Will Guillermo’s ‘Scary Stories…’ Live Up To Its Name?

A few weeks ago the news dropped that Guillermo Del Toro would be adapting Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to film, with John August (Big Fish, The Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie) writing the screenplay. These books are arguably known more for Stephen Gaammel’s creepy illustrations, but they performed an invaluable service by passing on a lot of classic campfire stories to the next generation.

I recently got my hands on an earlier printing of the first volume (the latest reprint, I’m told, contains “toned down” illustrations), and couldn’t help but try to imagine how exactly these two were going to pull this off. Arguably a lot of the stories end too happily or with not enough punch to scare modern audiences. There are, however, some excellent stories, horror elements, and jumping off point to be toyed with.

With a barren IMDb page, and incredibly sparse news it’s hard to say what we’re going to get. For all we know this could be more akin to the recent Goosebumps release than anything. But I’m optimistic that whether this gets rated R or rated PG Del Toro and August will do right by the people who grew up with this book haunting their elementary school libraries, and give us some legitimate scares. Below are my hopes for the new movie.


Interwoven or not, this needs to be an anthology movie. The stories are largely unrelated, repeat few elements, and take place in a lot of different times. To actually transfer the book exactly to film would be a disaster. That being said, I think it could be a small-town setting with a handful of people passing through to flesh out some of the stories. And with Big Fish to his credit, I think John August is just the man for the job.


A number of these stories, and some of the more iconic ones, involve cars. There’s the famous story of the escaped man who leaves the hook on the car door, the slasher in the back seat, and the oft-repeated traveling newlyweds. Those elements are popular enough that I’d be surprised if the team didn’t want to modernize them or revisit them in some capacity.

Surrealism & Body-Horror

Severed toes! Disembodied singing heads! Whiney ghosts! A man coming down the chimney in literal pieces! A corpse refusing to believe it’s dead! That same corpse dancing itself to death! Scary Stories is no stranger to strange, and Del Toro’s proven himself to do quite well with the whimsical, as has August, and I’m very confident Scary Stories will retain these elements.

Supernatural Horror

Scary Stories has supernatural happenings woven throughout, with few stories being grounded completely in reality. So while we may get some realistic road-horror, I think the supernatural will take center stage, bringing surrealism right along with it. Who doesn’t want to see a priest put a murder victim’s bones in the collection plate to identify her killer, or a shapeshifter raising its shapeshifting babies?

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