“Nothing appears to trouble my children however tonight's present, which I completely wash my arms of, is basically scary.”
For anybody who grew up watching The Simpsons, the Treehouse Of Horror Halloween specials are an annual horror staple, from spooky sofa gag to horror-themed credit. You may study an terrible lot of issues simply from watching the present, however for youthful audiences, these episodes gave us our introduction to sure iconic horror tales.
Having ditched the early framing gadget of the household telling scary tales to at least one one other, with Springfielders solid in key roles, the format is now nearer to a mini-anthology of terror with three tales that happen outdoors of canon. This has often given the writers licence to be extra grotesque and outlandish than within the common collection, often with heaps extra blood and guts than even essentially the most brutal Itchy & Scratchy quick.
For the aim of getting an honest unfold of the collection, we're rating particular person tales moderately than complete episodes, partly as a result of the standard of the tales varies even throughout specials produced within the golden age of the collection (by in style reckoning, that is seasons three to eight) but additionally as a result of there have been some good particular person segments afterward too.
We have been suggested to inform you that the next record may be very scary with stuff that may give your children nightmares. If you're one of these cry-babies who could be offended, I dare you to not learn this record. Chickens! This is the record...
13. Desperately Xeeking Xena (Treehouse Of Horror X)
"Everytime you discover one thing like that, a wizard did it."
At a college Halloween social gathering, an accident with an X-ray machine offers Bart the flexibility to stretch his physique a la Mr. Incredible, whereas Lisa features super-strength. They shortly fall upon the concept of changing into superheroes- Stretch Dude and Clobber Woman- and the remaining of the story segues into an episode of their very own TV present, full with catchy theme tune and adventures that contain kicking Saddam Hussein within the arse and utilizing the Statue of Liberty to crash a Nazi zeppelin.
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When Lucy Lawless seems at a comic book conference in Springfield, she's kidnapped by the Collector (Comedian Ebook Man) who needs her as his bride, and the 2 heroes come to her rescue. It is by far the geekiest phase on the record, with gags about nit-picky nerd questions and a passing references to Physician Who, Misplaced In Area and Star Trek- Voyager, sealed in mylar baggage on the Collector's wall.
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Simply as Halloween costumes have turn out to be much less about being scary than hitting one thing in popular culture, that is actually the primary Treehouse Of Horror phase that does not actually have something to do with horror. However it's a humorous one, so it simply makes the list- we notably like how Lucy Lawless, who protests right through that she's not Xena, in the end saves the day along with her Lucy Lawless powers anyway.
12. Evening Of The Dolphin (Treehouse Of Horror XI)
"Bottlenose bruises, blowhole burns, flipper prints- this appears to be like just like the work of rowdy teenagers. Lou, cancel the promenade!"
In brief, it is The Birds, however with dolphins. It is shocking that these specials took so lengthy to do a full-on Hitchcock parody, however it's well worth the wait. Lenny and the Sea Captain are each murdered by the ocean as the primary act of a full-blown dolphin rebel in Springfield. Homer tries to persuade the city that they'll outsmart the dolphins, however... they can not.
The visible of the dolphins standing on their tails and marching into city is surreal sufficient, however the phase additionally follows via on the premise, having them kill folks by bouncing seaside balls at them or impaling them with their noses. By the top, they encompass the townspeople, poised to assault, giving approach to a mass fist-fight.
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It resolves itself off display screen and ends with the Springfielders evicted from land to drift across the sea, whereas dolphins reclaim their land. It is more unusual than scary, definitely, however both approach, it is a humorous one. The place else will you hear Lisa Simpson come so near calling a dolphin a son of a bitch?
11. The Factor And I (Treehouse Of Horror VII)
"However what to do with poor Hugo? Too loopy for Boys' City, an excessive amount of of a boy for Loopy City, the boy was an outcast."
With Marge appearing cagey and Homer making common journeys upstairs with a bucket of fish heads, Bart and Lisa get suspicious. They quickly uncover that their mother and father are hiding a monstrous boy within the attic- Bart's evil Siamese twin, Hugo, from whom he was separated at delivery.
This one is a uncommon showcase for Dr. Hibbert, who's right here solid within the function of an skilled on evil Siamese twins, advising the household to maintain Hugo chained up in secret and administering such therapies as knocking the poor child out below the pretext of displaying him a mirror.
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Hugo himself is one of these enjoyably grotesque mayfly characters that pop up within the Halloween episodes, scuttling across the vents of the home and making pigeon-rats in preparation to stitch himself again to his estranged brother. The punchline that he was truly the dual on the suitable, making Bart the evil twin in spite of everything makes it that a lot darker, however it's a stand-out for the laughs in addition to a lot because the premise.
