Stranger Things has been described as a love letter to the 80s and the Golden Age of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. The drama series tells the fantastic story of an ordinary town in Central America where the extraordinary happens. The first season followed the disappearance of schoolboy Will Byers (played by Noah Schnapp) with his friends investigating and suspicion turned to the dark Hawkins lab.
Is Stranger Things based on a true story?
Since its debut on Netflix, the story of Stranger Things has steadily grown and built upon its Cold War era backdrop.
The show is set in the 80s with the show immersing viewers in the pop culture and fashion of the decade.
Additionally, the Stranger Things soundtrack evokes the era of synth waves to pop ballads, with Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) enjoying a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to its presence in the series.
Stranger Things is very much a period piece, but at the same time supernatural elements are woven into the story, paying homage to Firestarter, ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me, among many other movies and TV shows.
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Much of the documentation relating to MK-Ultra has been destroyed, but what people know offers chilling insight into the lengths a government would go to gain military and tactical advantage over its adversary.
The MK-Ultra tests violated the Nuremberg Code, a set of ethical research principles relating to human experimentation, consent, inhumane and lethal experimentation.
The Code was established after the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II, however, MK-Ultra participants often did not know what they had really signed up to.
The project has even seen ordinary people have their drinks mixed with LSD and then subjected to secret surveillance to monitor their reactions.
After the truth about MK-Ultra was revealed, a congressional hearing was held to ensure that a project like this could never happen again.
In the show, Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) mother, Terry Ives (Aimee Mullins), was given LSD while pregnant by Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), which helped her develop capacities.
Both Terry and Eleven used sensory deprivation tanks to help them harness their powers, which happened in real life as part of MK-Ultra.
The point where reality and fiction diverge is actually MK-Ultra was junk science, whereas in Stranger Things these experiments revealed that people could develop telekinetic and remote listening powers.
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Stranger Things’ sinister lab is also said to be grounded in reality with Dustin Henderson star Gaten Matarazzo telling Wired in 2017, “It’s based out of a place in Montauk, New York called Camp Hero.
Although Dr. Brenner is not based on a single scientist, he is representative of the types of medical professionals working on MK-Ultra.
Dr. Brenner is willing to experiment on children and even pregnant people, believing he is doing his duty to his country and conducting groundbreaking research.
In season four, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) talks about his time in the Vietnam War and a herbicide called Agent Orange as part of the very real Operation Ranch Hand.
US soldiers handled and dumped huge quantities of highly dangerous chemicals, including Agent Orange, on Vietnam during the war, resulting in catastrophic human cost.
As Hopper describes, Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese people have faced the effects, which have caused severe birth defects and led to cancer in those exposed.
There has also been enormous environmental devastation caused by acres of forests and rivers sprayed with Agent Orange and other substances.
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Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) was introduced in season 4 of Stranger Things as the captain of the Hellfire Club, but quickly became the town’s outcast after being accused of being involved in satanic rituals in the midst of death by Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien).
The character is loosely based on a true-crime documentary series Paradise Lost, which is about the West Memphis Three – a group of ’90s teenagers who have been wrongfully convicted of murder. After numerous campaigns and new evidence, the trio had their convictions overturned in 2011.
Netflix’s Geeked Twitter account said: “STRANGER THINGS 4’s Hellfire Club story – and in particular Eddie Munson’s character – was inspired by the documentary series PARADISE LOST.
“Eddie is loosely modeled [sic] after writer and artist Damien Echols, who was a member of the West Memphis Three.
Echols – like Eddie – was into metal music and had long hair. He ended up being targeted in a witch hunt by the locals for not fitting in during the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s, especially in the Bible Belt states of America.
The Satanic Panic was mass hysteria and conspiracy theories, suggesting that there were Satanic cults murdering and abusing people.
Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 will be released on Netflix on July 1