‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ Is Being Made Into A Movie, But Can They Pull It Off?

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If you grew up in the 90s, like me, you probably spent some time in front of the tube enraptured by the lite horror-fantasy of Nickelodeon’s anthology series Are You Afraid of the Dark? 

Maybe you stayed up until 9:30 on Saturday nights for SNICK, scared to death by the likes of Zebo the Clown or the Ghastly Grinner. Or perhaps you caught the episodes as re-runs after school, hunkered down on the couch with your Ecto Cooler and Bagel Bites, ready to revel in the spooky stories. I watched the show as much as I could, and I still very much enjoy it, even some of the 1999-2000 reboot.

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Don’t take this dude’s nose. Seriously.

I’ve wondered throughout the years if the series could ever be adapted into a movie. When news broke that Guillermo del Toro was directing a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark flick, I thought, ‘Well, if they could turn that into a movie…” But when I interviewed AYAOTD co-creator D.J. MacHale last year, I asked him if another reboot of the series or a movie adaption of the series was in the works, and he said there was nothing in development. He doesn’t own any rights to the series, anyway.

Well, apparently someone at Paramount decided that it would be a good idea to adapt this beloved show into a movie. Paramount Players, a new division at Paramount Pictures, is taking existing Viacom property (AYAOTD being one of them) and rebooting them to appeal to younger audiences. The guy set to write the script is Gary Dauberman, who penned the screenplays for this year’s mega-successful IT, as well as Annabelle: Creation.

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Could this guy turn “The Tale of Train Magic” into a blockbuster film?

Why I’m worried 

As a huge fan of AYAOTD, this news intrigued me, to say the least. I mean, how often do you see publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter talking about the freaking Midnight Society? Millions of kids watched the show back in the day, but it’s not like there is some huge cult fandom out there (Definitely check out the You Scared Of This? podcast, though, for insight from other geeky fans). It’s definitely cool to think about kids today discovering the “franchise,” but could a modern-day full-length film really capture the essence of what made the show so great?

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Like The Twilight Zone before it, Are You Afraid of the Dark? offered a new story, with new characters and locations, each week. You might have a vampire episode one week, and the following week an episode with aliens or water demons or 50s dream girls searching for their lost love. It was the variety and the short, concise storytelling that made this show something to keep coming back to.

When they tried to make hour-long episodes of The Twilight Zone, the results were mixed. And while the 1983 movie had its moments, it certainly didn’t live up to the appeal of the original half-hour concept. This show was best as a half-hour anthology, hands down.

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Maybe just watch the show instead. Yeah, do that.

More pressing is how does Dauberman plan on incorporating The Midnight Society into the film? The group opened, closed, and narrated each episode, and only had their own actual storyline in the three-parter “The Tale of the Silver Sight.” Will the movie feature the Midnight Society as the show did, as mere storytellers introducing each episode — or will they be direct players, experiencing spooky situations themselves?

The film version of Goosebumps, that other popular 90s series, went with the latter option. Rather than focus on one existing story, they turned R.L. Stine into an actual character, and made Goosebumps an actual in-universe book series. I actually enjoyed this movie more than I had expected, and I thought the concept worked well enough, but AYAOTD is different. Goosebumps had dozens of well-known titles to play off of — Monster Blood, Night of the Living Dummy, Say Cheese and Die. It’s a much more popular series than AYAOTD — kids still read these books a ton today. I can’t see a movie where monsters from the show, like the Crimson Clown or the aliens from “The Tale of the Hatching,” all come to life, and where the show exists in their universe. 

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It’s fine.

Maybe it will work, though. Paramount is clearly trying to play off the popularity of other nostalgia-driven properties featuring kids, such as IT and Stranger Things.  Those two properties have shown that it’s possible to tell interesting horror-esque stories with child actors. My first instinct, though, is that this will be an Are You Afraid of the Dark? adaptation in name only. 

What are your thoughts? Tell us if you think this movie will be as awesome as “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” or as terrible as “The Tale of the Virtual Pets.”

John Brhel is the author of spook books, available on Amazon, and a fully illustrated book of horror tales inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which was 968% funded on Kickstarter.

 

Upstate Oddities: A Forgotten Mausoleum on School Grounds

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By Daniel Robert

Nearly fifteen years ago they cleared the forest behind the bus garage at my old high school to make room for new sports fields. My dad said they found the mausoleum on the hill when they were building the road and didn’t really know what to do about it. You drive right past the vault when you go to the football field, and most people I’ve asked about it, from my town, seem to either not know it’s there, or aren’t curious about it.

