Sunday, May 10, 2009

Are you Afraid of the Dark? – The Tale of the Night Shift – review (TV Episode)

dvd setDirected by: D J MacHale

First Aired: 1996

Contains spoilers

“Are you Afraid of the Dark?” was a Canadian kids TV production where a group of kids, the Midnight Society, would gather in the woods to tell scary stories. The story would be the meat of the episode. The first run of the series was 5 seasons long and ran from 1990 to 1996, a new set of Midnight Society members were seen between 1999 and 2000. This was from season 5 of the first run.

Clearly, by me looking at this here, the episode was about vampires and it should be born in mind that this is children’s TV. The story itself took place in a hospital. Janitor Felix (Jorge Vargas), who to be honest looked no older than the storytellers, is mopping when his boss gives him a chewing out for signing for a water pump – he had no right to do so and the pump has gone missing, if he doesn’t find it it’ll be his job.

Elisabeth Rosen as MargotComing up to the children’s floor in the lift are volunteer Amanda (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and nurse Laurette (Jennifer Engels). Amanda is collared by the fierce nurse Hantin (Kathleen Fee) and told that there is a new volunteer started, Margot (Elisabeth Rosen). She is told that she will have to look after the new girl.

the vampireMeanwhile, in the basement, Felix cannot find the water pump. He does, however, find the crate it came in by an incinerator. A girl (Irene Contogiorgis) appears and becons him, he follows her and a green faced, yellow toothed vampire (Andreas Apergis) lunges towards the screen. Back upstairs and Amanda meets school friend Colin (Oren Sofer), in for a tonsillectomy but desperate to get a date with Amanda – but she is too busy to date.

jinkies, something is afootWe see nurse Laurette got by the vampire, who took the form of a little girl (Elisha Cuthbert). The nurse becomes quite zombified and grey faced. Meanwhile Colin reports that his roommate, Bud (Richard Azimov), has gone missing but asks Amanda to help him find him, as he doesn’t want to get the boy in trouble. They end up in a cupboard where Amanda finds used up blood packs. She takes one to nurse Hantin, who is now grey faced (with bite marks on her neck). She says she will phone security but does not do so.

Felix is... deadColin and Amanda check the morgue in case Bud has gone in there. There is a body on the table and, pulling back the sheet, they see it is Felix. As they leave Felix sits up. Checking the phone at the nurses’ station, Amanda realises the telephony system is dead. They go to the stairs but Felix is there. He made me like this, he says, he drank too much because Felix was the first.

Felix comes backFelix manages to get his base urges under control and explains that the vampire will bite everyone, placing them under control, and then come back and feed at his leisure. He takes them to the basement and shows them the coffin (which came in the water pump crate). If they can destroy it they destroy the vampire. Margot appears and explains that they have it all wrong, vampires only feed every 50 years (obviously when they do feed they feed a lot). She is the vampire, of course.

remote burningCan Felix maintain his humanity long enough to help Colin and Amanda? Can Colin and Amanda stop the vampire? Will Colin get his date? Being kids TV I am sure you know the answers to all that, so I can reveal that the idea of burning the coffin, kill the vampire works – setting the vampire on fire. One has to ask, therefore, why? After all Felix didn’t have a coffin as he had only just died, but didn't seem to be troubled by the lack of one. Be that as it may this is quite a good little episode of the series, the actors work well enough. The vampire looks a little too much like the Wraith on Stargate: Atlantis – but obviously that wasn’t the case when it first aired as it pre-dates the other show. A nice introduction to vampires for the kids, though not demanding at all for adults; 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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