"The episode that still haunts me to this day, and I mean this, was 'The Tale of the Dead Man's Float'. The one with, like, the zombie skeleton who would pull you down if you went swimming and drown you? I mean, that is—look at this! Look at this! They showed this to KIDS!"
—Jon Jafari, talking about the same monster depicted in the page image
For a children's series that had to go light on the gore, Are You Afraid Of The Dark? had more than a few legitimate scares that hold up to this day. Please add only examples, not your own experiences.
- The show's intro. Everything is awash with a chilling blue, and the genuinely eerie theme song accentuates unnerving imagery like abandoned swings, an abandoned canoe, and a scary-looking doll. Not outright scary, per se, but creepy to a T.
- The episode, "The Tale of the Dollmaker", where the two best friends are trapped in a dollhouse and are slowly turning into porcelain dolls, one of whom is already so far gone that her skin is ashen white (like a porcelain doll), her voice lacks any real inflection or range and her hand falls off when she tries to help move a heavy piece of furniture. Surprisingly, although she is almost no longer able to walk under her own power without assistance, she still recognizes her friend and has retained some of sentience, but she still has been enduring this ordeal for about a year.
- Especially how it was delivered. The protagonist, Melissa, asks Susan to give her a hand to move the furniture. The girl doesn't even change her facial expression, but simply pulls her hand out of the sleeve. Not knowing what else to do with her friend's hand, she simply puts it back in the girl's pocket.
- Also, earlier in the episode, Melissa realizes that the dollhouse replica of the house found in Susan's parents' house holds the key to finding her missing best friend. Her first attempt has her trying to jump out of an attic door, which she is only deterred from doing by her Uncle, and good thing he did. Otherwise, as we see from her perspective, she would have fallen off of the roof and to her death in the middle of the night.
- The Framing Device of the story is creepy as well. In the beginning, Tucker is annoyed that Betty Ann's story (which he was looking forward to, being Betty Ann and all,) was going to be about dolls. At the end, Betty Ann forgets the doll she brought along. When Kiki picks it up, instead of the female doll she had before, suddenly it looks exactly like Tucker, including what he was wearing that night. When Tucker wonders where she got it, Betty Ann emerges from the shadows and, in a Creepy Monotone for the ages, says "That's a whole other story."
- The clowns and general aesthetic of the funhouse in "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark" remind us how eerie carnivals and boardwalks really can be. Not to mention, for a kid, the idea of being stalked to your home by a clown ghost is terrifying.
- The ending of "The Tale of the Chameleons" when is revealed that Sharon didn't choose the right Janice. Yep that's right, she turned her helpless best friend back into a chameleon and threw her into a well to drown. And her parents and loved ones have no idea. And meanwhile the imposter Janice remains undetected and is probably planning to do the same to Sharon.
- The Nosferatu episode where none other then Orlok himself came out of the movie and started coming after the kids.
- Every episode with vampires, "The Tale of the Night Shift" for one.
"There's no use in running. I'm far too good a hunter!""And isn't the hospital a great place for it? It's like...a candy store."
- One of the most disturbing quotes in known history comes from the vampire after he's caught the main character:
- "The Tale of Dead Man's Float". Just like Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise, this episode will make you afraid of shower drains, not to mention swimming in the deep end of the public pool. It's considered one of the scariest episodes of the series.
- "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner", with the idea that something evil can reduce absolutely anyone to a giggling, drooling imbecile simply by staring into your eyes.
- Simply put, the guy was basically The Joker, except with hypnotism rather than gasses.
- The part where the bus driver turned his head 180 degrees to face the protagonists and started laughing.
- The Tale of the Quicksilver opens with a girl trying to summon a demon to the real world so she can get rid of it. Not only does she fail at it, but she ends up burning her room and killing herself. Later, it's revealed that the girl who died was a living girl's twin, and the house that her new friend moved into was the one she lived in until her sister died.
The demon speaks for itself, especially it's Slasher Smile.
- The Tale of Old Man Corcoran. You never find out how or why the leader of the group of Hide-And-Seekers keeps gathering more and more kids to play these games, yet once the old grave digger explains that all those kids have been dead for years, the Fridge Horror comes in buckets. First, the girl who tries to keep those boys out of the group was just trying to make sure they didn't end up like her: a ghostly participant eternally bound to a game of Hide And Seek in the graveyard. Second, the leader of the group who was trying to get the two boys to come into his open grave was likely just going to somehow kill them and bind them to said eternal game of Hide And Seek. Third, that's why you never see the Hide And Seek group ever change their clothes during the new day, and why they are always colored in blues and whites during the night sequences. They are all dead.
