Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a joint Canadian-American horror/fantasy-themed anthology series. The original series was a joint production between the Canadian company Cinar and the American company Nickelodeon. The show was filmed in Richmond, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec.
The episode "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" was aired as a pilot on the evening of October 31, 1991 in the USA and more than a year earlier in October 1990 in Canada. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was aired from August 15, 1992 to April 20, 1996 on Nickelodeon's SNICK. Are You Afraid of the Dark? also aired on the Canadian television network YTV. SciFi veteran David Winning directed ten episodes, including "Tale of the Dream Girl", "Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle" and "Tale of the Long Ago Locket".
A revived series with new directors, writers, and cast was produced by Nickelodeon from 1999 to 2000 and also aired on SNICK. The sole member from the original lineup to return for the sixth and seventh seasons was Tucker (Daniel DeSanto), although Ross Hull returned for the concluding miniseries, which notably broke from the show's established format by blurring the line between story and reality.
Both series of Are You Afraid of the Dark? revolves around a group of teenagers who referred to themselves as "The Midnight Society". Every week, at a secret location in the woods, one member would tell a scary story to the group. The actual story, rather than the telling, was displayed to the television viewer. The story was shown between the group's arrival at the site and their departure. Each storyteller would begin their story by saying "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story..." at which point they would toss out a handful of non- dairy creamer (which the characters referred to as "midnight dust") from a leather pouch into a campfire to heighten the flames and produce an eerie white smoke. The storyteller would continue by announcing its title (The Tale of...).
The themes of the stories usually revolves around a variety of paranormal phenomena, such as ghosts, goblins, magic, dragons, haunted houses, magical curses, aliens, witches and the like coming into contact with average youths. Usually, the episodes were either filmed in the woods, in abandoned houses, or in public places like schools or libraries.
Sources of these tales vary in different ways; many were adaptations of public domain fairy tales and short stories or urban legends. For example, the episode "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" is an adaptation of W.W. Jacobs' legendary short story "The Monkey's Paw".
Sometimes, the stories were inspired by a certain event in the life of the storyteller. In the episode "The Tale of the Crimson Clown", for instance, Tucker blackmailed his brother Gary with a poem he had found, which Gary had written for Samantha. Gary then told a story in which a naughty younger brother was punished cruelly for his evil deeds. At the end of the episode, Tucker gave the poem back to his brother.
Each story had its own twist, such as in "The Tale of the Dream Girl" where the main character, Johnny, ended up being the ghost's boyfriend all along, and thus, he too was a ghost.
First series (1990 – 1996)
|Ross Hull||Gary||1990 – 1996|
|Raine Pare-Coull||Betty Ann||1990 – 1996|
|Jodie Resther||Kiki||1990 – 1996|
|Jason Alisharan||Frank||1990 – 1994|
|Daniel DeSanto||Tucker||1992 – 1996|
|Joanna Garcia||Samantha||1994 – 1996|
|Rachel Blanchard||Kristen||1990 – 1992|
|Nathaniel Moreau||David||1990 – 1992|
|Codie Lucas Wilbee||Stig||1995 – 1996|
|Jacob Tierney||Eric||1990 – 1991|
Second series (1999 – 2000)
|Kareem Blackwell||Quinn||1999 – 2000|
|Elisha Cuthbert||Megan||1999 – 2000|
|Vanessa Lengies||Vange||1999 – 2000|
|Daniel DeSanto||Tucker||1999 – 2000|
|David Deveau||Andy||1999 – 2000|
One of the more significant recurring characters was Sardo (Richard Dumont), owner of "Sardo's Magic Mansion" (a magic shop). He would often attempt to sell a character a "prized" item, rarely succeeding. He often had items in his shop that contained real properties of magic, yet did not know until it was revealed in the story. One of the most memorable recurring jokes in the series occurred when someone would address him as "Mr. Sardo". He would then get irritated and exclaim: "No 'mister'; accent on the 'doh'!" Although he rarely got what he wanted, he would often end up helping the characters, often intentionally. He appeared in Gary's stories.
Another recurring character was Dr. Vink (Aron Tager). He was a physically imposing man who would often appear as a mad scientist, sorcerer, and the like. He would also get his name mispronounced. When this happened, he would respond "Vink. With a va-va-va." Often, the protagonist would call him a "nutbag" behind his back, assuming he could not hear him, only to have him reply later, "...and I am not a nutbag." He appeared in Frank's stories. Aron Tager also played the carnival worker who stands in front of the Funhouse and invites people to go inside in "The Tale of the Laughing in the Dark".
Both of these characters appear in the double episode "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure", which was told by both Frank and Gary.
- → Main article: Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode list
- Nickelodeon (original run, October 31, 1991-June 11, 2000; reruns, June 12, 2000-October 31, 2002)
- Nicktoons Network (October 20-31, 2008)
- The N/TeenNick (October 20, 2008-November 1, 2008; October 28, 2011-November 1, 2019)
- Many have considered Are You Afraid of the Dark? to be a children's version of popular surrealist series The Twilight Zone.
Home video releases
- → Main article: Are You Afraid of the Dark? videography
|1992-1994||Clarissa Explains It All • Roundhouse • The Ren & Stimpy Show • Are You Afraid of the Dark?|
|1994-1996||The Secret World of Alex Mack • All That • Space Cases • Kenan and Kel• The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo • KaBlam!|
|1997-1999||Rugrats • The Journey of Allen Strange • Animorphs • Cousin Skeeter|
|1999-2002||SpongeBob SquarePants • The Amanda Show • 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd • The Nick Cannon Show • Taina|