Dir. Jacques Payette (1992)
Two siblings believe their new neighbors may be vampires.
To start off this week's Are You Afraid Friday, we're going with Kiki's (Jodie Resther) tale of new neighbors from Eastern Europe who dress in black, only come out at night, and collect blood. Pretty soon, people around town start to experience a lack of energy, some of them sporting new wounds to their necks, and wouldn't you know it, brother and sister Dayday and Emma (Noah A. Godfrey and Suzanna Shebib) begin to suspect vampires. Seems reasonable, if I'm being completely honest. Of course, this is a kid's show, so the neighbors being blood-sucking creatures of the nights seems a little out there... right?
There are a couple of things that this episode does phenomenally well. The gothic horror of Emma's dream, in which vampire neighbor Mr. Braun (Carl Alacchi) floats towards her bed in a clowd of smoke after rising to her bedroom window through the dark, is excellent. It's a clear reference to Hammer Horror, and for a kid's show it's executed to near perfection. The score for the episode, performed largely on an organ, is also fantastic, lending itself very well to a vibe that is as gothic as the suburbs can get.
Possible vampire parents Alacchi and Françoise Robertson are great, as are Godfrey and Shebib as the questioning kids at the center of the story. There's nothing particularly new or inventive about the tale: this is your prototypical "kids think the neighbors are evil but the parents keep trying to welcome them" story. It's also a children's show, so you know it probably won't get too terribly dark no matter how it turns out. Nevertheless, it's as well done a version of the story as any you've seen, fairly impressive for a twenty-four minute episode from the early 90's.
While I won't spoil the ending, I will say that it is a little dark, a little more than most of the other episodes of the series. It's a good episode, one of my favorites so far. It's not particularly shocking as an adult, but I imagine it must've dropped quite a few jaws amongst its preteen fans. While I won't be doing a full ranking of the series or even the season, especially because I don't have access to the episodes removed from Paramount Plus, I will say that this one was one of my favorites so far.
Who this episode is for: Vampire fans, Kids Horror lovers, Amateur detectives
Bottom line: Gothic, extremely well-done, and with a "shocking" twist, The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors is a good episode that is well worth a watch. It's not my favorite episode, but it's pretty damn high up. This one is streaming along with the rest of the series (minus a few episodes that are sadly missing for one reason or another), and it's a great introduction to vampire horror for the younger crowd. Give it a look.