I haven’t lived in town since the year 2000. I finally climbed the hill one afternoon last year and took some photos. I was surprised that the door was unlocked and also cracked open, maybe three inches. I didn’t go in, just stuck my iPhone through the opening and took a few pictures.

It’s one of the strangest things, and no one seems to find it creepy. It’s on a steep, mostly forested hill that meets the road, and I think they put a partial gate around the front, back when they uncovered it, but it doesn’t look like the structure or immediate grounds get any type of routine maintenance. There’s a family name attached to the vault itself, and I’ve looked up the name in the county records. I believe they were wealthy landowners from the 19th century who ran a profitable tin mill.

My little brother was in high school when they found the mausoleum, and he said the kids had stories about it, and that he knew a few guys that would go inside the mausoleum at night and drink, trying and scare each other with scary stories. I guess they got in trouble at one point, and the school put an end to it. Yet, it still sits on that lonely hillside, its door cracked open, and inside things are a real mess. I imagine opossums and skunks are in there all the time, chewing on anything they can find. To me it’s doubly sad, to think that there are likely people’s remains still inside, and also that tons of folks drive past it every weekend, and to them it’s just part of the landscape.

7 Tales From “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” That Freaked Me Out (And Still Do)

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By John Brhel

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was one of my favorite book series when I was younger, despite the fact that many of the stories terrified me to no end. Here I was, 8, 9 years old, reading about beheaded roommates and knife-wielding maniacs. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, this was not.

Most of the tales in Scary Stories that used to scare me when I was a kid just make me laugh now (“The Big Toe,” really?) but there are a handful that still leave me unsettled. Here’s a few of my favorite traumatizing tales!

“The Thing”

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Just look at that nightmarish thing! And that’s what it is, The Thing. Even in gathering photos for this post, I got residual childhood chills from seeing this guy’s face again. The plot here is pretty threadbare: a skeletal-looking man/zombie/ghoul follows two boys home and watches them from across the street. But the combination of this image and the idea of being helpless as some weirdo followed me home (where’s your parents, kids?) made this one stand out for me. I seriously couldn’t look at that drawing, and I don’t enjoy it too much now.

 

“The Window”

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When I first read this story, I lived on a semi-rural road, across from which was an empty field. My bedroom window looked out at the field, and the bottom of the window was really low, so anyone could just walk right up and look in on me while I was sleeping if they wanted to. This story, which tells of a young woman who watches helplessly from her window as a yellow-eyed creature (later discovered to be a vampire) slowly stalks toward her home, freaked me the hell out and only served to make my bedroom window even more terrifying. I probably begged my parents to move me to a different room because of this tale.

“Harold”

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This story features one of the most disturbing final scenes in anything I’ve watched or read to this day, for which it wins the “How The Hell Did This End Up In My Elementary School Library? Award.” In this tale two farmers, Thomas and Arnold, make a scarecrow to pass the time in their boring cow-milking lives. They name it after another farmer they dislike and proceed to treat it like dirt, taunting the dummy, smearing food in its face. When Harold begins to grunt and scurry around the roof of their hut at night, Thomas and Arnold flee. In their haste, they forget their all-important milking stools (hate it when that happens). Thomas has to go back to get the stools. But when Alfred looks back at the hut for Thomas, all he sees is Harold stretching out his buddy’s bloody skin on the rooftop. WTF! There’s a reason why this tale always comes up in discussions of Scary Stories. It’s straight-up insane.

 

“One Sunday Morning”

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I was raised Roman Catholic, so I spent many a dull hour at Sunday morning Mass. This story, which tells of a man who unknowingly stumbles upon a church service open only to a parish of the undead, struck a chord with me. I think it was mainly the idea of feeling like you’re in a safe place — I mean, what’s more peaceful and non-threatening than a church? — and finding out that not only is it unsafe, but that the people in there want you dead. This is probably why I don’t go to church anymore. Yeah, that’s the reason.

 

“The Bride”

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Every kid knows what it’s like to play hide-and-seek, so every kid can relate to the terrifying prospect of being trapped in a hiding spot, never to be found. I was probably playing a lot more Nintendo Entertainment System than hide-and-seek when I first read this story, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying.

 

“Maybe You Will Remember”

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You can blame probably this story, the “waking up in a bathtub with your kidney removed” urban legend and the movie Hostel for me never wanting to travel abroad. In this story, a young woman’s mother mysteriously disappears while they are vacationing  together in Paris. The daughter insists that she and her mother were renting out room 505, but it’s revealed that the room was nothing like she remembers, and no one can recall ever meeting her mother (spoiler alert: her mother had died from some virus and authorities were trying to quell any public hysteria). The idea of losing one’s mother is terrifying, especially when you have no idea of her actual fate. I’m fine never leaving North America, really.

