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The Tale of the Curious Camera
Season 3, Episode 9
Eplogo35
Air date March 19, 1994
Written by Susan Kim
Directed by Ron Oliver
Episode guide
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The Tale of the Guardian's Curse
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The Tale of the Dream Girl
The Tale of the Curious Camera, is the Ninth episode of the Third Season of Are You Afraid of the Dark? as well as the Thirty-Fifth episode in total.

Intro

That evening, the group is sitting close near the campfire and laughing while looking at photographs. Most of them have brought a childhood photo which depicts them as young as four to six years old. The photos show them to have things such as goofy hairdos and missing teeth, and in the girls sake when they had bangs and pigtails and when pretty little dresses. Then as their laughing Sam says how embarrassing. Tucker says what a geek! Kiki says I'd burn that if I were you. Frank tells her that her picture isn't any better.

Then as briefly each picture is glimpsed at, we see a picture of a young boy with shaggy brown hair and a tooth missing. Laughing Kiki asks Gary if that's really him cause apparently he looks exactly the same. Gary embarrassed just tells her "gee thanks".  Tucker laughs when pointing out the childhood picture of Sam in kindergarten and says "What a dork!" while everyone laughs with him in fun.

Betty Ann, to be a team player also nervously provides a childhood picture of herself from Grade One. Everyone laughs together seeing it and Gary says it looks cute. Sam asks her why they had to bring their pictures anyways? Betty Ann tells them because Photographs tell the future. Tucker in slight shocks says "They do?" Betty Ann points at Gary childhood picture and says be the look on his face you already tell he'll be very serious. Pointing at Kiki's childhood picture which looks not so different, Betty Ann says look at her smile you can already tell she will be trouble. Everyone laughs while Kiki smiles and says she's got that right. Tucker then rudely points out Frank's childhood picture and asks what was with the dumb look on his face. Frank embarrassed or annoyed tells him not to push him and calls him a little skid mark.

Betty Ann, then explains that "All sorts of things can be learnt from looking at pictures. The question is do you really want to know what the future has in store? Or is it better off being a surprise ?" Betty Ann sits down on The Storyteller's chair. She continues to say "Sometimes you might want to know, but what if you discovered that the future held something incredibly..EVIL! and there was noting you could do to change it".

Betty Ann, throws in the campfire dust to intensify the campfire and submits her story for the approval of The Midnight Society calling it "The Tale of the Curious Camera"

Story

Betty Ann, tells the story. The story begins with a photographer taking a High School basketball team's pictures in a gymnasium. A teenage boy named Matt Dorney waits in line with the team to have his picture taken. The fact that all his team has basket ball uniforms on and he has just jogging clothes on it can be assumed that he is just a towel boy or a waterboy.

The just before he goes to have his picture taken the Class Bully Kullback asks him if he has ever read the boy he's holding. Matt at first just tries to be nice and tell him no, but Kullback asks him if he sure and has him look at it. When Matt finally looks we see there is a pierced ketchup packet inside the book. When Kullback slams the book shut the ketchup squirts in Matt's face, with Kullback telling him oh sorry looks like the book RED! you and he unkindly laughs along with the rest of their team. Matt tries to wipe it off but Kullback tries to bully him to leave it on. This is because Matt Dorney is the victim that everyone in the class bullies and pick on.

When Matt arrives to to have his picture taken, at first the photographer Mr. Calhoun is worried at the sight of him thinking he's bleeding. Matt assure him that he is okay and it's just ketchup, so Mr. Calhoun gives him some tissues to wipe it off, and Kullback tiptoes in from the side and taunting says "smile for the birdy". About a week later that afternoon the coach hands all the members of the team their portrait pictures. Matt is puzzled because his picture is blank, looking like no one is sitting there.

After reading the photographer's name and address on the back of the envelope, he goes to see Mr. Calhoun to inquire about his strange blank pictures. The photographer seems to be struggling and not too successful and is just managing by. The photographer tells Matt that his picture is indeed accurate because no one notices him and let's everyone walk all over him and he never stands up for himself or takes action, there he is invisible. Matt is demands another picture to be taken cause his mom paid for real pictures. He tells him too bad, cameras never lie.

