Embarrassingly honest disclaimer: I had never watched an episode of the for-kids horror anthology Are You Afraid of the Dark? before writing this. That fact is embarrassing for many reasons, mainly because I’m a ’90s kids and this show was one of the great gifts of that decade. Unfortunately for my pre-teen self then and my pre-thirties self now, I have never been a fan of things that go “bump” in the night. Those nightmare-inducing Saw movies? Nope. Weird serial killers sporting hockey masks? Definitely not. Texas chainsaw massacres? Hard pass.
But for Halloween, I thought I’d revisit a spooky childhood favorite of many others. After all, this is just a kid’s show, how scary can it really be?
A bit of background first: Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a horror anthology series that premiered on Nickelodeon in 1990. Its basic premise centers on a group of kids who dub themselves the Midnight Society and sneak out at night to some undisclosed location in the woods to tell creepy tales around a campfire. Each episode brings a different society member’s story to life.
Usually those stories come with some kind of moral lesson. This is for kids after all, so they need to be learning something while watching ghosts haunt families and killer clowns terrorize neighborhoods . But most of the Midnight Society’s stories are just plain disturbing, regardless of how old the person watching them happens to be.
Looking back, it’s hard to imagine why any parent would let their kid watch this show. But I’m not here to gripe about a lack of parental guidance – ironically a big theme of the series – or mull over why the fictional adults on this show would ever let their kids visit the woods so late at night without supervision.
The only thing really worth talking about when it comes to Are You Afraid of the Dark is the scares, and there are plenty of them. So in case you’re planning to celebrate Halloween by bingeing the scariest show of your youth, here are six episodes from the series guaranteed to frighten you.