Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark

Scary stories nc.jpg

Release Date
October 28, 2020
Running Time
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(The Channel Awesome logo and 2020 Nostalgia-Ween title sequence play. Then we open on NC in his room as always, but it's dark in there, save for a fire in the middle of the room and a flashlight on his face. Bach's "Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor" plays in the background on an organ.)

NC: (scary voice) Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.

(Tamara and Malcolm are then seen, also with flashlights in front of their faces.)

Tamara: Critic, this is weird.

Malcolm: Yeah, why the hell are we doing this?

NC: Fools! Don't you know today we're discussing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?

Tamara: Yeah, but so what?

NC: The only way to talk about Scary Stories is to gather around a campfire and read them in the spookiest way possible. Speaking of which, where are your campfires?

Tamara: We're indoors, you psycho! We're just doing flashlights!

Malcolm: Yeah, what the hell are you burning?!

NC: (waving dismissively) Oh, you know, anything safe and controlled.

(The camera then shows where the fire is coming from: a bunch of plastic gas cans on top of a wooden dresser.)

NC: Now, are we gonna start this thing or what?

Malcolm: We're waiting on you. You're the one with the book.

NC: Indeed. (takes out a book labeled "Scary Stories Treasury") Here it is, the complete "Scary Stories" collection. Here we go. (puts it on his lap, opens the book and reads) "Our story takes place decades ago when a group of geeky boys (becomes confused) and one girl are being picked on by bullies..."

Tamara: Wait, isn't that Stephen King's "It"?

NC: Yeah, that's strange. (takes page out of book and tosses it aside) How did that get in there? (looks at book again) Ah, here we go.

(An illustration of the boy in "The Big Toe", one of the actual "Scary Stories" is shown.)

NC (vo): (reading) "The boy trembled with agony as the voice kept calling out, (creepy voice) 'Where's my toe?'"

NC: (wiggling his fingers) "'Where's my toe?'"

Tamara: (flatly) Ooh.

Malcolm: (also flatly) Ooh.

NC: "Then the book started writing itself and the geeky kid was (becomes confused again) shocked to find it was all happening in real life..."

Malcolm: Wait, that's "Neverending Story".

NC: What the hell's going on? (removes this page as well) Other random tales are working themselves in where they don't belong!

Tamara: Just keep going. Maybe it goes back on track.

NC: Ah, yes! Here we go. (reading) "The pale woman..."

(Cut to a shot of the illustration of the pale woman in question.)

NC (vo): "...had black eyes and crept closer and closer..."

Tamara: Ooh!

Malcolm: Ooh!

NC: (becomes confused again) "Then the geeky kid said if they want to break the curse to stop the stories coming to life, they have to confront the ghoulish CGI entity..."

Malcolm: Dude, that's "Goosebumps".

NC: No, no, it's a different book series.

Malcolm: I mean Goosebumps: The Movie. That's the script of Goosebumps: The Movie.

NC: (taking script out) Dude, how did that even fit in there?!

Tamara: Just skip to the end. Does it wrap up like a "Scary Stories" book or not?

NC: It doesn't end, it just says, "Percy Jackson-style sequel baiting."

Malcolm: So these "frightened" you when you were younger?

NC: (holds up "Scary Stories Treasury"; anguished) THIS ISN'T "SCARY STORIES"! I mean, sometimes it is, but mostly it's just a weak retread of other various stories!

(Suddenly, they spot another man (played by Rob), also shining a flashlight on his face.)

Man: (speaking in a thick accent) How's this thanks to me?

(NC yelps in surprise, as does this man.)

Tamara: (excited) Guillermo del Toro!

Malcolm: The master of masters!

Tamara: Are you joining our spooky campfire, too?

Del Toro: No, this is just how I talk to everyone online.

NC: Del Toro, you're a talented filmmaker. (holds up "Scary Stories Treasury") How did you miss the mark with this?

Del Toro: Well, I planned to direct a film version of "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark"...

Malcolm: Of course!

Tamara: Sure to be a masterpiece.

Del Toro: ...but then I decided, "Nah."

Malcolm: Well played.

Tamara: It would not have matched your brilliance.

Del Toro: But I still wrote and produced it.

Malcolm: An inspired choice.

Tamara: I will kill whoever you want me to kill.

Del Toro: Wow. Whenever I leave a project, the people who take over...

(A montage of shots of movie posters is shown: Pacific Rim: Uprising, the Hobbit trilogy, the remake of The Witches.)

Del Toro (vo): ...know how to capture my...

Del Toro: ...original intent.

NC: Do they?

Del Toro: I don't care, I'm working on fifty other things.

NC: (massaging his temples) With films like this, it shows.

(The title for this movie is shown, followed by footage of it.)

NC (vo): Based on the hit collection of spooky folklore that was actually banned from some schools...

(Shots of the book series, three in all, are superimposed.)

