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T3: The Best of the Treehouse of Horror

I couldn’t go the whole Halloween season without at least one “Top Ten Thursday” list so I opted for one that I believe I’m knowledgable enough on. The Simpsons” “Treehouse of Horror”, what a treat it is every year to get this spooktacular special, at least it was back when The Simpsons was a quality show. In more recent years it really hasn’t been the same and it doesn’t help that it will usually falls on November these days, due to the World Series. Anyways, I can confidently say that the first 9 or 10 “Treehouse of Horror” specials were solid. As a matter of fact I’d be willing to say my top 5 are all basically in a five way tie for first place, tough decisions. Oh and to clarify things, I’m only doing individual segments, not entire specials, enjoy.

10. Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace
From: Treehouse of Horror VI (10/29/95)
Written by: Steve Tompkins
Premise: A deceased Groundskeeper Willie seeks vengeance on Springfield Elementary by killing students in their dreams a la Nightmare on Elm Street.
Why?: Willie seems to be a favorite for Halloween episodes and this may be his crowning Halloween moment. The scene where he burns to death during a PTA meeting is just hilarious and he can be pretty scary when he wants to be.
Memorable Dialogue:
Marge: It all started on the thirteenth hour, of the thirteenth day, of the thirteenth month. We were there to discuss the misprinted calendars the school had purchased.
Homer: [shivering, looking at the calendar] Oh, lousy Smarch weather.

9. Fly vs. Fly
From: Treehouse of Horror VIII (10/26/97)
Written by: David X. Cohen
Premise: The Simpsons acquire a transporter device from a yard sale and Bart transforms into a monster in this tribute to The Fly (1958)
Why?: Even though it’s a Bart segment, I think it’s the Homer moments that make this episode. His uninterested reactions to such fantastical things. “Emm… Two bucks… And… It only transports matter?… Um… Well ah… I’ll give you thirty five cents.”
Memorable Dialogue:
Homer: Man, how’d I ever live without this thing?
(puts arm into transporter one, arm comes out of matter transporter unit two which is in the kitchen by the refrigerator. He reaches inside and accidentally grabs a can of cat ear medicine.)
Homer: Euuuuaagh.. blewww.. ohhh.. oh, man that’s good.

8. Terror at 5 1/2 Feet
From: Treehouse of Horror IV (10/28/93)
Written by: Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein
Premise: A spoof of the The Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” Bart tries to warn the bus passengers of a gremlin on the side of the bus.
Why?: The Twilight Zone is always ripe for parody and no one can parody better than The Simpsons. I mean it’s so ridiculous that only Bart could see a Gremlin on a school bus. It’s fun to see a whole segment in just one location and what jokes can be made in that situation. I believe this was Uter’s first appearance as well, offering his bag of Marzipan Joy-Joys, Mit Iodine!
Memorable Dialogue:
Principal Skinner: Hello, Simpson. I’m riding the bus today because Mother hid my car keysto punish me for talking to a woman on the phone. She was right to do it.

7. The Nightmare Cafeteria
From: Treehouse of Horror V (10/30/94)
Written by: David X. Cohen
Premise: Overcrowding at Springfield Elementary causes the staff to resort murder and cannibalism.
Why?: Some great visual gags here with such sights as; the fattened faculty, the “free range” children and a book entitled “The Joy of Cooking Milhouse.”
Memorable Dialogue:
Lisa: Bart, does it strike you as odd that Uter disappeared and suddenly they’re serving us this mysterious food called “Uterbraten”?
Skinner: Oh, relax, kids, I’ve got a “gut” feeling Uter is around here somewhere. After all, isn’t there a little “Uter” in all of us? In fact, you might even say we just “ate” Uter and he’s in our “stomachs” right now! Ha, ha, Wait… scratch that one.

6. King Homer
From: Treehouse of Horror III (10/29/92)
Written by: Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky
Premise: A classic retelling of the 30s classic with Homer as the beast and Marge as the beauty.
Why?: A heartfelt ode to the original with some great nods to the 30s. My favorite gag being a newspaper with a headline that says “Dick Cavett Born!” With a picture of him as an adult.
Memorable Dialogue:
Carl: Hey, I heard we’re goin’ to Ape Island.
Lenny: Yeah, to capture a giant ape.
Carl: I wish we were going to Candy Apple Island.
Charlie: Candy Apple Island? What do they got there?
Carl: Apes. But they’re not so big.

5. Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies
From: Treehouse of Horror III (10/29/92)
Written by: Sam Simon, Jon Vitti
Premise: Bart tries to bring back Lisa’s dead cat using the Book of the dead but accidentally summons a hoard of brain hungry zombies.
Why?: Zombies are so malleable for comedies so in The Simpson’s hands it was sure to be a success. I’ll always love when Homer kills zombie flanders to which he responds, “He was a zombie?”
Memorable Dialogue:
Lisa: Dad, we did something very bad!
Homer: Did you wreck the car?
Bart: No!
Homer: Did you raise the dead?
Lisa: Yes!
Homer: But the car’s okay?
Kids: Uh-huh.
Homer: All right then.

