Are You Afraid Of The Dark – The Tale Of The Super Specs


Welcome back to the campfire, boys and girls. Come closer, the fire’s fine and we’re just about to tell another tale. Take a seat, there’s no point standing over there in the shadows by yourself. That’s it, get comfy. Today’s story is one of those good old harmless voyeuristic stories that boys love to think about – what would you do if you were invisible? What would you do if you could stop time but still move around? What would you do if you had X Ray Specs? Naturally the immediate answers are both perverted and criminal but as this is a kids show I don’t think we’ll be peering into crowds of young women to see what’s underneath, or camping outside the bedroom of the object of your desire. Here’s what we will be doing:

In a junky magic shop Weeds, a wimpy trickster, jokingly casts the spell of ‘Second Sight’ with the help of a DIY voodoo book. Some magic dust accidentally falls on MaryBeth, his more sophisticated girlfriend, and on a pair of ‘Super Specs’, guaranteed to give X Ray vision.

But before we get that far, we get a unique look at our campfire weirdos by daylight, as we open on Gary and Kristin messing around in Gary’s dad’s magic/novelty shop. You know the sort of place – usually only ever found in beach-side towns, only open during the summer months, and filled with all manner of pranks, gags, props, and toys from playing cards to whoopie cushions, from spiders petrified in sugar cubs to curling lumps of plastic shit. Gary explains that this is where he gets his ideas from while Kristen says that people have been saying his stories have not been scary recently. It seems he needs to up his game. And so we cut to Gary’s introduction  of a story about magic and the people who either believe, don’t, or should. Weeds (America) is an incompetent magician who has just started going out with MaryBeth and on their latest romantic outing have purchased a pile of crap for April Fool’s Day in a magic shop run by the sardonic Sardo. I’ve never understood why anyone would actually buy X ray Specs, at least other gags in these shops have a purpose. I’ve had many an hour of fun with fart gas, whoopie cushion, and in school we even had a bit of a sneezing powder racket going for a few months until there was some sort of medical mishap and someone got expelled. Pranks from that point on were more subtle, such as everyone swinging their ties over the left shoulder, or the good old ‘lock your class inside the gymnasium and set fire to it’ stunt.


MaryBeth puts on a pair of super specs and seems to see a shadowy figure lurking in the background, but she takes off the specs and thinks no more about it. Weeds meanwhile makes his way around school putting drugs into the food of young girls – hilarious! He also puts one of those jumbo fists into a locker which flops out gently grazes the nasal area of another poor victim. The guy’s non reaction to this unfortunate event is similar to how your facial expression may change when you flip a page in a book, making it all the more bizarre when Weeds runs up, laughing and saying ‘you should have seen your face’. This time MaryBeth sees someone in a Burka when she wears the Specs. I do like the idea – it has a creepy vibe more close to something like It Follows or The Eye than They Live. The soundtrack has some strange moments too, with synthesized beats like a lighter Carpenter piece. Like many stories of old, no matter how MaryBeth tries to get rid of the specs, they keep finding their way back to her, and the more she wears them, the more she seems to see things that aren’t there. Or is the world when wearing the specs the real one? We embark on a creepy first person walk through her house where she is stalked by three black-clothes wearing spooks which seem to be getting closer to her the more she wears the specs. Curiosity aside, time has shows that these things cannot harm her if she isn’t wearing the specs, so the solution is pretty easy – don’t put them on, everyone wins!

MaryBeth goes back to Sardo, they work out that Weeds messed around with a spell which somehow got fused with the specs which is allowing some cross-dimensional banter. Sardo weasels his way in to helping the kids, and into their homes, and he begins to cast a spell to counter what has happened. Unfortunately the spell fully opens the gateway and the creatures flood through to our world without a need for a spec-wearing conduit before shit goes full Dali. We close on a twist ending and Gary wins back his crowd. It’s an interesting story that could have had more creepy moments if they’d focused on the main story instead of cutting back to Weeds and his escapades. Plenty of good ideas here though which should have any imaginative kid asking questions of their own reality and filling them with inspiration for similar stories.

