Hot on the heels of this summer’s adaptation of , Nickelodeon has dropped the first trailer for its reboot of the popular 1990s series, , featuring a group of teens telling each other scary campfire stories that then come to life.
The original was a Canadian “dark fantasy” (aka YA horror) anthology series that aired on Nickelodeon in the US from 1990 to 1996, followed by a second run from 1999 to 2000.
At the start of each episode, the members of the Midnight Society would gather around a campfire in the woods, and one member would be chosen tell a story—typically an urban legend or something involving ghosts, werewolves, vampires, witches, and the like. The storyteller would announce the title and toss a handful of “midnight dust” into the campfire—producing white smoke for extra ambience—before launching into the tale.
The rest of the episode would dramatize the story for the viewers. There was a fair share of humor mixed in with the jump scares and creepy moments, often courtesy of several colorful recurring characters like mad scientist/sorcerer Dr. Vink (“Vink. With a va-va-va!”), and magic shop owner Sardo (“No mister; accent on the doh!”). And few fans of the original series will soon forget terrifying monsters like the Ghastly Grinner.
Despite a modest budget and correspondingly modest production values, the TV series was successful enough to inspire a separate series of books. Paramount announced plans to adapt into a feature film in 2017, but the company removed the project from its production schedule earlier this year. That may have been because Nickelodeon had just announced a limited reboot miniseries (both Paramount and Nickelodeon are owned by Viacom).
Per the official synopsis, “Across the three hour-long episodes, will follow members of an entirely new Midnight Society, who tell a terrifying tale of the Carnival of Doom and its evil ringmaster Mr. Top Hat, only to witness the shocking story come frightfully to life.” The cast includes Sam Ashe Arnold as Gavin, Miya Cech as Akiko, Tamara Smart as Louise, Lyliana Wray as Rachel, and Jeremy Ray Taylor—one of the breakout stars in the recent and films, where he played a young Ben Hanscom—as Graham.
Judging by the trailer, the rebooted series will keep the same framing device as the original, but this time, the stories the Midnight Society tells come to life (yes, much like ). Rachel has been having nightmares about Mr. Top Hat and the Carnival of Doom, inspiring her to work them into the story she tells around the campfire when it’s her turn. But then an actual Carnival of Doom comes to town, populated by nightmarish figures from the teens’ prolific imaginations—including Mr. Top Hat (Rafael Casal). The teens soon find themselves locked in a supernatural battle to prevail against the monsters they’ve somehow conjured out of their own deep-seated fears.
Tonally, the trailer reminds me of the 1983 film, , an adaptation of the classic Ray Bradbury 1962 novel, featuring Jonathan Pryce as ringmaster Mr. Dark. That’s not a bad thing at all, given how well that film has stood the test of time despite underperforming at the box office upon its release. Here’s hoping this Nickelodeon miniseries avoids a similar fate.
debuts on Nickelodeon on October 11, 2019, with parts two and three to follow on October 18 and 25, respectively.