There was a marvellous period in the 80s-90s where TV didn’t treat children like they were dumb as nails. In this glorious time, horror for kids was actually a thing. So with Halloween around the corner I decided to review some kid’s horror TV series to channel your inner child‘s nightmare.
A short lived tv show of the start of the 90s about a young boy, Marshall Teller (played by Omri Katz of Hocus Pocus) and his family moving in what seems to be a calm part of Suburbia. But he and his new friend Simon will try to uncover the long list of mysteries and creepiness that oozes from the town of Eerie, Indiana.
I keep great memories of that show, John Astin (the original Gomez Addams) made recurring cameos, and the stories were original and had something that now reminds me of the Twilight Zone. And what I think I now love the most about the show is that it showed how outcasts have to stick together and how conformity is indeed a dangerous thing.
Are you afraid of the dark?
I’m sure most of you remember the meetings of the Midnight Society and were glued to the screen when the particularly eerie opening of Are You Afraid of The Dark began. What I specifically like about this show is that depending who was telling the story; you knew the mood was going to be different. We all had our favorite storyteller and I’m pretty sure we all have one moment that creeped the hell out of us.
This being said, when the group of teens changed the show felt like it overstayed its welcome on the air. It became cheesy and unimaginative. Still, just to see some actors debut (Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, Jay Baruchel, etc.), it’s pretty worth it.
I think this is the cheesiest entry I put on here but at the same time it is essential to mention it. Most of the Goosebumps episodes have the same recipe. In the first 3 minutes you have a “jump scare” that turns out to be nothing, then the actors almost immediately come in contact with whatever is supposed to be scary and at the end there is a punchline that usually makes not much sense. But still, we liked it.
I think what made it great is that it knew its’ audience. This kind of horror story could never work for adults (except if you rewatch it by nostalgia), but for a kid, it’s all new. So they went all out and used the tropes of cliché horror to satisfy what would become the next generation of horror hounds. As cheesy as the show was and even if most of the episodes were not really horror related, it was still something not to miss.
It happened to a friend of a friend of mine: classic line to start an urban legend. Hosted by a beetle and a slimy maggot puppet, Freaky Stories featured animated urban legends adapted for kids and pre-teens.
Some episodes were cautionary tales that worked without really being scary by any means, while others just played wished for the audience to be grossed out. It was really good fuel for campfire stories; the last line of narration made to be ring in your head for a while after the tale was gone.
The oldest entry on this top 5, here is a UK-Canada-West Germany co-production from 1986. It was a 13 episodes mini-series based on the book of the same name. A vampire and a human develop a friendship, learning to live with the differences of the other, fairly simple synopsis… except it goes further than that. There is a vampire hunter searching for the vampire’s family, the vampire’s sister is pretty nuts and tries to eat the human child at first and many other sub-plots that makes the show still interesting to watch today.
I had to rewatch episodes because I didn’t remember much about the show and the first thing that struck me was the gothic imagery. Some scenes (mostly the ones in the crypt where the vampires live) are reminiscent of old hammer and even universal movies for the mood. The acting can be cheesy sometimes, but in the end I would still recommend this for people who weren’t raise with it. And please, avoid the American movie from 2000 with the kid from Jerry McGuire.