Premiering in Canada on October 31st 1990, “Are You Afraid of the Dark” was a horror anthology series for children. It aired on Nickelodeon until 1996 and followed a group of kids that gathered once a week to tell stories. They referred to themselves as “The Midnight Society.”
With stories that ranged from terrifying to downright silly, this show was a fan favorite on the SNICK line-up. This week we discuss this 90s classic and our hopes for the upcoming film set to release this October.
*We mention the screenwriter for “Are You Afraid of the Dark” (2019) as the screenwriter for “It” (2017). His name is Gary Dauberman and he is credited as one of three screenwriters for “It” (2017).
Main Characters of the original series 1990-1996:
- Gary- Played by Ross Hull, Gary was the lovable leader of the Midnight Society. A magic fan (his dad owned a magic shop,) Gary incorporated magic into his stories. For example, he created the character Sardó, a magic shop owner who sells questionable merchandise to unsuspecting kids. Gary showed romantic interest in Sam, who seemed to reciprocate those feelings.
- Frank- Jason Alisharan played this resident 90s bad boy. Frank told great stories and gave us the incredible Dr. Vink! He also had a thing for Sam but those feelings were never returned
- Kiki- All the women of the Midnight Society were bada**, but none more than KiKi. Portrayed by Jodie Resther, her tough attitude and spooky stories made her a lovable member of the group.
- Betty Ann- The quiet, mysterious Betty Ann always told the strangest stories. Her stories weren’t scary in the conventional way, but they had a way of giving you an unsettling feeling. She was played by Raine Pare-Coull
- Kristin- One of the original cast members, Kristin was played by Rachel Blanchard. She would often dress up for her stories. One story she told, “Locker 22” is one Marci listed as a favorite.
- David- Played by Nathaniel Moreau, David was an early member that left the same time as Kristin. This lead us as kids to believe that they were siblings, but in the show they just happen to move away at the same time.
- Eric- Played by Jacob Tierney, Eric is a character only in the first season of the show. He disappeared in Season 2 without an explanation. He only told two stories, one of them is considered by many to be one of the scariest in the show’s history: The Tale of the Dark Music.
- Sam- Played by JoAnna Swisher, Sam became a quick favorite. She told some of our favorite stories (The Long-ago Locket.) Originally introduced as a friend of Betty Ann’s, Sam surprised the group by being a girl (girls can also wear flannel and be named Sam.)
- Tucker- Gary’s little brother, played by Daniel DeSanto. Tucker replaced David from the earlier seasons and later took over as the leader of the Midnight Society when the show returned for seasons 6 & 7. In “The Tale of the Silver Sight,” we learn that Tucker and Gary’s grandfather started the Midnight Society.
- Stig- Played by Codie Wilbee, Stig was a friend of Tucker’s and a replacement for Frank (though he could never replace Frank in our hearts). He clashed with the rest of the group, and had to tell two stories before getting accepted.
*We only covered episodes from the original 5 seasons. Nickelodeon created a revival show that lasted two seasons under the same name in 1999. We do not consider this the same show because it had different writers, actors, and directors. It was more like a soft reboot.
- Scariest episodes
- Midnight Madness (Season 2, Episode 2)
- Dr. Vink offers a struggling theatre a chance for salvation by letting them show his mysterious vampire film. The film, a version of Nosferatu, draws in big crowds.
- Dead Man’s Float (Season 5, Episode 1)
- A young nerdy boy discovers a hidden pool at his school and attempts to use it in order to impress a girl. After the girl convinces the school to reopen the pool, the kids soon discover its dark past.
- This episode is notable for its effects. The antagonist has incredible make-up and costume design.
- Dark Music (Season 1, Episode 11)
- After moving into a house left to his mother by an uncle they never knew, a young boy discovers a dark presence in his basement. The evil force responds to music and will give him whatever he wants. The catch? He needs to feed it.
