Are You Afraid of the Dark? 5 episodes we’ll never forget


Are You Afraid of the Dark? is getting a miniseries revival. In preparation for the movie coming in October, let’s revisit some memorable episodes.

It’s the era of remakes, reboots, revivals, and adaptations – and we have to deal with it. Some projects look quite promising (that Child’s Play trailer doesn’t look bad), others are starting to lose audience appeal (like Pet Sematary and that particular change they did), and there are some that are a mystery but in an exciting way. The upcoming Are You Afraid of the Dark? adaptation falls into the last category.

The movie adaptation of this beloved horror-fantasy anthology series will be penned by IT writer Gary Dauberman, with Matt Kaplan producing, and D.J Caruso (I Am Number Four) on board as director. To make this project even more exciting, Nickelodeon is working on a limited series revival of the show, planned for an October premiere – you know, to go along with the movie.

Although we still have a couple more months to go before the movie and the series are released (or even before a trailer), it’s never too early to revisit some of the episodes that left a mark on our lives. Because, let’s be honest: it was a kid-friendly show, but some stories were truly scary.

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, here’s the list of episodes that changed my life in different ways.

5. The Tale of the Dark Music (Season 1)

“The Tale of the Dark Music”, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Brought to us by Eric (Jacob Tierney) on the first season, the story followed Andy, a boy who moves into a new neighborhood and discovers there’s something weird (and quite dark) hidden in the basement that only appears when music is played.

Here we have some common horror tropes: a basement, a bully (of course!), a strange force that will take you against your will and manipulate you, dolls, and circuses. It’s a whole package.

After re-watching it and thinking about it for a long time, I decided to keep it on the list not so much because of how “scary” it is but because of the long-lasting effect it had on me. For years I wondered why the sound of a street organ was so creepy to me – it’s because of this episode. And, let me tell you: where I come from, there are organ grinders all over the city.

Thank you, Nickelodeon.

4. The Tale of the Super Specs (Season 1)

“The Tale of the Super Specs”, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Courtesy of Nickelodeon

A reference to John Carpenter’s They Live, brought to us by the “leader” of the Midnight Society, Gary (Ross Hull). Here, a boy, who is very into pranks, buys a pair of “X-Ray glasses”, but they turn out to be more than that: the wearer can see strange figures in black, living among us. Oh, and this was the first appearance of good old Sardo (what a character!).

This story deals with multi-dimensions and portals, which are some of my favourite themes – although back in the day, this was kinda freaky – and doesn’t have a happy ending or a “moral lesson”. It’s worth the time.

3. The Tale of the Dollmaker (Season 3)

“The Tale of the Dollmaker” , Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Courtesy of Nickelodeon

There can’t be a horror/fantasy anthology without a story about dolls. Betty Ann (Raine Pare-Coull) was the one responsible for this story about a girl who discovers that a dollhouse in the attic of her friend’s house may be responsible for her disappearance.

We don’t see much of the inside of the dollhouse and the doll, but what we see and in the context that it’s presented, is creepy enough. More so if you imagine yourself in that situation (or is that just me?).

Dolls and dollhouses are creepy and that’s a fact.

2. The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor (Season 2)

“The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor”, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Courtesy of Nickelodeon

I think about this episode a lot. A LOT. After all these years.

Another story from Betty Ann’s imagination, it follows siblings Karen and Billy, who use the 13th floor of their apartment building to play hockey. One day, they find that the floor is now used by a mysterious company that manufactures toys, but these people are not exactly what they look like.

Let me just say that the static on the TV has never been the same since I watched this episode back in the ‘90s. I can’t stand it, it’s unsettling. It’s all your fault, Nickelodeon!

1. The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (Season 4)

“The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner”, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Courtesy of Nickelodeon

The episode that traumatized a generation. Ok, a lot of generations.

And it’s yet another story by Betty Ann. Here’s how it goes: an aspiring (teenage) comic book artist gets an unfinished horror comic titled “The Ghastly Grinner”. After an accident with the microwave, the Grinner jumps to the real world and turns his victims into “giggling idiots” with blue drool.

It’s gross. It’s creepy. It’s a villainous harlequin. It’s creepy. It really is.

I hadn’t watched it in years, for obvious reasons, and turns out it is as scary as I remembered (contrary to “The Tale of the Dark Music”). However, there are some details that I found to be annoying: some sound effects that were very comic-ish (I know, comic books are the foundation of the story, but it messes with the vibe) and equally comic-ish cuts. All that aside, it’s a story that doesn’t grow old.

And I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I spent worrying that the freaking Ghastly Grinner would show up next to me.

Next. Women in Horror Month: One for the books. dark

Times change, and they change fast. It’s going to be interesting to see which tropes and fears the new stories will address, how technology will play in these, and if the movie and the series will somehow connect (in case you don’t remember, there were characters, like Sardo, that appeared in different stories). Are You Afraid of the Dark? is scheduled for an October 4 release, with the series coming later that month.

Do you want to revisit Are You Afraid of the Dark? Let us know in the comments.