Are You Afraid of the Dark

Wicked Wednesday: Are You Afraid of the Dark? S3E1 “The Tale of the Midnight Ride”

I swear London’s 90-degree+ heatwave was only last week. How have we landed in autumn already?

This year is a weird time paradigm. It’s both going incredibly fast, and yet anything that happened before March literally feels like a lifetime ago. So believe it or not, Halloween season is already upon us.

Calling to me this week was the familiar and comfortable. And where best to start than with an episode of my forever-favourite Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Still waiting on getting those episodes of the 2019 miniseries over in the UK. Hint-hint.)

Turns out episode 1 of the third season is very Halloween-y indeed.

In the third season, we see the exit of two members of the Midnight Society, David and Kirsten. Weirdly, I always remembered Kirsten being around a lot longer than she was. This episode introduces us to Tucker, Gary’s brother and one of the more memorable kids from the show.

It’s his responsibility to prove he has what it takes to be a part of the society. He begins with a classic ghost story: a twist on the Legend of Sleepy Hallow.

In modern-day Sleepy Hallow, Ian is the new kid at school. He quickly befriends Katie, a classmate with a seriously obnoxious ex-boyfriend. They bond as they get ready for the Halloween dance together, much to the chagrin of the ex, Brad.

The night of the dance both Ian and Katie arrive in their finest colonist gear. They hit it off and dance together, but soon Brad gets involved. He tells Ian that he has to retrieve the pumpkin from the bridge in order to be “initiated”.

Despite Katie’s insistence that no one has ever done this, Ian decides to take on Brad’s challenge. Only of course when he arrives, he falls for Brad’s Headless Horseman prank. Despite looking foolish at overreacting to Brad’s prank, Ian still wins over Katie. The two decide to walk home together.

Before they can leave the woods, Ian helps a lone horseman with directions – the man is lead away from the bridge.

When Ian and Katie are later back at the school, they come face-to-face with the real Headless Horseman. They must use their wits and knowledge of the legend to beat the spirit.

This episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? isn’t a particularly memorable one. Though it is still a crowd-pleaser with both the society and me (and that’s what truly matters). It certainly puts you straight into the Halloween mood.

Children’s shows can often be the best source of Halloween fun. And I think this episode really is a prime example of it. Sure it’s not ground-breaking, but the slightly-silly costumes and the use of one of America’s best ghost stories are excellent.

So Halloween season is officially off to a good start. While I normally don’t go for Halloween content this early on the blog, why the hell not this year? What are your favourite shows or films to revisit for Halloween?

I’m quarantining with my sister for two weeks in October, and it will be up to her what we watch. So, I guess look forward to that?

(Ps: Shudder are currently celebrating 61 days of Halloween. Join in!)

Things I missed out on in 2019 (and really shouldn’t’ve)

I am queen of putting things off. Especially when it comes to watching or reading things I know I will like. No particular reason why, other than I’m already overwhelmed with nice things.

It always seems to be that whenever we reach December, I can’t seem to remember anything about the previous year. Did I read anything? Maybe. Did I watch tv? Probably.

But it’s much easy to figure out what I’ve missed versus remembering what I actually did. Character flaw? Probably.

 There was a lot that I missed out on in 2019. Something that I really want to rectify in 2020. One of my resolutions for next year is keeping up with everything that is happening.

One of the themes I noticed when writing up this list was that most of these shows/films are acclaimed reboots. Nancy Drew, Shudder’s Creepshow (I watched the first episode!), Are You Afraid of the Dark? all were pretty well-received.

Both Nancy Drew and Are You Afraid of the Dark are yet to be released internationally. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a lot more resistant to streaming illegally. But because of it – I feel very cut off from my fellow American fans. We can also throw Into the Dark on that pile.

If I’m wrong on that – please let me know where I can find these in the UK!

As far as films go, I’ve seemingly missed all the heavy hitters. One that I’m most desperate to get to is Tigers Are Not Afraid. This Mexican film has been on so many best of lists this year. It looks fantastic and it’s on Shudder!

Other 2019 films I’d like to are Satanic Panic, One Cut of the Dead, Doctor Sleep, and A Good Woman is Hard to Find.

And for a dash more nostalgia, I’d really like to see Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It’s significantly less well-received than anything else I’ve listed, but going into it with a low expectation will help me, right?

There are a lot more films on that to-watch list. But we all know that I’m garbage at watching newer films.

But I’m also garbage at watching old films, too. My pile of unwatched Blu-Rays is slowly getting bigger and bigger. When I stacked them up, I was a touch embarrassed…

Basically, I don’t seem to have much time in my life! That or I’ve been spending it on the wrong stuff.

Am proud to say that I watched Perfume of the Lady in Black last night and it was fantastic. See? Always putting off things I know I’ll like.

And just like that, we enter a new era. I feel really positive about the future for horror. It was one hell of a decade for us! May writers, actors, musicians, and directors continue to make incredible art.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E13 “The Tale of Old Man Corcoran”

Growing up, the popular night game of choice was Ghost in the Graveyard. Essentially, it was just a game to see how terrified we could make each other by hiding the dark.