- The Lonely Ghost (Season 1, Episode 3)
- A young girl named Amanda spends summer with her snotty cousin. In order for her to be accepted into her cousin’s friend group, she must spend the night in the creepy house next door. After just a few minutes, Amanda discovers there’s more in the house than just dust.
- Ghastly Grinner (Season 4, Episode 9)
- An aspiring artist accidentally brings to life a creepy comic book antagonist known as “The Ghastly Grinner.”
- The Doll Maker (Season 3, Episode 5)
- Melissa finds out that her best friend has gone missing (as if that isn’t traumatizing enough.) After spending time in her house, she discovers that her friend is not missing but instead has been turned into a doll.
- The Night Shift (Season 5, Episode 13)
- A shape-shifting green-skinned vampire (more like a wraith but still has a coffin?) has been sucking the life force out of a hospital staff. It’s up to Amanda and Colin, two teenagers, to save the lives of everyone working the night shift.
- This was the final episode of the original series. The story was told by Sam and ended the show on a spooky note. The story also had romantic themes because Gary revealed in the show’s beginning that he and Sam do have feelings for each other but she’s not interested in dating him.
- Quicksilver (Season 3, Episode 11)
- Aaron and Doug just moved into a new house. They quickly discover it is haunted by two ghosts. One is an evil poltergeist. The other is a spirit of a young girl who died trying to trap the poltergeist. After Doug falls ill and gets captured by the evil spirit, it’s up to Aaron to save his little brother.
- Midnight Madness (Season 2, Episode 2)
- Favorite Episodes
- The Dangerous Soup (Season 3, Episode 13)
- Dr. Vink appears again but this time with a SOUP-er delicious soup. Two young workers discover the dark secret to how this soup is made.
- Dream Girl (Season 3, Episode 10)
- A teenage boy working at a bowling alley begins to be haunted by a female spirit after unknowingly putting on her school ring.
- Bookish Babysitter (Season 3, Episode 6)
- Books come to life to show a young boy that they can be just as exciting as television. As he begins each book and tosses it aside the villains come to life and he must imagine his own ending in order to put things right again.
- The Long-ago Locket (Season 4, Episode 2)
- On his way home from school, Jimmy gets transported back into 1775. He meets a doomed minuteman named William and Jimmy soon discovers that he must help him escape the red coats so William can stop the woman he loves from marrying another man.
- Laughing in the Dark (Season 1, Episode 2)
- A fun house burns down and after being rebuilt is said to be haunted by the clown Zeebo who perished in the fire. A teenager named Josh is dared to steal Zeebo’s red clown nose to prove that it is not haunted. He soon finds out that the stories may be true as strange things begin to happen.
- Midnight Ride (Season 3, Episode 1)
- The classic tale of the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow is told through
- Whispering Walls (Season 2, Episode 8)
- It’s a full moon on leap year when a babysitter named Louise gets lost on the way home from the park with the two children named Andrew and Claire. She enters a mysterious mansion to get help, but doesn’t return. It’s up to Claire and Andrew to save their babysitter from the terrors inside.
- Locker 22 (Season 2, Episode 3)
- An immigrant who attends a new school finds that her locker transports her to a past time where she discovers that the former occupant of the locker had passed away due to a science lab gone wrong. She and a friend must then figure out what went awry.
- The Dangerous Soup (Season 3, Episode 13)
Links referenced in this Case:
This is the JonTron video referenced in the episode. He covers the first two episodes (shown on the DVD) and the Tale of the Dark Music.
This is the Are You Afraid of the Dark intro for the pilot episode which aired in Canada on October 31st, 1990.
This the classic intro that Adam refers to as the reason he never watched the show as a kid.
And of course, I feel the Fear! This iconic music video aired on Nickelodeon after a special “Midnight to Midnight” marathon. We don’t know when it first aired on Nickelodeon, but Robin still has the VHS recording of the marathon with this video.