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Prepare to be traumatised by Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

Curiously, the most eye-catching movie ads during this year’s Super Bowl were not for big-budget blockbusters as most expected, but from a Lionsgate-backed adaptation of the classic children’s book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

We all remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, right? The iconic children’s horror book series, complete with its creepy covers, freaked the hell out of two generations. Written by Alvin Schwartz and nightmarishly illustrated by Stephen Gammell, the series was comprised of three books published between 1981 and 1991.

The upcoming film adaptation of the series, financed by CBS Films and Entertainment One, is produced by none other than Guillermo del Toro, winner of Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars for his twisted and melancholic film, The Shape of Water.

Sitting in the director’s chair will be Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal, best known for his critical hit Trollhunter (2010).

Lionsgate debuted the movie’s poster earlier this year, and it’s insanely creepy.

Poster for Guillermo Del Toro's 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark'.

We didn’t need to sleep tonight anyway. (Lionsgate/CBS Films)

They also aired four short teasers during the Super Bowl which, despite lasting just 10 to 15 seconds each, manage to encapsulate the eerie, horrific vibe of the source material.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set for an August 9 release and will reportedly merge a selection of the most horrific tales from the books in a plot that follows a group of teens attempting to solve a series of weird deaths in their small town.

The original book series takes inspiration from urban legends and folklore from all over the world, with each book containing around two dozen short horror stories that push to the very limit, both thematically and visually, what a child is capable of digesting. Occultism, cannibalism, satanism, necrophilia and gore are just some of the themes Schwartz managed to squeeze into these children’s books, similarly to how the original, unabridged Grimms’ Fairy Tales did in their time.

The books are so dark they ranked in the American Library Association’s top ten most banned or challenged titles for nearly two decades.

In 1993, one year after Schwartz’s passing, the Chicago Tribune published a piece about his work which included a former elementary school teacher’s description of the series.

“The bad guys always win,” she said. “And they make light of death. There’s a story called ‘Just Delicious’ about a woman who goes to a mortuary, steals another woman’s liver, and feeds it to her husband. That’s sick.”

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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