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This is one of the rare times when a piece of news strikes me as simultaneously outstanding and horrifying, like a barber shop pole of emotion just winding around my body. CBS Films has signed up for an adaptation of the classic book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark from Alvin Schwartz, whose reworking of folklore was masterful, and Stephen Gammell, whose illustrations begat individual infinite corridors of synapse-crushing fear and dread within many a child’s brains. It’s the scariest thing a kid could have read before moving onto Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, and the guys who gave us last year’s The Collection, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter and Piranha 3DD. And now a different form of dread begins settling in.
Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who first rose to fame with 2005’s Project Greenlight-funded horror Feast, pitched the idea and CBS Films was the highest bidder, according to Deadline. 1212 Entertainment initially bought the rights before getting in touch with the screenwriters. I’m guessing these studios want to get in on the horror anthology bandwagon, turning quick profits from genre fans that eat stuff like this up, and were smart enough to take on such a macabrely beloved slice of nostalgia for many people.
It isn’t an anthology film per se, as the screenplay will use a wraparound story of a group of outcast children whose town gets overwhelmed by the nightmarish beasts and oddities that filled the stories. Of course, it’s up to the kids to save the town, and that’s probably where things are going to get a little weird in the adaptation process. There are undoubtedly enough stories involving creatures to put them all together as a central threat, but will it retain any of the stories’ strengths? I’m not so sure, unless it’s an animated film with Gammell directing. How does one translate this to cinema, or walk away from seeing it without setting fire to everything around?
The original 1981 novel was followed up by 1984’s More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and 1991’s Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. Even though Melton and Dunstan won’t be adapting the stories in the strictest sense, many of you out there may be delighted to know that some of those already exist, thanks to director John Johnson, who directed the upcoming Plan 9 From Outer Space remake. Completely a non-profit project between with him and Darkstone Entertainment, they’ve been making really creepy short films for each of the stories in a season-based format on YouTube. Check out two of them below and just try to stop yourself from watching them all. It’s impossible. Let us know in the comments what stories you’d like to see in the film. Spider-faced woman gets my vote.