Lifetime of Simpsons

S04 E05 – Treehouse of Horror III

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Well this is pretty apropos. It didn’t work out perfectly with having a Treehouse of Horror right on Halloween, which would have been cool, but we’re pretty damn close. And man is this an amazing Treehouse of Horror. They’re really all great, but this is one that I forgot how truly wonderful it was.

Unlike previous Treehouse of Horror episodes, this one doesn’t open with Marge warning us not to watch it; instead we get Homer parodying the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents show, before lacklusterly trying to warn us about the episode. Homer isn’t as convincing as Marge though, and ends up just calling the audience chicken, daring them to turn the TV off, which they do. We then cut right to the gravestones, and my favorite this time was “American Workmanship,” which is falling apart. The episode then gets going, and we still get a great wrap-around story, and this time it’s scary stories again, but it’s at a Halloween party at the Simpsons house. And there are some pretty great costumes. Homer is Caesar, Bart is a Droog which is a reference you would think Bart shouldn’t get, Lisa is Statue of Liberty, Marge is Cleopatra, Milhouse is Radioactive Man, Nelson is a pirate, and Martin is Calliope. Marge is trying to entertain the kids with that stupid “these are her eyes, and these are her brains,” thing, but Homer eats all the food, so they decide to tell stories instead. Lisa goes first.

Clown Without Pity

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Lisa’s story, which is a parody of the Twilight Zone, “Living Doll,” starts off with it being Bart’s birthday party, and has been established many times; Homer is terrible at birthdays and forgot to get Bart something. So he races off to get a quick present, and ends up finding a place called the House of Evil, which I think is a parody of the place from Gremlins. And man is this whole exchange perfect. It’s one of my favorite Simpsons gags of all time. After learning that the House of Evil sells cursed objects and frogurt, Homer picks out a Krusty doll, thinking that will be perfect for Bart, but the shopkeep has a warning for Homer:

Shopkeeper: “Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!”

Homer: “Ooh, that’s bad.”

Shopkeeper: “But it comes with a free frogurt.”
Homer: “That’s good!”

Shopkeeper: “The frogurt is also cursed.”

Homer: “That’s bad.”

Shopkeeper: “But you get your choice of topping!”
Homer: “That’s good!”

Shopkeeper: The toppings contain potassium benzoate.”
Homer: “….”

Shopkeeper: “That’s bad.”

I’ll be honest, even typing that out made me laugh. Anyway, Homer brings the doll home, and Bart loves it. Grandpa warns the family that the doll is evil, but no one cares about him. And pretty much immediately the doll starts coming to life and trying to kill Homer, but only when he’s alone. No one believes Homer, even when he attacks him in the bath with a harpoon. But Homer finally has enough and catches the doll trying to hit on Lisa’s Malibu Stacy, and throws him into a bag full of his socks, knocking him out. Homer then heads to the local bottomless pit (What, your town doesn’t have one?) and throws the doll away. We also see a mobster throw away a dead body, and a guy try to get rid of a box of nude photos of Whoopie Goldberg, which even the pit doesn’t want. Unfortunately the doll gets back to the house, and finally attacks Homer in front of everyone. Marge springs into action and calls the helpline for the doll, getting us another great holding-music gag with “Everybody Loves a Clown, So Why Don’t You?” And thankfully a technician heads right over, switches the doll’s dial from Evil to Good, and the doll is immediately nice. Homer then makes it his servant, but it’s okay, because he’s living a nice life with Malibu Stacy, and we end with a ridiculous zoom shaped like a heart, which is a wonderful gag that goes through the whole episode.

After the commercial break we interrupt Homer telling a story, but he’s doing very badly at it, and forgot all the important parts. Everyone makes fun of him, and they let Grandpa tell the next story.