NC (vo): ...Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark left a gigantic impression on countless kids. From the classic stories passed from generation to generation to those blood-curling illustrations that are masterworks in their own right, they are just as memorable and timeless now as they were when they were published in the '80s and '90s. So like many, I was hyped as hell to hear a movie was being made about them, hoping this would be a legitimately frightening kids like the ones we used to get in the '80s and possibly a new generation's (Posters for the following are superimposed...) Creepshow, Trick 'r Treat, or Tales from the Darkside. But while the first part came true, being so intense it got a PG-13 rating, Scary Stories sadly wasn't an anthology film, only sneaking in elements from the books and focusing on a completely different plot. I guess we've seen properties (Posters for the following are superimposed: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, The Lego Movie, Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Joker) try a different, even self-aware angle before and achieved great success, but where I'll always remember Miles Morales or Arthur Fleck, I'm not gonna remember... I've forgotten their names already! But with decent critical reactions, audience reactions, and even a sequel on the way, should we be content with a passable film containing some great scenes? Or should we be pissed that we could have gotten one of the great game-changing horror films, particularly for younger people?

Tamara: I just don't know. Del Toro, what should we think?

Del Toro: I think you should love whatever want and eat worms for protein.

Malcolm: (raising index finger excitedly) On it! (runs off)

NC: (deadpan) You're all nuts.

Tamara: Oh, yeah? I didn't see you turn on a light. What's lighting up your office?

(NC looks over offscreen. There is a huge fire in his room, coming from a pile of clothes on the couch!)

NC: (deadpan) My glowing personality?

Tamara: Yeah, okay.

NC: This is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. (glances toward the fire again) Which is not gonna be for a while.

(The film opens on a black screen with nothing on it.)

NC (vo): The film opens with a narration that sounds like that one kid who tried waaaaay too hard in your creative writing class.

Female narrator: Stories hurt. They make us who we are. They have...such power. This I learned.

NC: (as female narrator, reading from a paper) "And what's the cause? Eating cows." (leans forward sharply) MONSTERS!

Offscreen voice: Amy, see me after class.

NC (vo): We start off in 1968, and to answer your question, I'm not entirely sure why. At first, it's cool, as it has both a faded but also vibrant color palette that a lot of films of the '60s and '70s had, (sighs) but it's still modern horror, so, you and green and... (The screen flashes red) Ooh! Red! (The screen goes back to green again) No, no, back to green. When did this become a scary color? Black, brown, blue, like I said, even red, but green is more a relaxing color, often associated with safety.

(A description of the color green is briefly superimposed, reading: "Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety.")

NC (vo): It's not even a sickly, like in The Boys or Fight Club; it's like a tree leaf green. I guess you could argue this movie's playing around with the idea, like taking a safe color and making it threatening; you know, messing with your expectations, creating a false sense of security, but...

Young man: Now for the coup de grace!

NC (vo): ...I don't think this film's smart enough for that. Anyway, we're introduced to our main character, Stella, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti, who is a hipster (A pair of glasses is added onto her (even though she already wears glasses)) before there were hipsters.

Voice on walkie-talkie: Stella?

Stella: I don't want to go trick-or-treating.

(Cut to the person speaking to her: a boy named Chuck (played by Austin Zajur), who is blowing into an aquarium fish net for some reason)

Chuck: Get all the eggs and TP you can and meet us at 7.

NC: You can tell he's a geek because he blows into aquarium nets! (beat) Th-That cliche...

NC (vo): This is Chuck, played by Austin Zajur, and Augie, played by Gabriel Rush. They're the Losers Club without the laughs.

Chuck: (to Augie) At least I'm not a clown.

Augie: I'm a Pierrot.

Chuck: (snickers) Clown.

NC: Thank you for that pause (waves a whirling motion with his hand) so you can let the roar of laughter fill the theater.

Augie: (points to some candy Chuck received) Do you know what's even in those? The same toxic chemicals that's giving our troops Hodgkin's– (Chuck downs the whole boxful) And you ate them all.

Chuck: (his mouth full) Is that why they taste so good? (throws empty box at Augie)

NC: Am I supposed to like them? 'Cause so far the only thing the film's doing is I want...

NC (vo): see them horribly murdered! However, I will give this film some leeway (The camera zooms in on Augie, with a shot of Art the Clown from Terrifier shown on the side) if it's a Terrifier prequel.

Stella: He's not gonna show.

Chuck: What? No, he'll show.

NC (vo): Also, give him props; this is pretty sweet revenge on a bully by putting shit in a candy bag, knowing he'll steal.

(Said bully, Tommy (played by Austin Abrams) reaches his hand out of his car and grabs a bag of what looks like candy off a tree branch as they drive by. He reacts in horror, however, when he sees what it really is. They stop the car abruptly as Stella and her friends throw eggs at the car)

Chuck: (throwing eggs) Pull on this, asshole!

Tommy: (seeing them) Little shit!

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