'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' trailer will terrify your inner child

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Nothing is scarier than a kid's nightmares — except, perhaps, a kid's nightmares brought to life by horror-fantasy master Guillermo del Toro. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the 1981 short-story collection by Alvin Schwartz that has inspired two sequels and haunted millions of kids' dreams, is coming to the big screen this summer. And to anyone who remembers shuddering at Stephen Gammell's pen-and-ink illustrations, the trailer's ghostly characters may trigger some flashbacks. Watch the trailer above.

Conceived and produced by del Toro (writer-director of Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and The Shape of Water), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set in 1968, when a group of teenagers decide to break into the abandoned mansion on the edge of their small town. The home once belonged to the infamous Bellows family, whose young daughter Sarah channeled her trauma into a collection of short stories that recall Schwartz's spookiest tales. As the curious teenagers get pulled into Sarah's stories (to a melancholic version of “Over the Rainbow”), her nightmares begin to bleed into their lives. Only by facing their fears do they have a chance of escaping the horror.

'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' scarecrow poster
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark poster (CBS Films)

Among the familiar stories featured in the trailer are “The Red Spot” (an oily skinned arachnophobe's worst nightmare), “The Big Toe” (about a disembodied toe and the corpse that comes to find it), “The Dream” (in which a pale, dark-haired woman takes a recurring role in a girl's dreams) andHarold” (about a scarecrow that comes to life, and not in a fun, Wizard of Oz way.). It's clear that the character design is modeled after Gammell's original illustrations, not the much tamer illustrations by Brett Helquist for the 2011 anniversary editions. Those new illustrations have been controversial — but perhaps not as controversial as the books themselves, which have hovered near the top of the Banned and Challenged Books list since their publication nearly 40 years ago.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will haunt theaters beginning Aug. 9.

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