The deep dive on our favourite summer show isn’t done yet.
It turns out that Netflix’s sci-fi hit “Stranger Things” resembles very closely an alleged real-life government experiment known as “The Montauk Project.”
As Thrillist reports, The Montauk Project is claimed to have been a series of government experiments that were done at Camp Hero or Montauk Air Force Station in Montauk, Long Island. Stories of the experiments have circulated since the 1980s, saying they focused on psychological warfare techniques and things like time travel, teleportation, and mind control. (Though the stories, many of which come from supposed repressed memories, are not at all confirmed and should be taken with a grain of salt.)
As for “Stranger Things”? Well, the show was originally titled “Montauk” when it was picked up by Netflix, and the synopsis (reported by Slash Film) makes it pretty clear the creators were inspired by those repressed memories:
“Described as a love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, the series is set in 1980 Montauk, Long Island, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.”
Thrillist highlights a man named Preston Nichols, who claims to have memories of being involved in a specific experiment known as the “Montauk Chair,” which amplifies psychic powers.
See if this description of an experiment from Nichols’ book “The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time” sounds familiar:
“The first experiment was called ‘The Seeing Eye.’ With a lock of person’s hair or other appropriate object in his hand, Duncan [Cameron, supposed psychic] could concentrate on the person and be able to see as if he was seeing through their eyes, hearing through their ears, and feeling through their body. He could actually see through other people anywhere on the planet.”
Kind of sounds like the experiment being done on Eleven before she opens the Upside Down portal on “Stranger Things.”
And in this excerpt from Nichols’ book he writes about how Duncan summoned a monster while on the chair:
“We finally decided we’d had enough of the whole experiment. The contingency program was activated by someone approaching Duncan while he was in the chair and simply whispering ‘The time is now.’ At this moment, he let loose a monster from his subconscious. And the transmitter actually portrayed a hairy monster. It was big, hairy, hungry and nasty. But it didn’t appear underground in the null point. It showed up somewhere on the base. It would eat anything it could find. And it smashed everything in sight. Several different people saw it, but almost everyone described a different beast.”
We’ve had fun naming all the movies that “Stranger Things” is paying homage to, but it’s equally fascinating to see how it’s playing with decades-old government conspiracy theories.
And that’s not quite all. “Stranger Things” also echoes another real project known as Project MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s covert, illegal program doing scientific research on human subjects. During the Cold War, the CIA subjected people to experiments with drugs including LSD, and some argue the program was for the purposes of mind control, as Time reports.
However, the creators of “Stranger Things,” Matt and Ross Duffer, have been coy about the conection to the Montauk Project (or any other potential government experiment). They have only said that ditching the “Montauk” title was “very painful.“
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