Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Documentary Trailer Focuses on the Book’s Controversy

Books

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the legendary horror book series, is set for a pop culture resurgence that’s decades in the making as the August-scheduled Guillermo del Toro-produced live-action film attempts to vivify the dormant childhood nightmares of generations. However, there’s some crucial context pertaining to the film’s literary source material, which became a constant target by book-ban brigades across the country over the nightmarish imagery of its illustrations.

Fortuitously, director Cody Meirick has put together a documentary, titled in full Scary Stories: The Story of the Books that Frightened a Generation, which serves as an effective primer ahead of the live-action adaptation film’s release.

Scary Stories Documentary Trailer

The trailer for the Scary Stories documentary bombards you with a montage of soul-piercing images from artist Stephen Gammell, which bestowed onto Alvin Schwartz’s otherwise-quirky trilogy of folklore/urban legend horror stories, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the simultaneous statuses of iconic and notorious. Indeed, the trailer’s showcased testimony of a legend in the genre, Goosebumps visionary R.L. Stine, drives home the impact that Scary Stories had in the literary world.

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Scary Stories Documentary Release Date

Scary Stories: The Story of the Books that Frightened a Generation will be released on VOD on May 7, followed by DVD release set for July 16.

Thus, the documentary will arrive just in time for the August 9 release of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie.

However, for those who can’t wait, and happen to be lucky enough to live nearby, the official description reveals limited theatrical screenings, held via Wild Eye, in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Columbus, and Texas on April 26.

Scary Stories Documentary Details

Scary Stories, the first credited work of its director, Cody Meirick, recalls the effect that the book trilogy – 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 – had on the zeitgeist in the initial years of their existence.

The documentary contains 40 interviews, from family members of author Schwartz, literary titans and artists, recalling not only the influence of the Scary Stories books, but the crusade of parental and religious groups – who called the books satanic – to get them pulled from libraries and bookstores. Indeed, the Scary Stories series, a Schoolastic Book Fair standard, were perceived as Trojan-horsing overwhelmingly morbid, surreal, nightmare-inducing imagery to children.

Views on censorship aside, the images were undoubtedly startling, especially for children. Consequently, the battle was temporarily won by the censors when a 2011 reissue of the book trilogy replaced the offending images with tamer art from Brett Helquist. However, the terrifying pieces of Stephen Gammell would eventually be restored in subsequent editions.

Regardless, many readers who were traumatized by the books during their childhood look back on the experience with fondness… and a bit of residual terror.

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.

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