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I’m Still Afraid of the Dark: The Werewolf from The Tale of the Full Moon

In addition to the scares, one thing I’ve always appreciated about ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ are the plot twists. I can think of several episodes where–just when I thought I had it figured out–the storyline makes an abrupt (usually well executed) u-turn.

“The Tale of the Full Moon” is a great example of this: for much of the episode viewers are lead to believe that this is just another “kid sees monster, kid tells adults, adults don’t believe” monster story–a formula well established even by this point when the episode aired back in the summer of ’93. And while these elements are present in this particular episode, the end result may actually surprise you. I’ve long felt that this episode has more to offer viewers than just a monster and a refrigerator full of raw meat while also asking some subtle yet relevant questions of its viewers like, for example, does suffering from Clinical Lycanthropy have to be so scary after all? And does a traditional family unit have to look a certain way?

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In the end, “The Tale of the Full Moon” is another fun, intriguing scary story from the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” library, featuring another monster that has remained nestled in my memory banks since that memorable summer back in 1993. I recently caught up with two of the main actors from this episode (including the man behind the werewolf mask) to learn a bit more about what it was like shooting this episode and what they think of it now 23 years later.

Director: Ron Oliver
Writer: D.J. MacHale (original creator), Ron Oliver
Date: August 21, 1993
Season 2, Ep 9.
Episode Synopsis: Two young pet detectives try to figure out why all of the neighborhood cats are disappearing. They find a clue while looking in the backyard of a neighbor–a man who also happens to be dating the mother of one of them. After discovering that this mysterious man seems to also have a rather large collection of cat collars hidden in his backyard, the boys begin to suspect that he’s a werewolf but, unfortunately, no one believes them.
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Blood Brothers: Gordon the Werewolf and his brother/keeper

John Campopiano: Carl, how did Gordon the Werewolf come to life on set? Ellen, was it creepy working with him once costumes and full makeup were applied?

Carl Alacchi: The making of the mask was just as surprising as wearing it. Firstly they make a mold of your face with a straw in my mouth or nose or both, don’t remember, too much emotions getting my face totally covered in clay strips. Then, you get a fitting and then they glue it up on set with make up touches…I really loved letting the dog spirit take over. I had to keep that mask on during lunchtime–even while I ate. 

Ellen David: I was privy to the special effects makeup being created for the character, I got to see it from start to finish, as the actor who is a good friend of mine, put on the mask and developed the character. I went back and watched the episode online recently–I hadn’t seen it in so many years and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it holds up! There were many fun scenes: I loved the chemistry that I shared with Dominic Zamprogna (the young actor playing my son, “Jed”). It was a great time being his wacky, way-out mom. (I even remember the crew laughing at times during the filming of some scenes!)

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Carl Alacchi & Ellen David on the set of ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’

JC: How did you find yourself on the set of ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ in the first place?

ED: I had done a few auditions for the series, and the producers knew me, but it never seemed liked a good fit until this role came along and it was right up my alley! Carl and I had actually gone to theatre school together and became great friends, so it was wonderful that here we were on a professional gig together! We went on to work together on a few other projects as well over the years. I also really enjoyed working with Ron Oliver, our director who now lives and works in Hollywood. I really connected with the sense of style and comedy he wanted to bring to the episode and he was very open to collaboration and me bringing in added touches to flesh the character out!

JC: I love the 1950s-aesthetic your character embodies in this episode. What (if any) stylistic elements did you bring to your character?

ED: Well, aside from the convenient fact that we share the same first name, I think Ron Oliver was very open to my ideas. For instance, in the night scene when my character goes into her son’s bedroom (after she is awakened by his scream while spying on the mysterious neighbor next door…) I thought it would be fun to have a mask on my face in order to create another jump scare. The makeup artist came up with something for me to wear–and that wouldn’t irritate my skin during the prolonged shoot.

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Gordon the Werewolf doing what he does best

JC: This episode has a fun twist in it, one which felt like the creators were championing the idea that families can come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, etc…

ED: It was a lovely twist and kind of unexpected for a show of that nature. I think it was a breath of fresh air that we all became one united, happy family despite our differences. I don’t know if you noticed but–in the very last scene when we’re having the barbecue–our clever costume designer highlighted the fact that we had “became one family.” She had a particular quirky patterned fabric that she used for all of our costumes: my apron, my husband’s shirt, the werewolf’s collar. It was a very bright, subtle way to unite all of us.

The episode was filmed in Montreal–and while part of it may have been done in a studio–we were on location in a house that was decorated perfectly to illustrate that 50’s style. It was a fun world to be a part of, and I am really happy that that is the episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark that I participated in! Thanks for bringing it back into my life!

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Werewolves can play fetch, too

Written by John Campopiano

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