Friday, May 10, 2013

Based on True Stories: A Nightmare on Elm Street

People in the writing business--and movie making--often say that there is nothing new under the sun. Every story is based on another story, on a real situation, on a century-old question. Everything that you can think of, someone has done before... talk about a downer. Truth is that original ideas are very hard to come by and after 2000 years of making up stuff, the well of new is not overflowing anymore.

But there is hope still. For those of us who like to create for a living, there are two possibilities: You are either one of those amazing minds that can still coop up the next best thing ever--Hello to all the Einsteins, Steve Jobs, and the like--or you can re-tell a known tale in an extraordinary way. And here is where Wes Craven and one of his master pieces, A Nightmare on Elm Street, come in.

For ages, males of Asian origin have been dying in their sleep. And I'm not talking about babies here but full grown, perfectly healthy men. Depending on the country, there are a series of legends and demons that have been blamed for such deaths. These countries' rich folklore has accounts as old as civilization and we westerners had no idea of how deeply rooted the fear of dying in your sleep was for the other side of the world. Until the late 1970s and early 1980s that refugees running away from their war-torn countries found their way into the USA.

As reported by the New York Times on May 9, 1981, The Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta conducted "... an intensive inquiry into the manner in which 18 apparently healthy Laotian refugees died mysteriously in their sleep in this country within the last four years. One possibility being explored is that they were frightened to death by nightmares."

Surprised? I know I was--and more than a bit freaked out.

In the end the deaths were attributed to the Brugada Syndrome, where an apparently healthy man's heart (it is much more common among Asian men) fibrillates during sleep, causing a fatal arrhythmia, and death. And even though today we can diagnose the disease with an ECG, not every Nightmare Death Syndrome case (or Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome, as it is known these days) can be explained in this way.

So, there you go, another freaky place where inspiration was found. But, if you're not Asian, or male, don't feel too relieved, yet. After all, Freddy might still be lurking under your bed.

Have nice dreams. =)


Shelly said...

Very interesting. Never heard of this, but anything is possible.

Hugs and chocolate,

Yolanda Renee said...

I can see a dream being so powerful it could cause death. I've awakened, crying, sweating, with severe tension headaches, and stressed to the max, all depending on the dream I was having. Physical responses to dreams - very real!

Yeah, happy nightmares!

Georgina Morales said...

I do think that nightmares have a very strong hold on our hearts and brains as we sleep, and I can totally see myself dying of a heart attack on my sleep. So I guess that's what makes the story scary and why I hate and love Freddy at the same time. =)

Thanks for commenting, ladies. I hope you both are having an awesome Mother's Day in company of that special woman in your lives. And the rest of the family, too. LOL

Michael Pierce said...

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was the first real horror movie I watched as a kid, and it freaked me out and intrigued me at the same time. Cool story behind Wes Craven's inspiration. He is a master!

Mina Lobo said...

Well, dang. And here I was, all heavy-lidded eyes and craving the comforting arms of Morpheus, Greek God of Dreams. Now, I'm craving a stiff drink to get me there! :-)
Some Dark Romantic

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