10. Fly Vs. Fly (Treehouse Of Horror VIII)
“Bart, are you in there? Have you ever forgotten our little kablammo speak?”
At Professor Frink's yard sale, Homer buys a pair of transporter cubicles for 35 cents, discovering an countless array of purposes to assist in his personal laziness, from going upstairs to doing a #1. Impressed by a partly profitable cat-dog experiment, Bart decides to take a fly into the sales space to realize superpowers. As a substitute, his head winds up shrunken onto the insect's physique, whereas Bart's physique now has a ravenous, slathering head.
It is a story of two halves, with Homer's creative excessive tech sloth making for the funnier introduction after which Bart's efforts to change our bodies with the fly taking on the remaining of the story. It is not an overt spoof of The Fly, however it does go straight to the physique horror of the Cronenberg movie, knocking Bart's notion of fly-based superpowers on its arse briefly order.
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It resolves neatly with the 2 organisms reverting again to their very own kinds, however there is a good kiss-off as Homer takes up an axe and declares that man was not meant to mess with this expertise... and chases after Bart as a substitute of destroying the infernal machine.
9. Citizen Kang (Treehouse Of Horror VII)
“Do not blame me- I voted for Kodos!”
Kang and Kodos have appeared in Treehouse Of Horror episodes since "Hungry Are The Damned" within the very first particular, starting from cameos to extra concerned roles in tales like "Citizen Kang," by which they snatch the our bodies of the candidates within the then-upcoming 1996 presidential election and within the course of, turned the one motive why anybody who watched this episode remembers who Bob Dole is.
Homer is the one one who is aware of about their plot, however finds himself discredited by the odor of the rum that the aliens liberally sprayed on him following his abduction. As the one one who can put a cease to their coup, he winds up setting Clinton and Dole free. Within the vacuum of house.
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There's an inevitable punchline about how even when the American voters are confronted with a selection between two equivalent pod-people, the system does not make any allowance for another option. By the top, Marge is grumbling about why the enslaved people should construct weapons to level at planets whose names she does not even acknowledge. In its personal bizarre approach, it rings true.
8. Dial Z For Zombie (Treehouse Of Horror III)
"I assumed dabbling within the black arts could be good for a chuckle- how flawed I used to be."
Spoiler alert- all three tales from the third Halloween particular might be on this record. It is actually the most effective of the bunch and the final to make use of the storytelling framing device- Lisa, Grampa and Bart all take turns to inform their scariest tales at a Halloween social gathering on the Simpsons' home, and Bart's is a hellraising zombie story.
Bart reads a e-book of magical spells from the college library's occult part and discovers an enchantment (which sounds an terrible lot just like the names of sport present hosts and discount stores) that can elevate Lisa's cat Snowball I from her grave within the pet cemetery. As a substitute, it raises all of the lifeless within the neighboring folks cemetery.
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The zombie infestation of Springfield brings up some basic moments, together with zombie radio and zombie Krusty. The writers nonetheless say that the bit the place Homer kills zombie Flanders ("He was a zombie?") is one of the most effective jokes they've ever accomplished. For us, we love the scene the place Homer nobly tries to sacrifice himself to the ravening hordes, besides that they appear disenchanted along with his lack of brains. Plus, any episode that features the road "Is that this the top of zombie Shakespeare?" is greater than worthy of point out.
7. The Satan And Homer Simpson (Treehouse Of Horror IV)
"'Expensive Homer, I.O.U one emergency donut, signed Homer.' Bastard! He is at all times one step forward..."
On a couple of events, Ned Flanders' close-to-Godliness (Ned-liness?) has been became one thing extra sinister within the Halloween episodes. Season 11's "I Know What You Diddly-Iddly-Did" solid him as a werewolf, Season 16's "The Ned Zone" noticed him following within the footsteps of Christopher Walken in a model of Stephen King's The Useless Zone, and most just lately, season 23's "Dial D For Diddily" made him right into a Dexter-style vigilante.
However the first and best of these is in his flip because the Satan in season five- it is at all times the individual you least suspect. In a parody of 1941's The Satan And Daniel Webster, Homer enters right into a Faustian pact with the Flanders Satan for a single doughnut (what else?) and winds up contesting the Satanic rights to his damnation at trial.
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Maybe this one is greatest remembered for its imaginative and prescient of Hell, with its sizzling canine meat manufacturing line and Ironic Punishments department- the machine that feeds Homer each doughnut on the earth was glimpsed on this 12 months's Treehouse Of Horror as a sight gag throughout one other go to to the underworld.
