Sunday, November 16, 2008

"I gotta go now, my ride's finally here": Are You Afraid of the Dark, 1.12 - The Tale of the Prom Queen

I was thinking about doing another Hey Dude recap since I've only had one so far, but my Hey Dude dvds have really messed-up volume, so I'm going with an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode. I wasn't planning on doing many recaps of this show since another blog already exists for it, but I'll throw a few in here and there for variety.

The thing that sticks out to me from the show in general is that creepy-ass clown doll (or whatever it was) in the opening credits. That thing was freakier than most of the things that appeared in the actual episodes. The episode that scared me the most was that one where the girl and her older brother sneak up to the apartment on the top floor of their building, where these aliens in disguise invite them to play games that are really tests of how the girl would adapt to conditions on their planet, and at the end it's revealed that she is the aliens' daughter and they bring her home. The aliens' faces had no eyes or nose or mouth, and that really freaked me out. And at one point, the mother alien talks to the girl by appearing on her TV set at night when the TV wasn't turned on. That scared me so much that for awhile I unplugged my TV before bed every night. I'm such a loser. 

Anyway, from this episode in particular, I  remember the creepy old car playing "In the Still of the Night" as it drives off into the distance at the end and disappears as it drives through the graveyard gates. To this day, that song always sounds creepy to me. It's the backing vocals.

I usually list the main characters in my first recap of a particular show, but there's no real major characters to this show because each episode has a different cast. I tried making a list of the Midnight Society members, but it's hard to describe them without visuals since lots of them have no real distinguishing characteristics. But anyway, this show revolved around a group of teens who called themselves the Midnight Society and met in the woods once a week at night to tell each other scary stories. I refer you once again to the Are You Afraid of the Dark blog where you can find screencaps for details because I am not skilled enough to put any together myself.

A ghostly figure in a white dress with a veil over her face glides toward the campfire, where the members of the Midnight Society are sitting around bored, complaining that scheduled storyteller Kristen (the blond girl) is late. They notice the approaching ghostly figure and freak out, but surprise! It's only Kristen, played by a young Rachel Blanchard. Kristen is literally the polaroid of perfection. She could be a part-time model (but she'd probably still have to work her normal job). Apparently being scary involves talking in a weird accent, because Kristen launches into her story in a vaguely foreign "fortune teller" accent. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, she calls this story "The Tale of the Prom Queen." It's business time.

We're in a graveyard, because this show is full of originality, where a girl in mom jeans is leaving flowers at a grave. She hears mysterious laughter as she's walking away, but she ignores it. Something jumps out in front of her face! --But don't worry, it's just birds. She should know that nothing scary really happens until right before the commercial break. Someone else jumps out at her, and she screams, but it's only two random guys whose idea of fun is apparently hanging out in a graveyard. The guys introduce themselves as Greg and Jam, and judging by their names,  Greg is obviously the "nice guy" and Jam is the asshole who thinks he's cool but is really pretty lame. He has feathery hair. Super cool. Jam tells Dede (the girl) that Saturday is prom night--the night of the prom queen. Dede turns to look at him in recognition of those words but then plays it off like she's never heard about this legend. Could that be significant? 

They tell her the story of a girl a long time ago who for some reason was waiting for her prom date outside the cemetery (did emo kids exist back in the 50s?), but it was a foggy night, and a car struck her in a fatal hit-and-run. They found her and buried her a few days later in her prom dress. Because that isn't weird at all. Every year on prom night, it is believed that the ghost of the prom queen returns to this spot, waiting for the ride that never comes. Greg and Jam have been looking for a grave that might be hers, and Dede thinks it sounds kind of cool and offers to help. Jam just said "let's go ghost hunting, boys and ghouls." No wonder he has nothing better to do with his life than hang out in a graveyard.

