Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal Introduce Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series is the stuff of legend. Urban legend, that is – let’s face it, if you read the books all you need to hear is “the hook” or “big toe” and your skin is already crawling – and as such, these YA spine-tinglers manage to appeal to horror lovers of all ages. Think of it as the O.G. Stranger Things.
Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to bring the iconic tales to the big screen. The feature adaptation of the same name is directed by André Øvredal, and was chiefly penned and produced by del Toro.
We Live Entertainment was treated to a live, big-screen debut of the first teaser trailer for the frightful flick, hosted by del Toro and Øvredal, plus principal cast members. Clearly, the unnerving visuals were inspired by the original illustrations for Schwartz’s books, by Stephen Gammell
“It’s l968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind . . . but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time — stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying tome.”
As del Toro explained earlier today at Hollywood’s NeueHouse screening room, he’s been a fan of the series for decades. “I collected the books and would often buy two, so I could give extras to my friends.” He later became an avid collector of the artwork. His first purchase came by chance, when he stumbled upon a sale. “Fortunately, I was going for a meeting at New Line Cinema, and there was a gallery nearby called Once Upon A Time. They were showing and selling the original art from the stories. At that time, it was just after the kidnapping of my father [Federico del Toro Torres, was abducted in Guadalajara in 1997 – he was returned 72 days after the ransom was paid] and so I had no money. I was really, really broke. And it was extravagant but I bought one… which led to financial and marital problems (laughs). But I needed to have the key images that so affected my youth.”
Finally, del Toro has the opportunity to pay homage to the novels that have meant so much to him. “The beauty of the book is that each story is contained, but that’s the nightmare of adapting it and making it into a film. So I came up with a concept that encompassed the theme.” He says that it was important to place the stories in a period of time when stories meant something politically, and which was also relevant to people in the U.S. at that time. So, he and his producing team laid down the groundwork and then set about finding just the right director for it.
“I am huge fan of Troll Hunter and when it came out, I was all over Twitter about it. And then The Autopsy of Jane Doe, I loved.” He was sure that André would be too busy, so he was pleasantly surprised that he was able to snag the popular director. “He was the one and only filmmaker we approached, and I’m so pleased he accepted.”
“I’m just in awe of being able to work with Guillermo. It’s just been a pleasure from the moment we started tweeting up until today. I’ve learned so much about filmmaking from a storytelling point of view, how to direct the actors and shoot certain scenes… it’s just been the luckiest experience of my life.” André admits he’d never read the stories before being approached by Guillermo. “I fell in love with the screenplay that’s just so Amblin’esque and set in a period that is so exciting. It was a unique opportunity to set something in America in the 60s based on a beloved book series, and to get to create some amazing monsters.”
When asked if there are any portions of the film based on reality, both filmmakers laughed. As if! “No. We love creatures!”