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The 5 Creepiest Episodes of ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, here are some spooky episodes of the classic TV show that will get you hyped for next year’s movie.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? - The Ghastly Grinner
By  · Published on December 13th, 2018

If you grew up in the ’90s and were fascinated with the spookier side of entertainment, then Are You Afraid of the Dark? was unmissable. For 91 glorious episodes, The Midnight Society gathered around a campfire and shared tales that gave us the willies while also introducing young stars like Ryan Gosling and Elisha Cuthbert to the world. Growing up with Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a special time to be a budding horror fanatic, and the upcoming film adaptation has the potential to be as influential to this generation’s aspiring monster kids.

All has been quiet on the film front since the initial announcement in 2017, so it brings me great to joy to share the news that a director has finally been hired. According to Bloody-Disgusting, D.J. Caruso has been tasked with bringing IT screenwriter Gary Dauberman’s script to life, which promises to be a brand new teen-centric story that will honor the “darker, scarier tone of the show.”

Caruso has already demonstrated a knack for producing creepy teen fare having helmed 2007’s underappreciated Disturbia, which is essentially Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window reimagined for the YA crowd. That movie boasts some effective chills and thrills, and Caruso bringing similar sensibilities to Are You Afraid of the Dark? will strike that perfect balance between family-friendly and genuinely spooky.

The xXx: Return of Xander Cage director might not be the most inspired choice given his mixed bag career overall, but he’s more than capable of delivering the goods when he has material he can sink his fangs into. With IT, Dauberman showed that he’s the real deal when it comes to writing fright fare that revolves around youngsters. This is a promising combination, so rest assured knowing that this flick is in capable hands.

That being said, the excitement of the upcoming movie shouldn’t detract from the fact that the anthology show on which it’s based is amazing and holds up spectacularly well. With this in mind, here are five of the very best episodes to check out while you wait for the movie to hit a theater near you on October 11, 2019.

The Tale of Laughing in the Dark (Season 1, Episode 2)

Clown hysteria is real and it’s no laughing matter, so if you’re afraid of these mischievous pranksters then enter this episode at your own risk. In this one, we meet a ghostly, cigar-smoking clown named Zeebo who haunts an amusement park spook house. When a teenager decides to enter and steal the clown’s nose, the no-good brat soon learns that taking other people’s belongings has potentially dire consequences.

The Tale of Vampire Town (Season 6, Episode 11)

A kid wants to become a vampire hunter, so he dresses and acts like a bloodsucker because he believes it will help him think like one of the fiends. That’s a smart plan. Anyway, upon learning that there’s a town where a legendary vampire is believed to reside beneath the catacombs, he travels there with his parents to find out if the creatures really do exist. Of course they do, and the kid finally has the chance to put his skills to the test.

The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float (Season 5, Episode 1)

Swimming pools are scary in general. In addition to the possibility of drowning in the water at any time, people also have a tendency to leave their germs floating around in the water. Yuck. Why anyone goes swimming is puzzling to me. However, in this episode, the swimming pool is even scarier as it’s built on a burial ground and home to a hideous monster. Naturally, said monster doesn’t appreciate people visiting his watery tomb — probably because humans are filthy and pollute the water.

The Tale of the Midnight Ride (Season 3, Episode 1)

The legend of the Headless Horseman has been retold countless times throughout the years, but there’s a good reason for that. The Horseman is one cool ghoul and seeing him charge at people on his horse with murderous intent never ceases to send a chill down one’s spine. In this homage to Washington Irving’s short story, some kids in Sleepy Hollow bump into our guy on Halloween and he’s out to collect heads. Can the ghost of Ichabod Crane save them from peril?

The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (Season 4, Episode 9)

My FSR cohort Jacob Trussell and I love this episode so much that we started a horror website with some friends and named it after the titular villain. I’d even go as far to say that this laughing miscreant is the greatest antagonist in the history of children’s television. Basically, he’s a comic book villain who comes to life and tries to turn the human race into laughing zombies who drool slime. Maybe that premise sounds silly on paper, but I can assure you that this episode will haunt your nightmares for eternity.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.