15 “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” Secrets

D.J. MacHale, the creator and director of all 7 seasons of “Are You Afraid Of The Dark,” shared with us some behind the scenes secrets from the show. Can you imagine if Ryan Gosling wasn’t on MMC?!

1. Ryan Gosling was offered a part in the original Midnight Society, but he took the Mickey Mouse Club gig instead. (They got him as a guest on the show a few years later.)

2. Many episodes were shot in actual cemeteries but there are strict laws about showing real names on actual tombstones.

D.J. said, “We had to travel with a stock of lightweight, foam tombstones with fake names that we would place in appropriate places to block real names.”

3. Most of the tales that took place in the forest (and there were many) were shot in an arboretum. Since it was a protected wildlife area, they were not allowed to use pesticides for mosquito control…and the place was infested.

“The entire crew had to wear protective suits with netting over their faces to keep away the hungry bugs. Many, many takes had to be dumped because a mosquito would land on an actor’s cheek or nose and get swatted.”

4. The Midnight Society gathered around the campfire… in a soundstage. Most of the scenes from each season were shot over the course of one week so that the large, dense forest set would only have to be built once.

“Much of the foliage was real, which meant by the end of the week the forest was dry and crispy. One season we were nearly shut down by the fire department because of the danger of an indoor forest fire.”

5. Each season D.J. would travel to multiple cities to audition hundreds of kids. One season, after ten days of auditioning loads of kids, he came down with the Chicken Pox.

“I ended up being quarantined in a hotel room for ten days…as the first day of shooting rapidly approached. I ended up directing “The Tale of Cutter’s Treasure” within days of being sprung from quarantine.”

6. In the original pilot, Ross Hull (who played Gary in the Midnight Society) played the role of Frank. When the show went to series they re-cast everyone except Ross…and gave him the role of Gary.

 

7. The Midnight Society introduced each tale with the words: “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story…” That was paying homage to Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone.

“He himself introduced each episode of the Twilight Zone by talking right to the camera and saying: “Submitted for your approval…””

8. Both Jay Baruchel and Elisha Cuthbert were on camera for the first time on the show.

 

“Jay was drowned by an invisible ghost in a pool and Elisha was a vampire in disguise.”

9. The “Midnight Dust” that the Society threw on the fire at the top of every episode was actually non-diary creamer.

“That stuff is petroleum based and burns!”

10. Though there was a campfire in every episode, they never showed it being lit.

“We didn’t want to teach kids how to strike matches and light fires.”

11. They originally thought “The Tale of the Night Shift” was going to be the final episode. It was the only episode where they DIDN’T put out the fire at the end of the episode.

“The last shot of the tale was a hospital room door closing with the number 65 on it, because it was the 65th episode. In that same shot if you listen closely you can hear the Dark? theme coming from the hospital room.”

12. The actors who played “Miss Clove” in the pilot “The Tale of the Twisted Claw” and Dr. Vink (With a v…v…v…) were husband and wife.

 

13. The “Twisted Claw” was actually a petrified turkey claw.

14. The original pilot aired as a special on Halloween night, 1991.

“I thought it was a goofy idea because everyone who might be interested in watching would be out trick or treating. But it worked out!”

15. His favorite all time episode is: “The Tale of the Midnight Madness.”

“It was shot at the beginning of the second season when we were really hitting our stride.”

 

D.J. has new young adult thriller called “SYLO” that comes out July 2. You can read more about it here.

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