Mr. Calhoun, doesn't give him a refund, however as a cheer up gift he gives him an old antique vintage 1940's camera. Matt is very excited to have and he happily accepts the gift. On the way Matt accidentally takes a pictures of himself and is a bit startled by the flash. The picture depicts that he has a greasy ink smear on his shirt. He thinks the camera must be broke, then a moment later he can see that he really does have a greasy ink smear on his shirt.

When Matt gets home, he tests the camera around the kitchen and the living room taking pictures of such things as the floor vase and the wall pictures. His sister Amy comes in and is eager to have him take her picture. He doesn't and jokes to her that it might crack the lens. She doesn't think he was very funny, then suddenly there is a crashing sound and the flower vase is on the floor smashed. Amy claims she didn't do and somehow the window just knocked it over. The picture shows that the floor vase would get smashed almost like a prediction and turns it at happened after all.

Then when he sets the camera down, he looks throughout the other pictures he recently just took as if to see what else horrible would be happening. Also he find the shutter blinds crooked and the window smashed and a wall picture tilted which he adjusts, he thinks that him being capable of making things like that happen is awesome. Suddenly the flash goes off itself and takes a picture of the fish tank. Then moments later the fish tank seems to start steaming and smoking. Almost as if the heater or the thermostat in the tank overloaded. Matt looks is upset and shock when the picture that was accidentally depicts that would happen. Then he throws the camera into the thrash and begins to forget about it.

The next afternoon at team practice Kullback bullies him again. This time Kullback and some classmates are playing floor hockey that day. To warm up Kullback pushes Matt around and takes his Textbook to use a puck. When the textbook doesn't slide right he then takes Matt's smoother Notebook which works better which greatly annoys Matt.

Matt then notices that from out of nowhere his camera has appeared in his locked and pick it up and is ready to use it. He then stands up for himself and calls out to Kullback and tells him "Hey Kullback!, you know you're a total butthead?" Kullback is furious when hearing that. Matt also tells him "I heard you got the wrong end of a brain transplant, any truth to that? Kullback is furious and is about to approach him when suddenly the camera goes off itself and takes Kullback's picture and Kullback is really blinded by the flash.

Kullback is just about to punch Matt, until their near skirmish is interrupted by the coach who tells them to get going and out into the gym. Kullback threatens to cripple him later and calls him a dweeb, leaving still blinking him eyes from the camera's flash. Later after the class has ended Kullback is just minding his own business tying his shoes ready to leave. Matt looks at the photo with a could it be? look on his face. Suddenly one of the locker begins tilting and shaking and comes crashing right down on Kullbacks foot. Kullback screams in pain and calls for help and all his classmates and the coach come to his help. The photo reveals Kullback would be making a painful looking face just like he did when the locker fall on him.

That evening at home, Matt decided the power is in his hands now and takes his class portraits and decides who to take pictures of next to also have a lesson taught to. His sister Amy asks him what is going on and he tells her to keep a secret and explains that the school photographer gave him his camera but something bad always happens to every picture that he shoots. Amy feels his head to see if he has fever and she think he either lost his mind or just pulling some joke.

Matt tries to prove it's true and takes pictures of random things but the button gets jammed. Amy is about to walk away. Then suddenly the camera goes off itself accidentally taking a picture of the chandelier. Matt sees the picture and pushes her out of the way just in time as it comes crashing down to floor, which could have hurt or killed her. Then they discuss that the camera is far too dangerous and cannot be used anymore. When examining the recently taken pictures Amy notices in the corner of each picture is the emblem of a little gremlin. Matt realizes it's not on the pictures it's in the pictures and it's probably what is causing all the chaos.

Matt decides to bring the camera back to Mr. Calhoun. When he gets to Mr. Calhoun's studio everything has changed and taken a total remake. The studio looks wealthy now and business seems to be flourishing. Mr. Calhoun looks happy and rich and happily discussing upcoming successful business on his phone. He is about to leave on a plane for a photo shoot when Matt questions him about the camera. Mr. Calhoun reveals that for twenty years he had the camera and it gave him nothing but bad luck. When he gave it to him instantly his luck changed all for the better and his phone never stops ringing now.

