The three-volume series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, have fascinated four generations of horror fans. Now, the master of horror Guillermo del Torro has turned the books into a feature-length film. There’s horror in solving one’s own nightmares for the first time.
Transforming the anthology series into a singular story wasn’t an easy task for del Toro. He used an “American Idol-style process” in the writers’ room to determine which five or six stories to spotlight in the film (others may still be mentioned or referenced). The stories are tied together by Sarah Bellows story from the original books. Enraged by the town’s desire to talk about her behind her back, Sarah decides to tell stories of her own. Those stories turn the reader’s worst nightmares into reality.
For the project, del Toro handpicked director André Øvredal, who also worked with del Toro on The Autopsy of Jane Doe. “André was the only director we spoke to about making this film,” del Toro said. “Some directors are really good at horror. Other directors are really great entertainers. André can do both.”
The monsters in the film were 3D rendered from Gammell’s original drawings. Working with multiple sculptors, del Toro wanted to keep the film to about 65 to 70 percent practical effects. Having watched a single clip of the woman with the missing toe, I can confirm the monsters are as terrifying as fans of del Toro might expect. Think Samara Osorio from The Ring mixed with the Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s truly terrifying.
Set in 1968, the film appears to have a Stranger Things feel to it — Øvredal even referred to the film as “Amblin-esq.” Moreover, a lack of cell phones, instant Google access, and hovering parents give the children of the film a sense of true independence.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stars Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, and Austin Zajurarrives. The movie arrives in theaters on August 9. Check the trailer below:
Header Image Source: CBS Films