What to Watch and Read After Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

There’s no “right time” to get into the horror genre. Whether you dipped your toes in young, or didn’t dive into the world of the spooky until much later in life, horror is for you. That being said, there’s a certain level of nostalgia that comes into play when you dip your toes in at a younger age. The old Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthology was that for so many people across several generations. With the film now playing in theaters, we wanted to take a look across several different mediums to get a “where do I go from here” kind of list for those who found themselves intrigued by the world of children’s horror. 

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Why Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is Set in the 60s

Horror movies show us what we fear. That’s why the genre has had a long tradition of mixing thrills and scares with poignant social commentary. From Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead, to Halloween and Get Out, the best horror movies use scares to illuminate the fears and anxieties that lie beneath our society and culture.

This year alone saw the release of another Jordan Peele “social thriller,” Us, that shined a light on America’s treatment of the lower class, a new adaptation of Pet Sematary that again explores grief and death, and Issa López’ Tigers Are Not Afraid is about to unleash a beautiful and scary dark fairy-tale that explores the impact of Mexico’s war on drugs on orphaned children. The latest film by Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is looking to also join this list, with a story that serves as a gateway horror movie for kids, while also telling a story of current America by revisiting its past. 

Spoilers for the film follow.

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Whether you’re a hardcore horror fan, a casual moviegoer, or an avid comic book collector who occasionally catches the latest Guillermo del Toro adaptation, chances are you’ve witnessed some of Norman Cabrera’s legendary special effects work. Known mainly for his stunning contributions to del Toro’s Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Cabrera has had a hand in countless productions, ranging from John Flynn’s cyber thriller Brainscan, to Sam Raimi’s wickedly gruesome Drag Me To Hell, all the way to Quentin Tarantino’s ferocious femme fatale flick Kill Bill. Now, Cabrera is back on the big screen with his latest artistry in André Øvredal’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a chilling tale of four children who learn the hard way what happens when one reads from an ancient book etched in blood. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with the man himself about his incendiary career, in addition to his work on the new Alvin Schwartz adaptation. In the interview, we discuss Cabrera’s early days under the wing of his mentor Rick Baker, his views on the classic practical versus CGI effects debate, and what went down the day when his scarecrow Harold went missing in the corn field. 

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scary stories to tell in the dark spoiler review

In 1981, Harper published Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and decades of nightmares followed. The books were aimed at young readers, but the often disturbing stories accompanied by terrifying illustrations both traumatized – and thrilled – generations. Now, Scary Stories comes to the big screen, thanks to Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal. Does the film adaptation have the power of the books? Or were these Scary Stories not worth telling? Spoilers follow.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Make-Up Featurette

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has an intimdating legacy to live up to. The collection of horror stories by Alvin Schwartz has been beloved by nearly four decades of children, with tales that are terrifying enough to be kid friendly but also bring a fright. A big part of what made these books so successful (and controversial) are the inky, grotesque illustrations by Stephen Gammell, and the crew of the film adaptation went to great lengths to recreate those illustrations in real life. You can see how they did it with the character known as “The Corpse” in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark make-up featurette below. Read More »

scary stories to tell in the dark trailer

Studio horror movies made for teenagers rarely get much better than Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Based on the books written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, the horror movie has a more classical than modern approach to its scares. André Øvredal‘s movie relies almost entirely on tension, not jump scares, although it delivers on those, too.

Executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, Øvredal’s movie has a similar handmade quality to its mostly practical monsters: The Pale Lady, the Jangly Man, the Toe Monster, and Harold the Scarecrow. The four of them are as nightmare-inducing as the unshakeable illustrations of the original books. As Hoai-Tran Bui wrote in her review, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark effectively captures the primal horror of campfire stories while doing justice by Schwartz’s creepy designs in a marriage of old-fashioned practical thrills and sleek modern effects.”

Øvredal took some time to tell us about those thrills and modern effects during a recent phone interview, but if you’ve yet to see the movie, you may want to wait to read what he had to say about movie’s scariest scenes. Some minor spoilers lie ahead.

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scary stories to tell in the dark review

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a title a simple as it is effective — it warns of the unknown lurking in the dark while crooking a finger to invite you in. “Listen, at your own risk,” Alvin Schwartz‘s collection of scary stories for children seems to say, welcoming only the most daring of thrill-seekers. But more than just a mere compilation of scary campfire stories, Schwartz’s three-book collection of urban myths and legends has transcended the oral histories of its stories to become a cultural giant in its own right. Stephen Gammell’s drawings grotesque and ghostly illustrations helped cement the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, published between 1981 and 1991, as staples of many a horror lover’s childhood.

André Øvredal‘s feature film adaptation of Schwartz’s beloved children’s books is heavily inspired by the Gammell’s macabre drawings, so unnervingly so that one could mistake this as a horror film for a much older audience. But Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is very much geared toward a younger audience, one that will surely embrace the film as a classic for a new generation of horror lovers. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark effectively captures the primal horror of campfire stories while doing justice by Schwartz’s creepy designs in a marriage of old-fashioned practical thrills and sleek modern effects.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Featurette

Even though Halloween is still over two months away, it’s never to early to get a jump start on some terror. This weekend brings the release of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the adaptation of the popular collection of spooky tales written by by Alvin Schwartz and memorably illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The book’s legacy sets the bar high for a film adaptation, but a new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark featurette and TV spot from the movie show us how the famed illustrations from the book are being brought to life. Read More »

scary stories to tell in the dark trailer jangly man

Things get jangly in this new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trailer. The film from producer Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal brings the traumatizing horror stories for Young Adults to life – and from the looks of things, the movie is going to be plenty scary. The trailer below highlights some monstrosity called the Jangly Man and finally reveals what this character’s connection is to the original books.

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scary stories to tell in the dark footage

Yesterday in New York City, director André Øvredal and producer Guillermo del Toro brought two clips and a new trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the big screen adaptation of the iconic, and terrifying, children’s book series. Those books are sacred to me – I grew up with them. As a result, I’ve been a little wary of this film adaptation, even with talented folks like Øvredal and del Toro involved. But after attending the event in NYC, and watching the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark footage, I think I’m finally sold on what del Toro and Øvredal have in store.

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