super specs 3.png

Lets take a look at the cast and what they have been up to. Eugene Byrd (Weeds) has had a very successful career, starting out in the mid 80s and working on hit series today. Before AYAOTD he had been a recurring guest on The Cosby Show and went on to star in Chris Cross before moving on to adult roles in movies and shows such as Bones and Arrow. On the flip side, Graidhne Lelieveld-Amiro (MaryBeth) only has one further credit to her name – a single episode of a TV series called The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo. Long-term fans of AYAOTD will know that Richard Dumont’s Sardo is a recurring character throughout the series, coming back to another seven episodes over the years. Dumont has had a long career primarily as a voice actor throughout a string of cartoons starting in the early 80s as well as making his way over to Video Game voicing, in things such as Mysterious Cities Of Gold, Beyblade, and the Assassin’s Creed series. The rest of the performers in the episode have much smaller roles, including friends of Weeds and MaryBeth – Patty (Carol Anne Gascon), Katherine (Annette Bouzi), and Mark (Errol Tennenbaum) – none of these three appear to have another credit to their names. Without spoiling anything, in the twist ending we have three more performers – Paul-Emile Frappier, Tarah Anick, and Rachelle Glait. Glait would appear in an upcoming AYAOTD episode, as well as movies including The Day After Tomorrow and Who Is KK Downey while Frappier appeared sporadically in TV shows through the 70s – 90s including The Littlest Hobo and Goosebumps before dropping off the map. Anick does not have another credit to her name.

Overall then, a promising episode with a good premise and ending which doesn’t quite scare enough as it should, but should play a trick on younger viewers nevertheless. For more reviews, check here: Irish Freaks          Freaks Next Door            Freak Boy                 Graveyard Lurkers               Bark Bark Goose               Little Old Lady               Little Old Girl     Laughing Freaks                    Uber Freaks                        Grunties

Next up we’ll be staying in the world of magic with The Tale Of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Sweet Dreams!


Are You Afraid Of The Dark – The Tale Of The Dark Music

the tale of the dark music

Greetings, Glancers. Now that Amazon are imminently going to hike their ‘DVD by Post’ prices, it may be time for me to cancel my subscription. As it’s a devious turn by them I may also cancel my streaming subscription, which means no more (legal) access to AYAOTD. And that means no more posts in this series, unless Netflix picks up the show. Then again, I can probably find most of the episodes on Youtube. My first post about AYAOTD was three years ago and I’ve only covered a few episodes since then, so I should have no complaints, but I’ll try to watch another bunch and get my thoughts down before I cancel my subscription.

Today’s episode features some of my favourite things – horror, obviously, and heavy metal. Lets take a look at the blurb:

Andy Carr and his family have just moved into their uncle’s old house, which they inherited. While helping his mum unpack, he descends into the creepy basement where he hears strange noises. Although his sister accuses him of being afraid of the dark, it is actually the Dark Music which makes his worst nightmares come true.

As soon as I read the blurb I thought the Dark Music was going to be some sort or experimental rumbling (the sort of which I make on my exceptionally worthless Youtube channel: Sorry) or generic heavy metal. I was right. But before we get there, the episode opens with the usual banter, this time focussing on hard lad Frank freaking out with Eric for leaving him to trudge through the forest in the middle of the night by himself. It’s that old trope that every tough guy character has a hidden, silly fear – it’s why there’s so little crime, war, hate in the world because behind every hard ass is a little sissy. While all this is fun and games, should kids really be wandering through woods in the dark by themselves? I know I did, so we’ll let it slide. It turns out that Frank is afraid of the dark, finally answering the question posed by the show’s title. Coincidentally, our protagonist Andy (a normal name, way to go America!) is also afraid of the no-light. In the spoken intro he seems like a good kid on hard times, with divorced parents (possibly absent – nope, there’s one hiding behind some boxes) and other assorted bad luck. However it looks like it has all turned out for the best as an uncle has died and left them a large suburban house. Everybody wins!

Andy crashes into the neighbourhood bully – you can tell he’s scary and bad because he wears skull t-shirts, has long hair, and loud guitars screech any time he appears on screen. I never grew up in America, but in my experience metal kids were the outcasts or the people who simply didn’t care what others were doing or thinking, and had no interest in interfering with them. I should know as I was one. I don’t think I ever met a bully or tough guy who knew anything about metal, and in my limited experience the bullies I saw were all entitled or naturally large or clearly had something not quite right with their brains. Anyway, he seems to be pissed because Andy and his family have moved next door and are related to someone he is happy has died. Maybe the uncle was creepy, or smelly, or an ISIS.

ISIS were a pretty great metal band though


Speaking of vagaries, neither Andy nor his mother actually knew this uncle. Andy never met him and his mum last saw him when she was a child. So why would he leave his home to them? Were they his only remaining relatives? We get a brief look at Andy’s annoying sister and confirm that the acting in this episode isn’t great. The scene in the basement is creepy enough, moody, dark, quiet, and we get an old timey radio and half expect Orson Welles to come booming from it. When Andy finds a radio station with metal (is this the Dark Music?) a creepy locked door opens behind him and the least threatening voice ever wafts out from beneath two glowing red eyes. If a murderer had his blade to your baby’s throat and began to speak in that voice, you would kind calmly remove the blade from his grasp, take back the child, and usher him softly out of the house lest his face feel the wrath of your bruising slaps whose force would be greatly diminished by your giggles.

