I still remember the first time I cracked open Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I had plucked the book from a bucket at a garage sale, and nearly jumped when I saw the book’s downright-chilling black-and-white illustrations. (Fun fact: These sometimes-gruesome illustrations actually got the book banned from some school libraries.) In 2018, the chilling tales — based on folklore and adapted for a young adult audience — are still burned in my brain. Now, a movie about the origins of these scary stories is heading our way.
According to Deadline, Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark collection (the final of the three books was published 10 years after the first in 1991) is the subject of a new, upcoming documentary. Set to hit theaters in 2019, the film, which was partially crowdfunded and directed by Cody Meirick, will feature interviews with the author’s family members (Schwartz died in 1992) folklorists, and even other YA horror writers like R.L. Stine, who created Goosebumps.
The documentary will debut the same year that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set for a different big screen project. Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro is bringing these urban legends to life with a scripted adaptation of Schwartz’s stories. Though it’s unclear what tone del Toro (who is producing and co-writing the project) will strike with the upcoming film, the Oscar winner’s horror film Crimson Peak suggests he’s unafraid to tell a bone-chilling ghost story.
And, make no mistake: Though Schwartz's collections were technically kid-friendly, they featured tales of grisly murder, haunting, and, on one occasion, spiders planting eggs in one's face.
Will watching the Scary Stories documentary remind us, finally, that Schwartz's tales are just that? Or will it reawaken our fears that a demonic scarecrow will come to feast on us? To be decided, until 2019.