scary stories to tell in the dark cast sarah bellows – Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Review

The movie is based on the 1981 book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, which became famous for the grotesque charcoal and ink illustrations by Stephen Gammell that terrified generations of children.

scary stories to tell in the dark rating – ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ Movie Review

Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkAnybody of legal ticket-buying age will likely find at least some of it familiar. These gurus of gore are rehashing the campfire tales and urban myths they were raised on, either to pass on a torch or put their own demons to bed, and the many-cooks approach flits between snappy Tales from the Crypt pulp and graver, Del Toro-esque social statement. Only once – with a chase involving a self-reassembling corpse on the evening of Nixon’s election win, a real night of the living dead – does it fully bridge the two.

That’s not to say that the ending, which clumsily gestures toward a sequel, is perfect — nor, for that matter, is the film as a whole. Like the title says, the movie has more than one tale to tell, and the disjunction in tone and purpose is sometimes jarring or just inexplicable. (Why is there a car chase in this movie?) But Øvredal is to be commended for simultaneously staying true to a beloved franchise and twisting its head around to face in an unexpected direction. Thanks to him, the film isn’t just a collection of scary stories. It’s a meditation on why the stories we tell ourselves shape us and why that’s the scary bit.

Marlon Wallace is involved in the Rehoboth Beach Film Society and the Salisbury-Wicomico Arts Council in order to understand and be a part of the entire Delmarva entertainment scene. He estimated he watches a minimum of 150 movies a year. He writes “The M Report,” to let you know what’s hot and what’s not at the movies and in the media. Check out all stories by Marlon.

While the film had some incredible hype behind its marketing, and 80s and 90s kids could hardly contain their nostalgia in such a way that many lined up in droves for the premiere, something about Scary Stories just fell short of the classic anthology’s essence. The original books were written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell ; they were published in three volumes, beginning in 1981, and have seen dozens of iterations throughout the years due to their incredible popularity with fans of all ages. Though they were meant to be for young readers, Schwartz’s anthologies were among the most challenged books by the American Library Association in the 1990s.

But “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” like the books, only needs to be so deep to cast a spell. Even if some stories are still best told by fireside. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, in theaters now, differs from the original books and its sequels by creating a frame story that ties together some of the most famous horror short stories in the collections.


Review: ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ Offers Kid-Friendly Chills Alvin Schwartz’s beloved children’s books become an atmospheric, if repetitive, kid-friendly horror film. On the other hand, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is based on a children’s book series famous for its indelible horror imagery and campfire-tale aesthetic, not a place you expect to find heavy social themes.


Most effective of all the visitations – and the one lifted reverentially from one of Gammell’s weirdest drawings – is a pale-faced lady, shuffling along like one of the bloated demons from Hellraiser, who lurks in the corridors of an old lunatic asylum and pops up everywhere you turn. Chillingly achieved with body suits, not computer effects, she’ll be the dominant talking point for the older-teen demographic here – except for extreme arachnophobes or those terrified of a boil breaking out. Scary Stories hits with the scares as much as it misses with the storytelling, levelling out to a glass half full.

The black and white illustrations by Stephen Gammell were enough to cause many sleepless nights for the youngsters who discovered Schwartz’s books that many parents tried to get banned from school libraries. For the film, del Toro used the team at Spectral Motion to bring the nightmarish creatures from the book to life. Harold the Scarecrow, The Pale Lady, The Toeless Corpse, and The Jangly Man (a new character invented for the film) are truly frightening creatures created with good old practical FX, not the current CGI benchmark.

Above all, I thought Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is an interesting take on our most traditional modern ghost stories. I’ve never read Alvin Schwartz’s original book — nor did I know there was a book — but a lot of his stories are still familiar to me, having been passed around by word of mouth since I was a little kid. The Big Toe” and others like it have always been this special kind of sleepover folklore. I just didn’t realize just how far reaching those stories were until I found out that this film was being made.

The parts of this movie I liked most tended to be those little elements of intrigue. They have a couple of really clever reveals, especially concerning the whole Red Room” sequence, where they use creative lighting and naming conventions to throw us off and surprise us. I also don’t really mind the computer-generated imaging, which is weird for me. Somehow, the prosthetics and CGI creatures work together in a way that was, for me, pretty scary. I’m guessing this is del Toro’s work.


The premise of this one is simple, even by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark standards. In the original story, a spider walks over a girl’s face while she’s in bed. In the morning she finds a red spot. It grows like any acne blemish, until it’s a painful and unsightly blemish. Later, while she’s in a bath, the red spot bursts and baby spiders pour out all over her face. “The Red Spot” first appeared in Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. In the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie, it’s Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn) who suffers the spider outbreak.

