The Top 10 'Are Are You Afraid of the Dark?' Episodes
To celebrate the debut of TeenNick's "The 90s Are All That" programming and its record ratings, here are some classic episodes that made you afraid of the dark.
And It Keeps on Getting Creepier...
5. "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost"
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the spookiest one of all? Why, it’s that dead girl in a nightgown looking over your shoulder! Poor Amanda has problems. For one thing, she’s stuck at her aunt’s house for the summer with her hateful cousin, Beth. But when Beth forces Amanda to prove her coolness quotient by sneaking into an abandoned haunted house, Amanda learns sometimes ghosts have worse problems—like being dead. An emotional episode with a rather bleak twist and "happy" ending, it’ll have you avoiding mirrors for weeks, lest somebody other than yourself glance back.
4. "The Tale of the Quicksilver"
The furthest from one of my personal favorites, this episode deserves its slot for inspiring a recurring childhood nightmare and a sense of foreboding around drywall. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana Ali guest stars in a dual role as twin sisters. After one twin is killed in a fire while battling an evil spirit in her bedroom, her grieving lookalike is later tracked down by two brothers who have since moved into the sisters’ (now remodeled) haunted house, and need help defeating the evil lurking within the walls. The story is something of a slog, but there are a couple doozy moments of villain imagery which scared the hell out of me in 1994, and have stayed with me to this day. The fact is, for all of its low-budget Canadian production values, this show really knew how to slap some makeup on a non-speaking guest star and terrify some kids.
3. "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark"
There are many clowns you should think twice about before hiring for a children’s birthday party. Pennywise the Clown, the Insane Clown Posse, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Silly Billy, aka David Friedman of Capturing the Friedmans fame, all immediately come to mind. In the series’ second episode ever, another clown was added to that list. Cocky pre-teen Josh (Christian Tessier, who later appeared in the Battlestar Galactica reboot as Duck) swipes the nose off Zeebo the Clown on a dare inside a funhouse at the local carnival. The theft prompts the ghost of the real-life Zeebo to terrorize the boy via a series of off-camera threats until the nose is returned, including replacing the boy’s microwaving dinner with a bowl of cigars, and inflating balloons into his bedroom via the crack under the door. For those who aren’t paralyzed by the sight of clowns, the episode gets points for being comical fun rather than frightening.
2. "The Tale of the Night Shift"
In one of the series’ creepier and more violent episodes, Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui guest stars as Amanda, an overachieving teen somehow volunteering for the night shift at a hospital. With a vampire on the loose and feeding on staff and patients, Amanda races to destroy it with the help of a friend, before one of its victims is transformed into a bloodsucker, too. The episode is shot with very little fill lighting to create a dark and foreboding environment, but in so doing joins countless other horror projects in wildly assuming hospitals turn off all their lights after the sun goes down. And for the under-ten crowd, a green-faced, red-eyed vampire promising to drop a girl from a hospital rooftop in order to lick up her splattered blood, only to burst into flame and fall to his own doom, is remarkably more intense than the standard fare carrying the TV-Y7 rating.
1. "The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float"
Poll your friends for the episode that scared them the most and chances are "that one with the red demon thing in the pool that comes out of the drain" will carry the most votes. Boasting the distinction of Jay Baruchel’s first screen credit ever (he’s the little boy who drowns in the opening sequence), "The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float" suggests there's something worse than being seen in your bathing suit during high school swim class—there’s getting pulled underwater by an invisible entity. And of course, it’s the only boy in school who can’t swim who gets to play the hero with chemicals from the science lab, and get the girl in the process.