In this week’s episode it seems that Kiki has a similar idea when she makes the Midnight Society play a game of hide-and-seek before she begins her tale.

Hide-and-seek game in Kiki’s story is a bit more frightening. According to Kiki, you’ll never who when you’ll get caught and by whom.

In “The Tale of Old Man Corcoran,” a pair of brothers move to a new suburb after living in a rough part of the town. Jack and Kenny are still adjusting to their new lives, and still have yet to make any friends.

While playing around in their front yard one day, a boy on a bicycle stops and introduces himself as Marshall. He invites the boys to join him and his friends at their game of hide-and-seek that night. Marshall’s friends keep their distance, looking like a rather unfriend gaggle of children on bikes.

While Jack is initially not interested, when Marshall insinuates that the boys are being chicken, he quickly agrees. So that night, the brothers follow Marshall’s directions to the game. When they arrive, they find that the game takes place in a foggy graveyard. Kenny becomes scared, but Jack is determined to not appear scared. He hops the fence, and Kenny follows.

When they finally find Marshall and his friends, Marshall makes the introductions. One girl, Cissy Vernon, looks particularly displeased that the boys have joined their game. To try to scare them away, she begins to tell the brothers about Old Man Corcoran. She says that he was once the groundskeeper who dug the graves by hand in the cemetery. Some people thought he was crazy. He supposedly chopped the hands off a boy who stole from him.

But Old Man Corcoran died one day after falling into one of his graves and was buried alive. But some people say he’s still walking the graveyard.

After that delightful tale, the boys are told to hide and they can begin the game. While running through the cemetery, they spot an open grave. Jack suggests that it would be the perfect place to hide, but Kenny disagrees. They suddenly hear the sound of a harmonica, and follow it into the woods where they find an old shack, which they believe to belong to Corcoran.

The brothers believe they’ve been set up for a joke, but when they see the harmonica with “Corcoran” etched in it, they flee. Just as they return to the graveyard, the game of hide-and-seek ends. But before they can move, the brothers bump into a ghostly man with an axe in his hands. Frightened, the boys flee the graveyard and go home.

The following day, Marshall and his gang arrive at Kenny and Jack’s house. When they’re called chickens again, Jack immediately agrees to another game of hide-and-seek.

That night, before the brothers arrive, Cissy argues with Marshall about the brothers joining their game. She tells him that she didn’t think there would be any new members to their group after her. But the conversation stops when Jack and Kenny arrive to join the game.

This time, it’s the boys’ turn to seek. While walking the graveyard, they hear Corcoran’s harmonica again, and Jack decides he’s going to steal the harmonica to prove to the other children that he’s not afraid.

When they arrive back at the shack, they see Corcoran chopping wood. When he walks away, Jack enters the shack while Kenny goes to find the other children.

As Jack begins searching the shack, he becomes panicked. But Kenny arrives, having found the harmonica. Jack hands Kenny his flashlight to hold, but someone else kindly takes it. When the boys notice neither of them is holding onto the flashlight, they discover that they are in the same room as Old Man Corcoran.

Fleeing from the shack, they find Cissy hiding in a grave. She tells them to go away and find their own. When Kenny says he doesn’t see her name on it, she says (to herself, as the boys have run again)  that maybe they should look closer.

Kenny and Jack find Marshall and show him the harmonica, but he doesn’t believe them. But Old Man Corcoran pops up from behind the boys, demanding his harmonica back. He asks what the boys are doing in the graveyard, and they reply that they’ve been playing hide-and-seek, Corcoran asks why they’re playing alone.

The brothers start to tell Corcoran the names of the children they’re playing with, but the man stops them, saying that those are the names of dead children. The boys suddenly realise that they are laying on a grave – Marshall’s grave, which is covered in grass as he’s been dead since 1978.

Thanks to Corcoran, the children weren’t buried alive during the game, like the other children had been before them.

“The Tale of Old Man Corcoran” is easily one of the highlights of season 2. There are great scares, a great twist, and plenty of open-ended mystery to make it feel like a urban legend.

One odd inconsistency about AYAOTD is whether or not ghosts have the ability to wear contemporary fashions. A boy who died in the ’70s could possibly go by unnoticed in the ’90’s, but I think we’re pushing it. How do ghosts get new clothes? Do you have unlimited fashion options in the after life?

Hopefully these are the important questions we get answers for in seasons 3.

But that’s a wrap on season 2 of Are You Afraid of the Dark? And I’m afraid that that’s me done with recaps until the new year.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E12 “The Tale of the Hatching”

All of the children in the Midnight Society have their trademarks. Kristen has a flair for the dramatic (and costumes). Betty Ann loves supernatural tales. Gary loves magic.

And David? Well, David is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud.

This week, he’s miserable because he’s had to move to a different school on the other side of town. This, to him, is pretty much the end of the world as he has to make new friends (and I somehow think this is something David doesn’t excel at).

