Friday, June 20, 2008


I watched GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM last night. A pretty enjoyable study of the evolution of the genre. Wes Craven was one of many directors interviewed.

When asked about the origins of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Wes Craven at first replies, “It came to me in a dream.” Then with a laugh, he adds, “No, it was a series of articles in the LA TIMES, three small articles about men from South East Asia, who were from immigrant families and who had died in the middle of nightmares—and the paper never correlated them, never said, ‘Hey, we’ve had another story like this.’ The third one was the son of a physician. He was about twenty-one; I’ve subsequently found out this is a phenomenon in Laos, Cambodia. Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: ‘You must sleep.’ He said, ‘No, you don’t understand; I’ve had nightmares before—this is different.’ He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount—something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, ‘Thank god.’ They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons. They found in his closet a Mr. Coffee maker, full of hot coffee that he had used to keep awake, and they also found all his sleeping pills that they thought he had taken; he had spit them back out and hidden them. It struck me as such an incredibly dramatic story that I was intrigued by it for a year, at least, before I finally thought I should write something about this kind of situation.”



bean said...

i remember this. he also spoke about levels of enlightenment, and how that played a role in the writing of the movie. when i told people about it they rolled their eyes, as if wes craven wasn't allowed to have something intelligent going on in his movies.