Different highlights within the fourth particular embody "Terror At 5½ Ft," which places the basic gremlin-on-the-side-of-the-plane plot from The Twilight Zone on the Springfield Elementary faculty bus, and a visit to a vampiric Mr. Burns' Pennsylvanian mansion in Bart Simpson's Dracula. (“Dad, that is blood!” “Correction- FREE blood!”)
6. Starship Poopers (Treehouse Of Horror IX)
"Marge, look! Maggie misplaced her child legs!"
Season 10 is seen by some because the tipping level between basic Simpsons and the much less in style episodes of current years, however the Treehouse of Horror for this season is up there with the funniest and most creative of them. "Hell Toupee" sees Homer possessed by a hair transplant that used to take a seat on Snake's noggin and "The Terror Of Tiny Toon" is a Keep Tuned-style odyssey via cartoon land for Bart and Lisa.
However the third story, a Kang and Kodos story, is the most effective. As a sort of successor to the darkish household secrets and techniques in "The Factor And I," it emerges that Maggie's father is not Homer, however Kang, who kidnapped and impregnated Marge. A paternity dispute follows, which inevitably results in an look on The Jerry Springer Present, follows- “Spouse knocked boots with Area Stud!”
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The satire of this episode is broader than the scathing political assault on the two-party system in "Citizen Kang," however it results in a lot greater laughs, notably when taking up the tropes of Springer's present. ('We have now Kang in a soundproof sales space the place he cannot hear us.' 'I hear all!') and enjoying with Maggie's alien physionogomy. And albeit, Maggie having an alien dad is extra credible than some of the canon contortions of continuity within the collection correct.
5. Clown With out Pity (Treehouse Of Horror III)
"We promote forbidden objects from locations males concern to tread. We additionally promote frozen yogurt, which I name frogurt!"
That is Lisa's story from Treehouse Of Horror III, and maybe essentially the most memorable of the Twilight Zone pastiche tales that introduced a lot inspiration within the early specials. This one is impressed by the episode "Residing Doll."
Homer buys Bart a Krusty doll as a final minute birthday present from an occult shop- the mysterious vendor warns him it carries a horrible curse, (which is dangerous) however it comes with free frogurt (which is sweet) that can also be cursed (which is dangerous) with a selection of topping that incorporates potassium benzoate. (That is dangerous.)
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In fact, Krusty seems to have a thoughts of his personal and he is hellbent on killing Homer. From starting to finish, this can be a extremely quotable skit with a deliciously easy climax- seems the doll can merely be switched from Evil to Good. The darker, unanswered side is that we by no means fairly discover out why the toaster has been laughing at Homer.
4. King Homer (Treehouse Of Horror III)
"I do not suppose girls and seamen combine, sir."
"We all know what you suppose."
That is three for 3 from Treehouse Of Horror III, and there is a motive why this one is a fixture of the Halloween repeats. Grampa's "King Homer" is a straight-up mini monster film in black and white, primarily based on the 1933 model of King King.
Mr. Burns leads an expedition to search for a large ape on a distant island, enlisting one Marge Bouvier as an unwitting human sacrifice to the beast. The ape, who appears to be like an terrible lot like Homer, winds up on the identical voyage to Broadway as that different big monkey, albeit with a a lot happier ending and a advice that he eat extra greens and fewer folks.
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The Simpsons famously made its characters yellow-skinned to catch the eye of channel hoppers, however the prolonged black and white sequence is one way or the other much more eye-catching, with gags galore.
Though the above quote is immortalized by Sgt. Ferrell in 28 Days Later, (who proclaims it his Greatest. Joke. Ever) it is jam-packed with quotable traces about Sweet Apple Island, bathing beauties and the chubbiest kickline on the town.
3. The Shinning (Treehouse Of Horror V)
"No TV and no beer make Homer one thing one thing."
Mr. Burns invitations the Simpsons to take care of an Overlook-esque lodge that was the positioning of Satanic rituals, witch burnings and 5 John Denver Christmas specials. He cuts the household off from TV and beer for the winter, a choice that Smithers speculates was the rationale why the previous few caretakers went mad and murdered their households.
On this particular, producer David Mirkin pushed to place as a lot blood and guts in as was feasibly potential, in spiteful response to Congressional makes an attempt to censor the present (referenced on the prime of the episode in Marge's conventional tackle to the fourth wall.) They definitely obtained off to a superb begin with their selection of supply materials for his or her opening parody.
