EVERY. TREEHOUSE OF HORROR. EVER. [REVIEW] (Pt. 4)

I’m doing it! I’m really doing it! I’m over the halfway point so be sure to check out Pt. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3 before reading about installments XVI through XX. Can anyone confirm that this post is the first time I say, “I’m losing my mind”? I feel like that would be an easy thing to check, but I don’t have that kind of time. I was cautiously optimistic about these episodes because, even though I hadn’t been watching The Simpsons anymore, public opinion on the quality of these years was pretty low. Or maybe people just thought they were too cool to like the show. WHO KNOWS?! Point is, I was nervous that I would just hate everything, but there was some quality stuff in here! One segment I’d even consider a new all-time favorite! Well, what are you doing looking at this part? Just scroll down to see what the hell I’m talking about.

treehouse of horror xvi i've grown a costume on your face simpsons

Treehouse of Horror XVI (Season 17, Ep. 4)

Funniest Credits Nickname: Fearlicia Zalizombie-Decaplanated

Bartificial Intelligence” – When Bart put himself in a coma after jumping out of a window, the Simpsons replace him with a robot son, similar to what happened in the film A.I., which I’m starting to think was an inspiration for this segment. When Bart finally wakes up from the coma, he and the new robot son compete for love from family and friends. Homer goes on a drive with Bart, only to leave him in the woods to die. Bart finds company with a bunch of discarded robots and befriends them. Bart turns on these robots to ultimately destroy his replacement, but before any of that can happen, Homer wakes up, revealing it all to be a dream he had while possessed by the Devil. WAIT, WHAT? Where did that come from? On the one hand, it’s kind of disorienting to negate everything we just watched by revealing it was a dream, but on the other hand, it’s also funny to willingly discredit everything you just watched. I CALL IT A DRAW! Still though, kind of weird to do an A.I. parody.

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Survival of the Fattest” – Mr. Burns invites Homer to a hunting party, which makes Homer think he’s a real special guy. When he gets to Mr. Burns’ house, he sees that lots of other employees were invited, and Homer’s not that special. What a loser. Homer should learn to be thankful that there are so many other people at the party, because it ends up being a party for Mr. Burns to hunt people! Eventually Marge rescues Homer, but not before Burns can kill some people. Ummm, I guess this was okay? And I guess murdering other characters was kind of horrific and that’s why it was here? I don’t know, I think I’m starting to lose my mind.

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I’ve Grown a Costume on Your Face” – Springfield holds a city-wide costume contest to celebrate Halloween, awarding a prized gift certificate to a woman dressed as a witch! When the judges call for the participants to remove their masks, it turns out the witch was a real witch. As punishment for making fun of her or calling her ugly or who knows what, she turns the town into living versions of whatever their costume was. Some of the town prefer their costumed lives, while some don’t, but it doesn’t matter because Maggie, now a witch, turns them all into pacifiers! OH MAN! Everyone in town celebrated Halloween, so that was great. Homer’s costume involved having a detached head, so when his head was actually taken off and he tried to drink beer, he couldn’t. Ya know, because he doesn’t have a stomach. Classic! I’m sure that even if this episode was called “Everyone Wears a Costume” I would have liked it, so the few gags it did have only sweetened the deal.

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Overall Thoughts – The episode opened with a gag about how boring baseball is, which I assume is another jab at how the Treehouse of Horror specials have to air in November. Stick it to the man, TV show! The first two segments underwhelmed me, so I’m glad the final segment hit all the things I come to know and love about these specials. Even if it wasn’t funny enough to redeem the whole episode, I was happy to end on a good seasonal note, at least.