When it comes to Schwartz’s premonition stories, The Dream” is the most popular pick thanks to its memorable illustration, but Room For One More” deserves this spot for taking a Final Destination-like concept and making it feel as random as death truly is. In this story, a man visits Philadelphia on a business trip and is awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a car. It turns out to be a hearse filled with people,” and the scary-looking driver shouts the titular phrase There is room for one more!” at the businessman. The hearse eventually leaves, and the man’s friends try to convince him it was all a dream. The next day, he goes to enter a crowded elevator in a skyscraper office building, and someone says the same thing to him. Before the doors shut, he sees that it’s the hearse driver and refuses to enter. The doors close, and he hears shrieks as the elevator plummets to the ground and kills everyone inside.

Del Toro’s influence can be most keenly felt in the careful setting-up of its world: an American Everytown – dateline: 1968 – that is anything but a nostalgic haven, beset as it is with oddly zomboid bullies, lopsided families and unaddressed traumas, not to mention Richard Nixon on TV each night, rallying his base. What goes on there digests several decades of small-town horror activity, setting local kids to laying old ghosts to rest; the fun lies in the film’s close correlation of words and images.

My grade two teacher read it to us in class, showing us the illustrations in between stories (the unbelievably arresting art of Stephen Gammell). Never in my young life had I been read anything like it. At home my parents read Roald Dahl to me, far different I must say. But during story time at school I could feel fear eating at me, the discomfort welling up from my gut to my heart as I tried to digest horrors I’d never been presented before. This was the first time I’d ever experienced a book that made me sweat and squirm and hold my breath.

Adaptation is a fitting tribute to the book series by the late Alvin Schwarz. These stories are some of the most terrifying tales of horror, revenge, and supernatural events of all time, collected and retold by Alvin Schwartz and featuring the classic artwork by Stephen Gammell.

To understand why the adaptation doesn’t deliver scares quite like its terrifying source material, let’s break down how the six stories featured in the movie differ from their counterparts in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books.

So, how does the original hold up, read after more time has passed than I’m willing to admit, and more horror books and movies than I can count? Amazingly well. These are basically campfire stories, of course, but campfire stories need to be scary to work. They are, in many respects, primal, no frills scares. But they work.

For now, though, there’s been no significant discussion of a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark sequel happening. That may or may not change once its opening box office results are in, especially since the film does, in fact, have the potential to jump-start a franchise. If not, then it’s no big deal. The movie works perfectly fine as a standalone project, and even treats audiences to a cool Lana Del Rey cover at the end before sending them on their way back to the (hopefully, less terrifying) real world.

Anytime I post these books on instagram, people lose their shit. It seems that everyone overseas (and by overseas I mean America or Canada) can attribute all their childhood nightmares to the stories and illustrations found within these collections. A lot of people also say that these books were almost like their gateway into horror. Sadly, I did not have such an experience growing up sad face. Quite honestly I had never even heard of these until I saw them on instagram – and then I WANTED them. But they’re quite tough to find over here! Luckily, I won a giveaway hosted by one of my BG buddies, Sadie, and now I have 3 of these in my collection.

The prim Victorian-Gothic horrors of Edward Gorey had nothing on these. Come a new 2011 edition, parental complaints had reached such a peak that the books were re-illustrated more blandly by someone else. But most horror anthologies commit more fully to their vignettes, even if they are short. Scary Stories very clearly wants to tell some sort of larger story. And here’s where it falls flat.

Based on a folk tale, “The Big Toe” begins with a boy finding a big toe poking out of the soil in his garden. He picks it up and hears something groan beneath the earth. That night, the boy and his family divide up the toe and eat it for dinner. Later on, a toeless monster visits him in his bed. “The Big Toe” appeared in the original Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Based on the iconic book series written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, these stories will bring back memories (not all pleasant!) for generations of readers. With a screenplay by Dan and Kevin Hageman and producers Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, and Marcus Dunstan, the production team took great care to maintain the spirit of the original stories and artwork. Get ready to revisit some old friends.

The ending is bittersweet, which I really do enjoy when it comes to horror. But when the film culminated in Stella simply reasoning with the ghost, I was a bit disappointed. I think it could have been done in a more effective way, possibly stressing how every horror writer’s dream is to be implored by a real ghost to tell her story. But as for how it was actually handled, I just couldn’t believe that it actually worked! The whole movie strives to hammer in that theme of stories have power,” but sometimes, I think that all it manages to tell us was that magic stories have power.” It’s a very, very near miss for me, and it all could have been remedied by drawing a little more connection between each character and the story they were attacked with. Ramone’s is the nearest example I can present of this done right. More than anything else, I wish I had gotten to hear more of the much beloved stories from the source material. I suspect that’s what we’re all here for, anyway.

Based on author Alvin Schwartz’s kids’ book series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark weaves a handful of originally page-long mini-stories into a more stitched-together yarn. And some have suggested that the cinematic whole has the feel of sitting around a campfire and telling, well, scary stories.

