Category Archives: Movies

Nightmare on Elm Street


“Nightmare on Elm Street” is still considered by many to be one of the best horror movies of its time. After making it to the silver screen, it has continued to play on television during Halloween marathons and on horror movie networks. Nightmare on Elm Street hit a chord with most viewers because it dealt with a vulnerability most people have had to experience- nightmares. This is especially scary in light of a little known fact about the movie: it’s based on several true stories.

No, none of the true stories told of a burned pedophile coming back from the dead to invade the dreams of teenagers. Nor did they mention anything about gloved hands scraping knives down walls or tortuous sessions in a burned out factory. However, in these true stories, people from different backgrounds and different parts of the world died in their sleep due to nightmares.

During an interview in 2008, director Wes Craven revealed that there had been several articles in major newspapers that told of young adults who died in their sleep. It was discovered upon autopsy that there was nothing physically wrong with any of them. The only thing they had in common was their complaints of nightmares before death.

Craven found the phenomenon was reported on in Los Angeles papers. Those stories covered the members of several different families that had immigrated to the US from South East Asia. According to the news stories, these families had all lost someone who had died in the middle of a nightmare. One of the victims was a 21 year old male for fought the natural instinct to sleep. When his family members found out, his father, a physician put him on sleeping pills.

The young man protested, saying he didn’t want to sleep because of nightmares. He told his relatives he’d had nightmares in the past, but the ones he was having at that time were different. The son hid the sleeping pills and fought sleep for approximately six or seven days until finally, one night he fell asleep on the couch while watching TV with his family. His family members carried him upstairs to his room. They were reported as being relieved when he fell asleep, believing the trouble was over.

Later, in the wee hours of the morning, the family heard screaming and crashing sounds coming from the young man’s room. They rushed to his room to find him dead. After the autopsy, where nothing was found physically wrong with him, the family searched his room. There was a coffee maker hidden in the young man’s closet, full of hot coffee.  They also found the stash of sleeping pills he had acted like he was taking.

Besides the East African immigrants, Craven also mentioned a similar occurrence happening in Laos, Cambodia. Due to the rising number of deaths attributed to these nightmares, studies were done that revealed the commonality of a specific condition of the heart. Also common among the victims was the fact that they were under a lot of stress, leading experts to believe the stress and possibly nightmares caused their hearts to give out.

Craven told of how the news of these deaths stayed with him for about a year. He said he finally started writing about them and Nightmare on Elm Street was born.  Go over to to find out more.