By Jerome Reuter
For my age group, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was an essential part of growing up. The book series was a collection of folklore retold by Alvin Schwartz. The stories were entertaining, and appropriate for children of all ages. More than the stories however, the illustrations of Stephen Gammell are what most people recall at the drop of a hat. Bizarre artwork that looked like it might have come from Hieronymus Bosch, if he were alive in the 20th century. The stories, and the images served as a lasting impression on anyone who picked up a copy from the library. I have fond nostalgia of the stories and the artwork, even today.
A few years ago, I heard rumors about a possible film adaptation in the works. I remembered all of the fun I had reading the books as a child. More specifically, I remember having them come to life through my imagination. Naturally, I couldn’t help but feel enthusiastic for them to come to life on the silver screen. Could Gammell’s illustrations, and Schwartz’s dark humor be properly adapted?
Fast forward to 2014. CBS Films announced it was going into pre-production. When I found out who the writers were, I rolled my eyes. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston, the writers of the Saw franchise, would be pinning the screenplay. That made me feel just wonderful, the two minds behind one of the most overrated horror franchises. Aside from that, their creative talents have been recently spent working on remakes. These two were going to be responsible for the film adaptation of my childhood nostalgia? I call shenanigans.
You just shouldn’t trust people who have plans on remaking Hellraiser.
Since then, the producers of the film have changed their mind. However, I’m not so sure if it’s for the better. Screenwriter John August will be at the helm, the brains behind Charlie’s Angels, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie. To his credit, he also wrote Big Fish, so he’s capable of compiling a decent narrative.
Here’s where my doubts begin. The original books are children’s literature. With that being said, it makes sense to have someone with his writing talents present. August has stated he has no intention of making this ‘child friendly.’ I feel that defeats the whole purpose of adapting this to celluloid. For my age group, we relish in the nostalgia. For the children of today, there’s a whole generation waiting to fall in love with these books. I’d love nothing more than to not only seeing children reading, but reading books that I grew up with.
His past credentials notwithstanding, I feel there is some potential here. A film adaptation might not end up being a game changer, or a visceral tale. I think we’re overlooking the bigger picture. A product like this will have a guaranteed audience. The children of the 90’s will bring their children to the cinema, bringing everything full circle.
Clive Barker once said; “Time is kind to generic work.” This work is far from generic, and despite what the outcome may be; I’ll be sitting down with this one.