Everyone loves a good scare. If you were a child of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s likely those tricks and treats came from the late author Alvin Schwartz. Name doesn’t ring a bell? Perhaps these short story titles will: “The Big Toe”, “The Hearse Song”, “The Girl Who Stood on a Grave”, “The Bride”, “Harold”, shall we go on?
With three books — 1981’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, 1984’s More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and 1991’s Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones — Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell established the modern horror folklore for youth and teenagers all across the world. Simply put, they were terrifying.
So much so that the books were annually challenged by a number of schools and topped many banned books lists for decades. Of course, that hasn’t stopped generations of wee ones from finding them at their local libraries and bookstores, which is why those cruel tales and black and white drawings remain a topic of discussion.
And why they’re now the subject of a new documentary by director Cody Meirick. Funded by Indiegogo, Scary Stories: A Documentary turns the page on the history of Schwartz and Gammell’s illustrated horror and captures its influence and reach, from the artists inspired by the works to its role in children’s development.
In anticipation, there’s a new trailer featuring a handful of talking heads, who all say things you’ll probably agree with, stuff like: “Everybody knew these stories”; “They’re probably the most scary pictures ever committed to paper”; and “They kind of give a taste of the darker side of humanity…”
Before you call your ‘rents asking them to dig through your dusty box of books up in the attic, watch the trailer below. Sadly, there is no release date yet (and won’t be out for this Halloween), but you can follow the film’s progress here.