Are You Afraid of the Dark? either started you out early on horror movies or deterred you forever. If you want to revisit those childhood natures filled with clowns, Nosferatu-like vampires, and ghouls in pools, the first three seasons of Nickelodeon's one-of-a-kind horror anthology series are currently on Amazon Instant. We can't promise that you won't be looking for monsters under your bed, though.
If you were one of the brave ones, here are 20 things you probably didn't know about Are You Afraid of the Dark? If you were the kid who flipped to the next channel when you heard that creepy opening music, however, here are 20 things you definitely didn't know about the scariest kids show ever.
Rachel Aster Perlman is an intern at Complex. She tweets here.
Scary Campfires vs. Britney Spears
Ryan Gosling was offered a part in The Midnight Society, but opted for The Mickey Mouse Club. A few years later, he co-starred in the season five episode "The Tale of Station 109.1."
The show's original premise was just telling bedtime stories to kids, but show creators D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel soon realized that wasn’t very interesting.
What ended up being the fourth syndicated episode, "The Tale of the Twisted Claw," was actually the first episode to ever air. It first aired as a one-off Halloween special in 1991.
The Sixth Sense
M Night. Shyamalan was supposedly inspired to make The Sixth Sense from the season three episode, “The Tale of the Dream Girl." The episode centers around a boy who is ignored by everyone around him except for a girl who turns out to be a ghost. Dun dun dun!
A "Scarier" Beginning
The show was initially called Scary Tales, a take on the original fairy tales idea, but Nickelodeon wanted a more unique name. They came up with the name Are You Afraid of the Dark? from Dr. Suess' scary story "What Was I Scared Of?"
Up North Trip
The show premiered on Canada's YTV two years before it was picked up by Nickelodeon.
Are You Afraid of Rejection?
When D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel first pitched the idea to Nickelodeon, the network's execs weren't okay with scaring kids. Eventually a Nick executive had a change of heart. The tentative start explains why an episode aired an entire year before the show went to series in 1992.
Jay Baruchel, Hayden Christensen, Elisha Cuthbert, Emily VanCamp, and Joanna Garcia were all featured actors. And for some of them, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was their first on-screen acting job.
Not to shatter your dreams about magical substances, but that mysterious “midnight dust” thrown onto the fire in all but 21 episodes was non-dairy creamer.
Light 'Em Up
They didn’t want to show or teach the young actors how to light matches, so the campfire is almost always lit before the scene starts. But in the season three episode, “The Tale of Watcher’s Woods,” a character is seen about to light a cigarette.
A Walk Among the (Fake) Tombstones
The show was often filmed in real cemeteries, but the tombstones shown weren't real. It's against the law to show actual names on real tombstones, so the crew used fake, foam tombstones.
Those infamous, creepy credits didn't start when the show did. For the first five episodes there was a far less haunting introduction.
Many of the forest scenes were shot in mosquito-infested arboretums. It required many takes to get a shot without a critter flying onto an actor's face.
It isn’t until the third episode that the character Gary says, “I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed.”
Keeping the Music Fresh
Each episode was scored separately, something that other like-minded shows never did.
Sicker Than Your Average
While auditioning kids for the fourth season, D.J. MacHale contracted chicken pox and was quarantined for 10 days.
Clown For Sale
The clown doll from the season three episode “The Tale of the Crimson Clown” was put on eBay and sold for $11,597.
A few stories were original ideas, but many of the episodes were inspired by famous literary works. Two notable works are George Orwell’s “1984” and Stephen King’s “Word Processor of the Gods.”
The One and Only
D.J. MacHale was not in Montreal to oversee the second incarnation of the show, but he still wrote or rewrote every script.
Sardo and Vick
The hour-long special "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" is the only episode in which recurring characters Sardo and Dr. Vink appear together.
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