Are You Afraid Of The Dark (Season 2)
The Tale of the Midnight Madness
Directed by D.J. MacHale
Starring Eddie Robinson, Melanie Wiesenthal, Christopher Heyerdahl, Aron Tager
Available on DVD
I decided to dig up an old favorite of mine from the Niceklodeon series, “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” which featured iconic horror character, Nosferatu. I remembered watching this episode when it originally aired and thinking it was quite creepy. Largely because of the Nosferatu character which appeared throughout.
The premise is that Count Orlok escaped the film and began terrorizing those who worked in the theater showing his film. Years later when I saw Shadow of the Vampire, I was reminded of the episode. So for the 31 Days of Halloween I decided to track the episode down and see how it stood up to time. Many fans of the show consider this episode one of the best. There are some good and bad elements to it, so let’s take a look!
We begin as always with the Midnight Society, a group of kids who gather around a campfire every week trying to scare each other. I have no idea what it’s like in Canada (where this show was made) but these kids would get their butts kicked in my neighborhood. I love the idea though, who wouldn’t want to do this once a week?
Gary is the leader, but you’d never know that from this episode. He was in like, most every episode and I always thought it was the same kid who played Vinnie Delpino from Doogie Howser, but in glasses. Turns out it’s not him at all. This guy went on to become a “weather personality” in Canada and the Weather Channel. See he’s an old school weatherman, which means he has no meteorological experience and basically just reads a script.
Anyway, some of the kids are about to head to the theater to watch some midnight madness marathon of scary movies. Before they go, they do their meet up and this jackass in the jean jacket says he’ll never go to the theater again after what happened to those other kids… What kids? Well here’s his story, submitted for your approval, the Tale of the Midnight Madness!
We’re introduced to Pete, a nerdy black kid who’s obsessed with classic cinema and wants to save his classic theater where he works, the Rialto. This is the kind of character that only exists on Nickelodeon and not in real life. He’s also rocking a Mike Tyson hair cut from the era.
Business is not good at the Rialto and Katie, the only other employee of the theater is thinking about quitting. I honestly have no idea WHY she would want to quit, because working in a theater where you don’t have to do anything because there are no customers sounds freakin’ great! I can only assume that Katie and Pete are big time stock holders in the Rialto as well.
Word is that the Rialto may close if business doesn’t pick up, so Pete tries to help the business by passing out flyers. He’s also trying to get into Katie’s pants (can’t say I blame him there) and he wants to look like a hero. He tries handing a flyer to this jerk in the wheelchair, but wheels is having none of it. I have no idea why Pete is wearing a bowtie and a plaid flannel shirt.
Just as news hits that the theater will close in a couple months, the nefarious Dr. Vink shows up. This guy was sort of a recurring villain in the show, although we never understand what the hell he is or does. He’s just a creepy mad scientist type. He offers the theater a deal it can’t refuse, show his old movie and he promises that business will pick up.
Pete is all, “let’s do it”, while Katie is like, “this guy is a perv”, and their boss, who is some ridiculous stereotype of a bad car salesman is like “I ain’t showing your movie”! Ultimately he agrees to show it and Vink only has one caveat, that if the movie is a success, he gets one night a week to show other movies. Everyone agrees, Vink disappears and then the manager (we’ll call him Mr. Douchebag) says to throw the movie away and get back to work.
For some reason Pete doesn’t throw the film away and one day when another film breaks, they decide to play this one. Low and behold it’s Nosferatu! As the movie plays the film reel glows eerily and before long the crowd is loving the movie. Eventually people are lining up in the streets to see it. The interesting thing about this version of the Nosferatu film, is that he kills Harker!
Eventually Dr. Vink shows back up and wants to collect on his end of the bargain, but Mr. Douchebag tells him to scram and that he’ll pay him but he won’t show any more of his movies. This obviously makes no sense, but hey, Mr. Douchebag didn’t get to be manager of this theater for no reason! Never doubt a Douchebag.
Then one late night showing, Pete falls asleep and swears he thinks he saw Nosferatu leave the film when he woke up. Sure enough, Mr. Douchebag gets bit on the neck and the kids are in a panic that there’s a maniac in the theater. He’s right and that maniac is the vampire Count Orlok!
And now a side note about Melanie Wiesenthal, the girl who plays Katie. She was pretty foxy to me when I was a kid (although I am now worried that makes me a pervert, since I’m not 12 anymore) and this was her only acting job… Like ever. I looked her up and she currently works in 3D design for Victoria Secret. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it’s kind of hot that she works for Victoria Secret. At least I think this is her.
Right, moving on! Nosfertu on the loose! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
This face can mean only one thing… Pete just shit his pants.
Before long the kids are cornered by Nosferatu and it looks like they’re about to become a last minute addition to the concession stand for the world’s oldest film vampire. Then Pete gets a brilliant idea and takes off towards the movie screen which is now playing the film again.
Pete hops INTO the movie and that seems to lure Orlok in as well. I have no idea why Nosferatu would go back into the movie. Nosferatu also opts not to kill Katie, because he’d rather go after Pete. I can only assume he prefers dark meat.
Count Orlok heads into the film and Pete says that he’s seen this film before (well duh, you’ve been playing it every night) and he turns the tables on the pasty blood sucker. Our boy Pete is finally a hero and no doubt will get a chance with Katie now!
Pete then kills the vampire in the same fashion as Max Schreck’s original character met his demise. Pete then hops out of the film again, presumably before he has to battle anything from upcoming trailers. Everyone is happy, all is well…
Until Vink appears again! He says he’s proud of Pete and Mr. Douchebag (who is now not dead) shows back up to say he’ll agree to show Vink’s movies once a week. TOO LATE! Vink has bought the theater and begins laughing like a madman as Pete shits his pants again.
The kids back at the campfire are now too creeped out to go to the theater (bunch of wimps) and give their tickets to Gary and jean jacket kid. The kid in the jean jacket just laughs, basically implying that this was all BS to get himself some free tickets. What a dick!
All in all, this is a decent episode of “Are you Afraid of the Dark?”. It’s not very scary, but there is a nice homage to the original Nosferatu film and it’s a great way to get kids interested in the silent vampire classic from 1922. Christopher Heyerdahl, who plays Orlok, is quite creepy on his own and his makeup while not very much like the original, definitely has the spirit. If you have kids, you can show them this episode and then ask them if they would like to see the movie from the episode. It’s pretty awesome in that respect.
I should note that shortly after I wrote this, Melanie Wiesenthal contacted me and had a post about how much she enjoyed this time in her life. Sadly the post got erased in one of our website purges, but it was cool to learn more about her. If you ever stop by again Melanie, feel free to leave another comment!