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Everything You Need To Know About Guillermo del Toro's 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark'

The horror film brings Alvin Schwartz's children's book series to life.

CBS Films

Part of the draw for Super Bowl fans are the commercials, TV sneak peeks, and new movie trailers. Among this year's fare were a slew of dark and haunting mini-trailers that may have kept some viewers up long after the game. The new teasers for the anticipated big-screen adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark finally dropped, and certainly lived up to what fans of the children's book series were hoping for.

Produced by Oscar-winner and modern day creature creator, Guillermo del Toro, and directed by Andre Øvredal, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will bring ghoulish monsters from the page to the screen. Based on a series of books by author Alvin Schwartz, the tales of terror that many children grew up with will soon become real. And if the trailers, which included characters like "Big Toe," are any indication, Scary Stories is set to frighten adults who read the stories as kids. 

The film will hit theaters August 9. Until then, here's everything you need to know about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. 

The Books

Alvin Schwartz published the first of three volumes in 1981 with a collection of scary stories. The latter two volumes were published in 1984 and 1991. Schwartz was a successful author, and wrote beyond the Scary Stories series. Schwartz's works came from folklore and urban legends, which influenced a number of the ghastly spirits and creatures featured in Scary Stories. Schwartz was also known for pulling from the pages of history in some of his most noted works. "The Hearse Song," one of the tales in the first volume of Scary Stories, was an actual song that gained popularity during World War I. Much like "Ring Around the Rose," the song has a macabre meaning, detailing human decomposition and the burying of human bodies. It was the perfect foundation for a haunting story.

Along with the collection of short narratives, the books are most recognizable for their gruesome cover illustrations. Stephen Gammell's garish black and white drawings provided haunting imagery to the creatures, ghosts, and figures Schwartz wrote about. Withered and macabre, Gammell's work is now synonymous with Schwartz's books. Leave it to filmmaker Guillermo del Toro to see the potential in the detail of Schwartz's words and Gammell's drawings.

Everything You Need To Know About 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark'
Harper & Row

The Movie

Guillermo del Toro is the marquee name attached to the project, but the film adaptation of Scary Stories is absolutely a team effort.
The film is directed by André Øvredal, known for Trollhunter (2010) and The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). Øvredal's background in horror has a solid foundation, and with del Toro's resume, the film will feature the best of both filmmakers.

Del Toro will also serve as the film's writer and producer — which is a good thing.
The recent Best Director Oscar winner for 2017's The Shape of Water is well-known for his contributions to the horror genre, and has always imbued his creatures with as much physical malice as humanity. The Devil's Backbone (2001) showcased what del Toro has become known for — human stories from the perspective of haunted, troubled figures. In The Devil's Backbone, del Toro portrays humanity and the connection to the otherworldly in a way that has metamorphosed over his career. Some of the most striking figures have been from his films that feel almost like fables.

Del Toro is also a modern day master of monster who has worked with a range of teams to create the creatures in his films with care and compassion, even those that don't deserve it (specifically Pan's Labyrinth's Pale Man).  Though frequent collaborator Doug Jones is currently not attached to the project, we can still expect these creatures to take on a life of their own. 

The film will center on a group of kids who must face their fears in order to save their town.
Schwartz's stories capitalized not only on suspense, but also focused on our own innate fears. Internalized dread was morphed into living horror that characters within his stories were forced to confront. There's nothing more terrifying than thinking our homes or hometowns and the places we feel most safe could be overrun by ghouls and frightening creatures. Expect del Toro and Schwartz to use these creatures to signify something beyond dread. 

With the teasers out, it's only matter of months before Schwartz's stories come to life. An ode to the writer's terrifying tales, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will bring audiences back to their childhoods. Only this time, the specters and monsters won't merely be terrible and tragic figments of our imaginations. 

Everything You Need To Know About 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark'
Lionsgate

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