Every ’90s child was completely obsessed with the Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark. So obsessed that nobody questioned why a group of pre-teens would wander into the forest unsupervised for a sadistic campside pow-wow-slash-scary-storytelling-session, or why these children would know so many terrifying stories about abduction, loss, and murder. Instead, we all cheered when Nickelodeon brought the series back for a two-season revival in ’99.
This Halloween marks the 23rd anniversary of the strangely successful Are You Afraid of the Dark. And even though the series began before I was born, I was, and am, completely infatuated with the show. So much so that I recently rewatched every episode ever. And I learned some pretty useful (read: useless) things along the way:
1. The one marker of true friendship? Scaring each other shitless while secluded in the woods. Also, being scared shitless while secluded in the woods is the only way for you and your jerk brother to become good friends.
2. Warning: If you microwave your comic book, you’ll bring its villians to life and they’ll terrorize your town.
3. When a mysterious bearded man shows up to your movie theater asking you to play Nosferatu, don’t give in. If you do, the original vampire will step out of the silver screen and terrorize you and your co-workers. Popcorn sales just aren’t worth it, trust.
4. If you’re forced to spend the summer at your cousin’s house and she tells you you have to spend a night alone in the haunted house next door if you want to hang out with her and her friends, don’t do it. Or, actually, do—if you want to help your ghost aunt and force your cousin to become a halfway-decent person in the process. (PS—“The Tale of the Lonely Ghost” is perhaps the show’s most terrifying episode.)
5. If you ever get trapped in a dollhouse, just jump out the attic window. Doors are virtually useless.
6. Melissa Joan Hart is not such a good babysitter. Side note: Ghosts wear silk pajamas, obviously.
7. Don’t ever use makeup past its expiration date. If you do, you might just lose your face to a creepy witch...besides encouraging cystic acne.
8. If your coworkers keep disappearing and if your boss suddenly offers you a mysterious drink out of a silver goblet, she’s probably trying to steal your beauty. Just a heads up. (Also, please check the cleanliness of said goblets. Silver like that carry all sorts of bacteria.)
9. In order to destroy an out-of-control vampire, you have to destroy its coffin. Easier said than done, right, Emmanuelle Chriqui?
10. Don’t substitute steel for silver, especially if you’re trying to summon and trap the demon that killed your twin sister.
Want to relive the terror that was Are You Afraid of the Dark for yourself? An angel on Reddit found every single episode of the show on YouTube, so it’s your (un)lucky day.