Freddy Krueger: The chilling myth behind Elm Street’s nightmare


Freddy Krueger is the epitome of the boogeyman. In fact, he may be the penultimate incarnation of that legend. However, there is a real-life nightmare attached to Wes Craven’s successful franchise that is more horrifying.

Freddy Krueger was introduced to the cinematic universe in 1984. He came out of nowhere and quite frankly when the film opened in theaters, no one really knew what to expect. Then after experiencing A Nightmare on Elm Street, our collective pop culture consciousness would never be the same.

Let’s face it. Wes Craven was a genius. He knew how to tap in to our innermost fears. By having someone literally enter our dreams with the sole purpose of taking our lives, well, that is the most personal kill ever and perhaps the most terrifying.

The backstory for Krueger’s character on film was absolutely horrific. However, nothing can beat the inspiration for his villainy. In 2014, Craven gave an interview to Vulture where he revealed that prior to making Elm Street, he read an article in the Los Angeles Times about a family who had escaped the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

Upon coming to the U.S., their young son was plagued by nightmares where he was stalked by some evil being chasing him. Of course, he would desperately try to not fall asleep (sound familiar?) until one night, he succumbed. Despite the fact that he told his parents what was happening, they chalked it up to childish conjuring.

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Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. This became the cause of death among some Hmong refugee males living in America. 100 men in their early 30’s died in their sleep. All of them were healthy.

It was also reported that shortly before their passing, they would cry out in their slumber. What was the cause for this rash of sudden demises? Much like Freddy Krueger, a Southeastern Asian evil spirit known as The Dab Tsog or Night Hag was thought to be the culprit.

She appears to her intended victims in their sleep and pins them down. Thus, the person under her control struggles to get out from under her weight. If they don’t wake up, they can die.

Years later, no one has been able to medically determine what caused the deaths of those 100 men considering prior to their passing, they exhibited no symptoms of heart disease. Which makes their deaths even more chilling.

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We may never know what happened because in real life unlike filmmaking, some things remain unexplained.

Did you know the origin of Freddy Krueger? Are you familiar with the Dab Tsog or Night Hag? Let us know in the comments. We want to hear from you.