A Nightmare on Elm Street was in fact inspired by occurrences that happened during Wes Craven’s childhood; several newspaper articles printed in the L.A Times in the 1970’s about a group of Khmer refugees, who, after fleeing to America from the Khmer Rouge Genocide in Columbia, were suffering from disturbing nightmares, after which they refused to sleep. Some of these men died in their sleep some time after. Medical authorities called the phenomenon “Asian Death Syndrome”.
Also, Freddy Krueger himself is also inspired by a figure in Wes Craven’s early childhood; one night he saw an elderly man walking the sidepath outside the window of his home, the man stopped to glance at startled Craven, and then walked off. Wes Craven even named Freddy Krueger after someone who bullied him in school, who’s name was Fred Krueger.
Fred Krueger was intended to be a child molester, but Craven decided to characterize him as a child murderer to avoid being accused of exploiting a spate of highly publicized child molestation cases that occurred in California around that time.