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you gotta know when to golem simpsons treehouse of horror xvii

Treehouse of Horror XVII (Season 18, Ep. 4)

Funniest Credits Nickname: The Less Scary American Remake Of Daniel Chun

Married to the Blob” – When a meteor lands in the Simpsons’ backyard, of course Homer eats the sludge that leaks out. You idiot. This goop transforms him into an eating machine, which he basically was before, but now he also grows in size. There’s a montage of Homer wandering around town eating people with a parody of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” know sung as “Baby Got Fat,” by the real Mr. Mix-A-Bunch guy himself! Dr. Phil tries to confront Homer about the issues behind his eating and the town solves the problem by opening a homeless shelter, only to have Homer be waiting on the other side. Guys…this one was pretty good! I liked that it parodied The Blob and I especially liked that it had a really dark ending featuring the deaths of dozens of innocent people. Homeless people, no less! Very mean-spirited. It also had Homer saying, “Must eat. Then poop. Then eat some more. Then eat while pooping,” which made me laugh, as well as a teen saying, “Tell my friends I died kissing a girl,” right before Homer consumed him. This episode is off to a pretty good start!

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You Gotta Know When to Golem” – After a taping of Krusty’s show, Bart goes behind the scenes and finds Krusty’s Golem, a monster from Jewish folklore. Krusty writes orders for the creature on a piece of paper and puts it in the creatures mouth, who then comes to life to do his bidding. Bart takes advantage of the Golem and he now does Bart’s bidding. When ordered to talk, the Golem comes to life for good. The Golem expresses his guilt over all the evil deeds he carried out, so the Simpsons make a female Golem and the two live happily ever after. The fact that this segment told the story of the Golem at all won me over, since I’m really only familiar with the creature from 1915’s The Golem. The Golem was voiced by Richard Lewis and Fran Drescher voiced the female Golem, so that was perfect. There were also a couple of really funny moments, like Krusty explaining his show was broadcasting in HD and revealing how gross his face was when seen in high definition. Remember when that happened? When we realized how gross HD is? That was gross. Guys…this episode is really starting to come together!

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The Day the Earth Looked Stupid” – During the Great Depression, the town of Springfield gets confused by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast. When the radio says it was invaded by Earth’s closest neighbor, Homer ponders, “…Flanders?” Haha, Homer, you dummy! That’s YOUR neighbor! The town goes crazy and, the next day, Lisa is the only sensible one who tells the town they are stupid for being tricked by a radio broadcast. Kang and Kodos witness the confusion from space and realize how easy it would be to conquer Earth, which they do, and then make a reference to our invasion of Iraq. This was another solid parody, and the sepia-tone really set the animation apart from other segments in recent years. The Iraq War comparison was a bummer, but we also got to see a 1930s Disco Stu say, “Big Band Stu says 23 ska-doo!” so I guess those two cancel each other out.

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Overall Thoughts – Easily the best installment in years, with a solid mix of comedy, influences, and animation styles. Of course, the last segment took place on Halloween and we got to see various incarnations of Springfield residents, AND YOU GUYS KNOW I LOVE THAT! The intro to the episode recreated the intro of the Tales from the Crypt TV show, which was icing on the cake. Are things looking up for the Treehouse of Horror legacy?! STAY TUNED…FOR LIKE 30 SECONDS TO READ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

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e.t. go home treehouse of horror xviii simpsons

Treehouse of Horror XVIII (Season 19, Ep. 5)

Funniest Credits Nickname: Health Care in this Country

E.T. Go Home” – When Bart goes to the shed in the backyard, he throws a baseball into it and discovers Kodos. Wait, how long have they had a shed? Anyways, Kodos asks for help building a communication device, and thinking that this will result in rescue, Bart helps. It turns out it’s actually a portal to allow more aliens to arrive on Earth and humans are enslaved. YOU IDIOTS! This parody hit all the major points of E.T. and then put their own spin on it, which I always love. One sequence of Homer getting into the shower with “Marge” (actually Kodos) makes this whole episode worth watching. When Kodos doesn’t respond to Homer asking if he can join the shower and gets no answer, Homer clarifies, “As always, silence means yes.” Kodos rubs Homer’s neck, with a request that he rub, “…the neck of my butt.” HAHAHA. Awesome. Followed by Homer warning, “Someone’s taking the highway to the danger zone.” BUTT STUFF. BUTT STUFF RULES. The episode also featured actual music from E.T. to add authenticity and at some point, someone used the phrase “space doggy.” OFF TO A GOOD START, GUYS.