Greg points out that they should probably make sure that there really was a car accident, otherwise they could be searching for nothing. So they head off to the local library to scan old newspapers on microfilm. yay! I always thought searching old newspapers on microfilm was so cool. I'm such a loser. But not as big a loser as Jam. They find the article they're looking for in 1956. Judy Larson had been waiting for her boyfriend Ricky to pick her up, but Ricky never got the message. Ricky also accidentally drove his 1955 Chevy off a bridge, so there were two tragic deaths that night. God, it sounds like one of those smarmy 1950s doo-wop teenybopper love songs. "Oh where oh where can my baby be" and such. Oh, weird! Someone apparently created a video of that song I just quoted using clips from this episode. We think alike. Dede seems really concerned by news of Ricky's death... could that be a clue? During all of this, the doorknob to their room starts to open slowly. Oh no! Could it be the librarian out to get them? It is! And even worse, she's bringing tea! Frightening.

Dede comes up with the idea to help Judy by trying to contact Ricky and telling him to pick her up. Dede uses the word "keen," which confuses Greg, and I wish the writers would stop beating me over the head with their clever little clues. They meet that night and travel to the bridge where Ricky's car went over, and they rent a boat (after dark?) to head out to just under the bridge to hold a seance. Dede leads the seance, and creepy things start to happen. They start to hear a bubbling noise in the water, which Jam is afraid is being caused by a rusty Chevy. Dede tells Ricky's spirit to pick up Judy by the cemetery, and the bubbling noises get louder. The three get freaked out and row away as quickly as possible. 

The next day, prom night, the kids find the grave of Judy Larson at the graveyard. They wait in a spot where they can see both the grave and the gate at the same time. Greg is whining about getting cold. But then they hear windchimes, which obviously means it's a ghost because ghosts carry windchimes. Ha... and then a ghostly figure carrying windchimes appears. I had meant my windchimes comment to be snarky, but then it actually happened. Greg cautiously approaches the ghostly figure... but it is only Jam's cousin who was set up to scare Greg and Dede. Jam is enjoying this and thought Greg was going to "have a cow." Jam is totally awesome. 

Greg and Jam are fighting when Dede notices a shadowy old car coming out through the fog. It is, of course, a '55 Chevy creepily playing "In The Still of the Night" on its radio. Dede is letting her hair down and freakishly singing along with "In the Still of the Night." Greg is all "wtf???" as Dede spins around and is suddenly wearing an elegant ball gown. Shocker! She is really Judy Larson! I never saw it coming. Turns out Dede's her nickname--her real name is Judy (is Dede ever a normal nickname for Judy?). She gets into the car with ghost-Ricky and they head off through the cemetery gates as the car slowly disappears.

Random Thoughts:
-Wikipedia tells me that this show was released on dvd. Is this true? It wasn't part of the Nick Rewind collection, which makes sense given that it wasn't a Nick original. Was it released only in Canada or something? Any Canadian readers out there know anything about this?
-Ricky's Chevy is pink. Umm... creepy?
-So, if Dede didn't know that Ricky was dead, was she leaving flowers at her own grave in the first scene? That's really sad and pathetic.
-My dvd kept skipping near the end. It got really annoying. All the more reason to track down this supposed official release dvd.


Fear Street said...

I loved this one. It made me sad back then!

Basherella said...

This show was released on DVD in Canada, I got my DVD sets from I think the whole series has been released, I have the first 5 seasons. They replaced music though, I remember "In the Still of the Night" in this episode as well, but on the DVD it's just generic 50s-ish music in that scene.

colleenn said...

That's so sad that they replaced In the Still of the Night with generic music. That's the part that stuck out to me the most from this episode. But as far as I can remember, none of the other episodes really used pre-existing popular music, so it probably wouldn't affect other episodes. I'll have to pick up the dvd sets when I have some extra money... the ones from the pre-Tucker-taking-over seasons anyway.

neal said...

Prom Queen Geeks is once again the same old song and dance. The Prom Queen, a meandering tale of secrets and lies an actual girl with an actual webcam. Prom queen is a concept that many frowned upon at first, they were able to incorporate this many characters.




Sadako said...

Just wondering if there's any chance of an update--I love this blog and reminiscing about 90s TV!

colleenn said...

Yes, I'm sorry. I totally screwed up and let my updates slide. I've had a really awful couple of months and I just didn't have it in me to write. I should do a real entry about this to explain to people who might still check for updates. I will come back. Hopefully soon. I've just been dealing with a lot lately.