Urban explorer Christopher Garetano wants to turn the Upside Down inside out. In Travel Channel’s new series, Strange World, the independent filmmaker whose Montauk Chronicles inspired Netflix’s series Stranger Things will train his camera on America’s “creepiest conspiracy theories and unexplained occurrences” in eight hour-long episodes. Strange World premieres Sunday, August 11.
Garetano, who also produced and directed the 2005 film Horror Business, will “immerse himself in a world of the weird and bizarre, exploring everything from the alleged curse of James Dean’s death car, Little Bastard, to the extraordinary and unexplained disappearances on California’s Mount Shasta, to the legend of Polybius, a 1980’s arcade game supposedly created as a mind-control experiment gone amuck,” according the Travel Channel press statement.
“We live in a world of illusion, mysticism and magic,” Garetano said in a statement. “There’s a dark side to things, manifested in conspiracies and what happens behind the curtain.
Strange World’s premiere episode, “Zombie Boys,” brings Garetano back to the Montauk Project site. The director believes gruesome human research was covertly conducted on the eastern tip of Long Island. The government mind-control experiments were allagedly performed on abducted young men under a former military base. The men were subjected to “torture, LSD testing and electromagnetic energy to break their minds – all in a nefarious, coordinated effort to create super soldiers,” according to the statement.
“I’ve had first-hand, profound experiences that convinced me, at a very early age, that there’s something beyond the veil of normality,” Garetano said in a statement. Armed with never-before-seen footage, Garetano conducts fresh interviews, and subjects himself to similar mind experimentation the original victims experienced. “I’ll forever be that curious cat that opens the door to have a look,” added Garetano, who created the comic strip “South Texas Blues,” originally published in Fangoria Magazine in 2012.
“I’ve remained cautiously skeptical as well, always keeping an open mind to the possibilities. Garetano is currently directing an episode of a new thriller anthology series Fifty States of Fear.” He directed the recreations on History channel’s television movie The Dark Files.
In “Game Over,” which premieres Sunday, August 18 at 10 p.m. “more than 160 million Americans, roughly half the population, have at least one gaming console in their home,” according to the official synopsis. “But are video games pure entertainment or are there darker forces at work? Could the games be reprogramming our minds?” Garetano’s mission is to find out if “our love affair with video games is being used against us.”
The investigation starts with the urban legend of Polybius, said to be the most dangerous arcade game ever played. Polybius was supposedly tested in Portland, Oregon, for about a month in 1981 before it disappeared without a trace, leaving no evidence of its existence. Some people thought the game was military recruitment tool, others thought it was a CIA brainwashing device.
Inte episode Garetano speaks with “futurist with a mind-blowing theory – that we’re all living inside a game simulation like The Matrix. Garetano’s probe questions “the future of gaming and the nature of reality itself. But fair warning: the next time you turn on a game console, you’d better think twice – you may be the one getting played,” the synopsis warns.
Hollywood icon James Dean lived fast, and died young, behind the wheel of his new Porsche 550 Spyder racecar in 1955. “The fiery crash gave birth to two legends – Dean’s prowess as an actor and of a cursed car the 24-year-old liked to call Little Bastard,” according to the synopsis of “Little Bastard,” which premieres Sunday, August 25.
“Wherever parts of Little Bastard showed up, astonishing and morbid accidents followed. Finally, after appearing at an auto show in Florida, the Porsche was boxed up in a trailer and driven back to Los Angeles. Yet when the contained trailer arrived in Hollywood, Little Bastard had somehow vanished. Christopher Garetano grew up on Dean’s films and now feels compelled to launch an investigation into the curse that followed the Porsche 550 Spyder after Dean’s death. Garetano is on a hunt for the car, hoping to determine if an inanimate object can be cursed.”
In “Without A Trace,” Garetano delves into the legend of Mount Shasta in Northern California, where many people have mysteriously vanished throughout the years, never to be seen or heard from again. “Decades of mystery have shrouded the mountain, creating a supernatural lore surrounding these disappearances – everything from an ancient civilization living deep beneath the ground to claims of paranormal activity,” according to the synopsis. “In search of answers throughout his investigation, Garetano meets with local enforcement and travels into the cavernous tunnels below Mount Shasta. After hearing accounts of beings from an ancient mystical civilization called Lemuria, and exploring the possibilities of alien abduction, Garetano decides to confront the mountain himself – hoping to get sucked into its mystique to find the answers he’s looking for.” The episode premieres Sunday, September 1 at 10 p.m.
Strange World premieres on Sunday, August 11 at 10 p.m., on Travel Channel.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.