If you're a millennial, then you probably got nightmares from reading one particular children's book series. And no, I'm not talking about R.L. Stine's Goosebumps, no disrespect to Slappy the Dummy, monster blood or the lawn gnomes. I'm talking about Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories, a trilogy formed by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991).
Based on folklore and urban legends, Schwartz created terrifying new stories - so terrifying that Scary Stories was the most-challenged banned book of the decade. (So you know it must be good!) To help bring the disturbing subject matter to life, illustrator Stephen Gammell drew the surreal, grotesque, instantly iconic artwork. It's hard to imagine Scary Stories without those arresting images, like the grinning lady's skull on the cover.
In 2012, series publisher Harper Collins repackaged the books with new illustrations, outraging many fans. For the 30th anniversary reissue, they hired illustrator Brett Helquist, best known for his artwork in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. But while his style was perfect for Lemony Snicket, it was not such a good fit for Scary Stories. The new artwork was sanitized, literal and more cute than haunting. (Following the furor, Harper reinstated Gammell’s original illustrations in the 2017 edition of the trilogy.)
Now director André Øvredal (Trollhunter) is bringing Scary Stories to the big screen. The film follows a group of young people as they investigate a series of horrific deaths in their small town. Like the Goosebumps movie, the adaption culls material from multiple stories, like The Pale Lady, The Red Spot and The Big Toe. But unlike the Goosebumps movie, this adaption is produced by Guillermo Del Toro, the master of horror behind Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone.The Red Spot The Pale Lady The Big Toe The Jangly Man
During the Super Bowl, CBS Films dropped the first teaser trailers for the hotly anticipated film. They're short but sweet, featuring tantalizing glimpses of the images that haunted you so much as a kid. I don't know if the movie can capture the hair-raising horror of the book, but it looks more promising than the Goosebumps movie, doesn't it? (Again, no disrespect to Slappy the Dummy, monster blood or the lawn gnomes.)
On Twitter, nostalgic millennials praised the teasers for nailing the book's spirit, and speculated which monstrous visions might be adapted. And also, they created comical side-by-side comparisons for a "30 year challenge." Looking good, Harold and Pale Lady!
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, the movie, is scheduled for release on August 9, 2019. And you are scheduled to have nightmares about it every night after that for the rest of your life. Wa ha ha! (By the way, I hope that Hand-Eye Monster from Pan's Labyrinth gets a cameo. I love that guy!)