Guillermo Del Toro and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a marriage that should result in the birth of glorious nightmares for an entire generation of kids.
The original Alvin Schwartz books were smart, savvy collections of stories that had been told and retold, like a Grimm Bros. collection for campfire tales, and Stephen Gammell's illustrations in the original editions of the books are a big part of the reason they were as memorable as they were. In late 2013, Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan set the project up at CBS Films. They were originally set to write the film. In late 2014, the property changed hands, and John August was brought in on the rewrite.
Now it appears that Scary Stories has picked up a terrific filmmaker to bring it to life, and in this Tweet that shows off his original pages from Scary Stories, framed and hanging on the walls of Bleak House, he announces his involvement:
I start development on a film based on a favorite book of youth: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! pic.twitter.com/yu31FkCz4K
– Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) January 14, 2016
Weird footnote: Melton and Dunstan, who first set the film up at CBS, worked with Guillermo on Pacific Rim.
One of the things that I think has been confusing about Guillermo Del Toro's filmography so far is that he doesn't just make one kind of film. He has several different identities as a filmmaker. In many ways, i think Guillermo is at his best when he's making films that speak in some way to a young audience. His Hellboy films, The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim… these are movies that have adult ideas in them, but that also speak in a language that young audiences innately understand. He doesn't speak down to kids; he speaks as one of them. Guillermo has a very childlike view of the world in some ways, in the best ways, and that comes through loud and clear in his films.
That's why Scary Stories is such an exciting match for him. These are simple, direct jolts to the nervous system, and using those Gammell illustrations as a starting point for the visual style of the film is going to give Guillermo an amazing sandbox. He is also developing Fantastic Voyage to direct, and after rumors of Pacific Rim 2 being on the shelf, he made sure on social media to reaffirm that the film is still in development as well.
As I mentioned in the Fantastic Voyage piece, Del Toro does seem to be attached to a number of films at any given point, and I've seen fans get grumbly about this. You really shouldn't, though. This is the game that any filmmaker has to play if they want to work regularly. You have to know going into things that much of what you develop will never make it to the bigscreen. Very few filmmakers have a 100% success rate of just deciding, “This is my next film” and it is and there are no speed bumps. Guillermo has more creative energy than almost anyone I know, and his job on all of these films he's attached to develop is to create such an irresistible package that someone has to give him a greenlight. That is a tough process, no matter how many films you've made before, and I do believe that he wants to make all of these films. Will he? Probably not. But I'm sure he'll give it his full energy as long as he's involved.
Crimson Peak arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9, 2016.