Rodney Ascher, director of the controversial documentary Room 237 about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, has just released his new documentary, The Nightmare, about the phenomenon of sleep paralysis.
Now this is something I have experience of.
Despite my love of all things horror-orientated (monsters, cannibals, ghosts etc), when it comes to real life I'm not so brave, so as we are fast approaching Halloween I thought it would be time to share my own 'horror movie' experience:
As I've recounted in several Throwback Thursdays recently, back in 2002 I went to visit Paul when he was working for an English-language newspaper in Beijing, China.
He was staying in a big, one-bedroom flat in a tall tower block, so I was sleeping on a makeshift (but comfortable) bed in his lounge.
Alcohol usually played a large part in making sure I had a good night's sleep ... but one night I awoke with an "invisible person" sitting on my chest; pinning me down. I couldn't move!
I have no recollection of what happened later but talking to Paul the next day I discovered I wasn't the first person this had happened to. There was the usual urban myth circulating about someone jumping to their death from one of the flats ... but no-one could ever say which one.
Later I read about 'sleep paralysis', which (basically) means your mind has woken up but your body is still asleep, so you can see and think - but not move; but at the time I was as convinced as I've ever been that I had come face-to-invisible-face with a ghost!!!
In Chinese folk culture, sleep paralysis is referred as "gui yà chúang" (鬼压床), literally: "Ghost press bed": 鬼: ghost, 压: press, 床: bed. The belief is that a spirit or ghost is sitting or lying on top of the individual while they were sleeping, causing the sleep paralysis. This is thought to be a minor body possession by the forces from the dead, and usually doesn't cause any harm to the victim.