Ever since season two, The Simpsons have kept up a fine tradition of producing an anthology of spooky stories every year. The Treehouse of Horror episodes tend to be a highlight of this very long running show, and the recently aired 24th edition of this special even featured an extended introduction filled with especially spooky imagery, thanks to acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro. We’ve compiled a list of ten of our favourite Treehouse of Horror stories.
The first Treehouse featured a witty parody of the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem, The Raven, a work studied by most American school children. Not only do we get Lisa and Maggie as angels, Bart turns out to look extremely cute (and quite silly) as the titular raven. In addition to the poem’s well known line “Nevermore”, this bird also says “Eat my shorts”.
The Monkey's Paw
The Simpsons version of the classic W. W. Jacobs horror story about a wizened simian limb that grants cursed wishes is about as silly as you’d expect it to be. Not only does this 1991 story have wry and prophetic commentary on the show’s growing popularity, it also features aliens being chased off the planet thanks to a lump of wood with a nail sticking through it.
Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores
Homer’s love of donuts is an epic obsession of which is the only parallel can be the Cookie Monster’s desire for chocolate chip biscuits. However, in this jolly little homage to black and white b-movies, Homer’s lust for a colossal sized snack leads him to stealing the giant-sized metal donut from the huge Lard Lad statue during a thunderstorm. This results in Lard Lad and chums coming to life to cause panic, devastation and hilarity.
Clown Without Pity
The Treehouse stories tend to be quite silly, but this one tops the bill. Homer buys a Bart a talking Krusty The Klown doll from the ominously titled House of Evil. Despite dire warnings from the shopkeeper (as well as the offer of a free frozen yoghurt that also happens to be cursed), Homer gives the toy to his son, and the doll turns out to be a psychotic killer. In addition to be a nice dig at the Chucky movies, it also riffs on some classic Twilight Zone stories.
Send in the Clones
Staying on the theme of cursed magical items, this one features a cursed hammock, which creates magical copies of whomever uses it. Homer being Homer, he immediately makes many copies of himself in order to avoid doing any house work. Of course, the clones aren’t entirely normal, and some of them have murderous intent. It’s classic Simpsons bumbling, with a touch of existential angst thrown in for good measure.
Married to the Blob
Homer likes to eat. In this love letter to the 1957 b-movie classic The Blob, the oaf consumes a strange meteorite and turns himself into a gelatinous monster. Snarks about the waistline of the average American are thick and fast, as is a lighthearted poke at TV agony aunts Oprah and Doctor Phil.
The inevitable Twilight parody sees Lisa fall in love with the mysterious Edmund, much to the dismay of both their fathers. In addition to an over-the-top Dracula and Homer getting to be the world’s fattest vampire bat, this story also features Milhouse as a were-poodle. Poor Millhouse.
Desperately Seeking Xena
Less of a spooky story and more of a general super-hero parody, this convoluted tale sees Bart and Lisa get super powers in a freak X-ray machine accident. Naming themselves Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, they proceed to fight crime. Of course, Comic Book Guy gets in on the action, and takes on the alias of The Collector, and proceeds to capture celebrities such as Yasmine Bleeth and Tom Baker. An attempt to kidnap Lucy Lawless leads to a Xena-Warrior Princess team up, and things just get sillier.
When Death himself comes for Bart, things quickly descend into a Benny Hill style farce, including appropriate Yackety Sax music. Bart and Homer eventually get the best of Death, and beat him up with a baseball bat. This leads to Homer becoming Death, and though you can guess the rest, it’s worth it simply for the Benny Hill scene.
Dial D for Diddly
When The Simpsons get it right, they really do get it right. This well observed parody of modern slasher flicks like Scream has Homer manipulating Flanders into commiting a series of gruesome crimes, thinking that he’s doing the will of God. Filled with all sorts of double takes and sharp gags, this particular tale reminds us why The Simpsons continues to be popular, despite being on the screen for decades.