Netflix’s newest original drama series Stranger Things is fueling binge-watch fests across the country and racking up major kudos from critics, praised for its imaginative and, at times, terrifying integration of sci-fi, horror and ’80s-themed nostalgia. Yet how many fans know about its real-life parallels? The mysterious government laboratory, the secret military base, and the extraordinarily mind-blowing experiments that, some contend, continue to this very day!?
E.T. the Extraterrestrial, The Goonies, Poltergeist, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, X-Files, Fringe—Stranger Things draws from so many cult favorites it’s a veritable sci-fi smorgasbord and an absolute masterpiece. Its greatest muse, however, may in fact be Long Island, New York, situated on ancient ancestral Native American lands and a paranormal epicenter—home to countless historical sites, haunted places, unexplained events and puzzling phenomena.
The fictional scenarios portrayed in Stranger Things’ Hawkins, Indiana share several chilling parallels with real-life Long Island, and as someone who has been known to dabble a wee bit in this fringe area, I say with sincerity that the latter is a hell of a lot stranger than even Stranger Things depicts. Consider this article a wake-up call.
Here are 5 real-life Stranger Things-Montauk, Long Island parallels:
1. MONTAUK, NY
Stranger Things’ original title was Montauk, named after the sleepy fishing village on Long Island’s easternmost tip. Among so many tales, local lore tells of young boys being abducted and forced to participate in an assortment of psychological and paranormal experiments on a nearby secret military base, including time travel, telekinesis, teleportation and mind-control (the 1992 book The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time documents some of these studies, as does its independent film adaptation, 2014’s Montauk Chronicles). Stranger Things is set in the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and the plot surrounds the mysterious disappearance of a 12-year-old local boy named Will Byers.
2. CAMP HERO
The site of Montauk’s very real covert military installation, known since the 1940s as Fort Hero, aka Montauk Air Force Base, aka “Camp Hero,” dates as far back as the Revolutionary War. During World War II and the Cold War, it served as a strategic coastal defensive site to thwart potential attacks or an invasion of New York City by sea, and was intentionally disguised as an actual fishing village to conceal its fortifications from German U-boats and enemy ships. Its 754-acre grounds were designated a state park and opened to the public in 2002, though many parts of the compound remain off-limits to this day. The base features an elaborate network of subterranean tunnels and is strewn with airplane hangars and artillery bunkers built into the side of bluffs that are sealed off by concrete barricades. Most recognizable is its monstrous radar tower, visible from the surrounding area, as well as from the nearby Montauk lighthouse. Stranger Things’ mysterious, U.S. Department of Energy-backed Hawkins National Laboratory, the site of bizarre scientific experiments using human subjects—where 11 are held captive and forced to spy on the Russians, among many other projects—shares eerie similarities to Camp Hero, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s very real Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), located about 60 miles west of the Montauk base. (More on BNL to come.)
3. LIZARD HUMANOIDS & THE INTERDIMENSIONAL WILDEBEEST
The Montauk base’s underground tunnel complex has long been rumored to be the homestead of half-reptile creatures, known as “Reptoids,” and the eternal prison of an interdimensional creature who is believed to have led to the destructive demise of the experimentations. There were many top-secret projects and unsanctioned experiments rumored to be taking place within the Montauk compound, including psychokinetic torture and collaboration with extraterrestrials. While Stranger Things’ faceless flesh-feasting “Upside Down” realm creature is not an exact doppelganger of these cold-blooded tunnel dwellers, nor is the havoc-wreaking beast, the show’s bloodthirsty bastard does share at least one similarity with Montauk’s resident scaly beings and dimension-hopping beast: All are absolutely terrifying.
RELATED: Einstein Was Right: Black Holes, Gravitational Waves (& Interdimensional Time Travel) Exists
4. BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LAB
Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY, might as well just be renamed “Hawkins Lab” in the show’s wake, since they share that many characteristics. They’re both owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. They’re both steeped in mystery. They’re both off-limits to the public and well-protected against trespassers (true for the Camp Hero site as well, prior to its re-designation as a state park; more on that in another post). They both feature mind-blowing facilities and equipment that are literally rewriting everything the scientific community understands about cosmic matter, the creation of this universe, nano-particles, time, space and so much more we can only begin to comprehend it all. Most importantly for our purpose here, both Hawkins Lab and BNL are home to an interdimensional portal-vortex, or as the Stranger Things crew refers to it, a “gate.” Yes, you’ve read that correctly.
5. BNL’S RELATIVISTIC HEAVY ION COLLIDER
Just one of BNL’s many groundbreaking, world-renowned gems, its Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) is the stuff of dreams and legends, combined. Featuring a 2.4-mile, two-lane “racetrack” that collides beams of ions at the speed of light, it quite literally straddles the very fabric between everything we as an “intelligent” species understand about this realm, and what we simply cannot comprehend. It holds the key with the potential to unlock countless doors to other dimensions, solving so many mysteries, explaining so many enigmas—the origins of this universe, life, the unseen forces that hold us and bind us and everything else in this existence together, as well as the impossible forces and laws that can tear it all apart. Physicists from around the world flock to BNL to study, in the words of BNL’s official introduction for the RHIC: “What the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation.” The RHIC is the first machine in the world capable of colliding ions as heavy as gold. It is the world’s only machine capable of colliding beams of polarized protons, unraveling the secrets of dark matter, quark-gluon plasma, and replicating the primordial cosmos existing in the first billionths of a second after the birth of our universe.
Yes, RHIC is very much a doorway, to enlightenment, and some fear, other dimensions and universes. These concerns were taken so seriously, in fact, that in 1999, prior to the RHIC going operational in 2000, the laboratory’s director John Marburger convened a committee of renowned physicists to address several of its apocalyptic ramifications: 1) “Creation of a black hole that would ‘eat’ ordinary matter, essentially gobbling up the Earth;” 2) “Initiation of a transition to a new, more stable universe;” and 3) “Formation of a ‘strangelet’ that would convert ordinary matter to a new form.” The aptly named latter item is a hypothetical, thermodynamic, cosmological doomsday particle that would “suck up all matter on Earth, ending life on the planet,” as one Harvard University theoretical physics PhD candidate explained in a paper tackling the topic. Marburger’s committee ultimately green-lighted its operation, anyway, ultimately concluding: “That the candidate mechanisms for catastrophe scenarios at RHIC are firmly excluded by existing empirical evidence, compelling theoretical arguments, or both. Accordingly, we see no reason to delay the commissioning of RHIC on their account.”
And to think it’s on Long Island.
Stranger Things, indeed.
Stay tuned, dear friends. Stay tuned.
[Main Photo: Stranger Things’ fictional town Hawkins, Indiana and its paranormal and psychokinetic scenarios share striking similarities to local lore surrounding Camp Hero (L) in Montauk, NY and Brookhaven National Laboratory (R) in Upton, NY, both on Long Island, NY. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Brookhaven National Laboratory)]