When telling or listening to ghost stories and other weird and creepy tales, how familiar can a story be before all sense of the uncanny and fearful is drained out of it? Must scary stories be new stories, because once you know how it ends, it loses all power to frighten? Or can the right atmosphere and a good storyteller put a shiver back into a story even when you've heard it several times before? What about traditional stories, known to many people? Are they ever worth retelling when the goal is to make the hearer's flesh creep? When a story is being told aloud, what does it need to scare, or at least unsettle, you as a listener? Or, if you're telling the story--especially if you're a professional storyteller, or do it as a hobby--what gives the scary stories you tell their scary quality?
(I had in mind a group of people staying up all night to play a sort of parlor game, in a room lit only by candles--a lot of candles. At the end of each story, one candle is blown out, so that the room gets darker and darker. For what it's worth, the setting is a remote, semi-rural part of Japan, in the middle 1980s, in a well-off and rather traditional household.)