The new move is David’s inspiration for “The Tale of the Hatching.” Brother and sister Augie and Jazz are forced to go to a boarding school when their parents are off on business for six months.

Black Brook School is a bit strange. When the family first arrive, a girl begins screaming when she wakes up from a nightmare. The family rush to the room, to see if the girl is okay. A couple enter and introduce themselves as Mr and Mrs Taylor, the people who run the school. The girl’s rushed away, just as a low tone sounds from the speaker from the room.

Mr Taylor explains that the bell signals the beginning and ending of class, as well as lunch period. While in Mr Taylor’s office, Augie’s alarm on his wristwatch begins to sound. Mr Taylor grips his ears in pain until the sound stops. He explains the episode away by claiming a migraine.

When Augie and Jazz are finally left alone, they begin setting in at school. While they learn to enjoy it, they can’t help but admit it’s strange. At dinner, all the other students are obsessed with something called “Spunge” (like sponge, but “with a u”). It’s grainy, white and grosses the brother and sister out.

Mr Taylor also takes hand-held games away from kids. And Augie is warned away from listening to his walkman. The Taylors apparently believe these things get in the way of the learning process.

Then one night, things at Black Brook get really strange. Jazz wakes up to the bell sounds coming from the speakers in her dorm room. She sees the other girls from her dormitory rise and leave the room, as if in some sort of trance.

Jazz decides to follow the other girls, and bumps into Augie, who is playing along with the trance act. The two agree to go with the other students to discover what’s going on.

They follow the students into the basement, where there’s some sort of room-sized water containment system. Some students go to stand behind control booths while the others head down ladders. Augie and Jazz realise that the water is filled with large eggs, and the other students are sprinkling a powder over them.

Before the brother and sister can investigate any more, they’re interrupted by the arrival of Mr and Mrs Taylor. Augie and Jazz quickly pretend to be “feeding” the eggs, just like the other students. They overhear the Taylors saying they’re happy to see their new students adjusting, as they didn’t believe they had eaten any of their Spunge.

Jazz and Augie decide to follow the Taylors to their office to spy on them. They overhear the Taylors saying that the incubation period is nearly complete, and their master is pleased. Then the children notice Mr Taylor’s arm – it’s green, scaly, and obviously not human.

Jazz tears her brother away and she urges him to help her do something about it. But before they can enact their escape plan, Mrs Taylor catches both Jazz and Augie sneaking around.

Mr Taylor approached them and says, “You can’t leave; the excitement has just begun.” Then the super-swell adults drag Augie and Jazz into the basement where they’re locked up. The Taylors explains that they are the last of their race, but soon the eggs will hatch and they will take over the world.

But first, the children have to meet the “mother” of the meat-eating species. The giant lizard-like Mother begins to approach Augie and Jazz, ready to eat them before a busy week of tending to her new babies. But before she can get too close, Augie begins setting up his trap: a mechanism using the wall-speaker and his Walkman.

After commanding his sister to hit play, the high-frequency rock music begins to blare from the speakers. The noise causes the Mother to explode, and the children discover, the Taylors. Augie explains that he noticed that the high-frequency noise was a problem for the Taylors, and thought it could be used against them. The perks of being a nerd?

When the children are finally able to escape, they discover that the students have woken from their trances and that all the eggs had been destroyed.

Or have they?

“The Tale of the Hatching” is a fun story. It’s not overly-complex, and it has a fun pair of kids at the front. The episode values both of the kids’ strengths: brains and bravery. And who doesn’t love an evil-school tale? Sure it’s strange that there seems to be no other adults around at this school, but that’s television, right?

But the real mystery for me here is what exactly a boarding school is. Are kids seriously just dropped off when they’re parents can’t watch them for a while? I find this very strange. What sort of business are their parents in that they BOTH have to leave for six months? Perhaps Augie and Jazz have something to worry about. Perhaps THEIR parents have green skin.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E11 “The Tale of the Magician’s Assistant”

This week’s episode is a nod to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas and it’s heavy ties to the 1940 film, Fantastia. And if you’ve never seen the Disney classic, go away now, watch it, and come back later.

It’s Gary’s turn to tell a tale, and he’s please that everyone has arrived on time. Frank grumbles that Gary sounds like their homeroom teacher, but Greg defends the man. The other kids explain to Gary that their teacher is, in fact, a very talented magician on the side. Kristen tells Frank not to judge people, as they may surprise you. And that, is what Gary’s story is about.

In “The Tale of the Magician’s Assistant,” young Todd is going through a tough time. His father had recently passed-away, leaving his mother to work endless hours at an ad agency to make ends meet. So Todd decides to get a part-time job to help out.

He goes to see a magician after seeing an ad for an assistant in the paper. He arrives at a large van (like an old caravan) with the name “Shandu the Magician” painted on the side.