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Bart stands in for younger Danny Torrance with Willie telling him that he has “the shinning”, in order to keep away from any comparisons of a plagiaristic nature. Over the course of the next two tales, Willie goes from a sort of Scotsman Crothers determine to being killed off extra ignominiously in each "Time And Punishment" and "Nightmare Cafeteria."
However regardless of any protests on the contrary, the iconography of a sure basic Stanley Kubrick horror movie is all truthful sport right here. It is clear from the winding highway to the lodge to the ultimate picture of the household frozen within the snow. There's even a shout-out to the long-lasting shot of blood spilling from the elevators, ("That is odd, often the blood will get off on the second flooring," Burns observes.)
Homer's raving Nicholson-esque flip is probably essentially the most memorable (“Urge to kill... rising”) however Marge is a good stand-in for Shelley Winters' Wendy too, smashing the glass for a baseball bat in case of spousal madness, and Moe leads a platoon of beasts together with a mummy and Freddy Krueger in making an attempt to persuade Homer to kill the household. That is The Simpsons on the prime of its spoofing sport.
2. The Raven (The Simpsons' Halloween Particular)
"Quoth the raven' 'Eat my shorts."
The primary Halloween particular even pre-dates the Treehouse of Horror label, however it hits upon the rationale why all subsequent Halloween specials would take that identify. Bart, Lisa and Maggie are within the treehouse as Homer eavesdrops on the elder siblings making an attempt to out-scare one another with spooky tales.
The primary two each unfold alongside related traces, with "Unhealthy Dream Home" telling the story of how a haunted home constructed on an historic Indian burial floor would moderately destroy itself than dwell with the Simpsons, and "Hungry Are The Damned" riffing on an outdated Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man," with Lisa offending aliens Kang and Kodos by suggesting that they are fattening the household as much as eat them.
However the third and ultimate phase is a masterstroke, and the rationale why Edgar Allan Poe will get a co-writing credit score on the episode- a re-staging of Poe's horror poem "The Raven," casting Homer as the person pushed to insanity by Bart's speaking raven.
Sticking carefully to the textual content, James Earl Jones amplifies its immutable creep issue along with his vocal efficiency, and it is principally performed with a straight bat. Nonetheless, there are a pair of nice sight gags and interruptions by Bart (when Lisa reaches the “darkness there and nothing extra” line, he incredulously exclaims: “ what would have been higher than nothing? ANYTHING.”)
This episode was Alf Clausen's first gig as composer for the collection and along with coining some Halloween-y music cues which are nonetheless getting used to today, the dramatic crescendo to this phase, with Homer cowering away from the Bart-headed chook, is the cap on one of essentially the most suave segments that the present has ever produced, introducing an entire new viewers to a basic piece of horror prose in a darkly humorous approach.
1. A Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace (Treehouse Of Horror VI)
"'Do Not Contact- Willie' Hm, good recommendation."
Sandwiched between "Assault Of The 50 Foot Eyesores," (by which author John Swartzwelder brilliantly lampooned promoting) and the principally laptop generated "Homer3," this one is our favourite as a result of it strikes such a exact steadiness between horror and comedy.
Of all of the collection' horror spoofs, this story is definitely extra straight-up disturbing than most instalments of the lumbering horror franchise that it was mocking. Casting Groundskeeper Willie as Freddy Krueger, the youngsters of Springfield Elementary are terrorised by the janitor-turned-nightmarish-avenger of their desires, as revenge for the disastrous PTA assembly the place he died.
Following the earlier 12 months's "Nightmare Cafeteria," which had Skinner and the school consuming their college students, it is nearly just like the writers needed to prime their already grotesque therapy of killing off youngsters. This one is full of nightmare gasoline imagery, starting from Martin's corpse in a rigor mortis expression of terror, to Willie's flaming skeleton staggering right into a room and hollering a vow of violent revenge.
However it would not be The Simpsons if there weren't additionally some actually humorous gags. There's the uniquely daft concept of the college shopping for calendars with a superfluous 13th month known as Smarch, adopted instantly by the signage joke quoted above.
The producers nonetheless cite this as one of the scariest Halloween segments they've ever accomplished and that definitely holds true for this humble author. However in a visually creative phase, they always married the absurd with the genuinely disturbing, typified by Willie's penultimate type being a sort of spider made out of bagpipes. Yeesh.
Tell us in case you suppose we have missed any all-time basic or trendy gems within the feedback, and have a contented Halloween.
Tradition Editor Tony Sokol minimize his enamel on the wire providers and in addition wrote and produced New York Metropolis's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Learn extra of his work right here or discover him on Twitter @tsokol.
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