The Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things series wasn't just inspired by classic films of the '80s that we all love. It was also inspired by wild stories and conspiracy theories involving secret U.S. government experiments involving the supernatural. Some of these things include tales of time-traveling battleships, recovered memories, psychic powers, kids being kidnapped and sent through portals into other dimensions, conjuring monsters, and more. Seriously, these stories are pretty crazy, but awesome to hear!
According to Thrillist, Stranger Things was originally titled Montauk, which is based on the real-life experiment conducted by the U.S. government known as the "Montauk Project." The first season was also originally going to take place on the eastern end of Long Island, but that obviously all ended up changing.
There's a long detailed list of things that the government supposedly did in these experiments, and a lot of the information on the Montauk Project comes from several books and interviews by Preston B. Nichols. In 1982, he released a book called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time.
Below you'll find a list of events surrounding the Montauk Project that are pointed out on Thrillist. These points are mostly direct quotes. As you read through the list you'll be able to see the similarities with Stranger Things.
- In the 1980s Nichols recovered repressed memories about his stint as a subject in a mysterious experiment; soon, others involved with the Montauk Project came forward to corroborate some of Nichols' seemingly outlandish claims.
- In October 1943, the US military supposedly conducted secret experiments in the naval shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an effort to discover a way to foil Nazi radar so that they could safely transport supplies to the Allies in Europe. According to conspiracy theorists as far back as 1955, it not only succeeded in uncovering how to make its ships invisible to radar, but they accidentally managed to cause a battleship to travel to another time or to a different dimension. The ship went somewhere, and after the military learned about the negative effects overexposure to their version of the Upside Down had on the crew, it shut the project down.
- In 1988 a man named Al Bielek uncovered repressed memories on his time that he worked on the Montauk Project. He learned his name wasn't really Al Bielek, his real name was Edward Cameron and that he had been de-aged, had his memory wiped, and had been forced to live out the rest of his life as "Al Bielek."
- Bielek claimed that, sometime in the 1940s, Nikola Tesla figured out how to make the U.S.S. Eldridge invisible and, in the process, opened up a time wormhole into the future that sucked in the ship.
- According to Bielek and his brother were on board the ship, and they ended up at Montauk's Camp Hero on August 12th, 1983. The military ended up sending them back through the wormhole with a mission to destroy the equipment on the Eldridge. Bielek says he completed their mission, but that didn't stop the government from doing more experiments on building portals into the future.
- In the 1970s there were experiments with a chair called the "Montauk Chair," which was a piece of furniture that used electromagnetics to amplify psychic powers.
- Bielek's brother Duncan Cameron was found to have psychic powers in 1963, and became the focus of many of the Montauk Chair experiments. Apparently, Duncan could manifest objects just by thinking about them while in the Montauk Chair.
- One of the first experiments 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 other boys being brought in and experimented on. Some were sent through a portal into the unknown of spacetime. These abductees are known as the "Montauk Boys," and since Nichols and Bielek started speaking about their regained memories, other Long Island men have rediscovered that they were frequently abducted from their homes by Camp Hero scientists who wanted to "break" them psychologically so that they could implant subconscious commands.
- Nichols claims that they could reliably travel to other times and places (even to Mars).
- At one point they conjured a monster! Duncan recals, "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."
- Nichols ended up destroying the equipment that powered the Montauk Chair before the beast disappeared. They claim that the employees were then brainwashed and, in 1984, the lower levels of the base were filled in with cement.
This is some seriously intense stuff that obviously made for an amazing story for a series! Whether you believe in this kind of stuff or not, you can't deny that those stories are freakin' fascinating. There's even more that you can read about over on Thrillist. How crazy would it be if these things were actually real!?
I've included an interesting video below of Al Bielek giving a lecture on his experiences. Check it out!