When Todd enters the trailer, he sees cages full of animals and an unusual stick. But before he can touch it, he’s stopped by Shandu. Todd explains that he is responding to the ad. And despite not having any previous experience as an assistant to a magician (surprise), Todd still gets the position.

Todd is set to work by cleaning up the room. He approaches the stick again, but is stopped again by Shandu. The magician explains that the stick is in fact his wand. He explains to Todd that he can only hold it if he’s been handed it by the magician.

The boy begins learning the tricks of the trade. Poor Todd is a bit crap. He struggles to learn the intricate tricks and the subtle movements. But Shandu is patient, and also constantly recites the rules of the magician to his assistant.

  1. Never ever touch another magician’s wand unless he hands it to you.
  2. Only let them see, what you want them too see.
  3. Never, ever get caught in your own reflection.

Though eventually Todd has enough and tells Shandu to lighten up. The old magician tells Todd that years ago, he was a star. He was in films, performed his magic on Broadway and had fans. But his star has since faded, leaving him washed up. Softened by the boy’s words, Shandu opens a box and hands Todd the bowtie from the first tux he ever wore as a magician. He tells the boy he wants him to wear it for their first show together.

Their first show is a child’s birthday party. Despite the less-than-prestigious audience, the magician and his assistant pull off a brilliant show that the children all love. It’s a success for the pair, even if it’s a small one.

The next day, Todd shows up at the van for work. When he arrives, he sees that the magician’s room is in total disarray.  Not wanting to get into trouble, Todd quickly grabs Shandu’s wand and says “Shandu can do!” And suddenly – the wagon is completely restored before Shandu returns.

Todd returns home in the evening where he finds his mother over-worked. She tells him that she has a whole project that was dumped on her last-minute that she needs to complete before the morning. But she decides to take a nap before getting to work.

While his mother is asleep, he grabs one of her plants that looks strangely like Shandu’s wand. He goes to Shandu’s van where he switches the plant out for the wand. When Todd returns home, he uses the wand to finish the work his mother had done.

Before Todd can leave to replace the wand, a vision appears in the shape a glowing-blue woman. She tells him that she is Nazrak, the spirit of the wand. She tells Todd that he has the ability to unleash powers in the wand. Before he can argue, she encourages him to keep using the wand.

Todd returns to Shandu’s van, where he’s caught trying to return the wand. Todd explains that he had spoken to the spirit Nazrak, but Shandu becomes upset, telling Todd that Nazrak is actually a demon trapped inside the wand. He released, Nazrak could darken the era for all humanity.

So, you know, not that big of a deal.

The next day, Todd discovers that Shandu’s van has been set on fire. He runs inside and uses the wand to stop the fire. When it’s gone, he sees Shandu standing before home, only it’s not the magician – it’s Nazrak, who reveals his true form: a sort of Oberserver look a la Mystery Science Theater. 

Nazrak tells Todd that Shandu is now trapped in the wand, unleashing Nazrak. Todd runs away where he finds his mother in Deadite mode. His mom is, in fact, Nazrak in disguise again.

Todd runs away from the demon where he then spots Shandu in the toaster. The magician tells Todd he needs to “remember the rules”.

Understanding Shandu’s meaning, Todd hands the wand over to Nazrak. When the demon uses the wand, Todd steps aside and the wand’s spell strikes Nazrak’s reflection in a mirror. Rule 3:Never, ever get caught in your own reflection.

With Nazrak back in the wand, Shandu is free again. But he hands the wand over to Todd, telling him that it’s the boy’s turn to be the wand’s owner. He then tells Todd the forth rule: Always leave them wanting more.

The magician vanishes, leaving Todd as the new magician.

This is a weird episode. A good one. But a weird one. I can’t imagine my part-time job from high school ending up as my full-time job for life (solid pass on ever being a hostess at a restaurant again).

It was interesting that Todd never used the wand for selfish reasons. He used to clean up a mess (which, I guess saved him from getting into trouble), saving the van, and helping his mother. But rules are rules, eh?

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E11 “The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle”

Sorry, David, but this wasn’t a great one, was it? “The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle” is an oddly boring story about bikes. Well, dead friends and bikes.

David and Kristen arrive late to the Midnight Society meeting, as they were out looking for David’s stole bike. According to David, once you have the right bike – it’s your forever. Gary even says something like a stolen bike is like someone ripping off a part of someone. I’ve ridden a bike before, kids. It’s not that great.

In the start of David’s “Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle,” young Mike and Ricky are the best of friends. The two are riding around on their bikes one day, when the stop on a bridge near a dam. While the two boys are talking, the dam is opened up and the water begins to move quickly below them.

As Ricky is leaning against the rickety bridge, the wooden boards fall loose and his red bicycle falls in. Ricky soon tumbles after, but Mike tries to grab him. Though Mike is able to get a hold on his best friend, he eventually loses his grip and Ricky tumbles to his death in the water below.

Several years later, Mike awakes from a nightmare calling Ricky’s name. Though his friend has been gone for a long while, the guilt of not being about to save Ricky still weighs heavy on his shoulders.

