It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty five years since “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” premiered on Nickelodeon in the US. The anthology horror series is one of the most fondly remembered kids shows of the 1990s mainly for its creative premises, surprise twists, and deeply entrenched moral lessons that were found in many episodes. The history of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is just as interesting as the show itself. It was the launch pad for many very well known actors, and displayed a shocking sense of edge with every episode.
The show thankfully still holds up today as a creepy and creative horror series, and despite some camp here and there, it’s a still a well written anthology with a ton of memorable monsters including Zeebo, The Ghastly Grinner, and the Frozen Ghost. Here are my top five episodes.
Before he was an iconic horror writer that every horror buff emulated, HP Lovecraft was a young boy named Howard whose imagination kept him company in 1897. After visiting his father in an asylum and consoling him for suffering delusions about monsters and beasts, Howard’s mother gives him his father’s journal to read for fun. Little does Howard know that his father’s journal, which happens to be the Necronomicon, is a portal to a magical world where Howard makes friends with a lot of creatures, all of which are not as they seem. There he makes friends with a squid faced monster that becomes his loyal guard, and has to face a monstrous being known as the Shoggoth in hopes of stopping an unusual queen who wants the Necronomicon.
We at Cinema Crazed have had the pleasure of enlisting some truly gifted writers and movie fanatics, and Phil Hall is no exception. We’ve been very close friends with Phil for over ten years, and have followed his extensive work in film both far and wide. He’s worked in film festivals, helped bring very obscure cinematic gems to public attention once again, and has also garnered an immense insight in to the art of filmmaking over the years. His latest book “In Search of Lost Films” from BearManor Media explores the tragic history of how many films have been lost to time, and the rising tide of film preservation.
Late at the salon, a stylist works on a regular customer. As she is almost finished, things take a turn for the unusual. As this film is better enjoyed with as few spoilers as possible, its plot will not be discussed any further. Written by Eric Havens based on a story by Jill Gevargizian and directed by Gevargizian, a stylist herself, the film explores a stylist’s obsession with hair and how far she goes in a beautiful manner.
The shockingly obscure masterpiece “The Noah” is an exploration of grief through a man named Noah’s solitude as he realizes he’s the only person left on the planet. Set on a desolate island where supplies are cumbersome but humanity has diminished, our character Noah drifts by a life raft to the shore, and makes it his home. Even though he’s realized that humanity has become extinct due to the war, he makes it his mission to turn the island into his domain and keep himself occupied. He now sees a responsibility in staying alive to preserve his race for all time. He is literally the only person on the planet, thus he must engage in a battle against isolation, and loneliness.
Piotr moves to Poland to marry his long-distance girlfriend Zaneta whose immediate family is less than thrilled with the situation but still supportive. As the wedding day approaches, Piotr finds bones in the yard of his marital home. Things take an odd turn and a restless spirit, or dybbuk, possesses the groom. Co-written by Pawel Maslona and director Marcin Wrona, Demon is a slow burn drama with horror elements. The title leads one to believe it would be more straight up horror film but the reality is that it’s a drama about a wedding or marriage that may have been a bad idea to start with and as the film advances and the spirit manifests itself it becomes a battle between people’s feelings and beliefs and people searching for the truth.
An old man, Ronnie, lives with is adult son, Brayden, giving disco tours to gullible customers. Things get a bit greasy when Brayden falls for one of their customers and Ronnie becomes jealous. Their home becomes a sexual battleground and a monster is unleashed onto the public. Co-Written by Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking (who both collaborated on the same short in ABC’s of Death 2) and directed by Jim Hosking for his first full length film, The Greasy Strangler is a mind-melting experience. The film’s humor is apparent from the first scene of the movie and, like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going; quips so not funny that they end up becoming gut rolling, blatant displays of comically sized genitalia and pubic hair, and disgusting food.
John Moore’s “I.T.” is like a digital version of “Fear,” where a young charming man is able to slide in to a normal family’s life by means of trust and quick wits. Pierce Brosnan does a good job with the sometimes half baked material as rising mogul Mike Regan. Regan is a man who is bordering on financial ruin and has invented a private form of uber involving custom jets. After a failed presentation, Regan garners the help of temp Ed. After Ed saves the presentation, Mike takes him within his inner circle, allowing him to work on his home automated system, and to relax with him. When Ed meets Regan’s young daughter Nancy, he begins to form an obsession that involves gradually intruding on Regan’s life with his family. When Regan warns Ed to back off, soon Ed begins a mission to make Regan’s life miserable, and it involves using his technological skills.