Here at Nerds and Beyond, we are recommending a Halloween themed television episode for every day in October to get you in the spooky spirit. We’re getting close to the end of the month and we couldn’t finish the series without mentioning The Simpsons‘ “Treehouse of Horror” episodes.
The Simpsons has had a Halloween themed “Treehouse of Horror” episode every year since its second season in 1990. There are now enough episodes that we could have composed our entire series of just “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. Each episode is comprised of three spooky stories, generally parodies of horror movies. There are so many great episodes but my favorite is “Treehouse of Horror V.”
The first story of this episode is “The Shinning,” definitely not The Shining as Willie warns Bart against mentioning it unless he wants to get sued. The Simpson family arrive at Mr. Burns’ spooky mansion to become its caretakers. The mansion is the site of various horrors including witch burnings, blood that pours out of the elevator, and five John Denver Christmas specials. To make matters worse, to get more work out of them, Mr. Burns disconnects the cable television and removes all the beer before he leaves. This sends Homer into a spiral of insanity and sends him on a murderous rampage after his family.
This story is my favorite of the episode. It has so many amazing parody moments from Maggie spelling out Red Rum with her building blocks to Homer spouting various talk show host introductions as he bursts through doors and struggles to find his family in the mansion. It makes sense as a stand-alone story, but for fans of The Shining, there are definitely a few Easter eggs to spot.
The second story is “Time and Punishment,” which explores time travel and the butterfly effect. When Homer breaks the family’s toaster and “fixes” it, he finds that he is propelled back in time whenever he uses it. He finds himself surrounded by dinosaurs and realises that he must try not to change the future by altering anything in the past. Unfortunately, he almost immediately kills a bug and when he goes home he finds that Ned Flanders has become the master of the world and anyone who descents is sent for “redneducation,” which includes forcing you to smile and a frontal lobotomy. Homer returns to the past to try to fix his mistake but it catapults him into various presents where things just aren’t right.
The final story of the episode is “Nightmare Cafeteria.” There are problems at Springfield Elementary school as the budget for the cafeteria is being slashed and there are too many students in detention. Principal Skinner and lunch lady Doris realise the issue to their problems can be solved by killing students in detention and serving them as lunch. This results in various amusing lunches like “sloppy Jimbos” and “Uterbraten.” There are very few students left, and Bart and Lisa find themselves next on the lunch menu.
The episode is a great combination of spooky and silly, which makes it perfect for all ages. We are ensured a spooky atmosphere beginning from the horror themed version of the opening credits featuring Bart guillotining various adults, and Patty and Selma lighting cigarettes from their pyre as Reverend Lovejoy burns them at the stake. This lasts all the way through to the musical number at the closing credits, which in no way resembles the song “One” from A Chorus Line, about a fog that turns you inside out and ends with Bart being dragged away by his intestines by Santa’s Little Helper.
One of my favorite parts of this episode is the running theme of Willy trying to save the Simpsons in each storyline. Unfortunately, he is always immediately killed by an axe in the back by the various villains. The last of which he admits, “I’m bad at this.”
There are so many other great Simpsons Halloween stories, but here are a few of my other favorites if you want to have a “Treehouse of Horror” binge-watching session:
- “The Raven” (Season 2, Episode 3)
- “Clown Without Pity” (Season 4, Episode 5)
- “The Devil and Homer Simpson” (Season 5, Episode 5)
- “Tweenlight” (Season 22, Episode 4)
Seasons 1-30 of The Simpsons are currently available on Disney+ and the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes are conveniently in a series to watch under the “Halloween Collection.” Make sure you check back here tomorrow for our next spooky recommendation!