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Stranger Things: The Real-Life Conspiracy That Inspired The Netflix Hit Explained

While "Stranger Things" might have seemed like a roll of the 20-sided dice when Netflix first sent it out into the streaming world, after four seasons, the series is one of the biggest shows on the planet. This is largely due to its compelling storyline, likable characters, and shocking plot twists, which are influenced by the likes of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. But there are also real-life conspiracies that have provided plenty of inspiration for "Stranger Things," including the so-called Montauk Project, which is said to be a series of government experiments conducted on kidnapped children at Camp Hero, a now-decommissioned military base in Montauk, New York.

Matt and Ross Duffer weren't the first to be inspired by the Montauk Project, however. In fact, in 2018, the "Stranger Things" creators were hit with a lawsuit over the show idea by filmmaker Charlie Kessler, who alleges that they stole the idea for the series from his 2011 short film, "Montauk." Being that "Montauk" was the series' original name, there's definitely some cross-pollination between the two, although the suit was dropped just a couple of days before going to trial, which adds even more mystery to the proceedings (via Vanity Fair). Meanwhile, men like Christopher P. Garetano are more focused on trying to get to the heart of the Montauk Project conspiracy theory and whether it can be substantiated or not.

There could be some truth to the experiments that inspired the show

Christopher Garetano is the filmmaker behind a documentary called "The Montauk Chronicles," and he believes that there's more to Camp Hero than meets the eye. He recalled stumbling into the perimeter of the base as a child and being turned away. "I didn't even realise there was a base there. It's difficult to even see the radar tower behind the thick foliage in the summertime if you're not looking in the right direction," he told The Telegraph. "But I was stopped by this guard, and I always wondered what that was. It wasn't until I was in high school that I heard the legends."

Though some may balk at the idea that the types of experiments seen in "Stranger Things" might have actually been conducted in real life, there are documented cases of the United States government carrying out mind control trials as late as the 1970s, and accounts like those in "The Men Who Stare at Goats" may even help provide a basis to prove the existence of the Montauk Project. Still, "The Montauk Chronicles" is not the only source that claims to have insider information about what happened at Camp Hero.

There's no question that something big was going on at the base

"The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time" by Preston B. Nichols and Peter Moon is a novel that is supposedly based on the experiments that occurred at Camp Hero, with Nichols claiming he actually worked at the secret government facility as an engineer. "As I say in the book," he told Christopher Garetano, "you can believe it as fact, or you can believe it as science fiction." He also spoke of the experiments that he saw being performed on children, describing them as "shattering their minds, programming them, [and] then putting them back together."

Though we might never know what went on in the facility for certain, the fact that there are so many stories about Camp Hero will no doubt help fuel conspiracy theories about the base for years to come. Meanwhile, with Netflix's "Stranger Things" currently bigger than ever following the shocking ending of Season 4, locals can also expect fans to continue to make the pilgrimage to the site. The only question is what they'll find there.