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Mr. and Mrs. Simpson” – This is a parody of the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Homer and Marge are both assassins and think their marriage is falling apart, only to realize it’s falling apart because they won’t admit to one another that they’re spies. There’s a shootout and they fall back in love. That’s it. This segment more than any other indicates that the Treehouse of Horror episodes can also be called “Treehouse of Movie Parodies” because this movie isn’t horror. It’s not scary. GUYS, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?! The shootout sequence was pretty wacky to watch, mostly because Homer and Marge were violent attacking one another, but that’s really all it had going for it.

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Heck House” – After pulling some successful tricks on Halloween night, Bart, Nelson, and other assorted Springfield children realize tricking is more fun so they go on a pranking spree. To show them their punishment for their sinning, Flanders sets up a haunted house. When it proves ineffective, Flanders transforms into the Devil and takes the kids to Hell to show them what punishment for sinning is REALLY like. Homer gets transformed into spaghetti for his gluttony and Moe is punished for being envious of people who are crotchless. The kids vow to stop sinning and the episode ends. This episode had A) People celebrating Halloween and B) Multiple residents of Springfield showing up. I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. We also got to see Hell, which was cool, and Moe got to talk about “the crotchless.” Not bad!

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Overall Thoughts -The episode opened with Marge saying, “Remember Halloween? It was last week!” Another classic burn on these episodes not airing until November. Seeing such a good parody of E.T. followed by a parody of something not at all horror was pretty frustrating, so I might have enjoyed that third sequence more if I wasn’t so grumpy. The whole episode ended pretty abruptly, so much like when Treehouse of Horror VI ended with a shot of a city street being confusing, this one also didn’t adequately prepare me to leave the episode behind. Although, to be fair, I only just watched this last week and immediately watched another Treehouse of Horror, but had I watched it live, I might have been bummed.

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it's the grand pmupkin, milhouse simpsons treehouse of horror xix

Treehouse of Horror XIX (Season 20, Ep. 4)

Funniest Credits Nickname: “Enter Selman” by Mattallica

Untitled Robot Parody” – Without many options, Bart resorts to buying Lisa a toy truck for Christmas. WAIT…CHRISTMAS? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. That truck transforms into a robot and then turns other mechanical devices in the Simpson house into robots. Then virtually every machine in the city turns into a robot and they all begin to battle. To prevent the city from being destroyed, Marge gets the robots to make peace with one another, but unfortunately they unite to enslave the humans. I’m glad this one was called “Untitled Robot Parody” because that’s what it felt like. Being set at Christmas was weird, but some of the visual gags of machines coming to life was funny.

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How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising” When Homer gets into an argument with Krusty, the clown accidentally falls into a tree shredder and dies. A group of lawyers come to Homer and explain that dead celebrities’ likenesses can be used freely, so they encourage him to kill more. After all the celebrities Homer kills see their likenesses being used without their permission, they storm down from Heaven to take him out. When Krusty blows Homer’s head off, he gets to Heaven before all the celebrities and locks them out to enjoy Heaven by himself. Haha, dumb celebrities! I liked the violence of this episode and seeing Homer just killing off George Clooney and Prince for no real reason other than profit. The segment opened with an extended parody of the Mad Men intro, and it’s too soon to tell if it will become dated, but I was relieved to see it wasn’t just a straight Mad Men parody, because, ya know, that’s not horror.

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It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse” – OH GOD, A CHARLIE BROWN PARODY? This could be terrible. Milhouse sets out to a pumpkin patch to find the “Grand Pumpkin” in much the same way that Linus tried to find the Great Pumpkin. After Milhouse cries over never finding him, his tears bring the Grand Pumpkin to life, who then goes out to explore Springfield. After being fed pumpkin bread, seeing his pumpkin brethren get carved up, and seeing pumpkin seeds roasting and exclaiming, “You roast the unborn?!” the Grand Pumpkin goes on a rampage. Milhouse then prays to Tom Turkey, who comes to life to defeat the Grand Pumpkin, and the town holds a Thanksgiving feast in his honor, starting the cycle over. Man oh man, this was good. The whole thing was animated and colored in the classic Charlie Brown style, and when Marge was about to start talking and we heard squawking, we learned she was just practicing her trombone. Like all the great parodies the show has done, this segment hit the necessary beats of the original story and then explored what would happen if the ending went in a different, hilarious direction. And no, I didn’t cry watching this like I cry watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

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Overall Thoughts – The opening featured Homer trying to vote for Obama and getting eaten by the voting machine, so I didn’t have high hopes for this episode. I DON’T NEED POLITICS IN TREEHOUSE OF HORROR. Luckily, the show got better every minute and the final segment really tugged at my heart strings.

