Are You Afraid Of The Dark? – The Tale of The Prom Queen

Greetings Glancers! This episode opens with a longer than usual piece of campfire fun, as Kristen, clad in a creepy old Wedding Dress, sneaks up on our group of losers while they sit around moaning that she is always late (you may recall she was late in our previous episode). ‘For effect’ she says, as she speaks in an English accent, proclaiming her version of the tale she’s about to tell, to be the one true version. There’s a thing where I’m from, where all children, once they reach a certain age, begin speaking with American accents when they are playing. Now, they aren’t imitating their favourite TV show, movie, or celebrity, they’re just playing some imagined game and use American accents. Boys and girls. I did it. My friends did it. And I still see little kids doing it now. Why is this? Also, do American kids do this, but with English accents instead?

Charmed, I'm sure
Good Day. I’m English.

Onto the tale, and we open on that staple of Horror Fiction – The Graveyard – as a girl leaves a bouquet beside a grave. It’s certainly at atmospheric opening, with no dialogue for the first minute, and a couple of nice jump scares which are well-timed enough to make cause a jolt in younger viewers. We meet our three protagonists – Jam (America), Greg, and Dede (America). Greg seems like a lovely fellow, aside from the hanging around Graveyard business, Jam has long hair and pronounces the letter ‘S’ as if his teeth have been replaced by clothes pegs, and Dede is full of secrets. The first thing you may notice is that the trio are much older than the usual cast who make up the story. I’m assuming as Prom is coming up that they are all around 17 years old compared with the usual early teens who make up other episodes. I don’t know how old the actor playing Jam was at the time, but he seems older than his character, his face having too many lines and looking like it’s made of leather.

Like looking in a mirror

He also has a bit of a manic look about him which may or may not be a sign of poor acting or attempt at a red herring. I’ll go for the latter. Anyhoo, lets take look at what Amazon says about the episode:

Greg and Jam, while hunting for ghosts, find a young girl, Dede,standing over a gravestone. Legend has it that a ghost appears each prom night waiting for a ride that never comes. The kids investigate to find that a young girl was the victim of a hit and run accident while waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up for their prom in 1956′

We soon get stuck into the plot, as Jam tells Dede, for no apparent reason as they have only just met literally 10 seconds before, the local Urban Legend about a girl killed in a hit and run. The girl, buried in her Prom dress returns to wander the graveyard every year on Prom Night, thanks to those handy digital calendars they started installing in coffins in the early 90s. For some reason there are a bunch of extreme close up reaction shots during this scene which always make me laugh uncontrollably, especially when there is a flick of an eye or a raised eyebrow to accompany it. The gang decide to find the grave, looking around the graveyard, checking old newspapers in the town library to find proof of the accident, which they find in 1956. Before they make it to the library they stop off for milkshakes, where this little exchange takes place:

Jam (offering the milkshake) – ‘You want the rest of this?’

Dede – ‘No thanks, I’m not hungry’.

Now, my experience of American milkshakes may be limited, and I know how you guys LOVE your food, but surely you don’t need to be hungry to have a milkshake. It’s a drink, right? Sure they may be thick with ice cream, but it’s still a drink. Or have you been make milkshakes from burgers all this time? Are all of your drinks considered a meal?

Soooo Thirsty….

At the library, the trio make the grim discovery that Judy, the girl who was killed, was waiting for her boyfriend Ricky to pick her up, but he never got the message. Hmm, i realise this was the 50s, but surely communication wasn’t that bad – you know you’re going to the Prom together, yet don’t tell each other when and where to meet? Silly boo. Ricky, in his grief, drove his car off a bridge, dying too. throughout this scene, we know someone is creeping up on the gang, but don’t worry – it’s only the inexplicable library tea lady. I’ve been in many libraries in my time and have never yet encountered one of these. The trio declines the offer of tea, having filled their stomachs already on milkshakes.

Poor Greg, it’s obvious you have a trouser bulge for Dede, and when you try to flirt a little with her, she responds with a resounding ‘KEEE!’ and wanders off. You’re about to get some blue balls, my son. That night, they group apparently get boating lessons, steal a boat, and perform a séance in the water near the spot where Ricky drowned. This leads to some Cthulu farts under their boat, or perhaps Ricky, and the group are chased onto the land where they collapse 3 feet from the water instead of bolting down the road, screaming. Jam, horrified for two minutes, switches quickly back to creepy mode saying they need to wait at Judy’s grave the next night.

In all honesty, the creepy stuff works pretty well in this episode, with most of te second half taking place at night, with building tension and a spooky atmosphere. As with most episodes, they miss a trick in one scene, where the trio are positioned facing the camera, with the backdrop of the graves behind them. A hooded figure appears in this scene, but only when Jam turns around and alerts the others to this presence. What would have worked better would have been the figure appearing in the background and approaching the trio while the remained unaware, facing the camera till the last moment. It’s another red herring, but is soon replaced by another spooky appearance – that of an old Chevvy. And with that, the twist is revealed! I won’t spoil it, but it isn’t that unsurprising, and while I’m sure most kids would be tricked by it, older viewers should have it all worked out (even though there aren’t any hints pointing towards it). Ricky looks like a right wee scumbag, and Judy would be safer getting out of that car.

Get out of your pants, and into my car
Get out of your pants, and into my car

The ghost Chevvy passing through the gate is actually a nice effect, not too shabby at all. We return to the campfire where the group are left suitably spooked by the tale. This was a fun episode, focussing on a familiar horror story, and with some decent performances, scares, and a nice twist. Speaking of performances, lets take a few moments to honour the cast of this episode. Katie Griffin stars as Dede, and aside from looking constipated in most scenes, does a fine job. Before I speak of her other roles, I must say that this lady has changed in the years since this episode was created – she looks a lot different from then. Anyway, Griffin has carved out an impressive resume over the last few decades, but HOLY BALLS SHE WAS IN ROBOCOP! One of my favourite movies ever, she appears in an uncredited role as ‘Young Girl’. I’m assuming this is in one of the adverts within the films, or in some ‘Stay Out Of Trouble’ background scene. Aside from a large list of TV movies and minor TV shows I haven’t seen, she is famous for a recurring voice role in Sailor Moon. Moving on from that, she has appeared in a number of other English versions of Japanese cartoons, such as Beyblade and Bakugan Battle Brawlers, but may be best known for Totally Spies where she voices for Alex.

The rest of the cast has had much smaller careers, with Andre Todorovic (Greg) having only 3 other credits, and Graeme Millington (Jam) appearing in a handful of other movies, his biggest role as Kyle in the TV series Black Harbour. Rounding out the cast, Irene Kessler stars as the Tea Lady and has an odd selection of 13 credits since 1978, while Amyas Godfrey (Jam’s Cousin) left media to become the head of UK Armed Forces Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. Finally, Matthew Mackay (Ricky) joins the list of actors who appear in AYAOTD in more than one episode, so we’ll keep an eye out for him again and see if he looks less like a scumbag then. Most notably, he appears in the Irish Gang TV series Claddagh as The Assassin.

What are your memories of this episode? I don’t recall seeing this first time around, but I’m sure many of you do. Let us know in the comments. Next time around, we’ll be dealing with Dash X lookalike Peter, in The Tale Of The Captured Souls. Sweet Dreams!

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