Meet the man who inspired Stranger Things
Hosted by filmmaker Chris Garetano, The Dark Files is the story of alleged US Military funded human experimentation also known as the Montauk Project. Along with former CIA operative Barry Eisler, award-winning journalist Steve Volk, Chris investigates the rumours that inspired the Netflix series Stranger Things. We spoke to Chris to find out what we can expect from the show.
Can you tell us a bit about the Montauk Project?
Chris Garetano: The Montauk Project is a series of secret United States projects that took place in New Jersey, Mountak New York. We know of a base called the Camp Hero Air Force Station, but, according to survivors of the Montauk Project, there was an enormous facility hidden underneath the ground. What occurred there was a variety of experiments. One resulted in the kidnapping of runaway kids for an experiment called the Montauk Boys Programme. This saw teenagers being given large amounts of hallucinogenic drugs and being put through a series of tests that would heighten their psychic abilities and turn them into subliminal Manchurian candidate type assassins. Then there are other people who claim that there was everything from time travel to reverse engineering alien technology. There is such a variety of things that were said by those who say they're survivors.
My focus has been on the human experiments. We know these things happened elsewhere so why not also under Montauk? At this point, I truly believe that there were human experiments there.
It sounds so dark and mysterious?
Very much so, but it has happened before, we've been able to prove it with MK Ultra.
Incredible that it leads all the way to the top of American government...
Sure, that's what is most terrifying. It also says that this could still be happening and begs the question what has happened that we don't know about? We had to work hard to get the information on these other things and so the imagination runs wild once you find out these things happened. it's like wow, these people do these things full time, what else have they done?
Did you always believe the stories on the Montauk Project?
At first, the Montauk Project allegations was followed by a small cult group of people. I always thought it was quite ridiculous. The first book that came out on it, in the 90s, read like a science fiction story. A little while later I found out about the Montauk voice experiment, that's when I wondered if all of the other stuff was true.
How was it working with former CIA operative Barry Eisler and award-winning journalist Steve Volk on Dark Files?
I started on the Dark Files project without them, but as production developed we had to find co-hosts and we chose these guys. Before Barry, I'd never met anyone from the CIA. He's a really kind, honest and balanced gentleman who has seen quite a few things. His experience at the CIA revealed some things to him, so it was great to hear, even off camera, his perspective on things. I don't see him as a sceptic, but I see him as a very careful person who bases his decisions on what he was taught and what he has seen. I think he felt that a lot of these things were quite possible.
On Steve, another great guy, we made great friends along the way, but he comes from a different angle but I respect it. At times I feel like coming in a sceptic is a strong perspective, sometimes a little too strong for your own good... Can be narrow. But I don't think Steve has that perspective all the time. He does always give things a chance and cares enough to look into things where most sceptics wouldn't. Sometimes we'd argue about things... I think the three of us are a great combination which reflects the variety of the audience.
What is a Sceptic? and if you're not one, what are you?
As sceptics go, I think it's someone who launches from a position of non-belief. Now I've met sceptics who say, this is impossible, and yet those same sceptics haven't heard of MK Ultra. Sceptics shut down opportunities to learn about true history... They come on very strong as if they have it figured out, and I think that's a very unhealthy way to be. I also think the opposite is unhealthy, where your just a true believer in everything.
Me, I'm an observer, I am a student and I'm learning. I know what I believe once it's confirmed. For instance, I'll tell you that I strongly believe that the Montauk Project happened, not everything that people say happened, but at least the voice programme because I can find almost identical situations that happened around the same time in the United States. I also know when to doubt things, especially when someone is telling me they met a six foot tall intelligent reptilian creature and he talked to me. I'm not going to believe you unless I find some evidence!
Do you like the term "Conspiracy Theory" or do you find it puts people off your work?
No offence to anyone out there... But a lot of the time, if it's putting people off it's because of their lack of knowledge on that subject matter. If they were further informed about things we have been able to prove I think it would open their mind further.
Finally, on the Netflix hit Stranger Things, was it weird seeing this story move into mainstream culture?
Yes! It was strange... It confirmed my obsession with this whole thing. I guess I just had my finger on something for while way before the series came out. Certainly, a slight influence for the programme came from my film. It's really exciting though, it's great that Strangers Things happened, it opens doors for interest in the subject matter and certainly more people came to look at my stuff because of the show.