His younger brother Ben notices his brother’s lack of sleep, as do their parents. But Mike goes to school that day anyway. He begins to see a red bike everywhere, though it disappears whenever he takes a second glance. During class he sees the bike yet again, and this time a ghostly image of Ricky is standing with the bike.

Mike panics seeing his dead best friend, and faints. He’s then sent to school nurse to be treated. He talks to her about losing Ricky, and how he thinks he should have been able to save his friend that day. The nurse decides to send him home for the day, and while she’s filling out his paper work, Mike begins to hear someone calling his name.

He looks outside and sees Ricky with his red bike again. And when he turns around, Ricky has taken the face of the school nurse.

Later, Mike is driven back home by his worried father. After visiting a doctor, Mike is put on bed rest. That means he’ll be missing the opening day of fishing season, something he never missed – even the year that Ricky died.

On their drive home, Mike thinks he sees Ricky again, but it’s only a girl on a different red bike. Thinking his son has really lost the plot, Mike’s dad confirms that Mike will not leave the house, even for fishing.

When Ben learns that his brother won’t be able to go fishing with him, he tries to convince him otherwise. Mike promises his brother that he’ll try and sneak out so that they can go fishing together.

The next day Mike doesn’t wake up from his deep sleep. Ben is forced to go to the fishing lake without his older brother. Ben and his two friends head to their fishing spot, passing the place where Ricky died years before. But the bridge is now closed off and marked as dangerous.

While fishing, one of Ben’s friends angrily throws Ben’s fishing bobber, and it lands in the restricted area. Ben reluctantly goes to retrieve it, but his boot becomes stuck under a stone by the bridge.

Mike, who is still blissfully asleep, is awoken by the sound of his name being called again. He angrily leaves the house, and calls for Ricky to make himself appear. He’s stunned with Ricky complies, with his red bike in tow.

Mike angrily apologises for causing Ricky’s death, but his friend tells him something to the contrary. Ricky explains that he isn’t back for revenge against Mike, but actually thanks him for being such a good friend and trying his best to save Ricky all those years ago. Ricky tells Mike that there is someone else in danger that Mike has a chance of saving – Ben.

Mike hopes on the red bike and races to the dam. Ben, who has been shouting for help, watches as the water in the dam begins to be turned on again. But his brother is able to swoop in and save him in time.

After saving Ben’s life, Mike sees that the red bicycle he rode to the dam is now rusted and old. And, as David finishes his story, Ricky’s remains had finally been found after missing all those years.

At it’s core, “The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle” is rather sweet, but there really isn’t enough to pad out 20 minutes. Much of the episode is just of Mike seeing his dead best friend appear everywhere. This tale is neither creepy nor interesting enough to be a truly memorable episode.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E9 “The Tale of the Full Moon”

“The Tale of the Full Moon” has to be one of the more unusual episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? For one, it’s not really scary. It’s actually really funny. And the episode has this over-the-top 1950’s feel reminiscent of John Waters and classic drive-in monster movies.

It’s the one-year anniversary of Frank joining the Midnight Society and telling his first story. By tradition, that means it’s his turn to tell a tale. Inspired by the full moon, Frank says that his tale is about the ways that a full moon can change people.

In his tale, Jed and Hughie are pet detectives. Jed, a particular dog love, isn’t allowed to have any pets of his own, so he helps others find their lost ones. The friends are on a case to find their neighbour’s cat, Misty. If found, the boys will get $20, allowing Jed to buy the dog he wants from the pet store.

They conduct their search throughout the neighbourhood, and Jed has a breakthrough when he finds the tags from Misty’s collar. He calls Hughie on the walkie-talkie, say he found the clue in front of the house across from his that has just been sold.

When during a survey around the house, Jed finds a large pile of pet collars. When he looks in the windows of the house, he sees a man preparing some raw meat. The man gets called away and leaves the kitchen, allowing Jed to sneak in and have a peek inside the fridge. The boy finds that the fridge is packed full of tupperware containers full of more raw meat.

Putting the clues together, Jed begins to believe that the ground meat is actually the missing pets. That night, Jed sets up his video camera and points it at the neighbour’s window. While watching the footage, he sees the man walking past the window. The man suddenly hunches over and falls to the ground, out of the camera’s frame. But when the man returns – he’s a werewolf!

Jed jumps back in surprise and calls out, altering his mom. Though when Jed tries to go back to the footage to find proof for his mom, he finds nothing.

The next day, Jed and Hughie begin researching together. They learn that much of what they know about werewolves is false, though they can’t stand silver and change under the moon. Rather, being a werewolf is like a disease.

When Jed returns home, he finds his mom setting the table and humming to herself. After spotting Jed, she explains that she’s having a date over. The date, surprise surprise, is the man that lives across the street.

Over dinner, Jed tries to catch the man out. He stabs him with silver. Shows the man the moon. But nothing works. Jed’s mom sends him to his room. She and the neighbour go out together for a coffee after their meal.

