Right now, the trend is 90s nostalgia. 1995 is officially retro. Being in my 30s, that means my social media feeds are packed with references to classic TV and movies.
Scrolling through Facebook, the memories come flooding back, especially with Halloween around the corner. Classics like Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas are popping up in all kinds of memes.
Yet, I still find myself looking for something darker that I remember from my childhood. Maybe you’ll remember it, too.
Back in the day, no show scared me more than the Nickelodeon anthology series Are You Afraid of the Dark? That. Was. My. Jam. You could only catch the show during Nick’s Saturday evening lineup, “SNICK.” Are You Afraid… was the last program before boredom set in—in the form of either sleep or an endless loop of I Love Lucy on “Nick at Nite.”
Each episode began with a recurring cast of teenagers meeting at a campfire in the woods to tell stories. When the story was over, the teens would dramatically extinguish the fire to end the show. Are You Afraid… was incredibly popular during its time.
Despite falling from prominence in the years since, the show was influential. Season 3, Episode 10 (“The Tale of the Dream Girl,” the highest rated episode in the series on IMDB.com) featured a twist so good that the world saw it again five years later in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. The writers and moviemakers of the next generation were paying close attention.
Now, I’m no moviemaker, but the show still taught me a lot. For example, I now know how to prevent possessions, hauntings, and paranormal activity of all kinds.
To celebrate Halloween, let’s take a little trip down memory lane. Here are some paranormal tips gleaned from my favorite Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes.
Tip #1: Keep silver on hand.
From movies like Monster Squad to Blade to the Underworld series, monsters are thought to be vulnerable to silver. Historically, it’s believed that this superstition was conceived by noblemen. Since they owned all the silver, that meant commoners wouldn’t take up an iron sword to go fight imaginary creatures.
You can use silver to repel evil spirits, too, according to Season 3, Episode 11 of Are You Afraid… (“The Tale of the Quicksilver”)
In that episode, a girl named Laura tried to summon an evil entity that was haunting her house. She hoped to trap the spirit in a crystal with a piece of silver and a spell that she had researched. However, something went wrong, and Laura disappeared.
The haunting continued with the next family to live in the house. The son Aaron realized that Laura mistook a stainless steel spoon for silver and tried to use it. Using his prized possession, a pair of silver pilot wings from his grandfather, Aaron trapped the spirit and ended the haunting.
The lesson? You never know when you might need a karat or two of genuine silver.
Tip #2: Throw away your mirrors.
Mirrors can attract a host of supernatural pests to your home, and they can also be used for all kinds of paranormal trouble.
In Season 1, Episode 7 (“The Tale of the Captured Souls”), a girl named Danny and her family took a vacation to a Victorian lake home packed with mirrors. The caretaker was unnerving, commenting about how strong and beautiful the family was. The property seemed too good to be true.
Exploring the house, Danny stumbled upon a hidden laboratory. Inside the lab was a machine that the caretaker was using to absorb the family’s life force through the mirrors.
Danny just had to break the mirrors to escape, so if you’re dealing with a paranormal event, maybe you need to get rid of the mirrors in your home. Remove the mirrors, see if the haunting ends, and adjust your technique accordingly.
Tip #3: Don’t install locks on the outside of doors.
Mirrors don’t just attract evil spirits, though. Sometimes the ghosts get totally trapped inside.
In Season 1, Episode 3 (“The Tale of the Lonely Ghost”), bullies locked a girl inside her bedroom and left. With her mother on vacation, she was unable to escape. The girl died, and her mother moved out of the house in grief.
The girl’s soul was trapped in a mirror, scratching “HELP” into the glass. She haunted the house until eventually, the next resident, Amanda, discovered the mirror. She took a locket from the house as proof to convince the girl’s mother to come back. The girl reunited with her mother, and they disappeared together.
The haunting ended, but the real tragedy here is that that bedroom was a disaster in waiting. A bedroom should never have a lock on the outside of the door—in fact, it violates fire code in a lot of areas. You should always check with your township or city for information about regulations.
Tip #4: Don’t open a door to nowhere.
To some, this final tip is obvious. If you see a door that doesn’t appear to lead anywhere, just don’t open it. Others may be curious, but beware. The best case scenario is finding something like Narnia, and the worst case scenario is that thing in cartoons where they open a door and there’s a monster behind it.
Are You Afraid… illustrated this when a girl named Melissa investigated her missing neighbor’s house in Season 3, Episode 5 (“The Tale of the Dollmaker”). In the attic, she found a detailed dollhouse model of the house. Inside the dollhouse, she noticed a door to nowhere, and when Melissa looked around the real life attic, she saw the same door.
Opening the door, Melissa found herself in the dollhouse, where she discovered her neighbor slowly turning into a figurine and falling apart. Melissa grabbed her and rushed her out the dollhouse door and back into the real world.
It’s clear that someone could have averted this situation. There was no reason to build a door linking our universe to the dollhouse dimension. To cut down on this risk, avoid building enchanted doors in your home. If you do find an enchanted door, absolutely keep it closed, and even possibly locked from the outside—unless it’s a bedroom.