Pumpkins are being stocked in every shop, nights are getting darker, and Halloween is slowly approaching. This can only mean one thing: The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" marathon!
Since 1990, with the airing of the first "Treehouse of Horror," The Simpsons has been making us laugh with their clever takes on iconic horror films. To celebrate the spooky season, let's drive down memory lane and list my personal favorite Treehouse of Horror references to horror movies that we all know and love.
10. 'Bad Dream House'
The first "Treehouse of Horror" episode consisted of the Bad Dream House story. The family moves into an old haunted house and are possessed to kill each other by the house itself (I'll never forget how scary the narrating house voice actually was). As well as scaring the pants off me, this section of the episode included various parodies of other iconic horror films.
The opening image of the Simpsons' new home shows that one side of the house resembles the Amityville Horror house. Perhaps the largest pointer towards The Amityville Horror was the bleeding walls (although bodily liquid cascading out of walls has been done a few times, The Shining for example). However, much of the plot itself seems inspired by the events of the classic Hooper film Poltergeist, such as the Indian burial ground under the house, the seemingly sentient tree right outside of Lisa's bedroom window, and the implosion of the house at the end.
9. 'Hungry Are the Damned'
In this section of the first "Treehouse of Horror," the Simpsons are abducted by aliens (named the Rigellians) and are welcomed with a huge feast. Lisa tries to convince her family that the aliens are trying to fatten them up to eat them, pointing out a book she thinks is called How To Cook Humans; the aliens become upset and reveal the book is actually called How To Cook For Forty Humans.
It's a reference to the Twilight Zone episode in which aliens greet humans with a book titled "To Serve Man," which sounds benevolent until the humans realize, "It's a cookbook!". A solid reference by The Simpsons, 10/10.
8. 'Homer Kong'
A little less subtle than the first two, "Treehouse of Horror III" segment "King Homer" is a straight-up parody of the classic monster movie King Kong. The episode pretty much follows the plot of the original film, obviously with added Simpsons humor.
The episode is actually quite a cute romance between the famous couple, as Marge and Homer recreate the magic of monster/human love.
7. 'Nightmare Cafeteria'
"Treehouse of Horror V" contained a very dark and very classic play on Richard Fleischer’s 1973 sci-fi film Soylent Green with this "ghost story" in Bart and Lisa's elementary school — because what's more scary than school?
Principal Skinner is faced with two problems, an increasingly low budget for school dinners and an abundance of horrible, mean children. So what would any rational principal do? Obviously abduct the misbehaving children and serve them for dinner! Although in Soylent Green, the horrific acts are set in the whole of New York City, so I guess it's on a much bigger scale... eep!
6. 'Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace'
I think the title is a big giveaway to the next parody. If you couldn't guess, it's A Nightmare on Elm Street. Due to the complete ignorance of the Springfield residents, poor groundskeeper Willie dies due to burning alive. Willie comes back dressed in the famous striped sweater and frankly terrifying fedora (but then again, fedoras are terrifying in any fashion sense). In true Nightmare on Elm Street fashion, Willie begins to haunt the dreams of poor Lisa and Bart, which sees Willie turn into a giant lawn mower, a giant bagpipe and a giant spider (ew).
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5. 'Fly vs. Fly'
Okay, so Bart with the head of a fly is a pretty iconic image by now. But in the episode Treehouse of Horror VIII, The Simpsons take on David Cronenberg’s The Fly with a gut-bustingly hilarious parody of the classic sci-fi movie.
After Homer buys a transporter from Professor Frink, Bart is inspired to use the machine on himself in order to fulfill his fly/superhero fantasy (whatever floats your boat), but the experiment doesn't exactly go to plan. Bart forms a strange fly head and everyone seems to just accept it. Cue hilariousness.
4. 'E.T., Go Home'
In Treehouse of Horror XVIII (have there seriously been that many?!), Bart encounters an alien — not a cute one like the actual E.T, but a huge one named Kodos — who needs a list of necessary materials in order to head home. What Bart fails to see is that these "materials" are actually things that Kodos needs to destroy Earth, such as secret locations of U.S. missile defense facilities.
If the original E.T. was like this, I doubt it would have been as heartwarming.
3. 'The Island of Dr. Hibbert'
This segment from Treehouse of Horror XIII seems like a direct parody of The Island of Dr. Moreau but with more of Dr. Hibbert's laugh (uh huh huh huh), as the Simpsons family head to his island resort. But unbeknownst to them, he has been turning everyone into oddball creatures. Nearly all of the cast are turned into weird unimaginable creatures. Although my favourite was Disco Shrew, I have a special place in my heart for puns like that.
2. A Clockwork Yellow
This segment of Treehouse of Horrors XXV parodies one of my favorite films (although it isn't a very pleasant film). Moe has a Clockwork Orange-style gang in London along with Lenny, Carl and Homer. The plot is vaguely similar to the film, obviously with less sexual violence, and the costumes look damn similar. However, it's the end that always gets me. I'll let you watch it for yourselves:
1. 'The Shinning'
Sticking with the Kubrick theme, this parody was my all time favorite. The Shining is hands down my favorite film of all time — I've watched it a million and one times — so when I watched "Treehouse of Horror V," I was delighted to see this clever, hilarious and fast-paced parody of one of the greatest horror films ever made.
The plot is very similar to the film's plot — however, with the usual Simpsons humor. For example, its reference to one of the film's most iconic lines ("all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy") is one that is widely admired and remembered: "No TV and no beer makes Homer something something..." "Go crazy?" "Don't mind if I do!".
So there you have it, my personal top 10 Treehouse of Horror movie references! Make sure you have the spookiest of Halloweens and watch some of the amazingly hilarious Halloween special episodes listed above. There's plenty to chose from!
What's your favorite Simpsons Halloween episode?