With the adults out of the house, Jed calls Hughie to join him to search the neighbour’s house. Hughie reluctantly joins (he was in his bath), and the detectives dig through the house’s contents. But they soon realise they’ve made a mistake when they uncover a photograph of two men: identical twins. One man is Jed’s mom’s date. The other the werewolf.

Before the boys have a chance to flee, the werewolf discovers them and chases them throughout the house. They become cornered in the werewolf’s bedroom, and it looks like the end. But they’re swiftly saved by Jed’s mom’s date – and Jed’s mom. The werewolf instantly begins to behave himself, seemingly enjoying a nice head scratch.

Jed’s mom explains that she already knew about the werewolf brother, and was already ‘adjusting’ to the idea. The date insists that the werewolf doesn’t actually eat kids, and everything seems to be okay again.

A year later, Jed’s mom has married the neighbour. And Jed finally had the dog to play fetch with that he always wanted.

“The Tale of the Full Moon” would really just be another typical werewolf story, but the style is what makes it something special. It’s kooky, kitsch, and really enjoyable. If you’re looking for scares – it’s really not here. The werewolf mask is laughably bad (I’m assuming on purpose). But it was one episode of AYAOTD? that made me smile.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E8 “The Tale of the Whispering Walls”

Last January I watched Slaughter High, which was a film that managed to force in these weird rules about April Fools’ Day. Rules that are almost entirely obsolesce, but managed to become the basis of the killer’s actions. It was shoehorned in and probably not necessary.

Which is how I feel about “The Tale of the Whispering Walls”. It’s Betty Ann’s turn to tell the story. When the Midnight Society arrive at the fire, they find her donned in a hooded cape and a skull mask. She tells them the mask is the only protection against the spirit that go hunting during a full moon on Leap Year.

Don’t worry, the mask is completely inconsequential throughout the episode.

Betty Ann’s tale follows a brother and sister and their babysitter as they drive home from a day at an amusement part. The babysitter, Louise, becomes lost. The signs for Highway 9 are all different to what she remembers. Mostly that’s because someone’s nailed up clearly fake signs pointing her in the opposite directions.

Louise, Claire and Andrew pull up by the Whisper Inn where they hope to get directions. Inside it looks as though the bar isn’t open. But a man in a Black Parade coat appears, telling them off for not closing the door. When Louise asks for directions, the man tells her, “You’re lost? You’re precisely on time.”

Sure thing, dude.

He then gives them directions, saying that a shortcut along a dirt road will cut miles off their journey. Louise gets the kids back in the car and follows the man’s directions. Only the car breaks down in front of a large Victorian mansion along the way.

Louise tells Claire and Andrew to wait in the car while she goes in the house along to ask to borrow the phone. When she reaches the door and knocks, it opens by itself.

The children sit in the car completely bored. Eventually, they realise that Louise isn’t coming back. They gather their courage to follow her into the house. Again, when they knock the door opens by itself. This should set off all the red sirens, but I guess not.

While searching for their babysitter, Claire and Andrew walk down a hallway filled with empty frames on the walls. They eventually come across a room that looks as though it has been set up for a party. Both of the little idiots believe that their babysitter set it up for them. But when Andrew accidentally drops his banana split on the floor, it begins to dissolve into smoke and turns into a face of a laughing man.

Claire and Andrew run from the house and agree to go back to the tavern. But when they arrive back at the Whisper Inn, they see that it is no longer empty. Inside, it’s filled with people dressed in clothing from a distinctly different era.

None of the people inside are particularly helpful. They tell the children that their babysitter will be fine. It’s the full moon on leap year! (Again, whatever that means). But they do share that the man who owns the house is Master Raymond, and that he will take care of Louise.

One of the women, dressed in Victorian garb, merely says that Claire reminds her so much of her daughter. The kids decide to leave, forgetting to ask about the phone. They turn back to the tavern again, only to find that it is empty once more.

The children return to the house to search for Louise, who they find trapped in the mirror. But when they begin speaking to her, Louise turns into Master Raymond.

Claire and Andrew rush up the stairs and into the hall with the frames. Only this time, the frames are filled with the moving pictures of the guests from the tavern.

They think they find Louise again, this time holding onto a baby in a nursery, but yet again they realise it is actually Master Raymond. When they run away again, the two become separated.

Claire finds a sculpture flagged with two sconces. The face in the sculpture speaks to Claire, saying that it is actually Louise. The girl clutches on one of the sconces, which activates a revolving wall.

Andrew, meanwhile, rushes to the front door, and realises that he can’t get it open. He remembers then being told off by Master Raymond for not closing the door. The door blows open, and he finally connects that the wind outside has something to do with Raymond’s powers.

With the door still open, Andrew rushes upstairs to find Louise and Claire. He is able to activate the revolving door and finds the two girls in the room with Master Raymond.

Master Raymond tells the children that once the sun sets, Louise’s soul will be his forever. During his speech, Andrew spots a vase. He quickly picks it up and hurls it at a blacked-out window, shattering the glass. The wind gets rid of Raymond, and wakes up Louise from her trance.