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treehouse of horror xx simpsons dial m for murder

Treehouse of Horror XX (Season 21, Ep. 4)

Funniest Credits Nickname: The Last Milhouse on the Left

Dial ‘M’ for Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to Main Menu” – That title might be long, but it’s worth reading because this is a Hitchcock homage! Parodying the plot of Strangers on a Train, Bart offers to “help” Lisa with her teacher if she helps him with his. She agrees, so Bart kills Ms. Hoover while Lisa merely ding-dong-ditches Mrs. Krabappel. Knowing that she doesn’t have it within her to kill a stranger, she instead kills Bart, who deserved to die. This was good! Maybe it shows the strength of Hitchcock that even a parody of his work could be compelling. This segment featured music from Psycho and was in black and white, just to be that much more faithful. I thought the funniest part was Lisa agreeing to ding-dong-ditch Mrs. Krabappel, only to have Bart clarify that you “ditch” the ding dong after murdering them. Hopefully the rest of the episode is this good.

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Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind” – In a new Krusty Burger promotion, cows are fed grade A beef and then those cows are turned into burgers. This results in a zombie-like outbreak happening and then we are shown what has happened 28 days later. Ya know, like the movie…the movie 28 Days Later…that had zombies. In this apocalyptic world, the virus has spread and not many residents survive. The Simpson family leaves the safety of their house to find food, and when Bart accidentally eats one of the infected burgers and doesn’t turn into a “Muncher,” the family realizes he’s the key to surviving. Apu helps escort the family to safety, despite them bailing on him at their first opportunity, and to save humanity, the survivors must eat food that has been cooked in Bart’s bath water. The humor and horror combined with the apocalyptic setting made this whole segment feel truly cinematic. My favorite bit was Homer exclaiming, “To the panic room!” when his home was being invaded, and when he learned he didn’t have a panic room, he shouted, “To the panic room store!” HOMER HOW CAN YOU BE SO DUMB?!

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There’s No Business Like Moe Business” – Instead of a movie parody, this segment is a parody of the musical Sweeney Todd, apparently. Moe accidentally wounds Homer critically and uses this as an opportunity to make his move on Marge. Serving her beer with Homer’s blood in it has a strange effect on her, which Moe uses to his advantage. To help Marge move on, Moe gives Marge a letter “Homer” wrote where he admits he’s gay. Homer springs back to life to win his wife back, which he does, and the show ends. You know how people love when there are songs in The Simpsons? Well imagine the opposite feeling of that. Are you picturing it? Well, that’s the feeling I have about music on the show. Just really not for me. Having a segment based on a musical, featuring singing and dancing, didn’t appeal to me at all, but I’m sure other people loved it. I must admit that Homer’s song about being gay was pretty funny, since it was so out of character for him, but that’s the only musical bit I enjoyed. Oh well!

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Overall Thoughts – I’m not that familiar with Sweeney Todd, but if I was, I might call this installment “Treehouse of Parodies” because of the quality interpretations of popular stories. But, I’m not, so I won’t. The opening of this episode was pretty awesome, featuring Monster Squad-esque archetypes putting on Halloween costumes to kiss babes at a Halloween party, only for their wives to catch them and get mad. I would’ve watched a whole segment with those guys! Another one of the better and more consistent episodes of the last few years.

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Stay tuned all this week for reviews on the rest of the episodes! Don’t miss any updates by following @TheWolfman on Twitter or liking “The Wolfman Cometh” on Facebook. You don’t want to miss updates, do you?

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