Bring It Back: ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’

Drew Dietsch

Television has been experiencing a welcome surge in revived shows lately. The X-Files, Gilmore Girls, Arrested Development, and many others have been (or are going to be) resurrected thanks to fan support and demand. We here at Fandom think this is always a good thing, and we’d like to look at some shows we believe they need to bring back. One such show that should return to our screens is Are You Afraid of the Dark? SPOILERS may occur, so read at your own risk.

Previously: Carnivàle

Do a lot of young kids these days find themselves getting into the horror genre? In the ’80s and ’90s, there were a plethora of what I’d like to call “entry level horror” offerings. While The Texas Chain Saw Massacre would probably be too intense for most children, you had the Goosebumps series of books (and eventually the television series), the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections, or even a cartoon version of Tales from the Crypt. Today, you’ll get something like the sterilized Goosebumps film that doesn’t really embrace its horror roots, going instead for safe comedy and bastardizing horror tropes and imagery in the process.

Of all the horror properties aimed at kids from back in the day, none stands out quite as strongly as Are You Afraid of the Dark. The anthology style show offered a different terror tale each week told by one of the members of the Midnight Society. This gang of friends would get together in the woods for the sole purpose of sharing the scariest stories they could come up with. It was a fantastic framing device for a show that often strived to genuinely scare the pants off of kids.

ayaotd ghastly grinner

Anyone who has watched the show can rattle off a number of specific episodes that gave them nightmares when they were young. For me, it was “The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner”, a story about a comic book villain who entered the real world and turned his victims into giggling zombies that oozed blue goo from their mouths. It was so traumatizing that I wrote to Stick Stickly asking him to play the episode during the day so I might be able to actually watch it without being too scared.

The show never shied away from material that would probably rile some parents today. Just look at this monster design from “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float” and tell me you can’t see this as a creature in a horror film aimed at adults:

ayaotd dead mans float

The show lasted for five straight seasons and then returned after a nearly three year hiatus for another run of two seasons with a new cast as the Midnight Society. The show went off the air in 2000 and was the last real vestige of kid-friendly horror on television. Today, there isn’t really anything comparable for kids to enjoy.

Which is why it’s the perfect time to bring back Are You Afraid of the Dark. There’s a serious void in the marketplace for this kind of entertainment, and if produced with the same kind of uncompromising tone as the original series, a revival would draw in both parents and kids. We’ve seen the appeal of “horror for kids” slightly return with last year’s excellent film Krampus, and an Are You Afraid of the Dark reboot could help kick off a new wave of children’s horror.

The horror genre is often the foundation for many a fan’s love of film and fiction in general, and kids need properties that help ease them into the genre. With nothing out there that’s really doing that, Are You Afraid of the Dark needs to be brought back so that we’ll have another generation of kids who learn to love horror and all the fun it can bring. If Legends of the Hidden Temple can get a revival of sorts, there’s no reason Are You Afraid of the Dark can’t rise from the dead as well.

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