Are You Afraid of The Dark

By Kraven: The She-Wolf

      In 1990 a new horror-themed TV series hit the air.  
It was a new anthology series unlike anything that came
before with very scary monsters, well-written episodes
and top-notch special effects on a TV budget.  This
show was funny at times yet very scary and was not
afraid to kill off people, gross out the viewers and
showcase each week's evil or monster to the fullest.  So what made this show really stand out?  It was not
made for adults but for kids!  Yes, this was at its roots, a children’s series believe it or not, and it was
great.  Even adults watching with their kids enjoyed this show and remember how ahead of its time it was.  
Plus even though being aimed at kids, it didn’t play out and a children’s series with all its grown-up make-
up and scary effects, themes and storylines.  Since this was a show aimed at kids and teens, each show’s
protagonists were indeed kids, something that later shows like Goose Bumps would later follow in the
years ahead.

      Although this was at its core an anthology series, each week’s episode would start with a small group
of teens meeting at a place in the woods where they sat around a campfire and one member of the group
known as The Midnight Society would tell a scary story that would then be shown as the episodes the main
story.  Again, although a children’s show, its stories would always deal with some sort of supernatural
creature or paranormal event showcasing ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens but
never shying away from any of it because this was a kids show.  This writer was a big fan and I, as an
adult, watching it with kids who loved the fact that it didn’t play down to his viewers simply because they
were children.  A very bold thing to do!

      The show aired on YTV a Canadian station where the show was produced and in the States were
shown on Nickelodeon and The Family Channel over its original 6-year season run.  Are You Afraid of The
Dark was created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel as the series made its debut on Halloween night
1990 with 94 episodes in all for the 30-minute series.  The show ran from 1990 until 1996 but later
returned in 1999 for what would be its first of 2 revivals for the series.  This first revival of the show took
place between February 1999 and June 2000 and would see a return once again 19 years later in 2019
as a three-part miniseries for Halloween.

      The child stars of the series, now in their 40’s with children of their own, were JoAnna Garcia who
would go on to play the main role on Reba and the short-lived series Privileged.  Her Midnight Society
campfire companion Ross Hull, who played the leader of the group Gary would follow as an actor playing
on episodes of Stargate Atlantis, Mutant X, the movie Iron Eagle 6 and later become one of Canada’s TV
weather anchor newscasters in 2005.  Other now grown members of the group are Jason Alisharan,
Rachel Blanchard and Jodie Resther.

      Noted episodes for the series were Tale of the Dead Man’s Float with one of the scariest monsters
are ever seen in a TV series let alone a children’s show. The Twisted Claw, The Night Shift, Bigfoot Ridge,
Water Demons, Midnight Ride with the Headless Horseman and Laughing in The Dark with each episode
title beginning with “Tale of The…..” before the week’s episode title.

      For the 2019 return of the Midnight Society that first aired on October 11th and ran to the 25th as part
of a 3 part 3 week mini-series, the show followed a new girl in town who befriends the new generation of
storytellers. For kids who grew up with the series, it must have been fun to see it return in this all new
incantation and to see new kids picking up where the others left off.

      Are You Afraid of The Dark took kids TV in an all new and bold direction and went places that most
youth themed shows dare not go.  Its lasting appeal is now nearly 30 years old and like the kids of the
series, fans have grown up with it and have now shown re-runs of it to their kids.  This show was the leader
in horror-themed TV shows long before Goose Bumps, The Nightmare Room, Eerie Indiana, and
Spooksville.  If you or your kids have not seen this series please do….but remember this though aimed at
kids…..is pretty damn scary and has monster make-up designs that are as good as you would see in any
big-budget horror movie.