The three kids run down the stairs, but before they can read the door, it slams shut on them. They come face-to-face with Raymond yet again, but this time they’re saved by the Victorian lady. She again mentions how much Claire is like her little girl, and wants to spare her. She opens the door, allowing the wind to rush in. Raymond vanishes in to a white mist, allowing the three kids to run free to the car.

As the children drive away, another car pulls up right after them. A man comes out looking lost. Betty Ann then tells the Midnight Society that the house still stands and people still disappear there.

“The Tale of the Whispering Walls” is pretty fun. Betty Ann’s tales are usually some of the best, and this one is no exception. One that could use with some fleshing out, but manages to get a good story down in 25 minutes. We learn nothing about Master Raymond other than that he’s evil. How can he use magic? Why does he want souls?

But most of all: what was the point of that stupid mask, Betty Ann? You could have at least included it in your story, lady.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E7 “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost”

All ya’ll, Melissa Joan Hart is in this one! It’s Kristen’s turn to tell the story, and in some world I imagine that Sabrina Spellman and Kristen are great friends.

It’s the hottest night of the year during the Midnight Society’s gather. Everyone is hot, sluggish and sweaty. Everyone, that is, besides Kristen who is donning a coat and looks perfectly fine for someone practically running through the woods to sit in front of a campfire on a hot night. She tells her other members that her story is guaranteed to give everyone a massive case of the shivers.

In “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost” Charles Pemberton-Shilling III is a total brat. He’s incredibly wealthy and has the sort of parents that allow him to travel somewhere with the aid of his babysitter, Daphne.

On the coldest night of the year, Charles and Daphne take Charles’ family limo to his aunts’ house. When they arrive, they discover that the house is a dilapidated mess. There are no lights on either. Charles suggests leaving, but Daphne marches up to the house and bravely knocks on the door.

Two incredibly friendly ladies answer the door and greet the two children warming. The two aunts had never met Charles before, so the welcome is especially inviting.

That night, the two aunts try their best to welcome the children. They haul around Charles’ trunk for him and say it is because they want to be good hosts. Only one of the aunts mishears and shouts, “Oh I only said hosts, not ghosts.” And the mention of ghosts puts precious Charles on edge.

As Daphne unpacks Charles’ things for him, he hears talking from outside, only to find nothing out there. When he takes his pre-dinner bath, he hears the voices again and sees the light bulb above him swing around.

Daphne spends her time getting to know the aunts. They tell her that they are not rich, like Charles’ family. They can’t afford their electricity bill, which is why their lights are off and they’re using candles. They explain that there was a rift in the family where their father had a disagreement with their uncle, who had unknowingly hired a criminal.

The criminal, a robber, was said to have been arrested while working at the farm and was put on a train to the prison. While on the way to prison, the train supposedly crashed, killing everyone on board. Though the criminal’s body was never found.

After going to bed that night, Charles has a dream that he is looking out a hole and a man shouts “give that back” at him before tearing something from Charles’ hands. Charles wakes from his nightmare to hears something outside. He looks outside and sees a ghostly boy standing outside, repeatedly saying, “I’m cold.”

Charles runs into Daphne’s room and wakes her. Annoyed, she sends the boy away. That morning, the two are still having a disagreement. When the aunts inquire as to why, the kids explain about the supposed ghost. The aunts look at each other, then begin a story of a little boy who used to live in a nearby farm.

The boy was always around their farm, looking for cookies. One day the boy went missing and when he was found, he had frozen to death. By divine intervention, the aunts suddenly notice that the wood stove has burned out. Daphne offers to go chop wood, and drags Charles with her.

While chopping wood, the two get into an argument again. Daphne rubs mud onto Charles’ front (to make him less crap, I guess). But while they argue, they overhear another sound. Daphne goes to investigate, leaving Charles behind.

The boy frets while he’s alone, then sees a set of footprints in the mud approach him. Then the ghost boy suddenly appears to Charles again. Charles attempts to run away, but the ghost boy is wherever he runs.

Eventually Charles falls into a puddle of standing water and mud while running aimlessly, and is helped up by Daphne. Before the two can argue again, the ghost boy appears to them both. He says that he’s cold (again), and points to something nearby.

Charles realises that the boy is pointing at a log. He recognises that the log is the hiding place from his dream. He digs in the log and finds a red jacket. As he pulls it out of the log, something calls from it. He hands the jacket to the boy, who puts it on.

The once pasty-white ghost suddenly becomes flush with colour as he puts on the coat. He hugs himself warm before fading away, seemingly into peace.

Before Charles and Daphne leave the woods, they spot a strange object on the ground near the log. They take it to the aunts, who realise that it is the latch for the broken stove pipe. They insert it and turn it, and out pours a multitude of golden coins, the money that the robber had stolen and hid all those years ago. 

