It's time to get scared again, Nineties Kids. Ahead of its limited event next weekend, Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark? came to this year's New York Comic Con in order to tease the horror anthology's long-awaited small screen revival. A carnival-based clip from the second episode of the three-part miniseries—airing next weekend and reminiscent of "The Tale of the Silver Sight"—was screened for the audience, making every millennial there remember that the show is responsible for all of their current anxiety and trust issues.
“We’re trying to make a show for 10-year-olds who have never heard of it and people like me who grew up obsessed with it ... I sort of got away with everything I wanted to," said executive producer/writer BenDavid Grabinski, describing the original (which was revived once before) and the reboot as “high-octane horror for a child."
Grabinski and his fellow producer/writer on the project, Matt Kaplan, grew up watching the horror anthology and are both big fans of it. Kaplan went on to credit the success of Stranger Things and the IT movies as the main impetus for the network wanting to re-explore the classic property, which is—at its core—about young people squaring off against supernatural forces and threats. However, the limited series won't follow the anthology format, but follow the Midnight Society in a more traditional story as they welcome a new member into their ranks.
"I remember being a kid and watching it and you have that wish fulfillment fantasy of being invited into this secret group and as a kid, it's like, 'How much fun would that be?' I felt like that wasn't the story we haven't seen yet," added Grabinski. "I really wanted to be like, 'Who are these kids? What would that be like to be invited into a secret society?'"
Watch the exclusive clip they screened at the panel below:
“It felt like we were too young to be watching it, but I think that was the point ... Our scary tolerance is a lot higher now," added cast member Rafael Casal, who plays the main villain, an evil ringmaster known as Mr. Tophat. "Our biggest fear was we didn’t want to neuter the show. We wanted to push the limits of what we could do … We’re trying to make the show as scary as it was to us when [we were kids].”
Casal, who also watched the show as a youngster back in the day, based his performance of Mr. Tophat on Willy Wonka and Jack Skellington. Starting as a a nightmare figure in the mind of Midnight Society member, Rachel Carpenter (Lyliana Wray), Tophat "slowly starts to make his way out of them into the real world," which kind of puts Are You Afraid...? revival in line with the recent Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movies. However, Grabinski doesn't see it that way and actually took a moment to refute the comparison ("I'd like to clarify, it is not like a 'stories-come-alive' show") and promised that all will be explained in Episode 3.
The brand-new Midnight Society is comprised of: Wray (Rachel's surname is is obviously a nod to famed horror director, John Carpenter), Sam Ashe Arnold (Gavin Coscarelli), Miya Cech, Tamara Smart, and Jeremy Ray Taylor. To help the young cast get into character, Grabinski suggested that they watch 1987's Monster Squad.
The limited series event begins on Nickelodeon next Friday, Oct. 11 at 7pm EST. Some familiar faces and references from the original show (and its first reboot) do appear in the tri-parter, but don't expect to see Ryan Gosling (who starred in the 1995 episode "The Tale of Station 109.1") because they couldn't lock him down for a Dominic Toretto-esque cameo a la Tokyo Drift.
Parts II and III are slated to air on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 respectively. All three episodes will tie into an upcoming feature-length film from director D.J. Caruso.
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