Are You Afrassist of the Dark? (1990)
You didn't listen to me. Now you'll play the game... forever!—Mr. Olsen

For human being of a certain age, the sight of a rowwatercraft bobbing in the water on a foggy night, the sound of a rusty swingset creaking in the wind, or the waggling notes of a spooky synthesizer will evoke exceptionally particular memories. Not of rowing watercrafts or playing on the playground, as you could suppose, but even more most likely of a musty rec room somewhere – memories of being a son, huddling under a blanket in front of the television, too terrified to move. If you were born in the 1980s or at an early stage ’90s and had accessibility to a TV, you’ll nearly definitely acknowledge these scenes (both on-display and also off) and also that oh-so-unsettling theme from the opening of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Created in 1990 by D.J. MacHale and also Ned Kandel for Canada’s YTV, the now-classical children horror anthology series was a co-manufacturing of Cinar Films and also Nickelodeon Productions. Basically a kids" version of The Twilight Zone,the present focused on the Midnight Society – a team of teenagers that assembled each week to tell scary stories approximately a campfire. As the kids told their tales by firelight, a dramatized version of the story at hand would certainly be presented to viewers. With titles prefer “The Tale of The Phantom Cab,” “The Story of the Pinround Wizard,” and “The Story of the Dark Dragon,” these narratives regularly affiliated ghosts, demons, and also various other superorganic beings and also nearly constantly had a happy ending.

You are watching: Jeff zahn are you afraid of the dark? theme song

Produced in and around Montgenuine and also Vancouver, the present additionally doubled as a proving ground for numerous young Canadian actors, featuring early job-related from the likes of Neve Campbell, Ryan Gosling, Hayden Christensen, Jewel Staite, Jay Baruchel, Elisha Cuthbert, and many others. The original Are You Afraid of the Dark? series aired from 1990 to 1996. It was briefly revived in 1999 and is still syndicated around the people to today.

As is often the instance via the format of an anthology series prefer Are You Afrhelp of the Dark?, having actually an impactful title sequence is vital. With an ever-altering cast (conserve for the Midnight Society) and a new story every episode, the opening titles were the glue that hosted the present together – a touchstone that not just helped indevelop the tamong the series all at once, however additionally reminded young minds eagerly craving more than Saturday morning cartoons that they were in for a scary excellent time. The episodes might blend together with time, however no one who watched Are You Afrhelp of the Dark? as a son will certainly ever before forobtain the show’s main titles.

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, we call this… The Tale of the Terrifying Title Sequence.


Are You Afrassist of the Dark? episode title cards

Tell us around yourself.

I am a trained timeless musician, playing cello roughly the civilization and on Broadmeans via the show Cats, yet my initially love is composing, which I additionally stupassed away at Boston College and also Stony Brook University. Years earlier, I was lucky sufficient to accomplish the legendary kids’ television composer Joe Raposo, that took me under his wing to create and arvariety for him.

Joe Raposo was a Portuguese Amerihave the right to composer and also songwriter, finest recognized for his work-related on the children"s television series Seexact same Street, for which he composed the theme song.

When he tragically died, I took over some of his contracts and one was to continue a series referred to as Madeline for a company in Montreal referred to as Cinar Films. I went on to work-related for them for 18 years, creating the majority of their music and also supervising the various other series and also composers.


Are You Afraid of the Dark? series regulars (AKA the Midnight Society) through series creator D. J. MacHale.

From left: Ross Hull (Gary), Jodie Resther (Kiki), D. J. MacHale, Jaboy Alisharan (Frank), Nathaniel Moreau (David), Rachel Blancdifficult (Kristen), Raine Pare-Coull (Betty Ann).

How did you obtain connected through this project?

As part of my task I was told around a new series called Are You Afrassist of the Dark? I met director D.J. MacHale and also producer Ned Kandel and also they told me about their vision. I loved the principle. We talked around the process of finding a composer for the underscore. I thought it finest to bring in about ten writers and have actually them compose samples of their work. I would certainly direct the procedure.

We uncovered two fabulous composers to share the load. At some point we debated the opening sequence, yet I do not remember if they offered me any type of footage or a manuscript initially – or if I composed the music alone. I"m pretty certain I wrote a music piece about one minute lengthy via just the outline of the series in my head – and they edited the visuals to that.

