About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.
Entertainment Weekly


Here are the hidden '80s-movie references to watch for in Bumblebee

Columbia; Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros (2); 20th Century Fox

Posted on

The new Transformers movie Bumblebee rolls back the clock to 1987, but in addition to the styles and sounds of the era, it’s also packed with sly shout-outs to other movies.

Some are obvious — Charlie (played by Hailee Steinfeld), the teenager mechanic who helps the Autobot repair himself and resume his mission, is a John Hughes fan who introduces him to The Breakfast Club.

‘Bee decides that pumping his fist in the air like Judd Nelson at the end of that film is his new victory gesture.

But there are many others that are harder to spot. Director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) walks us through Bumblebee’s journey to the Big ‘80s.


Columbia Pictures

In the opening of the movie, Bumblebee lands on Earth and immediately assumes the vehicle form of a military Jeep.

But after a brutal battle with the Decepticon Blitzwing leaves his systems in critical condition, Bumblebee crawls out of a lake looking for a vehicle disguise that will allow him to lay low and recover.

“Bumblebee scans multiple vehicles before deciding on the classic VW Beetle,” Knight says. “In a blink and you’ll miss it moment, ‘Bee briefly considers, then rejects, the Urban Assault Vehicle from Stripes.”

Paramount Studios

That would be the EM-50 — the secret military project equipped with immense firepower and state-of-the-art technology and communications that Bill Murray and Harold Ramis have to protect in 1981’s Stripes.

That machine itself was just a redressed version of a 1976 GMC Motorhome, which was probably too bulky to be a suitable disguise for the little Autobot.

“Smart move, ‘Bee,” Knight says.

Big Trouble in Little China

20th Century Fox
This bizzare 1986 action-comedy is referenced in the form of Charlie’s local restaurant hangout.

“One of the biggest influences on this movie is John Carpenter, particularly in some of the more out-there sci-fi moments,” Knight says. “We give the great man a nod with Brighton Falls’ restaurant Dragon of the Black Pool.”

“If you recognize that name as Wang Chi’s Cantonese eatery from Big Trouble in Little China, congrats,” Knight says. “If you don’t, what’s wrong with you? Go watch that movie!”

War Games

“Do you want to play a game?” Fans of the Matthew Broderick global-thermal nuclear war thriller from 1983 will recognize the doomsday supercomputer in Bumblebee if they watch closely.

The Transformer-hunting government agency Sector 7’s “advanced” computer systems are actually a variation on the nuclear-war supercomputer WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) from War Games.

National Lampoon’s Vacation


United Artists

“You think you hate it now, but wait ’til you drive it.” That’s the not-so-great sales pitch Eugene Levy gave Chevy Chase before unloading the Wagon Queen Family Truckster on the poor Griswold family.

A similar pea-green, wood-paneled stationwagon belongs to Charlie’s family in Bumblebee, and even becomes part of a chase sequence.

“This is a damn fine automobile, if you want my honest opinion,” Levy’s character promised. “If you’re thinking of taking the tribe across country, this is the automobile you should be using.”

It’s also useful in case of robotic alien invasion.

The Lost Boys

Bumblebee is set in the fictional town of Brighton Falls, but exteriors were shot in Santa Cruz, the same location as this 1987 teen vampire flick, which was posing as Santa Carla in that film.

Charlie works at Hotdog on a Stick on the same boardwalk that served as the young monsters’ favorite killing ground.

“We scouted all over California trying to find the perfect location.  Nothing could top the vibrant oceanfront promenade of ‘Santa Carla,’ the Murder Capital of the World,” Knight says.

He’s referring to the cheerful sign that ominously warns in graffiti on the back that The Lost Boys’ bloodsucker-plagued town has a great many deaths and disappearances.

Even though Bumblebee is technically set the same year, they’re different places. No shared universe — sorry.

“Alas, nary a brooding bleached blond adolescent vampire could be found,” Knight adds. “Disappointing.”

Related content: