While the spooky science-fiction horror of the Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things can border on the ridiculous, it turns out that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. In a new video interview with Gaten Matarazzo (“Dustin”) and Joe Keery (“Steve”), Matarazzo reveals a little bit about the real Cold War-era experiments that inspired the series.
On Tuesday, WIRED posted a Stranger Things installment of its popular web series, “Autocomplete Interview,” where celebrities answer questions based on Google’s suggested autocomplete search results. On the show was Matarazzo and Keery, who plays “Steve” and whose impressive hair also isn’t fictional.
When Keery read the first question, “Is Stranger Things based on a real story?” Matarazzo dropped some truth bombs and said yes, it kind of is. “It is based on a place in Montauk, New York called Camp Hero,” he said. “There was like rumors of secret government spies doing these human experiments to fight in the Cold War.”
The actor added that while the characters of Stranger Things didn’t exist, the experiments and the place they were conducted did, and still do. Matarazzo said that it’s possible to visit these facilities — in theory, “but you’re not allowed in.” Bummer.
Back in 2016, shortly after Stranger Things became a smash hit, Thrillist published a story revealing the show’s connections to the Montauk Project. “Rumors that the US government had been conducting experiments in psychological warfare in Montauk at either Camp Hero or the Montauk Air Force Station began to bubble up in the mid-1980s,” wrote Dave Gonzales for Thrillist last year. Gonzales added:
“Preston B. Nichols legitimized the theorizing when he detailed the supposed events in a series of books. In The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time (1982), 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.”
It’s unknown if any of these experiments have unlocked a gateway into an alternate dimension, but what is known is that when Netflix originally picked up Stranger Things, it picked it up under the working title, Montauk.
Stranger Things Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.