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Saturday, October 8, 2011

THE TALE OF THE GHASTLY GRINNER

I have looked into the face of fear, and it is blue and yellow.

Children who came of age in the 1990s have specific pop culture moments that they all share: everyone went to the theater to see Lion King, for example. Everyone remembers fighting over their favorite Power Ranger or Ninja Turtle. (Blue and Venus. Kidding.) And everyone, and I mean everyone, was scared crapless by sewer grates because their older cousins/siblings let them watch It.

But one pop culture milestone that often goes unmentioned is how Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark slowly infected the schoolyard conversation. Specific scenes and titles might change, but every adult who went to elementary school in the early-to-mid-90s was irreparably scarred by at least one moment from the show.

The more artsy kids will probably remember the intense sadness they felt while watching The Tale of the Lonely Ghost, about a kid THEIR AGE who had to haunt her bedroom for all eternity.

The sporty ones will probably remember The Tale of Watcher's Woods, where some kids are lost forever in a forest haunted by witches and an awful, awful tree spirit.

The class clowns will probably respond to the horrors that Zeebo the clown inflicted upon an innocent prankster in The (weirdly titled) Tale of Laughing in the Dark.

Me? I was a nerdy comics kid, and I really really got scared by The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner, where a demonic jester made everyone go insane and drip ooze from their mouths.

In the decades since, most people started clumping together AYAOTD and Goosebumps, because both were horror anthology shows about young Canadians overcoming monsters and learning life lessons. But based on the above descriptions, you can totally tell that Goosebumps had nothing on the sheer terror of this shows, particularly from the first three seasons.

Thankfully, pretty much every episode is available on Youtube, if you feel particularly copyright-infringementy today. But don't be surprised if you start getting legitimately scared. This show is the real deal.

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