Also he reveals to Matt that he used to be just like him, afraid of life and afraid of everything. When that camera came into his life, it gave him power. Except the only power it had was over him, because it destroys everything it shoots and he warns Matt not to let it destroy him. They discuss the Gremlin that appears in the pictures and what Mr. Calhoun can figure is that all the trouble the camera causes if because of it, and it possesses the camera. But it's not his problem anymore so he doesn't care.

Matt asks him to take it back, but he tells Matt he can't take it back if he wanted too. Because now Matt can't give it away because when the camera was his he tried so many times. Matt asks him how he was able to give it too him. Mr. Calhoun tells him that he handed it too him not gave it to him. Also the camera chose Matt just like once before it chose him, and maybe someday he'll be lucky enough to get rid of it too. Then Mr. Calhoun happily leaves for his photo shoot with lovely new assistant.

Matt walks back home in the dark, then just as he enters the front door his Dad and Mom are on their way out and he mistakenly took their picture. He tries to persuade them not to go out because they're now in danger. They don't listen to him and they go out anyways. Terrified Matt tells Amy he accidentally took their parents picture. Amy thinks if they don't look at the picture the prediction won't happen. Matt however insists they do look at it as to find a way to warn them.

The photo predicts that their mom and dad will have a car crash with a transportation vehicle. Matt wants to call the police to give a warning. Instead Amy takes the camera outside and smashes it with a baseball bat. Then just when they get back inside the camera is back all fixed up and good as new. Then Matt decides to make the camera take a picture of itself by placing a mirror in front of it. Then just as the big transport vehicle is approaching to crash into their screaming mom and dad, Matt and Amy duck behind the couch and tap the camera's button with a hanger. The camera traps itself taking it's own picture.

Then suddenly there is a huge bright flash and the transport vehicle only just misses their parent's vehicle sending them off the road. Matt and Amy are relieved to find the camera has vanished and their dad phones home explaining that they almost had an accident and are on their way home. They highfive in relief until Matt shows Amy the photo he just found of their camcorder.

The gremlin is now in their camcorder and the tripod is moving it around like crazy. They duck and hide so it doesn't shoot them. The camcorder is connected to the T.V. and it's VCR and it comes on itself playing all the moments that recently happened lately before all the pictures were taken such as Kullback taunting Matt and Kullback screaming when the locker fell on his foot.

Matt turns the T.V. off but it comes back on so he keeps turning it off when it comes back on while the camcorder keeps moving around like crazy. We see that the gremlin is setting his sites on the computer next. Then the T.V. overloads, smokes and explodes in huge bright flash. They believe everything is safe now and they just need to make up excuses to their parents about what happened to the T.V.

However as they leave the living room, the computer's screen is changing showing the imprint of the gremlin's emblem hinting to the viewers the Gremlin has now manisfested itself in their computer as either a computer virus or will possibly operate through the webcam.

Ending

As the story ends Tucker says Cool. Sam asks for her picture back. Betty Ann says sure but first she wants to take a group shot and pulls out a camera identical to the curious camera and everyone but Gary runs off screaming. Gary says it's only a prop from dad's store, what are they so scared of? Then the camera automatically takes a picture of Gary and Betty Ann. Feeling nervous they  don't look at the picture and quickly throw it into the campfire.

  • This was Eddie Kaye Thomas' first acting role, just five years later he would become well known for playing the role of Paul Finch in the American Pie movie series.
  • Christian Tessier had previously appeared in the series before. He was in season one's episode "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark" as Josh.
  • Teddy Lee Dillon who portrayed the Coach, had previously appeared in the series before. He first appeared in the episode "The Tale of the Phantom Cab" as the Ranger. However, his name was credited as T.O. Dillon.
  • Bill Rowat, would reappear in the series again a couple years later portrayed the role of Mr. Gregory in the series revivals season 7 episode "The Tale of the Silver Sight"

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