So not only does the uncle leave his home to relations he didn’t know, but he leaves them a Haunted House? That’s kind of a dick move. Did Andy’s mum (or her parents) perform some slight against the uncle that we’re not aware of. I’d only give a haunted house to my enemy.  Also, Uncle Niles? Did we hear anyone say his name was Niles before the Campfire Interlude? Are people actually called Niles? Is this him?


Frank has done a runner from the rest of the campfire group, possibly to return in the form of a jump scare. Back with Andy, Christine, and oblivious Mom and we get an interesting scene of Andy inexplicably throwing his newspaper at the bully metal neighbour. I don’t think anyone would have that much on their mind that they would completely miss their personal bully sitting on the doorstep of the house they were delivering a newspaper to, but hey ho. At least we find out that the bully’s dad is Hulk Hogan, which probably explains one or two things.

The Beetlejuice trousers are left unexplained

The kid playing Andy looks familiar, like an unbegotten twin of Nick Stahl. Another question – how did Andy get a paper round job when it looks like he moved in to the house the same day he was doing the job? Anyway, we get some more information on Uncle Niles – he miraculously became wealthy but was never popular with anyone due to his oddness. During this delightful reminiscence we see Andy’s less than incredible talent for art, and Christine’s bizarre girl gamer skills. That ain’t no Xbox she’s playing either. I have no idea what she’s doing with that game pad, but she doesn’t appear to be pressing any buttons and instead wringing it between her hands. This is followed by another basement scene with some truly epic guitar. It takes an exceedingly creepy turn though thanks to the appearance of a talking doll who wants Andy to come play with him. Experience teaches us that all talking dolls must be burned on sight.

It seems that for some reason music is causing, or otherwise linked to, spooky goings on in the basement and to the episode’s credit these scenes are generally very well done. Certainly a younger kid will be scared by these and even the target audience of the show should have felt some chills by the weirdo circus man/skeletor jump scare. I’m not sure what the message here is – music is evil? Andy works it out, gets fisted by the bully, and decides to take revenge by locking the bully in the basement. I’m not sure what the message here is – kill all bullies? Also, if I was in a basement and someone cranked up the metal I’d probably just start headbanging, not scream and run around terrified. At least not before the monsters came from the scary room.

We finally get a Hellraiser-esque resolution and a spontaneous dark ending (followed immediately by a kid friendly cop-out) before returning to the wraparound where Eric is left by the dying campfire, alone in the dark. FRANK JUMPSCARE!

Wrong Frank


It’s an unusual episode in that it raises a lot of questions of which few are answered, it’s morally ambiguous for a kid’s show, and it tries to pack too much into the early stages without actually advancing the plot. It should really have been characters-spooky house-spooky things happen and get worse-we find out why-ending, instead of all the other crap. Having said that, it does the few basement scenes well, but needed to spend more time focussing on those and found a way to deal with the plot without the need for an annoying sister and neighbour.

As always, we end with a look at what the episode’s performers have been up to. Graham Selkirk is okay as Andy – I’d said before that the acting was poor in this episode and it mostly is. But everyone does their job with minimal fuss and without too much embarrassment. Selkirk’s performance here seems to be the only credit to his name. I often wonder what happens to these kids who presumably go through a gruelling, possibly luck-based vetting and audition process, to finally earn a spot, and then vanish from the face of the business without another single performance. The sister makes her second AYAOTD dark appearance, though here she is mostly invisible, ironic as her first appearance was as the Ghost in The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost. I remember she did well in that episode, and here she is convincingly annoying. She only has a few more unremarkable TV credits to her name. Rounding off the family is Kathryn Graves, whose appearance as the mother is her sole credit. I’m beginning to think the director simply picked random people off the street for this episode. Or maybe he was their uncle.


Leif Anderson plays the bully, Koda (America) and has had plenty of work on a variety of TV shows and movies – nothing major, but has appeared in the likes of Storm Of The Century, I’m Not There, and On The Road. Ian MacDonald, as Koda’s dad has likewise had sporadic appearances in minor films which I’ve never heard of and the final two performers Fofi Tsatas and AJ Henderson as the Doll and the Circus Man respectively are polar opposites – Fofi has no more credits while AJ is a respected voice actor appearing in many series including The Mysterious Cities Of Gold, Young Robin Hood, Arthur and an upcoming episode of AYAOTD.

Let us know what you thought of this episode in the comments, and don’t forget to check my other AYAOTD reviews elsewhere on the site:

Nightly Neighbours     Captured Soul     Prom Queen     Hungry Hounds

Twisted Claw     Lonely Ghost     Laughing Dark    Phantom Cab

Next time around we’ll be making a mockery of my pseudo-heritage in The Tale Of Jake And The Leprechaun. Sweet Dreams!