Posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 by Ethan Anderton
Stranger Things has quickly become a pop-culture phenomenon after being released on Netflix about a month and a half ago. Since then the internet has been full of theories about The Upside Down, its monstrous inhabitant known as the Demogorgon, the telekinetic girl known as Eleven, and the experiments conducted by the company under the guise of the United States Department of Energy. The show is pure sci-fi, drawing inspiration from plenty of films from the same decade in which the story takes place, but the concept of the show is actually based on a very creepy, supposedly real-life experiment conducted by the government called The Montauk Project.
How was Stranger Things inspired by The Montauk Project? Find out after the jump.
The Montauk Project is known as a series of secret government projects and experiments that were reportedly conducted at Camp Hero or Montauk Air Force Station on Montauk, Long Island. Much of the details on this project that began circulating in the 1980s come from a man named Preston Nichols, who claimed to have remembered repressed memories of his involvement with the project.
The name of this project alone shows that this conspiracy was the inspiration for The Duffer Brothers’ Netflix show. You might not remember this, but back in April of 2015, Netflix picked up a show called Montauk:
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.
Yes, that series went on to become Stranger Things, and it’s clear that the original title of the show was lifted straight from the experiments that inspired it. And when you hear what those experiments entailed thanks to some deep digging by Thrillist, the relationship between the show and the conspiracy becomes even clearer.
In a series of books, Nichols discussed experiments that included researching topics such as time travel, teleportation, mind control, alien species and even faking the Apollo moon landings. All this has ties to another project called The Philadelphia Experiment in 1943, which supposedly created a wormhole that transported two sailors named Duncan and Edward Cameron into Montauk in 1983. It was the sudden recollection of one of these sailors that sparked memories in Preston Nichols that led to the revelation of other experiments.
Outside of portals, tests included something called The Montauk Chair, which allowed one of the supposedly transported sailors to do something that sounds very similar to an experiment conducted with Eleven in Stranger Things:
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.
That’s pretty much how the secret government installation in Stranger Things came to stumble upon The Upside Down in the flashbacks scattered throughout the first season. This is even something that Eleven appears to be able to do in other ways as she was able to use her powers to allow a radio to pick up sound from The Upside Down to show to Mike, Dustin, and Lucas that their missing friend Will is still alive.
Some other key details of this project include kids being abducted to take part in some of these experiments, just like Eleven. Even more intriguing is a story involving the consciousness of Duncan from 1983 somehow being transported into the mind of a sibling born in 1963. It’s all rather confusing, but could that provide some hints as to why Eleven is being experimented on in Stranger Things? Could she have the consciousness of another person lying inside her, giving her these powers?
Also, there’s this frightening portion from The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time:
“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.”
The unleashing of a beast from the subconscious sounds an awful lot like the arrival of the Demogorgon. In fact, a recent theory proposes that the Demogorgon is actually a manifestation of the anger that lies within Eleven, which is why they both raise their hands at each other in a climactic scene in the classroom that sees them both disintegrate into dust.
Clearly, Stranger Things isn’t following the story of The Montauk Project exactly as it reportedly happened, but just as they use pieces of the 1980s movies that inspire the style of the show, they’re lifting elements of the experiments for their own purposes in the narrative. It’s not unlike how The Mothman Prophecies borrowed several different accounts of strange occurrences surrounding the supernatural phenomenon known as the Mothman and turned it into a movie.
If you go reading about The Montauk Project more in-depth (Thrillist has a great and even more extensive article that provided much of the “factual” information in this article), then it might just add fuel to some of the theories out there for the future of Stranger Things. Plus, if you’re looking for more entertainment with ties to this mysterious government conspiracy, check out the found footage short film called Montauk that we featured back in December of 2012. Plus, we have some predictions of our own as to what we can expect in Stranger Things season two based on the episode titles revealed recently.Cool Posts From Around the Web: