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Guillermo del Toro says the upcoming Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie will draw on the “greatest hits” of author Alvin Schwartz’s beloved trilogy of horror tales. Del Toro is a producer on the film, which is directed by André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe).

“We did an American Idol with the stories in the writers’ room,” the Shape of Water filmmaker said Thursday at an event in Los Angeles to promote the new Scary Stories teaser trailer. “We were saying, ‘Which are your favorite?’ We distilled it to the five or six that we like the most. Some of them are told in their entirety, some others are referenced. Those that know the books will see more than people that haven’t read the book.… But we basically distilled it to the ones that everybody seems to remember the most. The books obviously have many many more stories, so this could go on and on. But we said, ‘Let’s do greatest hits.’”

Del Toro also recalled the first time he came across Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

“I basically was roaming through a bookstore, in San Antonio, Texas,” he said. “I was in my early teens, and I came upon this volume that had an irresistible title: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The cover illustration was so creepy, and I started browsing it, and the illustrations got me first, but Alvin Schwartz’s retelling of the tales was incredibly efficient and lean and mean. It really was like having a campfire between those two covers.”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stars Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint, Austin Zajur, and Natalie Ganzhorn. The film opens Aug. 9.

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