We have also covered other movies that were inspired by true stories including the true story that inspired The Exorcist, the real-life Jeepers Creepers killer and Ed Gein who inspired countless horror movies.
Though the dream-stalking child molester and child murderer with severely burned skin was created from his imagination, the concept was actually inspired by a true story. The inspiration for A Nightmare on Elm Street came from a family Craven read about in the L.A Times during the 1970s that survived the killing fields of Cambodia ↗️ and fled to the United States.
The family escaped from the Cambodian killing fields, but the youngest son suffered terrible dreams and couldn’t shake the thoughts of someone chasing and tormenting him while he slept. The nightmares became worse, even to the point he was scared to sleep and stayed awake for days. Craven stated:
“He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time. When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare. Here was a youngster having a vision of a horror that everyone older was denying. That became the central line of Nightmare on Elm Street.”
The cause for death was mysterious and unexplained, but in 1981, the CDC starting monitoring more mysterious nocturnal deaths which occurred in male immigrants from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and there seemed to be some kind of a connection.
”In 1981, the peak year of these deaths, 26 men, often Hmong refugees from the highlands of northern Laos, died in their sleep. Usually victims were simply found dead, but when medics arrived quickly, the men’s hearts were fibrillating or contracting wildly, a symptom Parrish said may result from numerous possible causes.” -LA Times
The term is actually known as ‘SUNDS’ which stands for ‘Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome’. The mysterious disorder was first mentioned in 1917 and originated in the Philippines, another South East Asian country.
SUNDS didn’t attract worldwide attention until 1981, when the first report was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which just so happens to be the same year Wes Craven finished the first script for A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Medical experts attributed the young boy’s death to the same reason, but SUNDS isn’t specifically linked to dreams. Another the reason the boy died in his dream could have been a heart attack. It’s very rare to have a dream that scares you to the point of heart attack, especially for a younger person, but it is possible and with the boy’s psychological state after enduring such a brutal experience in the killing fields of Cambodia, it may have been the cause.
Whatever the reason, Craven took the story which fueled the inspiration for Freddy and he developed the first script for A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1981. The movie was released in 1984 and didn’t take long to light up the horror world with the Springwood Slasher terrifying fans who got to see it on the big screen.
The movie spawned a huge franchise and in 2003 it crossed paths with Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th where the two collided in Freddy vs Jason. Though Robert Englund has stated he will not return to his role as Freddy Krueger, the character will live on forever.
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