How did you come up with the design template song?

I was actually sitting in Dorval Airport in Montgenuine and I began singing the template while waiting for my aircraft. I simply believed about the series, about mystery, hauntings, scary, supernatural points, thrillers – and also children – and also it concerned me.

I didn"t have actually music paper, so I scribbled out the notes on a napkin. I really preferred it and also maintained singing it. Then once I played it on piano the crucial countermelody concerned me, which I provided as an development and for linking product. It came together incredibly conveniently and also quickly, unchoose a lot of various other themes I’ve done.

Are You Afrassist of the Dark? – Initial pilot title sequence

How did you write it? What equipment or instruments did you use?

I videotaped a really excellent variation at my residence studio using computer systems and also samplers. At the time, it was mainly Roland also 880s, Sample Cell, and also various other traditional synths. But I was exceptionally lucky in that I worked via a Montactual musician named Jeff Fisher.

We had actually functioned on many kind of prior series together. Jeff is an amazing keyboardist, however also an equally brilliant arranger and also orchestrator. We got in the studio together to document the final and also he re-recorded all my components and included a few of his own touches which really carried the track to life. We immediately preferred it a lot. Jeff went on to end up being among the 2 underscorers of the series, in addition to Ray Fabi.


Composer Jeff Zahn through the Backstreet Boys.

From left: Kevin Richardboy, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Jeff Zahn, Howie Dounstable, A. J. McLean

What sorts of themes have actually affected you?

I stupassed away classical music as a composer and also cellist, so I have an excellent feeling of composition and orchestration. What affected me many was the idea of the series, not any type of one past composer. Hearing what the series aspired to achieve was the incentive. I was taught that if you truly desire to be a good writer, you should never create close to a keyboard or guitar – your hands tend to go to your favorite positions and also it boundaries you. So my finest creating happens once I am ameans from the studio. Such was the situation with Are You Afrhelp of the Dark? – as soon as I composed it at the airport.

What must a great tv design template do? What duty perform you feel it serves?

Easy answer: the ideal tv themes need to, upon hearing it, make you sit up and also take notification from any room in the residence that your present is around to start. It need to be unique, identifiable, and also memorable. This can be achieved with amazing melodies, amazing style, amazing plan, orchestration, or lyrics. Themes tfinish to loss into a few distinctive categories. The most well-known tends to be the Gilligan"s Islandversion that offers you most backstory, like the Brady Bunch also.

Others set the mood via groove and lyrics – think The Sopranos. Others can be anthems, prefer the layout to the kid"s series Arthur, which I created. But they need to be unique unto that seriesand also hopetotally not derivative of various other series also.


Jeff Zahn (top) via the voice cast of Arthur.

You"ve created the music for many type of iconic kids’ reflects. Is there a distinction between writing the theme for a kids’ show as opposed to something for adults?No – very same rules. It has to be distinctive, fresh and one-of-a-kind unto itself. Similar to a kids’ show, any style goes, as lengthy as it"s supportive of the parameters of the series. I"m currently functioning on a new kids’ series referred to as Jam Hotel which takes location in New Orleans. So obviously, we"re toying via zydeco music. I"m likewise functioning on a nation music series referred to as Twangy, so the theme song will certainly be in a contemporary nation style.

What are some of your favourite TV and also film themes?

Of those I created, I still perform choose Are You Afrhelp of the Dark? I once did a French TV series referred to as Les Intrepides and also I love the template that I created for that, as well. I additionally composed a really swinging significant band also layout song for the series Paddington Bear.

As for films, I"m a large Randy Newman fan, so any type of of his old scores are magical. Avalon, The Natural, Ragtime, and so on. I"m additionally a fan of The Sopranos layout – that"s such a fresh groove and also the lyrics are so included. Years earlier, there was a collection referred to as The Practice. I favored that for its orchestration.

Special thanks to Mathew Klickstein, author of SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon"s Golden Era, for his help in facilitating this intersee.

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View the credits for this sequence

Produced by: Cinar Films

Title Designer: Joey Vekteris (uncredited)

Main Title Music by: Jeff ZahnTheme Arranged and also Orchestrated by: Jeff Fisher





Title sequence Creator D.J. MacHale Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Networks YTV, Nickelodeon Language Englsh