The world’s talking Stranger Things now that Season 2 has hit Netflix. But did you know that there might actually be some truth to the story of Eleven, the Demogorgon and the portal to the Upside Down?
Stranger Things was originally known as Montauk and Montauk is a name that’s pretty familiar to conspiracy theorists. It’s believed that between 1943 and 1983, the US government conducted secret experiments on children at Camp Hero in Montauk, Long Island, that have long been dubbed the ‘Montauk Project’.
The experiments were said to have involved time travel, teleportation, mind control, and contact with extra-terrestrial and extra-dimensional creatures. They were allegedly a continuation or extension of developments of the Philadelphia Experiment that took place in 1943. And some of the experiments, as you’ll read, bear a striking resemblance to the happenings in Stranger Things.
The story of the Philadelphia Experiment goes like this. On a quest to find new ways of foiling Nazi radar during World War II, the US military conducted secret experiments at the naval shipyard in Philadelphia involving a destroyer escort called the USS Eldridge. According to the letters of an eyewitness, Carlos Miguel Allende, which surfaced in the 1950s, the US military were successful in teleporting the USS Eldridge to New York, another dimension where it encountered aliens, and forwards in time. These teleportations resulted in the deaths of several sailors, some of whom ended up fused to the ship’s hull.
Stories about the Montauk Project popped up much later. In the early 1980s, a man named Preston Nichols claimed to have recovered a series of repressed memories about working on secret experiments at Camp Hero in Montauk. He said that during the 1970s, he worked on something called the ‘Montauk Chair’, a piece of furniture that used electromagnetism to amplify the psychic powers of certain ‘special’ children.
One of those children was called Duncan Cameron, a child who could manifest objects with just his thoughts while he was in the Montauk Chair. In Preston Nichols’ book, The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, Nichols describes one of these experiments as follows:
“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.”
Sound familiar? In Stranger Things, Dr Brenner and his cohorts put Eleven through a similar experiment, shortly before she opens a portal to the Upside Down, an alternate dimension.
Nichols also recounts how Duncan summoned a monster…
“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.”
This isn’t too far away from Eleven inadvertently making contact with the Demogorgon on Stranger Things, which we presume is what caused the portal to the Upside Down to open, and the Demogorgon to escape to our dimension.
Nichols also writes of other boys who were abducted and experimented on, some of whom were sent through portals in space and time. He called them the ‘Montauk Boys’. Stranger Things nabs this theory, too. We know that there were at least ten other subjects before Eleven. The opening sequence of Stranger Things 2 introduces us to the eighth subject. (I’m currently only four episodes into Season 2 and wondering if we see her again…)
But there are some even ‘stranger things’ about the Montauk story. This Duncan Cameron, the child we can presume Eleven was based on, was more than just a child with psychic abilities. In fact, he wasn’t really a child at all. Duncan was a US Navy sailor who was transported forwards in time to 1983 as part of the Philadelphia Experiment. Then—somehow—his consciousness was transplanted into the body of his sibling, born in 1963 and still a child during the Montauk Chair experiments in the 70s.
Yes, I know. That doesn’t really make any sense. But if Stranger Things really is drawing influence from the Montauk conspiracy theories, might we learn something similar about Eleven? That the consciousness of another person is inside her? Could that be where her powers come from?
Fans love pointing out how Stranger Things pays homage to loads of iconic 80s sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies, from Alien to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to The Goonies. But it’s just as fascinating to see it playing with real-life government conspiracy theories as well.
You’re probably wondering just how ‘real-life’ we’re actually talking, and whether there might be some truth to the tales of Duncan Cameron, the Montauk Chair, and the big hairy beast Duncan created with his mind.
Unfortunately, this is one of the flimsiest conspiracy theories I’ve come across. From what I can tell, most of it comes from Preston Nichols’ book, The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time. A book that many people believe to be science fiction dressed up to look like a true account.
The book also suggests that the alleged Apollo Moon landings hoax was arranged and staged at Camp Hero; the Jersey Devil was created there through bioengineering; and that there’s a hole to the Earth’s core hidden in one of the base’s hangars.
Oh, and the AIDS virus was created there too.
Despite these bonkers claims, Nichols never stated that the book was fiction and continually perpetuated its truth. But—as you might’ve guessed—there isn’t a shred of evidence to support any of it. As is typically the case with all the zanier conspiracy theories out there.
Which pleases me, frankly. I’m not too keen on meeting a Demogorgon, thank you.
Next week: are we any closer to knowing who really killed JFK?