This Spooktober, why not revisit the seminal spooky children's show Eerie, Indiana? For those of you who still have some semblance of youth, the show was about Marshall (Omri Katz, who also appeared in Halloween evergreen Hocus Pocus), a boy who moved with his family away from New Jersey to safe, friendly Eerie, Indiana... which is actually the weirdest place on the planet. Alongside his new friend Simon (Justin Shenkarow), the only other person in Eerie who is aware of the city's bizarre happenings, he goes on a series of creepy and scary adventures. The show also had a pretty great casting people who found several guest stars who would go on to get famous in their own right.
The then 16 year old Maguire had acted for a few years already and had some decent TV guest appearances under his belt, but the fame he'd enjoy in the late 90s/early 00s (as part of Leonardo DiCaprio's infamous "pussy posse", lest we forget) was still a long way off. In the episode The Dead Letter he played a lovelorn ghost who needs Marshall's help to deliver a letter to the girlfriend he was supposed to meet up with several decades ago.
Spook factor: Maguire's guileless, goofy grin becomes pretty sinister when he manifests and uses it to charm Marshall's clueless family so he can get closer to Marshall and make him run his errands (while Marshall desperately tries to convince them Tripp is dangerous), but the story has a downright wonderful, heartwarming conclusion with some cracking jokes as well.
Horror rating: 💀💀
Cox had acted professionally since she was 10, racking up appearances in both Star Trek: The Next Generation [lol] and Terminator 2 before her role in Eerie. During a ten year period starting in the mid-90s she was pretty inescapable when you turned on the TV, starring in shows like Norm, General Hospital, Las Vegas, Unhappily Ever After (an absolutely shameless rip off of Married With Children - she played the Kelly character) and her own show Nikki. She was 13 when she played Janet, a girl who had been missing from Eerie for a whole year and who Marshall only knew from her picture on milk cartons. Daylight saving time comes around but this is apparently not a thing in Eerie - Marshall however refuses to miss out on one extra hour and winds his watch anyway. Only to wake up in an Eerie where there are no people except himself, an old milk man... and a now-feral Janet.
Spook factor: Janet is a Warriors-style survivor, and Cox' performance makes it more badass than spooky. The story has a very creepy finale though, as it's heavily implied having entered "the lost hour" will make Marshall live forever and that the old milk man is his future self. Brr.
Horror rating: 💀💀💀💀
Harris may not be a very familiar face to the gp but horror fans will know her as the veteran scream queen of Rob Zombie's Halloween movies, Stake Land, Camp Dread etc. She too started out as a child actress and on Eerie she played Marshall's first girlfriend, Melanie, in what is probably the most Edgar Allan Poe-esque of the episodes. She plays a girl with a heart condition which could kill her at any moment, which Marshall and his classmate Devon find super cool and irresistably alluring. Their bickering for her affection comes to an end when Devon is killed in an accident - and his family donates his heart to Melanie for a transplant...
Spook factor: This show straight up killed a kid character as a plot point. The episode is a gorgeous, gothic love story in its own right but that's the kind of thing that sticks with you.
Horror rating: 💀💀💀💀💀
Character: Dash X
Marsden (no relation to James) has had a lowkey but super prolific career and you've definitely seen (or heard, he's also a voice actor) him in SOMETHING. Another experienced kid actor, Marsden started out at the ripe old age of nine, becoming a familiar face to kids who liked to get spooked as Eddie Munster in the 90s reboot of the classic show. He became a series regular towards the end of the show's run as the mysterious, trenchcoat-clad, grey-haired Dash X, and would go on to play Max Goof, Doug on Step by Step, Jason on Boy Meets World, and even live out OP's dream of playing a Ferengi on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Spook factor: Dash X is abrasive and morally ambiguous, but he's way more sad as a character than spooky - a lost, amnesiac kid getting by as well as he can. It's no wonder really that he latches on to Marshall and Simon and most everybody else who shows an interest in him.
Horror rating: 💀
Character: Autograph hunting girl
Richards was 20 and just starting out when she did what amounts to glorified extra work in the episode Reality Takes a Holiday, making a blink and you'll miss it appearance as a girl getting Dash X' autograph. The episode itself is fantastic though. Considering the level of the backstage talent and the overall quality of the writing, the similarities to the avantgarde British cult series The Strange World of Gurney Slade are probably not coincidental - like in that show's first episode, the fourth wall comes crashing down to reveal that Marshall's house is a set, everybody keeps referring to him as Omri, and everything everyone's saying is written down in a script. Worst of all - he learns he is about to get killed off his own show.
Spook factor: This episode is a complete metaphysical nightmare where Marshall has to fight for his literal existence. It allows the actors to have a little fun at their own expense, too - Shenkarow is particularly funny ("My history teacher gave me a D! I'm calling my agent, now she's gonna be history").
Horror rating: 💀💀💀💀
Character: The Donald
Auberjonois is of course today a household name beloved by all people everywhere for his iconic performance as Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but when he did Eerie he was still just a working actor getting by. Whether it was a desperation for work or an authentic artistic desire to examine the nature of evil that led him to accept the disgusting role of "The Donald", a businessman whose slimy, immoral, illegal tactics turns Eerie's inhabitants into mindless zombies, is unknown. The character luckily gets his comeuppance at the end, as the tax man comes for him and he ultimately ends up in hell.
Spook factor: A businessman named The Donald, whose brand of cynical capitalist evil threatens to destroy humanity? Fucked up, I can't believe they let children watch this show tbh.
Horror rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