadcast Dustin picks up on the radio when trying to call his girlfriend, is based on fact. During the cold war, mysterious radio broadcasts playing music, followed by voices reading out a series of number sequences could be heard. You didn't need a special radio like Dustin, anyone could tune in. Referred to a numbers stations, nobody has ever admitted ownership of them or the purposes behind them. However, they are believed to be a way for countries to send messages in code to their agents. They've all stopped broadcasting now, replaced by the internet we'd guess, but several of them were tracked too deep within Russia, whilst a British station was believed to operate from a military base on Cyprus.

80s Music: Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died in Your Arms

While Mrs Wheeler is getting glammed up a slightly out of time this track from Cutting Crew plays, as it was released by the UK pop rocker Cutting Crew in 1986 in the UK, and early 87 in the US. It reached number 1 in the US and number 4 in the UK. A little bit yucky, but apparently the singer and songwriter of the track, Nick Van Ede, came up with the title for the song whilst having sex with his girlfriend. And yet we were told men can't multitask.

80s Alert: Steel Works

Near the end of the episode Billy crash his car into the Brimborn Steel Works. We couldn't help but think of the old Kitchener Ironworks of Derry, as featured in the works of Stephen King. It's one of the locations that ‘It' occupies in the form of a huge, monstrous bird, after an explosion kills 102 people including 88 children on an easter egg hunt.

On To Chapter Two

  • 80s References In Stranger Things 3, Episode 2

    July 05, 2019 6:00 AM

    While Max treats Eleven to a makeover at Hawkins' brand new Starcourt Mall, Steve and Dustin enlist the help of Robin, his workmate from Scoops Ahoy! ice cream shop, to crack the Russian code. Meanwhile, Nancy and Jonathan follow up a mysterious lead and come face-to-face with a diseased rat.

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