'Nightmare On Elm Street' Was Inspired By Real-Life Dream Deaths

By | October 15, 2019

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Detail of the poster art for the German release of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street.' Source: wrongsideoftheart.com

When a horror film says that it’s based on true events that’s usually a bunch of hokum. But the strange thing about A Nightmare on Elm Street - the film Freddy Krueger, a sleep demon with razors on his fingers - is that it’s actually based somewhat in fact. Krueger is one of the most well known monsters from 1980’s horror, but the inspiration for his exploits is more horrific than anything he committed in the films.

Writer-Director Wes Craven was inspired by a series of LA Times articles investigating the mysterious sleep deaths of Asian men across the country who were coming to a violent end while in bed. Some of the deceased refused to sleep, and others simply passed without realizing anything was wrong, but they all suffered horrible deaths that traumatized their families and inspired Craven. 

Freddy Krueger Was Based On A Real Guy, But A Wave Of Mysterious Deaths Inspired His Methods

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Source: (New Line Cinema)

Wes Craven pulled from a wealth of sources when he wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street. To create Freddy Krueger he thought back to an old man that the young Craven saw watching him outside his window, and while Krueger’s methods of using someone’s dreams to kill them are fantastical they’re actually based in fact. The idea of someone being attacked and dying in their sleep comes from a series of LA Times articles published in the early ‘80s that detail the mysterious deaths of Asian men around the country, mostly the Hmong people who emigrated from Southern China, Vietnam, and Laos. Many of these people escaped the killing fields of Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia's communist ruling party, carried out some of the most gruesome mass killings of the 20th century.