For kids who had a hunger for the occasional spooky story, the early days of Nickelodeon had something right up their alley, guaranteed to raise a few goosebumps. Debuting in 1992 as part of the SNICK lineup, Are You Afraid of the Dark gathered a group of kids in the dark and desolate woods, to weave tales of the macabre around the time-honored campfire and scare each other silly.
This adventurous clan, the Midnight Society, included the group’s founder, a horror fan named Gary and his cohorts, Kiki, Frank, Betty Ann, David, Kristen and Eric. Each would take turns telling their own spooky tales, which would fade into dramatizations of their respective stories. Every terrifying topic was fair game, from haunted houses, killer clowns and cannibals to vampires, mad scientists and werewolves. Urban Legends were often borrowed from, as were fairy tales, lending their own twisted morality lessons. Shows usually had a happy ending, and the main character usually safely escaped their strange circumstances unscathed. At the conclusion of each show, the Midnight Society would extinguish the campfire with a red bucket of water before the group left their surroundings.
Since the members of the Midnight Society never appeared within their stories, the stage was ripe for a number of celebrity guest appearances. Bobcat Goldthwait, Melissa Joan Hart, Neve Campbell and Gilbert Gottfried all took a stab at various creepy cameos. During the seven seasons that Are You Afraid of the Dark appeared on Nickelodeon, a number of the original kids would be replaced, including Gary, who eventually gave the torch to his kid brother, Tucker, to lead the frightful festivities.
Creepy, but never gory, bone chilling without resorting to blood, Are You Afraid of the Dark was a ghoulishly good time around the campfire that is fondly remembered by anyone who bravely listened in. If you were one of the fans of this show back in the day, we welcome your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hat to some kid-friendly, but still terrifying television programming.