After a battle with brain cancer, director Wes Craven has died at the age of 76, robbing the world of one of the single greatest creative minds in horror movie history. It was, after all, the legendary filmmaker who created A Nightmare On Elm Street, and one of the most instantly recognisable icons in Hollywood in Freddy Krueger.
How different the nightmare maker's career could have been. The original Nightmare was only intended as a single standalone, but such was Krueger's immediate success that a franchise was born.
Somewhat unfortunately, the series got increasingly silly with every instalment, but that doesn't dilute the impact of the character or of the original film. Both remain incredibly popular for a reason, and that kind of affection breeds intrigue. So how did Craven come up with the idea for Freddy? What did Robert Englund bring to the performance that wasn't scripted?
In celebration of the sadly lost icon - and looking ahead to a new remake of his finest work - we're looking back at the franchise that kept millions of kids awake at night...
20. The Original Film Was Based (Loosely) On A True Story
If you were terrified of A Nightmare On Elm Street but convinced yourself it was unrealistic and could never happen, here’s some bad news: the film was actually inspired by a real life, equally horrifying case.
In the early 1980s, director Wes Craven read a series of L.A. Times articles about a group of healthy young people in South East Asia suddenly being found dead in their sleep. In one case, a 21-year-old man stayed awake for seven straight days to avoid his nightmares: when he finally fell asleep to the relief of his family, he was heard screaming and by the time he was reached, he'd died.
When the autopsy was performed, the coroners couldn’t explain what had happened. This phenomenon is now called Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS), and there have been thousands of reported cases over the years.
Wes Craven, being the creative horror nut that he was, imagined what would lead someone to stay up for days to avoid nightmares. Naturally, his answer was that a burn victim with knives on his gloves chases teenagers around and tries to kill them, and the concept of Freddy was born.