Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Team on Which Elements From the Books Were Most Important in the Movie

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, recently adapted to film from executive producer and evergreen geek favorite Guillermo del Toro, was an odd project: besides being adapted from an anthology of short stories, the project was forced to try to realize the surreal and creepy imagery from artist Stephen Gammell, whose illustrations in the original novels terrified generations of kids.

During a Q&A with ComicBook.com's Matthew Aguilar, executive producer Guillermo del Toro and director Andre Øvredal tackled the question of how they could best adapt a series of ghoulish short stories meant for kids and young adults into a single, feature film for a wide audience. They talked about what they loved about the books, and what they thought were the most important elements needed to be carried over from the books to make sure the film appealed to readers of the source material.

“Depends on the story,” del Toro admitted. “I think rhythm and the faithfulness to the drawings in the book to bring them to life in a way that looks like the illustrations.”

“And the tone,” Øvredal added. “There was such a fun, playful tone in the stories and I really wanted to make sure the movie also has that. Even though it’s scary and intense, you have to sometimes let that radiate out of it.”

In Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, it’s 1968 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.

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“What we wanted was to try to emulate with the creatures, the black and white feeling of the illustrations in the book,” del Toro said in a previous interview. “So we knew we wanted them drained of color. You know? We tried to make them parchment yellow, sort of nicotine yellow and white. So we went for the desaturation in the pictures, all of them. And obviously you light them differently.”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is in theaters now.