Many of Schwartz’s stories have surprisingly adult set-ups, and Just Delicious” is one of the darkest. In it, a woman is afraid of her bully” husband and always makes sure to have food on the table when he comes home from work. One day, she buys him a choice cut of liver, but it looks too mouthwatering to pass up, and she eats it. Desperate to replace the liver before he gets home, she steals a human liver from an open casket funeral taking place next door and cooks it for her husband. The husband scarfs it up, unaware of his own cannibalism, and when a haunt calls out to them in the night, demanding to know who ate her liver, the wife quickly points the finger at her brutish spouse.

You usually have to go back to the ’80s to find Hollywood movies that dare creep up to the line separating thrillers for adults from the all-ages kind. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was the decade when the first of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories collections was published. The books, a staple of elementary school libraries in the ’80s and ’90s, plainly retold various folklore, urban legends, and wives’ tales, with a focus on how to most effectively deliver them to a rapt crowd of fellow campers or sleepover peers. (To that end, many of the tales ended with an AHHHHHHHHH.”) What really branded the stories onto the collective millennial imagination was the gloomy, goopy artwork by Stephen Gammell: unforgettable images of ghouls and phantoms, their grinning skulls coated in a dripping, viscous, midnight-black substance. You felt like you were getting away with something reading those books, and maybe you were; there was a real push to ban them from schools.

Now let’s talk about the art. Maybe the scariest thing about my tattered copy of Scary Stories is Stephen Gammell’s art. That stuff is horrifying. I loved being repulsed by it. Well, except for the illustration that went with The Haunted House, which scared me so much that I usually skipped that story entirely. ( Here it is! ) It’s visceral and haunting and more than a little surreal, and it’s absolutely the first thing I think of when I remember the Scary Stories books.

The plot, however, is mostly boilerplate. It feels calibrated—vaguely but cynically—to capitalize on the popularity of Netflix’s wistful Amblin imitation Stranger Things (Yes, we’re looking at another Spielbergian throwback, albeit one more indebted to Poltergeist than E.T.) Del Toro, working with screenwriters Dan and Kevin Hageman, festoons the funhouse fun with explicit commentary on the dangers of spreading rumors and tall tales, which almost feels like an indictment of the urban legends Schwartz helped immortalize. Is it really a veiled attack on a culture of dangerous misinformation? Lest that sound like a stretch for an adaptation of a kid-lit campfire-tale collection, know that Scary Stories fills the background of many scenes with the specters of Nixon, Vietnam, and the 1968 election, while also making room for a subplot involving the small-town racism faced by Stella’s mysterious, nomadic, new-in-town boyfriend, Ramón (Michael Garza). It’s all a little muddled.

But Stella and Ramón find the secret room where Sarah lived, along with her book of stories, said to have been written in the blood of the children she purportedly killed. And a curious Stella takes the book home, awakening Sarah’s vengeful spirit. Anyone who was in the Bellows house at the time is a target—not just Stella, Ramón, Auggie, and Chuck, but also Tommy and Chuck’s older sister, Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn). One by one, new stories featuring each of them appear as if by magic in Sarah’s book. Then the stories come to life in the real world, from Harold the scarecrow and a corpse looking for its missing big toe, to the Jangly Man and the Pale Lady (all fan favorites).

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a series of three collections of short horror stories for children , written by Alvin Schwartz and originally illustrated by Stephen Gammell In 2011, HarperCollins published editions featuring new art by Brett Helquist , stirring some controversy among fans. 1 2 Subsequent printings have restored the original Gammell art. 3 The titles of the books are 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).

That’s not to say that the ending, which clumsily gestures toward a sequel, is perfect — nor, for that matter, is the film as a whole. Like the title says, the movie has more than one tale to tell, and the disjunction in tone and purpose is sometimes jarring or just inexplicable. (Why is there a car chase in this movie?) But Øvredal is to be commended for simultaneously staying true to a beloved franchise and twisting its head around to face in an unexpected direction. Thanks to him, the film isn’t just a collection of scary stories. It’s a meditation on why the stories we tell ourselves shape us and why that’s the scary bit.

This story is only loosely adapted in the movie version of Scary Stories by replicating Gammell’s illustration of the murdered young woman. In the movie, the ghost is Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard), who wrote the magic book that haunts the teens of Mill Valley.

A classic urban legend if ever there was one, The Babysitter” is a variation on the inspiration for movies like When A Stranger Calls and scenes in other classic slashers like Black Christmas and Halloween. You likely know this one: a babysitter is plagued by disturbing phone calls that she dismisses as a prank. Eventually, the calls escalate and become threatening. This is the rare case in which Schwartz’s version is tamer than others, with the caller simply counting down to some unknown event with cryptic phrases like one hour” and pretty soon now.” The freaked-out babysitter ultimately calls the police, who trace the call to the house’s other line. The man bolts down from upstairs and is eventually apprehended by the police.

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