In a new promotional video ahead of the film's release this week, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro shared some of the magic behind trying to recreate the iconic illustrations from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark horror anthologies for the movie version. Among the tricks? Desaturate the color and choose color palettes that allow the characters to take on the same kind of sickly black-and-white that characterized the illustrations in the books.
The books were written by Alvin Schwartz and featured striking, memorable art by Stephen Gammell. For the movie tie-in books, at least the cover and perhaps some of the interior art will feature imagery from the upcoming film. In 2011, the publisher celebrated the 30th anniversary of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by releasing a new edition that replaced Gammell's art with images from Brett Helquist, the illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Helquist's art was generally thought to "tone down" Gammell's ideas somewhat to make it more palatable both to younger audiences and to the parent groups and others who have frequently sought to censor Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark since its publication. In two separate periods -- from 1990-1999 and 2000-2009 -- the volume was listed as one of the morst frequently challenged books in school libraries.
“What we wanted was to try to emulate with the creatures, the black and white feeling of the illustrations in the book,” del Toro told Fandango. “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.”
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.”
Check out Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in theaters this Friday.