We’re back to Season One for today’s episode, which can be found on youtube here:
The episode beings with The Midnight Society waiting around the campfire for Kristen, who is apparently always late, despite always seeming to be there at the same time as everyone else in every other episode she’s in. Turns out she took so long to get there so she could show up looking like this:
The outfit scares the rest of the members, and we learn she’s wearing it for effect. She says she’s got a tale of woe, a tale that has been told around many campfires, but she’s here to tell the one true version. Her outfit apparently restricts her from sitting down, so she asks for some help with “The Midnight Dust” which I think is the only time they actually give a name to the magic powder they throw onto the campfire. Midnight Dust? It must be PCP. With some assistance from Gary, she begins. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, she calls this story….
We open with a girl in a cemetery laying some wildflowers on a grave and we follow her around for a few minutes as she walks through the cemetery, occasionally hearing evil laughter.
She round a mausoleum and a random guy jumps out and scares her. She freaks out and turns to run away, only to be stopped by another random guy who tells her to chill out and relax because they’re not ghosts. Yes, because I’m sure when two random guys ambush her in a cemetery her biggest fear is that they’re ghosts.
Random guy #1 does absolutely nothing to make himself less creepy, let’s just pause for a second and take a look at him.
And he looks like that while leaning against a mausoleum, talking about The Night of Living Dead and laughing evilly, moments after jumping out of nowhere to scare her. We learn his name is Jam, and now despite his creepiness, at least we can laugh at him. Random guy #2’s name is Greg and he and Jam were “just having a goof.” For some reason the girl put at ease by this and introduces herself as Dede. I’ve got to think if this scenario played out today, there would be a lot more pepper spray involved.
We learn Greg and Jam are hanging out in the cemetery looking for grave of The Prom Queen, the town’s local legend. Jam tells Dede the story, about a girl, who on prom night was waiting for her date by the cemetery gates, when a car, who’s driver may have been bombed, jumped the curb and killed her. The driver drove off and the girl was buried a few days later still in her prom dress.
Legend has it that every night on prom night, she can still be seen by the cemetery gates, waiting for her date that never comes. I should tell you, Jam does a better job telling the story, and with more uses of the word ‘prom”. Dede thinks the story is pretty creepy and agrees to help them look for the grave. Jam of course can’t ask her to help them without again seeming creepy, again making him come off as the kind of guy who probably drives a windowless van.
Ghost hunting doesn’t work out and they all get ice cream together, where Greg decides that if they can’t find a grave, they should at least look through old newspapers to see if there really even was an accident. Quick, to the library! We are quickly reminded of how dated this episode is, as they look through the old newspapers on microfilm, which to me was always the creepiest way to read a newspaper.
They find a story on the accident in 1956, and it turns out it happened just like Jam said, fog and all. They also learn that the girl’s boyfriend never got the message that he was supposed to pick her up and was so distraught after her death that he drove his car off a bridge. Ah, young love. Of course the boyfirend’s car and body were never found.
Dede decides that they should help the ghosts, and attempt to contact the boyfriend’s spirit to let him know that he needs to pick up his girlfriend. Jam suggests they use his house for the séance because his parents go out to the movies on Fridays, which I find absurd, because no one goes to the movies every week. Dede says she has a better idea and tells Greg and Jam to meet up with her again later that night.
Before they leave however, Greg tries to work his game on Dede, telling her that she’s kind of a strange person, but he likes her. I bet that line works all the time, I’m going to steal it. Dede replies with “keen”, which even in the 90’s was a weird thing to say to someone. Later we find that Dede has of course decided that they should try and summon the boyfriend’s spirit at the bridge he drove off of. Actually she’s decided they should try it literally under the bridge, and they take the water for a boat based séance.
The séance is surprisingly effect as the water beings bubbling and Greg and Jam freak out and row to shore. Once ashore they discuss what they saw, and Greg, who appears to be always in tears, insists it wasn’t a ghost because ghosts don’t exist. The encounter wasn’t enough to keep Jam from being creepy however, and he’s soon insisting that they visit the cemetery the next night, because it’s prom night.
And now we experience a rare moment in AYAOTD, we actually cut back to The Midnight Society, who are discussing the story so far. This is something I always like, because it keeps the vibe of a campfire story going, and you get a sense of what it’d be like to listen to one of the Midnight Society members tell the story, instead of getting the whole thing acted out for you. But that’s just me, and apparently I was in the minority because it’s something that stopped happening after the first season.
We get back to the story with our brave trio visiting the grave of the Prom Queen, who they found after checking the cemetery records for her real name, Judy Larson. They wait around the cemetery for awhile and Greg, after complaining about how cold he is (pansy) asks what time the ghost is supposed to appear. Jam tells him that she comes at midnight, which raises two questions. One, if he knew the exact time she’s supposed to show up, why did they wait around in a cold cemetery all night? Two, why the hell is she waiting to get picked up for prom at midnight?
They hear some wind chimes and turn around to see what sort of appears to be a ghost. The ghost passes by them and Greg gives chase because he’s skeptical. Greg approaches the ghost and it turns around to reveal itself as…Jam’s cousin Chuck, who Jam brought in to scare Greg. Jam laughs about it and how it looked like Greg was going to have a cow. He was also going to eat his shorts and do the Bartman. Do’h!
Greg is pissed and threatening to beat up Jam, when a car drives into the cemetery. In an odd moment, Jam says it’s the cemetery’s caretaker and that they should jam. So Jam wants to jam. I wonder if Jam would like to jam, while eating some jam. What? Where were we? Oh yeah, this guy has pulled up to the group.
Dede takes her hair down, approaches the car and suddenly she’s in a prom dress. Shocking twist, Dede was the ghost all along, and thanks to Greg and Jam, the mystery of why her boyfriend never picked her up has been solved, and they got him to finally come and get her. Really though, she sort of did all that by herself, and Greg just tagged along and whined, while Jam just spent the whole episode coming off as a sex offender. And everyone lived happily ever after.
The Prom Queen isn’t the scariest, or most unintentionally funny episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? but it’s still a good one. It a nice spin on a classic ghost story, which is the kind of thing this series always did so well. It’s one of the feel good episodes that the female members of The Midnight Society often end up telling. Though this one featured Jam giving off some really creepy undertones, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if the character has since been to jail. Useless fact: The actors who played Dede and Jam both had really small roles in the 1995 movie To Die For and both appeared in the series Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cops. Looks like Jam never stopped stalking her.
Oh yeah, if you’re reading and enjoying this, feel free to comment and suggest an episode you’d like to see reviewed, I only have a few planned out in advance.