4. Bart Simpson’s Dracula
From: Treehouse of Horror IV (10/28/93)
Written by: Bill Canterbury
Premise: The Simpsons are invited to Mr. Burns castle in “Pennsylvania!” where part is turned into a vampire.
Why?: It’s amazing how much they can do in like five minutes, it almost feels like a whole episode. It’s well paced with no shortage of jokes.
Memorable Dialogue:
Kent Brockman: Another local peasant has been found dead — drained of his blood with two teeth marks on his throat. This black cape was found on the scene.
[Cape has “DRACULA” written on it]
Kent Brockman: Police are baffled.
Chief Wiggum: We think we’re dealing with a supernatural being, most likely a mummy. As a precaution, I’ve ordered the Egyptian wing of the Springfield museum destroyed.

3. Clown Without Pity
From: Treehouse of Horror III (10/29/92)
Written by: Al Jean and Mike Reiss
Premise: Forgetting Bart’s birthday, Homer rushes out and buys him a doll… With dire consequences.
Why?: Homer is no stranger to pain, so seeing him beat up by a miniature Krusty only makes that pain so much sweeter.
Memorable Dialogue:
Homer: Marge, Marge the dolls trying to kill me and the toasters been laughing at me!

2. Time and Punishment
From: Treehouse of Horror V (10/30/94)
Written by: Greg Daniels and Dan McGrath
Premise: In an attempt to fix his toaster, Homer accidentally becomes the first non-Brazilian man to travel back in time.
Why?: Time travel can be a blast if approached humorously and who makes a better time traveler than Homer? His moronic observations are timeless, possibly making this the most quotable addition on this list. Traveling back to the jurassic era and commenting “I’ve travelled back to a time where dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos?” I mean he already acts confused enough in his own world, so this only made it more perfect.
Memorable Dialogue:
Homer: You know, Marge, I’ve had my share of troubles, but sitting here now with you and the kids in our cozy home in this beautiful free country…it just makes me feel that I’m really a lucky guy.
Lisa: Dad! Your hand is jammed in the toaster!

1. The Shinning
From: Treehouse of Horror V (10/30/94)
Written by: Bob Cushell
Premise: The Simpsons become the new caretakers of Mr. Burn’s winter lodge, but with no beer and TV, Homer begins to lose it.
Why?: ; I guess this solidifies Treehouse of Horror V as the best Simpson’s Halloween special in my eyes. So why did I pick this pitch perfect parody as number one? Maybe because it contains some of Homer’s best moments. Were talking about a Homer that’s completely insane and homicidal cause no beer and no TV make Homer go something, something.
Memorable Dialogue:
Mr. Burns: Oh, goody: the Sea Monkeys I ordered have arrived. Heh heh, heh, look at them cavort and caper.
Smithers: Sir, they’re the new winter caretakers for the lodge.
Mr. Burns: Yes…they work hard and they play hard.

Worst (So Far)

5. Heck House
From:Treehouse of Horror XVIII (11/4/07)
Written by: Marc Wilmore
Premise: Angered at the havoc created by mischievous trick-or-treaters, Flanders builds a spook house that is made powerful by the lord.
Why?: It feels so rushed and misguided, Flanders has strayed so far from his original goody two shoes image into a judgmental ultra conservative, for shame.

4. Dial ‘M’ for Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to Main Menu
From: Treehouse of Horror XX (10/18/09)
Written by: Daniel Chun
Premise: Bart and Lisa become involved in a “criss-cross” murder situation where they each must murder the other’s teacher, but Lisa can’t do it.
Why?: I bet they felt real clever after coming up with that stupid title. Obviously this a Hitchcock parody but the setup is ridiculous and the jokes are nonexistent. All style and no substance.

3. Frinkenstein
From: Treehouse of Horror XIV (10/2/03)
Written by: John Swartzwelder
Premise: Professor Frink reanimates his dead father (played by Jerry Lewis) who goes on a maniacal spree, stealing body parts.
Why?: It’s just a bunch of gross imagery with a very underwhelming performance from Jerry Lewis.

2. Mr. & Mrs. Simpson
From: Treehouse of Horror XVIII (11/4/07)
Written by: Marc Wilmore
Premise: Homer and Marge try to get counseling after admitting to being assassins.
Why?: What does parodying Mr. and Mrs. Smith have to do with Halloween? It’s not like its even regarded that highly as a film, but worthy of a parody I guess. So Homer and Marge want to kill each other at one one point but the reasoning behind it is just plan lazy, this really doesn’t make any sense.

1. E.T., Go Home
From: Treehouse of Horror XVIII (11/4/07)
Written by: Marc Wilmore
Premise: Kodos is stranded on Earth and befriends Bart.
Why?: It seems like it would of been no problem spoofing E.T., especially with Kang and Kodos, but these alien invaders have just lost their touch. I mark one moment as being a perfect example of the show’s downfall and here it is; it has clearly been stated in the past that Kodos is Kang’s “Sister”. So why is there a line where he complains about being hit in the testicles? I’m not trying to be a nitpicking fanboy but it seems to me that you should at least know the show’s characters before you start writing for them. It’s another perfect example of how the current Simpson’s writers have lost touch with the characters and will do whatever they can to continue the series. Maybe someone should take a hint that if you have to continually distort the timeline and the continuity maybe you should just stop.

Sorry for that sad note but we should be thankful we had about the 10 or so good Simpsons’s halloween specials we got.


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