Old_Zircon I held off on this show for quite a while because I was worried it would just be some retro/nostalgia fanservice junk but I finally watched it all the week before last and it's really good, RM were dead on about it being a period piece rather than a nostalgia piece (and also about the monster being nowhere near as interesting as the rest of it - also the CGI was obvious and felt out of place).
The Spielberg and Stephen King influence goes without saying, but I was also reminded a lot of the largely forgotten (but still beloved by me) 1985 Roland Emmerich movie Making Contact and, of course, The Gate. A bit of Tobe Hooper's Invaders from Mars in there, too.
mashedtater I felt the same way too! Im not too upset that the monster isn't as creepy as people hoped because the episode of Hoop punching out the universe did it all for me.
Old_Zircon My complaint about the monster was less about it being unscary and more about it being clearly CGI and just seeming kind of out of place because of that. Not in a major way though, it's not bad at all it's jsut not as good or interesting as everything else.
It's not like how all of the tension and atmosphere of the first two acts of House of the Devil (which is still the closest comparison I can find to Stranger Things) goes out the window in the third act or anything.
Born in the RSR As a quick description I was thinking it was more of Phantasm meets The Mist.