Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell’s iconic collections of folklore and urban legends have been terrifying and enticing children since the 1981 release of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. With the news that Guillermo del Toro’s long awaited adaptation is moving ever closer to becoming a reality with the Oscar winner producing and co-writing the film, we thought we’d take a look back at the stories that spooked us the most!
ROOM FOR ONE MORE
A chilling Twilight Zone-esque tale of a young woman on her way to start a new job, and finds herself accosted by a haunting hearse driver who shouts “room for one more” at her as she walks to work. Spooked by the interaction, the protagonist continues on her way until she reaches her new place of employment. As her day ends, she heads to the elevator but is shocked to see the hearse driver in place of the usual attendant. He repeats his refrain “room for one more” but unsettled she heads down the stairs instead, where she hears the elevator crash to a fiery doom!
One of the most influential and best-known urban legends of modern times which inspired an entire horror subgenre in slasher movies, The Babysitter is a stone cold classic. During a dark night, a young girl begins to get creepy phone calls whilst she’s looking after some small children to earn some easy cash. “Have you checked on the children?” the breathy voice threatens, calling again and again until our young heroine calls the police. They trace the call and say the eternally terrifying and now iconic words, “Get out! The calls are coming from inside the house!”
THE RED SPOT
This story transcended Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, becoming a recurring feature in teen magazines and later on urban legend websites. Not even 200 words long, this is one of the most affecting stories in Schwartz and Gammell’s playbook. A young girl gets a spider bite on her face that slowly grows until it eventually bursts, only for dozens of spiders to appear out of it. Truly the stuff that nightmares are made of.
This tells the tale of two young boys who are bored during their summer vacation and spend their time wandering around the local town. One night the pair are sat on a fence when they see a spooky figure… but when they look again, he’s gone. The creepy figure eventually returns, his flesh rotting and falling off as he grabs one of the boys. They make their escape but aren’t believed when they share their ordeal. Alas, the boy who was grabbed becomes ill, his flesh rotting off until he looks just like the thing that grabbed him!