King Homer

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Grandpa’s story is obviously King Kong, but he even admits that he doesn’t know stories, but has seen a lot of movies. And man is it a funny, if a little too short, parody of King Kong. We open on Marge meeting Smithers and Mr. Burns at the docks, applying for a job she found in the paper. They take her to Ape Island, to blatantly use as bait, even though Smithers feels like women and seamen don’t mix. “We know what you think.” The ship then heads out for Ape Island, instead of Candyapple Island, which has apes, but they’re not as big, and as soon as they make landfall, the natives take Marge to appease their monkey god. King Homer beats up a dinosaur, and heads to the shore to get Marge, and Mr. Burns’ men spring into action! He almost immediately eats Lenny, and Mr. Burns decides to use a gas grenade, which just blows up and gasses himself. Smithers takes charge and manages to gas Homer, earning him a promotion, until Homer eats him while sleeping. They then bring King Homer to Broadway, along with the chubbiest chorus line in town, and just like the movie, he breaks out right away and starts running amok. He even eats Shirley Temple. We then reach the end of the movie, and King Homer grabs Marge and starts to climb a skyscraper, but can’t get more than a couple stories up, and passes out from the exertion. Marge then marries King Homer in a lovely ceremony that ends with him eating Marge’s dad, close with the heart zoom.

There’s then a brief interlude where Marge is trying to feed the kids fruit instead of candy and their party is interrupted by Flanders who is wearing some crazy costume that makes him look like he’s missing a head. Bart then jumps in with his story, guaranteed to make you wet your pants.

Dial “Z” for Zombies

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I don’t think Bart’s story is a direct parody of anything in particular, but it’s still pretty amazing. It starts off with Bart failing a book report, which he did on a pop-up book, and being told by Mrs. Krabappel that he needs to go read a real book. So he heads to the library and stumbles across the Occult Section, which is obviously where he goes. He finds a book of spells, and heads home to read it. While he’s reading the book Lisa is depressed because that day is the anniversary that Snowall I was run over by the mayor’s beer-swilling brother Clovis. Bart decides to help his sister, and tells her about a spell he found to raise the dead, so they head off to the pet cemetery to bring Snowball back. I love that Bart is wearing the Thriller album jacket on his head for some reason while incanting his spell, which is just the last names of famous gameshow hosts and department store names. Unfortunately Bart read the wrong spell, so it doesn’t wake Snowball up, it brings all the human in the regular cemetery next-door come back as zombies. The zombies start to attack the city in an amazing montage of terror. We see zombies eat Flanders really quickly, zombie Principal Skinner call Martin to his office to eat, and my favorite, which was Krusty getting ready to open a giant present, but Sideshow Mel pops out and eats him. The zombies then attack the Simpsons house, and after passing up Homer because of his lack of brains, they head off to the library to see if there’s another book that can fix the problem. Homer then takes full advantage of shooting zombie Flanders. The family races off to the library and we see Kang and Kodos up in their ship for their obligatory Halloween cameo, deciding that they’ll invade Earth after the zombies kill everyone. They get into the school, and Homer shoots Einstein, Shakespere, and George Washington, who are all in Springfield apparently, and Bart finds the right book. He briefly turns Lisa into a giant snail, then incants a spell that’s just condom companies, and the zombies all go back to their graves. The family then sits at home; happy they didn’t turn into zombies, and start zoning out watching TV. We then head to the credits with the great spooky names, and the fun Treehouse of Horror theme, which has extra Theremin this time.

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I had forgotten how truly great this Treehouse of Horror was. All three segments were hilarious, and different. The scene with Homer and the Shopkeeper in the Krusty doll story is seriously one of my favorite Simpsons gags of all time, and my friends and I say “well there’s your problem, its set to evil,” in any context we possibly can. King Homer is a fantastic parody of that movie, and is so hilarious when you’ve seen the original film, because it’s beat for beat perfect. And man is the zombie one fun. It’s dumb, but it’s a blast, especially Homer shooting famous zombies who are there for some reason, and the weird spells Bart reads. Just a great episode guys.

Take Away: Don’t buy dolls from creepy frogurt salesmen, don’t go to Ape Island or go to Broadway shows that are just giant apes standing around, and don’t raise the dead.

“Treehouse of Horror III” was written by  Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Sam Simon, and Jon Vitti, and directed by Carlos Baeza, 1992.

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