 

“Faster and Faster”

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This story doesn’t come up in a lot of discussions about Scary Stories, but I think it’s worth a mention. In it, two cousins find an old, blood-stained (yeah, that’s normal) drum. For some reason, when they play the drum, phantoms on horseback come and shoot an arrow at one of them, killing him. I couldn’t believe what I was reading back then — some kid actually getting killed by a ghost! Most children’s books wouldn’t have more than a ghost simply saying “Boo!” but Alvin Schwartz was down with murder. You’re the boss, Alvin.

John Brhel is the co-author of Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, a 20-story illustrated collection greatly inspired by the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Learn more about Corpse Cold. 

 

CORPSE COLD: NEW AMERICAN FOLKLORE is live on Kickstarter!

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Our new book, Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, is now live on Kickstarter. 17 fully illustrated spook stories inspired by 80s and 90s horror. If you grew up reading books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, go back us on the project page!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1004065989/corpse-cold-new-american-folklore/widget/video.html

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

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EMBARGO DATE: SEPT. 30

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore to feature 17 fully illustrated campfire tales

BINGHAMTON, NY — Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, a new book inspired by horror from the 1980s and 1990s, is coming to Kickstarter on Sept 30.

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore features 17 chilling campfire-style legends, written in homage to classic horror series like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Fear Street, intended for adult readers. The book is co-written by authors John Brhel and Joe Sullivan, and each story is accompanied by a macabre illustration by artist Chad Wehrle.

“We grew up watching Twilight Zone and Are You Afraid of the Dark? and reading books like Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book and various American horror anthologies,” said Brhel. “The unsettling stories and imagery found in books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark made an impact on Joe, Chad, and myself, all the way back in elementary school. In fact, those books are one of the biggest reasons why we write today. With Corpse Cold, we hope to provide that same sort of reading experience for people like us — readers who are grown up, but still nostalgic for creepy art and new takes on well, and lesser known, urban legends and folktales.”

Brhel and Sullivan have co-written several books of paranormal and weird fiction, including Tales From Valleyview Cemetery (2015) and At The Cemetery Gates: Year One (2016). They are launching their Kickstarter campaign to cover production costs for the book, as well as artist fees.

A selection of stories to be included in Corpse Cold: New American Folklore:

“Moss Lake Island”

A carefree getaway in the Adirondacks takes a terrifying turn when two friends stumble upon an island inhabited by witches…

“Two Visions, 1984”

A journalist on his way to cover an event with President Ronald Reagan picks up a hitchhiker with a series of visions regarding his future…

“The Woman on the Campus Green”

A college student with a dark family history finds himself the subject of a strange secret admirer…

“Black Dog”

Two teenage brothers encounter the strange creature that their father had warned them about since childhood, while hunting in the woods near their home…

“Autoplay On”

A man falls asleep watching a playlist of internet videos and ends up playing a clip he was never supposed to see…

To view a preview of the Corpse Cold Kickstarter campaign, visit http://bit.ly/corpsecold.

For more information on Brhel and Sullivan, visit the following pages.

Facebook: facebook.com/cemeterygatesmedia

Instagram: instagram.com/cemeterygatesm

Website: cemeterygatesmedia.wordpress.com

Whoa, it’s been a while.

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Since it’s been more than eight months since we last posted, it’s high time we provided an update on our doings.

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore is the title of the short story collection we are working on Chad Wehrle, the immensely talented artist who created the covers for our books Tales From Valleyview Cemetery and At the Cemetery Gates: Year One. Unlike those books, however, this one will feature illustrations for each story, some with multiple drawings. We’ll provide more news on that in the near future.

We will be making an appearance at the annual RoberCon, a two-day science-fiction/fantasy convention that takes place in our hometown of Binghamton, N.Y.  Our four books will be available for sale, and John will appear on two panels: one discussing the hit Netflix show Stranger Things and the other covering the history and current state of the horror genre.

We are working on a collection of paranormal love stories, tentatively titled Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities. We will announce more as we get closer to completion.

AT THE CEMETERY GATES: YEAR ONE now available for pre-order!

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cemeterygatesone_final_coverOur new short story collection, AT THE CEMETERY GATES: YEAR ONE, is now available to pre-order. We’re really proud of this collection, which brings together 14 of our best stories from our first year of writing together. Killer clowns. Jilted lovers. Urban legends, haunted cabins, and time travel. We think it’s a good, fun mix of stories, and we can’t wait for you to check it out.

You can pre-order a copy over at Amazon. Thanks for your support!