Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the classic 1980s collection of horror stories (supposedly aimed at children,) has auspicious plans with a movie adaptation that’s long been in the works.
Entertainment One (eOne) and CBS Films is financing the movie adaptation with Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pacific Rim, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) as a producer and co-writer, and André Øvredal as director.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trailer
A new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trailer is here, primarily focused on one of its original – non-book-inspired – concoctions, the Jangly Man. Of course, that is not to say that the clip is short on classic nightmare fuel from the books. Check it out below:
Below is the first full trailer for the film:
You can also check out the teaser trailer just below:
This year’s Super Bowl yielded multiple teaser TV spots over the course of the night for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The iconic story of a young man’s ill-advised theft of a big toe is showcased in this one.
A nightmarish (Guillermo del Toro-esque) creature called the Jangly Man is the centerpiece of this spot below.
This one below bears imagery ripped straight out of the art of Stephen Gammell and, well, your childhood nightmares.
Scary Stories‘ most infamous gross-out tale, “The Red Spot,” is brought to life in this disturbing preview below.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Release Date
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set to arrive on August 9, 2019.
It’s interesting choice of a release date, since it arrives at the tail-end of the summer movie season, though manages to get an early jump on the horror-appropriate Halloween season. However, the August 9 date will put Scary Stories against major horror genre competition with the debut of Hereditary director Ari Aster’s movie, now apparently titled Midsommar, which stars Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark‘s first thematic glimpse arrived in the form of the official movie logo. As you can see of the image, just below, it effectively emulates the aesthetics of the nightmarish images from the original books. Indeed, just the sight of the logo will have members of a certain generation of readers suddenly feeling the itch of old childhood scars inflicted by the books.
And now, as if that weren’t traumatizing enough, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has released its first poster. To any of you worrying that this wouldn’t honor the terrifying illustrations of the original, worry no longer.
We give you…Harold.
Del Toro, that absolute madman actually went and used an illustration from one of the books most macabre stories to display on the first poster. The traumatized children among you may recognize that scarecrow as “Harold,” one of the third volume of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark‘s scariest stories.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Cast
After the primary cast of teens were set, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark revealed its supporting adult players.
Dean Norris is onboard. The veteran American actor, probably best known for his role as Hank Schrader on AMC’s Breaking Bad, is also currently playing an antagonistic role on the TNT crime comedy, Claws. Besides a lengthy television resume, he also fields the occasional film roles, most recently in Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake and back in the day – under heavily mutated prosthetics – played Mars resident Tony in 1990’s Total Recall.
Gil Bellows, another veteran American actor, is onboard. He’s coming off a TV run on Amazon’s Patriot and USA’s short-lived Eyewitness. He first made an impact from his 1997-2002 run on Fox’s Ally McBeal and for his role as Tommy in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption.
Lorraine Toussaint rounds out the new trio. Toussaint, a veteran Trinidad-born actress, is in the midst of career momentum, currently playing the enigmatic witch, Cressida, on AMC’s Into the Badlands, having come off roles on Freeform’s The Fosters, Fox’s Rosewood and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. She’s also made appearances in recent films such as Fast Color and Selma.
As director André Øvredal lauds of the new cast acquisitions:
“Lorraine, Gil and Dean are exceptionally talented actors who also happen to be game for all of the creepy madness that this film entails. We are thrilled to have them aboard our macabre little train.”
However, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will focus on a teen ensemble…
Zoe Colletti was the first cast member to join the film, as first reported by Deadline. She is set to play Stella Michaels, a character that’s officially described as being “at the heart of the film.” Colletti, who worked sporadically as a child actor starting in 2006, has been gaining momentum in recent years with a supporting role in 2014’s Annie, which led to a major role in the 2018 movie, Wildlife, a drama directed by actor Paul Dano (which he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan), starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan. The Wildlife role gained Colletti significant attention after it premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival.
Colletti’s co-stars in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark cast have been announced. They consist of:
Michael Garza (Wayward Pines, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1), Austin Abrams (Brad’s Status, The Americans), Gabriel Rush (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Austin Zajur (Fist Fight, Kidding), and Natalie Ganzhorn (Make it Pop, Wet Bum).
With the cast set, the cameras started to roll, as shown in this image retweeted by Guillermo del Toro.
As director André Øvredal remarked of the cast in a statement, “We spent months searching for and assembling the perfect group of actors to help us realize the most terrifying adaptation that we could conceive.”
Producer Guillermo del Toro chimed in, adding, “I am honored to support Andre’s vision and, with our partners, to bring the incredible world of SCARY STORIES to the screen.”
Further details emerged with the plot synopsis below:
Inspired by one of the most terrifying book series of all time, SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK follows a group of teens who must solve the mystery surrounding a wave of spectacularly horrific deaths in their small town.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Details
Director André Øvredal handled 2016’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a horror film with an element of mystery. That film was his first feature since 2010 Norwegian giant monster movie Troll Hunter, which, itself, came after a decade break from 2000’s Future Murder. However, it appears that he’s ready for more steady work, since he’s already in post-production for the 2018-scheduled Norwegian fantasy film Mortal and is attached to a sci-fi project called Bright Skies. Yet, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will clearly be his highest profile project; one that comes attached with the expectations of generations who grew up being terrified by the books.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will use the trilogy of horror story collections by Alvin Schwartz – 1981’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, 1984’s More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and 1991’s Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones – as the center of a series of mysteriously macabre small-town murders – presumably emulating the stories of the books – that a group of young teens will attempt to solve.
The terrifying nature of Schwartz’s folklore/urban-legend-influenced books – featuring memorable stories like “The Haunted House” (you know, the one with creepy skull face lady), people-flaying scarecrow yarn “Harold” and the tension-building terror of “The Big Toe” – were boosted by the iconic, childhood-scarring illustrations of artist Stephen Gammell, which gave the stories a notably nightmarish gravitas. Because the images were so terrifying, the books were often the center of controversy, landing on the ban lists of several libraries. Thus, the 2011 reissue edition of the books featured less-terrifying art by Brett Helquist. However, later editions would restore Gammell’s art.
Guillermo del Toro was previously attached to direct the film adaptation before projects like The Shape of Water occupied his time. He was clearly embracing Scary Stories as a passion project (he even posted pics of the Gammell artwork that hangs in his home). Del Toro remained onboard as a producer, joined by Jason F. Brown, Sean Daniel and Elizabeth Grave.
The script passed from an original draft by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan of the Saw films, to John August, the writer behind fantasy-themed life-affirmer Big Fish, before passing into the hands of Dan and Kevin Hagerman of The Lego Movie, who wrote it alongside Del Toro.