What makes "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" so, well, scary are the monsters.
The disfigured Jangly Man and the bulbous Pale Lady look as if they've been simply lifted from the '80s children's books and dropped onto the big screen.
But getting those creatures from 2D to 3D was no simple feat.
To do it, producer Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal enlisted the help of Spectral Motion.
Through a process of sculpting, painting, and careful scrutiny of the original images, here's how the monsters for "Scary Stories" came alive.
This is Mike Elizalde, president and creative director of Spectral Motion.
You've seen their work.
The film that we're known for is "Hellboy."
Since then, we've done several other high-profile films, including "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," "Attack the Block."
We worked on the first season of "Stranger Things."
For "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," del Toro picked Spectral Motion to bring the book's iconic images to life.
Now, usually, when creating characters from an existing source, like in the case of "Hellboy," his team would have hundreds of illustrations to inform their designs.
But for "Scary Stories," in most cases, they had only one illustration by artist Stephen Gammell.
So, to start, Spectral enlisted special-effects designers Mike Hill and Norman Cabrera to help bring the monsters to life.
He was very vocal about, you know, the art direction, and we would constantly send him updates.
But what I recall is the first edict was they have to be as true to the source material as possible.
Like, that's bottom line.
They have to be a representation of that original art.
So, we had the pictures everywhere as a constant reminder to everybody, like, this is what we're going for.
You have one picture per story, but they were just such great, strong, iconic single images that it was just really important to capture that feel.
One of the first things they had to decide was what type of creature they were going to make.
Instead of making puppets, Spectral Motion wanted each one to be a performer, which dictated how they would create the character.
We would literally take the drawing, the Stephen Gammell drawing, and in Photoshop, like, lay it over to make sure that all the lines are right where they should be and that sort of thing.
But these characters are gonna be in 3D.
In the case of the Scarecrow design, Norman created a digital art version in this program, ZBrush, to start designing the angles not captured in the illustration.
But the most important thing was to nail the front shot.
Once they got approval from del Toro and Øvredal, they finished a more detailed sculpt, made a mold, and filled it with foam latex.
The pieces are designed to fit specific actors.
In some instances, the actor's physicality directly informs the look and feel of the character they were playing.
The Toeless Corpse, for example, was played by Javier Botet, who's worked with del Toro on "Crimson Peak" and "Mama."
Javier Botet is an incredible creature-suit performer.
He has very unique physical characteristics that we were able to, starting with that as our foundation, really helped in the translation from a 2D drawing into something 3D.
Another creature actor, Troy James, who played the Jangly Man, brought a new level of physicality that required more attention because of the amount of bending and twisting the character had to do.
We had some new ground to break, as far as having him come in maybe a little more frequently than we normally would for a creature suit because of the unique physicalities of the character and how we had to work around that.
So, it's just a matter of having the actors available to come in repeatedly.
And we'll put him in the suit and we'll take video.
We'll see, OK, this is working, this isn't.
We've got to address this.
I want to point out that these moves are not done with wires or CGI.
He can really move like that.
When we first learned about what the Jangly Man had to do, we started scratching our heads and asking each other, "Who's gonna play this character?"
And then we became aware of an actor named Troy James, who had done a spot on "America's Got Talent,"
And we took a look at his work and we thought...
"He's the guy. This guy can do anything."
Once in costume, the next stage was painting.
Both the suits and the performer's skin were painted with acrylics.
This stage had its own set of challenges.
For the Pale Lady, del Toro and Øvredal wanted it to appear as if the creature's dress had merged with her skin.
To do so, Mike Hill had to create a smooth paint job void of any garment lines on her skin.
It was really cool.
I know Guillermo was particularly happy with this one, because it was such a large and, not abstract, but, you know, it's one of those things that could be widely interpreted, like, what you're looking at.
Stephen's drawings, they have a sketchy vibe to them, so not every line is realized, so to speak, you know, in the real world.
The Pale Lady costume had to be put on almost like a giant snowsuit.
Once in, to create the seamless look, they glued up the seams and painted over them.
Now, keep in mind, these are black-and-white drawings.
For a character like the Toeless Corpse, they chose a color palette to give her a "nicotine-stained" feel, using rotted browns and earth-toned colors.
They also had to tackle the challenge of giving this character's face a skeletal look.
To do so, they added pronounced teeth outside the actor's mouth, a technique used for zombies on "The Walking Dead."
They painted a majority of the actor's body and covered him with almost 30 individual applications to create the finished look.
But the one thing crucial to the design required a missing toe.
So Spectral designed a foot that would be finished later in post-production.
The hair for those two were custom-made wigs by Lynne Watson.
She's done costume hair work for "Planet of the Apes," "Lone Ranger," and my personal favorite, "Team America: World Police."
Each wig took over three weeks to make and are both made with human hair.
When designing the Scarecrow, Cabrera and the team asked: What would farmers in the world of this movie make a scarecrow out of, and how well would they have built it?
They decided to give the Scarecrow a look as though it had a 2-by-4 skeletal frame and was completely beaten up by the elements.
For the Jangly Man, the character made up of different limbs and body parts, each segment of the creature would therefore have different levels of rot.
So, although several designers all worked on this one suit, they would each work on various limbs separately, focusing on a unique level of rot.
Del Toro would visit and guide the artists on how rotted certain parts would be and how they should look.
Once they were in the suit, painted up, detailed, and ready to shoot, the final step was getting the movement of the characters right.
Along with the direction of Øvredal and del Toro, production hired motion coaches to develop the performance.
The actor, director, and even the creature designer would all work together to give the monster that perfectly terrifying presence on camera.
It is like a "Dr. Frankenstein" kind of thing, you know?
Like, you're making a monster.
This thing has to live, you know.
And even though it's not living in real life, it's living in a movie, you know.
So, you're taking this from nothing that didn't live before, and now it's alive, you know.
And that's, like, a great feeling, you know, when you finally see it on film and it's this living, breathing thing that's convincing 'cause it's in the dramatic context of a movie.