Are You Afraid of the Dark? 1.5 “The Tale of the Hungry Hounds”
Gary considers instituting a Kristen Rule against latecomers, but then Kristen shows up in costume, and with a dog, to tell her story.
City slicker Amy spends the summer in the country with her cousin, Pam. The two find a dusty old trunk in the attic but—alas!—it’s locked. After Pam’s mom reminds her for the bajillionth time that she’s not allowed to ride horses because her Aunt Dora died in a riding accident, Pam and Amy try to stave off boredom by playing with a Ouija board. The board gives them the combo for the locked trunk and the two of them venture back to the attic, where Pam dons her dead Aunt Dora’s riding jacket and Amy follows her into a dreamlike netherworld cemetery. Believing that Pam has been possessed by Dora, Amy learns that Dora and her horse both died the day she decided to free the fox before the hunt and also forgot to feed the hunting hounds. The hounds, predictably, tore the fox limb from limb.
Pam/Dora is now determined to correct her mistake by feeding the hounds and appeasing angry ghost Groundskeeper Giles. Amy tries to stop her from opening their pen, but fails, and she and Pam/Dora almost get attacked by the dogs. The fox appears and distracts the hounds, and Pam/Dora then rides after him on her horse. Amy returns to the attic to find that Pam has been there the whole time. Or was she???
Gary ends the meeting with the hilarious line, “Don't forget to feed your dog, or he may have a BONE to pick with you.”
T: Turns out Kiki’s not a big fan of Kristen, and neither am I. She’s insufferable, right? No one else brings props or dresses up. And on top of the needless show, it makes her late.
E: Whaaaaaaaat? What is with all the Kristin hate up in here? I honestly dig the whole soft-spoken-pretty-girl thang she’s got going on.
T: We’ve mentioned Rachel Blanchard, who plays Kristen, and she’s great in the role, there’s just something about the character that rubs me the wrong way. For instance, she can’t throw the dust on the fire herself so she orders David to do it for her? Really? That’s why Kiki calls her a princess, unless that’s Midnight Society code for flirting.
E: Female strength comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to bedemonstrated by throwing sand on a fire for flip’s sake. If Kristin can talk her lovesick puppy into doing it for her, I say go for it. Plus, I LOVE this story. This is the first one we’ve seenwith genuine teens instead of tweens/young teens. I love both main characters in this one. Amy has that classic city-girl snark and on point fashion sense (the vest!), but she’s not as mean as the cousin from “The Tale of the Lonely Ghost.” And with her long dark hair and knowledge of classic literature, Pam weirdly reminded me of Sarah from Labyrinth.
T: Good call on Labyrinth, there really is a dream-like quality going on. The stairs that come out of nowhere is a great visual.This one starts out slow and misses the spooky mark by setting the Ouija scene during the daytime with a picnic vibe. But once Pam’s possessed, it really picks up. Hungry ghost hounds is a pretty creepy idea in the first place.
E: I see your point, though I’m okay with the slow burn at the beginning, and I still think the Ouija scene is creepy AF. But, yes, things take a turn for the totally surreal once we end up in family-cemetery-dreamland. I don’t think I have words for how much I love Dora’s nickname for the fox—Mon Petit Rouge—and the fact that he leaves her “presents.” The presents, of course, are bones. Dora was into some weird shit and I’m one-hundred-percent here for it. All that said, I did not find the hounds at all scary once they were out of the pen. They looked like they wanted to play! I wanted to roll around in a pile of hounds.
T: Speaking of Mon Petit Rouge, you have to love the bilingual fun in this story. Did you catch that the Ouija board they used was in English and French?
E: I didn’t! Oh, how very Canadian.
T: Ghostly Groundskeeper Giles is creepy enough, but he comes out of nowhere and then just leaves. Kristen hints that there could be more ghosts in the family graveyard, but it’s kind of dropped. It’s really an unnecessary complication.
E: Fully agreed. We didn’t need a Giles appearance. It’s rather sloppy, and Amy and Pam would’ve held their own just fine.
T: There’s not much Midnight Society material, but I love the random shot of Gary laughing during the interlude, and then he gets an end of the story one-liner! I need this for every episode. I want him to whip off sunglasses and mug for the camera.
E: Yaaaaaas! Gary’s one-liner was cheesy but totally perfect for a ’90s kids show.
QUEER OR NOT?
T: I read two slight queer aspects. 1) Eric jokes that Kristen’s a dog and Frank rebukes him. Eric seems to be the only boy unaffected by Kristen’s looks. 2) This one’s almost entirely female (aside from Giles) and features an athletic pastime. I dig that the show keeps representing girls who aren’t “cookie cutter” Hollywood staples.
E: Very good catch with the Eric thing. We’ve talked about both Eric and Kiki being potentially queer, right? And having their own podcast? Who do we need to talk to to make that happen?
T: We’ve talked about the whole Kiki vibe in real life, but I’ve been holding back in these articles until her first storytelling episode which is *spoiler alert* episode seven.
E: Ah – noted. Anyway, I also appreciate the variety of young female characters the show has featured thus far. It reminds me that the early-90s were kind of a good time for feminism, before everything went to hell in the handbasket in the late-90s.
TRIVIA, USELESS TRIVIA
T: This episode marks the first “Hey, look, it’s that steady-working actress back when she was young!” casting with Mia Kirshner pulling double duty as Pam and Dora. She gives a strong performance, and it’s no surprise she went on to do stints on 24, The Vampire Diaries, Defiance, Star Trek: Discovery, and co-starred on The L Word.
E: Wow! I totally recognized her name during the credits, but I never would’ve been able to tell you what else she’s been in. But that’s what I have you for. You, and IMDB.
MODERNIZE ’90s CANADIAN KIDS
T: This one doesn’t feel dated at all. Maybe it’s the country setting, but it would work today for the most part. All I’d do iscrank up the creep factor before the possession but that’s about it.
E: Truth. Kids still play with Ouija boards, right? Like, there’s no technology that’s replaced that as far as I know. I do have one bone to pick (yuk yuk yuk). Why does every “square” girl on this show wear ill-fitting khakis and baggy button-down shirts? I don’t remember anyone in the ’90s actually dressing like this. Maybe it was a Canadian thing? Also, Eric calling Kristin a dog strikes me as such a ’90s insult. So glad those days are over, though the term dog has undoubtedly been replaced by something much worse.
JUST GIVE IT A NUMERICAL RATING ALREADY
T: This one’s a rollercoaster for me. Starts slow but picks up mid-way and then ends well, if not somewhat confusing. The Midnight Society material doesn’t add much aside from demonstrating that David has horrible taste in girls. From the onset, I was leaning toward a 6, but the improved final act bumps it up, but I have to give an additional half a point since I found myself really rooting for Amy. She ended up being genuinely likeable, which bumps this up to 7.5 OUT OF 10CAMPFIRES.
E: Again with the Kristen hate. *rolls eyes* I obviously enjoyed this one more than you.
T: That’s the fun of having two people discuss episodes. I’ve been somewhat surprised our ratings haven’t been closer, but it feels like we’ve latched onto different aspects of the series. Yay diverse opinions!
E: What can I say? Snarky fashionistas and dreamy literati will get me every time. And Mon Petit Rouge? My god. Though I’ll admit the beginning was a bit slow and the Midnight Society bits could’ve been stronger. 8.5 OUT OF 10 CAMPFIRES.