If any magic spell could be powerful enough to bring Barb back from the Upside Down, it would be the four words Steven Spielberg just uttered regarding Stranger Things: "I'm their biggest fan." Unfortunately, he followed it up with "... especially Season 2," which, unless you count awkward chicken dinner with Momma and Pappa Barb, and Belated Barb Funeral, means no #Justice4Barb — at least just yet.
The Ready Player One director let slip his Stranger Things obsession in the newest issue of Empire magazine, in which he was asked whether he sees his influence in films and TV shows made by others. Then he seemingly leapt at the chance to praise Stranger Things.
"I do see my influence when it's as well done as something like Stranger Things," said the director, who with films such as E.T. and The Goonies is widely acknowledged as the wizard who wove '80s childhood film into the collective unconscious. After pledging his allegiance to Stranger Things, he went on: "I'm completely flattered, because they got it right. The Duffer Brothers and Shawn Levy didn't steal the formula — they just figured out the formula."
Well, a nod from the godfather of kids-on-bikes drama certainly turns Stranger Things fandom up to eleven.
As for his own groundbreaking work in the genre, E.T., the director also reveals that he had no idea he was on the verge of creating a world that would still be mined for wonder so many decades later. He released both E.T. and Poltergeist (which he produced, and which also featured a child protagonist) in the summer of 1982, and as he recalls, he expected Poltergeist would be the bigger hit.
"I actually thought Poltergeist would be much more commercial than E.T. I thought audiences wanted to be scared more than they wanted to be charmed."
Or, as in Stranger Things and also in many of the Spielberg classics, maybe a little of both. Give us the Gremlin and the Mogwai, please.