Stranger Things: Real Life Experiment That Inspired The Netflix Hit

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 promo picture

Netflix’s Stranger Things proved to be the sleeper hit of the summer. Only one season through it already ranks 25 in IMDb’s list of the best TV shows of all time. The season ended with a lot of open questions, and this has fueled a lot of hype for the show. And with the announcement of Season 2 by Netflix, the hype, it seems, will only keep growing.

A mix of nostalgia and thrill gave the show its very distinctive feel, and as such helped it garner a cult following. The fans of the show have gone on to examine every aspect and details within the show, but one thing probably deserves more attention than the rest. The real-life military experiment that inspired the premise for Stranger Things.

Netflix's Stranger Things promotional still from Season 1
Known to conspiracy theorists as the “Montauk Project,” the top secret government funded experiment is believed to have taken place in 1983 at the eastern end of Long Island, New York, in a town called Montauk. In fact, Stranger Things was originally titled Montauk and was set to take place in the town of Montauk in Long Island before the producers decided to switch the setting to a small town in Indiana instead. So could it all be true? Could the terrifying and surreal ideas of the Demogorgon and the Upside Down presented in the Netflix hit actually have a real life inspiration? Well, believe it or not, the Long Island legend has a story so unreal that the ideas from Stranger Things won’t seem far-fetched at all.

In the mid-1980s, rumors of U.S. government-funded experiments in psychological warfare in Montauk began emerging. It was rumored that these experiments were being conducted at either the Montauk Air Force Station or the Camp Hero State Park. Preston B. Nichols tried to legitimize these rumors by publishing a series of books about the experiments. In the first of these books published in 1982, Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, Nichols claims that he a subject to one the experiments in Montauk and said that he had learned of this after recovering repressed memories. Pretty soon, several other people came forward backing Nichols’ story and claiming that they too were experimented upon in Montauk. All these stories were documented, and the real life inspiration for Stranger Things was eventually tied to another conspiracy theory dating back to the second World War.

The Philadelphia Experiment, also known as Project Rainbow, is a more popular conspiracy theory that is believed to have been carried out by the U.S. Navy some time around October 28, 1943, in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Conspiracy Theorists claim that the experiment managed to render a U.S. Navy destroyer escort, USS Eldridge, invisible, effectively cloaking the ship against enemy devices. The story is refuted by the US Navy who claim that there are no substantial proof backing the claims. But wait till you find out how this connects to the Montauk experiments that inspired Stranger Things.

The conspiracy theory inspired a Hollywood film of the same name, and a guy named Al Bielek who watched the movie couldn’t help but feel he had been a part of the events that took place in the movie. Al Bielek later used new age treatments to recover his repressed memories and realized that his real name was Edward Cameron and that he and his brother Duncan Cameron were in fact a part of the World War II crew that was in the USS Eldridge during the experiments. The back story for the experiment states that Nikola Tesla, before his death in 1943, actually managed to make USS Eldrige invisible. In the process, he inadvertently opened a portal to the future, Camp Hero — on August 12, 1983. Both the Cameron brothers were on board, and as soon as they reached Camp Hero, they were sent back by the military to destroy the equipment on the ship, which they did. But the government used the wormhole to continue experiments with time.

Bielek later met and befriended Preston B. Nichols, and the latter corroborated Beilek’s claims in his series of books about the Montauk experiments. Nichols who claims to have been a part of the experiments in Camp Hero describes how Duncan Cameron, Edward’s brother, was found to have psychic powers and was experimented upon. They harvested Duncan’s powers for all sorts of weird experiments including the likes of telekinesis and opening portals to unknown places in Spacetime.

Spacetime portal

“The first experiment was called ‘The Seeing Eye.’ With a lock of person’s hair or other appropriate object in his hand, Duncan 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.”

Nichols also writes of several boys, whom he calls the “Montauk Boys” in the books, who were abducted from their homes and brought in to Camp Hero specifically for the purpose of sending through the portals that Duncan could open. They were allegedly sent through these portals into the unknown of Spacetime. Eleven from Stranger Things draws direct inspiration from both Duncan and the Montauk boys, her number implying that there could have been 10 others before her.

Season 2 of Stranger Things will air in 2017. You can watch the cryptic trailer below.

[Image via Netflix]