The Toe Zombie in the New 'Scary Stories' Trailer Is Scarier Than You Think

We saw the whole scene at a special preview screening. Here's what you need to know.

The scariest illustrations millennials saw as kids are coming to frightening life in Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. A new trailer released Monday reveals a bunch of spooky details, including one bizarre sequence where a zombie that’s missing a toe stalks a teenage boy. Confused? Don’t worry. We saw the entire scene and we’re here to explain.

On Monday, CBS Films released the newest trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, based on the cult horror series of books for young readers by Alvin Schwartz and famously illustrated by Stephen Gammell. In Manhattan, producer Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal hosted a screening of two complete scenes and the trailer before it went live online.

One of the scenes Inverse saw featured that zombie in search of their toe. While we won’t spoil the whole thing, rest assured: Toe zombies are far scarier as a complete scene than the trailer makes it look.

In the film, set in 1969 middle America, a group of kids discover a magical book that, as they read it, writes a story that will not only scare them, but kill them. As the trailer teases, one of the kids (played by Gabriel Rush) is at home eating stew when his friends warn him he is part of the next story, and that he’s being stalked by a corpse demanding to know where their missing toe is.

Again, no spoilers, but it would be in his best interest to stop eating the stew.

The “toe zombie” originates from the very first story in Scary Stories. Simply titled “The Big Toe,” it follows a young boy who discovers a toe in his family’s garden. When he plucks it out and takes it home, his mother cooks it in their soup (???) that they eat before going to bed (!!!). Later, the family is haunted by the corpse who demands to know what happened to his toe.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Toe Zombie
Toe-tally terrifying!

“The Big Toe” is just one of several stories adapted for the film. Unlike the books, which told its stories in an anthology format, the film revolves around a singular narrative that weaves together at least four of the books’ most memorable chapters. As the trailer confirms, other chapters evoked by the film include “The Haunted House” and “The Red Spot.”

“We have many of the tales in the book,” del Toro said at the screening. “But the central story is the story of a girl, Stella, growing up. I wanted her to be the head of the kid’s gang. Normally when you hear these stories, it’s a bunch of boys and there is a sort of ulterior sidekick that is a girl. And I wanted to flip that, and make her the lead and main character that goes through the changes.”


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will be released in theaters on August 9.