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SYFY WIRE Stranger Things

11 Stranger Things fan films, ranked

By Jeff Spry
Stranger Things Xmas Hero

The fervor over Netflix's sci-fi horror sensation Stranger Things shows no sign of abating as we begin the long countdown to its third season, premiering on July 4.

But before we engage in dissecting every mysterious clue and viral mystery surrounding the insanely popular show, let's step back and turn to the creative world of fan films to satiate ourselves until this summer eventually arrives. No Eggo frozen waffles required!

Stranger Things 3

Amateur shorts displaying ingenuity and passion on a cardboard-and-popsicle-stick budget are the no-frills spawn of megawatt franchises such as Batman, Star Trek, Alien, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, and Jurassic Park. The legions of faithful filmmakers orbiting the Stranger Things universe are certainly no different.

Enter the Upside Down with the '80s-era kids of Hawkins, Indiana, in these 11 not-for-profit, unauthorized fan films using Stranger Things as their spirit guide and tell us which entries celebrate the eerie property best!

11. Stranger Cases (2016)

Here's an inventive short by Joe Lang using the editor from Grand Theft Auto and evoking a true sense of mystery and menace. There's an unsettling mood that sticks with you long after the bones start crunching.

Inspired by Stranger Things' Sheriff Hopper, a lawman enters a bizarre nocturnal landscape after chasing a suspect into the woods, where a hammerhead creature awaits to dispense justice.

10. Peculiar Items (2016)

Proof that a good fan film can be made for next to nothing, amateur filmmaker Nathan Stassin and his little brother made this grassroots short in their suburban home and neighborhood using the barest of equipment and crew. It's got a tremendous amount of love for the franchise and includes an awe-inspiring recreation of the Upside Down that is a real showstopper.

09. The Dreamer (2016)

Justin Pfeiffer Productions conjured up this amateur film with loads of spirit and wonder. 

In the glow of Christmas lights, suburban kids use a salt bath to enter the Upside Down where they encounter a Star Wars geek armed with a plastic lightsaber — until a more nefarious presence arrives. A solid effort from true Stranger Things fans.

08. Upside Down (2017)

Jakob Lindo's Summit Studios created this no-budget Stranger Things tribute short that does an excellent job capturing the look and feel of the '80s.

In this admirable effort, Lindo heads down to the workshop to submit his school photos and discovers a Byers-like home strung up with Christmas lights and a dire warning. He flees into the darkened woods where a sliver of the Upside Down awaits!

07. Hawkins Night (2018)

There's something addictive about this fun and freaky entry from France by Tee3tix. "Hawkins Night" is a short music video filled with trance-like synthesizer music that soundtrack a cyclist pedaling around a Hawkins-ish town experiencing flashbacks of Eleven. 

Impressive use of imagery and editing crafts a mini nightmare inspired by the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things universe.

06. Strangest Things (2017)

Robert Cross shot this cute short as a way to pay his respects to the Stranger Things series and make the interminably long wait until Season 2 seem shorter. 

Remarkable for its instinctive cuts and a variety of camera angles, this clever, pint-sized production has a ton of charm and represents the fan film community with plenty of handcrafted style.

05. Stranger's Things (2018)

Here's an award-winning Czech fan film from director Terry Rehorkova and Scalliot Productions that attempts to answer questions that arose at the end of Stranger Things Season 1. It includes nice use of music and sound effects to conjure up an atmosphere of fear as Hopper, Joyce, and Mike try to track down Eleven in the sinister forest.

04. Stranger Things: The Story of Henry and Dale (2017)

Created by Brittany Joyner, this top-notch short features excellent cinematography and a semi-humorous story about a pair of beer-drinking deer hunters who stumble upon a wounded doe and set off into the forest near the Hawkins National Laboratory to find it. Might not be the best idea! 

The Demogorgon is lurking nearby and makes a hearty meal of the two mouth-breathing hunters. Tightly told and made with a professional varnish!

03. 001: A Stranger Things Fan Film (2018)

ApertureFilms delivers the goods in this memorable and atmospheric work celebrating the Duffer Brothers' sensation. It's set in Colorado 34 years after the events of Stranger Things as the original test subject of Hawkins Laboratory tries to cope with his troubled, traumatic past. A flashback elicits a haunting memory that could mean that the dreaded Demogorgon might not be dead quite yet!

02. The 12th Search (2017)

Writer/director Ryan Thompson's enticing ode to Stranger Things takes place in England's Rendlesham Forest, the location of numerous UFO sightings in the early '80s. 

The notion of the Upside Down spreading to different regions of the world is explored here to great effect as a community searches for a missing man named Michael. Spooky and laced with cool details, especially the SFX team's terrifying toothy monster!

01. A Stranger Things Christmas (2016)

Over three million YouTube hits can't be wrong! This animated Peanuts/Stranger Things mashup by Leigh Lahav and Oren Mendez is a pure delight and is something I'll watch every year when Christmastime rolls around. 

Here Will Byers returns home from the Upside Down, but can't seem to shake off his traumatic extra-dimensional experience and turns to his friends for assistance. Snoopy as the Demogorgon is priceless! Hard to deny this cartoon gem the top slot!