It’s a pretty standard ghost story, but “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost” is somehow an incredible episode. It’s so weird and zany. For one, the aunts are totally nuts. The episode gives plenty of weird little Easter eggs that make it really enjoyable.

My personal favourite is the aunt stitching a bloody hatchet. Why? Who knows. But it’s hilarious and brilliant.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“I say we rename it the Heatwave Society and tell the story about my uncle’s pool.” – David, who has the right idea


Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E6 “The Tale of the Dark Dragon”

Growing up, “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” was one of my absolute favourite Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes. My older sister and I were obsessed with the movie Teen Witch. And there was something so glamorous about magic that could transform you.

The magic in “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” is much darker and twisted than Teen Witch (there’s also a lot less rapping). It’s Gary’s birthday so the Midnight Society surprise him with balloons. David tells him that he has a special magic story for Gary, borrowing one of Gary’s own characters.

Keith is a young high school boy suffering from low self-esteem after suffering injuries in a car crash. He walks with a limp and needs a brace for his leg. The accident has left him with a personality that makes him virtually invisible.

The school dance is approaching, and poor Keith is trying to attract the attention of Shelly, a girl whose boyfriend’s name is Gary (why David decided to name the worst character in the story after Gary is beyond me. Happy birthday?). When he notices Shelly and Gary are not speaking to each other, he gets the courage to ask her to the dance. But Shelly politely turns him down.

Later, Keith is going through the newspaper where he sees an ad for Sardo’s Magic Mansion. The ad claims to be selling a potion that is able to “bring out the best” in whoever takes it. Keith goes to meet Sardo, who is a bit clueless as to which potion Keith is talking about. But he eventually finds it, and sells it to the boy.

Sardo tells Keith that he can only have a drop of the potion at a time. While he at least knows it’s powerful, he doesn’t exactly know what the potion does. Keith puts a drop into a rabbit’s cage to test the potion, and sees that it works instantly.  Keith walks out the shop with his potion, but doesn’t see that the rabbit turns into a literal fanged monster.

Keith takes his first drop of potion (which seems to be pretty damn painful), and in the morning wakes to find that he’s exactly the same feeling suave, doesn’t need his brace anymore, and has the ability to wear leather jackets and style his hair.

With his newfound confidence, Keith goes to the local diner and chats up Shelly. Only he introduces himself as KC, Keith’s cousin. Thankfully this episode avoids that “two-places-in-once” slapstick stuff. Alas, it’s hilarious how much this boosts Keith’s confidence. For some reason I didn’t remember this part of the episode, and I started choking on my lunch.

As all cautionary tales go, things begin going awry. Each morning after Keith takes the potion, he returns to normal. He begins to do struggle in school and finds that he’s getting strange lesions on his  skin. It’s clear that it’s all related to the potion, but it doesn’t stop him from constantly taking it. He asks Shelly to the dance again (as KC), and she accepts as he stupid boyfriend Gary hasn’t bothered to ask her.

That next morning, Keith wakes up with a furry face and fangs.

Keith goes to Sardo’s shop for help, and the two look at the potions book together. They discover that there’s a second page to the potion that says “before bringing out the best, one must fight the dark dragon within”. Neither knows what the hell the dark dragon is.

Meanwhile, Keith’s friend Mariah has been watching him. She’s clearly into the boy: leg brace or no. She sees Keith running from his house to Sardo’s, so she tries to confront him when he gets home. He won’t open the door for her, scorning her for yet another time.

But Keith doesn’t have time for fangs! He has a dance to attend! Keith goes to the school and takes his drop of potion, turning him into KC again. He enters the dance and sees Shelly, who doesn’t look too happy that Gary is dancing with another girl.

Gary wins a trophy for best athlete, and dedicates his trophy to Shelly – the number one girl in his life. He asks her to dance, and Shelly happily agrees. Not even a potion can win poor Keith what he wants.

Then a girl enters the room, and it’s clearly Mariah but she’s taken off her glasses (the 90’s, man). She explains that she loves him, and now that she’s a pretty girl, he can love her too. It’s so painful, but AYAOTD just managed to sum up being a sad, desperate teenager in one go.

Keith looks pretty happy to be dancing with her, but she begins to double up in pain. She explains that she went into his locker and drank the entire bottle of the potion. She begins to quickly turn into a monster, and Keith believes she’s dying. Begins to cry and his tears and remorse land on Mariah’s shoulder. Suddenly, Mariah and Keith both find themselves completely okay.

Keith, having realised that there are people who loved him for who he was, managed to beat the dark dragon that was within him since the car accident. Mariah clearly remembers nothing about what happens, but the two go off together back to the dance.

Why does this episode get to me so much? Probably because I love 80’s movies and this was exactly like a horror-tv-show version of a John Hughes film. With bonus magic! Why the hell didn’t John Hughes ever put magic into his movies? Science? Fine. But we need potions, people!

It is a bit cheesy, but I love the message of self-acceptance. And even characters like Shelly and Gary were more complex than just the typical “good looking and mean” side characters.

Go and watch this damn episode now, people. Watch it now!