Do you have a fear of water or public pools, but aren't exactly sure why? It could be because you watched "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float" as a kid, and it left a lasting impact on you. This "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" episode has been considered one of the scariest episodes of the entire series, according to at, least and three sources.
Of course, this was the ONLY episode out of the whole series I watched as a child, and it scared me so badly, I never watched another episode — until I was an adult, of course. I decided to rewatch this episode (God bless YouTube) and see if it really was that scary, or if I had just been a big ol' wuss.
Conclusion: It was that scary.
The episode starts off with a flashback to 1954. Joe (bb Jay Baruchel) swims in a public pool unsupervised, while the lifeguard makes out with Joe's sister. Shortly after jumping into the pool, an unseen force pulls him under, and he drowns.
Fast-forward to the present — circa 1995 — Zeke (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) discovers the pool hidden behind the school's locker room. After the school decides to start using its new-found pool, Zeke makes a deal with class hottie Clorice (Margot Finley): He'll tutor her in science if she can help him get over his aquaphobia.
Long story short, the two learn the pool was built over a cemetery, and one restless soul is pissed AF about being disturbed. Zeke and Clorice use science to make the creature visible and then destroy him, and everyone lives happily ever after, blah, blah, blah.
FYI, this was the monster. Tell me how this wouldn't scare a six-year-old to death?!
I broke down several reasons why this episode definitely wins the title for "Most Effed Up 'AYAOTD' Episode Ever," because it's seriously twisted and we need to talk about it.
A child was pulled under in a closed body of water and couldn't see who or what was doing it.Nickelodeon
This scene right here would make any kid afraid of going swimming. Why bother getting in the pool if there's a possibility of a demon/ghost thing chillin' beneath you, being angry and invisible.
Also, the kid freaking drowned.Nickelodeon
Joe was murdered by an invisible entity. Hard to fight what you can't see. The lifeguard didn't get there in time to save him. NO ONE COULD SAVE HIM.
There were a myriad of creepy underwater shots used to represent the monster's POV.Nickelodeon
All we need is the "Jaws" music, and we'll be set to feeling good and unnerved.
Zeke gets pulled underwater by the monster literally moments after confessing he almost drowned when he was little.Nickelodeon
His near-death experience was understandably the reason he was terrified of water, and an invisible hand yanking him under probably didn't help him overcome his fears.
This. Moment. Right. Here.Nickelodeon
OK, no. No, no, no.
The need for a "date rape" warning poster in a middle school.Nickelodeon
I mean, it's great to promote safety tips and consent, but these kids are like 12 — and it's a children's show. Was putting a random "date rape" poster in the background really necessary?
The realization you won't be safe anywhere and that there's nowhere to hide.Nickelodeon
The monster came up through the drain on the locker room floor. That's it, abandon ship.
There were a few unnecessary close ups that made it look like the monster was looking RIGHT AT US.Nickelodeon
Although the monster was eventually destroyed, his death was kind of gruesome.Nickelodeon
Since Zeke noticed the monster was partly made of acid (based on its distinctive odor) he knew it could be destroyed by pouring manganite onto it in the pool, because manganite explosively reacts when it connects with water. The more you know!
So, even though this episode didn't involve a clown, unlike "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark" or "The Tale of the Crimson Clown," it was still scary AF and
probably definitely scarred a lot of kids in the '90s.