- Even worse? When the leader called out everyone to start their game all over, the kids each came out from hiding behind (possibly their own) graves.
- On the bright side, it was a nice aversion to the horror movie cliché of the token black guy in the group being the first one to die.
- In "The Tale of the Twisted Claw," one non-supernatural scary moment is when the teenagers in creepy plain white masks surround the two kids who are trick-or-treating and circle them, teasing and threatening them. The ep also gives us a nice Nothing Is Scarier moment when the kid wishes for his grandfather to come, before remembering he's dead. And then they see his car...
- The aliens in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor". Their faces are featureless, stone-colored things with no eyes, mouth or anything. This on its own would be creepy enough, but what really sells it is the way they move. The director had the rather brilliant idea that a creature with no face would have to communicate entirely through body language, and directed the actors playing them accordingly. As a result they all move in a very twisted, puppet-like manner because of all the information they need to convey to each other through their gestures. The way they're all wiggling their fingers at the end is especially bizarre. It might look silly on anything else, but considering how creepy the things are to begin with...
- That god damn Crimson Clown that would not go away until the younger brother vowed to be good.
- "The Tale of the Many Faces" - what the girls look like when Madame steals their faces. And they're forced to wear masks to cover themselves up, which is actually creepier.
- In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Johnny hears Donna calling for her. He walked around the bowling alley to find her, but she disappeared. As he was leaving, we cut to a bowling ball rolling, and the sound of it becomes very loud like an approaching train. The ball hits the pins, and suddenly Johnny hears a girl screaming, he covers his ears and turns back to see a female bowler screamed because she made a strike. We learn that both Johnny and Donna were run over by a train.
- "The Tale of the Phone Police" While the episode is pretty mundane compared to the other examples, there are still nightmare inducing factors. Imagine a secret origination that can take you away regardless of Law and Human Rights, erase all record of your existence and even go as far as to have members of your own family not remember you. To make matters worse you have to spend eternity inside a jail cell with nothing but a phone to call the outside world. And these guys do all that to people who abuse the phone (I.E. Prank Calls.) Makes excellent Paranoia Fuel on top of that.
- The completely out of the blue appearance of the giant,◊ talking doll◊ in "The Tale of the Dark Music". The prop somehow manages to be half "The Geezenstacks" and half "No Strings" in terms of what the fuck.
- What's worse is that he seems to be hypnotized, rather than unnerved, by the doll until the music stops.
- The ending counts too: he sics the monster on the bully that's been tormenting him all episode. However, he accidentally gets him eaten in the process. In return for this... the monster gives him a new bike (the bully destroyed his old one) and promises to give him anything he wants as long as he keeps feeding him. The final kicker, though? The last shot of the episode implies that he's more than willing to give the monster what it wants with a subdued Slasher Smile and that his sister is next to go.
- Of course the nightmare is subdued when its revealed that one of the narrators mentioned that he didn't completely go through with feeding his sister to the monster.
- Even if he didn't feed his sister to "It", I'd hate to be anyone who got on that kid's bad side. In fact, I'd hate to be anywhere near that kid whenever he wanted something that he somehow couldn't get on his own.
- "The Tale of the Water Demons" discusses salvaging ship-wrecks as a form of grave-robbing. It's creepy as a kid, down-right twisted as an adult.
- The freaky part was how these ghosts didn't appear unless the man who stole from them went to sleep. Every time he nods off, they emerge from the water and march towards his home. It got to the point where he had to figure out how to time his sleep before they could get him.
- Peter is shown in "The Tale Of The Captured Souls" to spy on Danielle and her family through his mirrors as part of his place to steal their youth. The cameras include views of the tub in the bathroom and the bedroom. Does this mean Peter has watched Danielle and her parents undress when changing, to take a bath, or going to bed?
- Also, he has signs outside which have crossings on them to indicate how many lives he's taken to stay young. One sign depicts a woman, then a man, a kid, and a dog.
- If Daniele hadn't stopped him she would've been an orphan and Peter would've continued to take souls to stay young, using Danielle herself if she refused to join him.
- "The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge" had to be one of the scariest latter season episodes. A girl finds that her lost friend has been trapped in an isolated cabin where a creature called "The Umbra" resides. If you make eye contact with it, it'll drain your life, causing you to become older and older until you're nothing but a pile of dust and bones. Especially creepy given the setting, a perpetually dark, isolated cabin, in the middle of a snowstorm, littered with the skeletal remains of the creatures victims. Nothing scary there.
- Like Tales from the Crypt, we don't know if these stories actually took place in the storyteller's world. Are these stories made-up, or are they based on actual events? If these stories are true, then that means monsters, ghosts, and demons, exist in their world.