Below are some of the creepy, weird, and bizarre characters from “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” that helped launch what has become a deep love of the horror genre–and monsters in general.
Who were your favorites? What episodes made YOU afraid of the dark? Share them in the comments section below!
1. Zeebo the Clown
Date: August 22, 1992
Episode: “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark”
Zeebo the Clown, a corrupt circus performer, steals money from the circus and tries to escape from the authorities by hiding in the funhouse. However, it catches fire, presumably because of Zeebo’s love for cigars, and he dies. Years later, Weegee, his little sister Kathy, and his friend Josh come across the rebuilt funhouse called Laughing in the Dark and Weegee asks Josh if he had ever been inside to which Josh replies that he hasn’t. Josh walks closer to the funhouse encountering a strange man who claims he runs the place wondering why Josh doesn’t believe in Zeebo saying Zeebo is waiting for whoever goes into the funhouse mentioning “pick the right door and you’ll go free. Pick the wrong door and there he’ll be”. Weegee and Kathy are too scared to go inside keeping their distance because they think it is haunted by the ghost of Zeebo based on what kids have seen and heard inside fueling the urban legend of Zeebo’s ghost. But Josh doesn’t believe it to be true scoffing at the possibility of a ghost clown haunting the funhouse. The strange man asks Josh if he’s going to go through and Josh says that he might another time to which the man says he’ll be there and that he’s always there.
Weegee questions why Josh didn’t go inside the funhouse if he doesn’t believe in Zeebo claiming that Josh is just as scared of going inside as he and Kathy but not wanting to admit that he is afraid. Weegee subsequently dares Josh to go in and he accepts, deciding to prove that he went through by finding the clown dummy, which is modeled after Zeebo, and stealing its nose. So they go back to Playland in order for Josh to steal the nose to show he goes through as he says he is going to do. The strange man appears once again as Josh is nearing the entrance and he asks once more if Josh is going to go in and this time he replies that he is this time. Just before Josh goes inside, the strange man oddly states “it’s the most fun in the park when you’re laughing in the dark.” He soon learns that the legend is indeed true when Zeebo comes back for revenge to regain his stolen nose.
Date: June 26, 1993
Episode: “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”
A movie theater on the brink of closure due in large part by a new multiplex that recently opened in town gets a revival courtesy of Dr. Vink, who offers a rare copy of the 1922 film Nosferatu for screening — as long as they agree to show his other films one night a week. When the arrogant manager refuses to honor his deal with Vink, strange things begin to happen.
3. Dr. Vink
Dr. Vink was a physically imposing man who would often appear as a mad scientist, sorcerer and the like. When he enters, he introduces himself by saying, “Vink’s the name. Dr. Vink.” He would also get his name mispronounced, usually something like “Dr. Fink?” When this happened, he would respond “Vink. With a va-va-va”.
Often, the protagonist would call him a “nutbag” behind his back, assuming he could not hear him, only to have him reply later, “…and I am not a nutbag.” Unlike Sardo whose character was set in a magic shop, Dr. Vink had many ‘unique endeavors’ as he called them within the stories he appears in. These ranged from living deep in the woods conducting strange nature experiments, being a retired filmmaker, owning his own restaurant as head chef and lastly a barbershop. His activities were usually villainous and designed to put the characters in peril and allow him the last laugh. However in his last appearance, “The Tale of Cutter’s Treasure” (which was told by both Frank and Gary), he allied himself with Sardo and the main characters without his usual maliciousness. He appeared exclusively in Frank’s stories.
4. The Werewolf and his brother
Date: August 21, 1993
Episode: “The Tale of the Full Moon”
Two young pet detectives trying to figure out where all the neighborhood cats are disappearing to find a clue when looking into the backyard of a neighbor (who also happens to be dating the mother of one of them). He seems to have a rather large collection of cat collars hidden in his backyard. They begin to suspect that he’s a werewolf but unfortunately no one believes them.