Zombie of the Week: The Jangly Man – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)| New 5th Edition Monster

Me tie dough-ty walker

If you grew up in the eighties or even early nineties, there’s probably a good chance you read or at least heard about the illustrated horror children’s books Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Like Dungeons & Dragons, the books were controversial in their day – with good reason.

The stories were horror and similar to campfire tales that centered on violence and other disturbing subject matter like murder, disfigurement and cannibalism. Perhaps if the trio of books had been mere words the controversy would not have been so great, but neither probably would be their legacy. The thing that to me and to many in my generation remember vividly about the books were the illustrations themselves (hairless dog anyone?). Faint charcoal sketches that whispered on the white pages, giving life to the monsters and macabre acts described in the creepy stories made the books stand out, even over similar themed series like R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps. The illustrations, by artist Stephen Gammel were not at all kid friendly and were a huge draw of the stories themselves. The art was so endearingly disturbing that when Harper Collins later re-released the books with updated art, fans of the original widely criticized their less disturbing milieu.

Almost thirty years after their initial publication, fan of the series and Hollywood director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) produced an ode to the child’s books, helmed by director André Øvredal. While I greatly enjoyed Andre’s Autopsy of Jane Doe, a 2016 supernatural horror that is an excellent example of single-location horror, the tonal mismatch of 2019‘s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark left something to be desired. As much as I liked the monster effects, the plot appeared to be doing what Harper Collins had tried to do with the book’s release almost a decade prior to the film, namely grafting on a kid-friendly face to underlying stories that are better told with raw and unchecked horror. Despite this, it was great seeing the creatures from the books brought to life and the zombie Jangly Man is a perfect monster to stat and a chance to contribute my own homage to such a memorable part of my growing up. The concept art for this creature and the others from the movie, are done by Vincent Proce – check out his site with fitting updates of the original art here.

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Zombie of the Week is a bi-weekly (first & third Friday of the Month) feature that presents Horror Movie Zombie options, including new Traits, Attacks and Lore to add to your 5th Edition zombies.

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