Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Treehouse of Horror IV

Let me start off by saying, "Holy cats, look at these tattoos!'

Now that is some love and dedication right there.

I am a huge Simpsons fan.  I think I have been since I was eight years old watching them with my parents on Sunday nights.  I could dedicate a whole blog to how much I love The Simpsons, how often I quote them daily, how I often think about them in everyday situations.  I had to have a CAT-scan when I was thirteen and my "think happy thoughts" during the procedure was to think about The Simpsons.

Even though I may not watch The Simpsons on a weekly basis anymore and forget that they are even on on Sunday nights anymore, I still make it a point to watch the new Treehouse of Horror episodes.  Every. Stinkin'. Year.  I can even tell you last years episode featured Daniel Radcliff as Lisa-romancing Edward Cullen-type high school vampire.  I didn't even have to look that up.  Treehouse of Horror is The Simpsons annual Halloween episode where nothing is off-limits, and in the universe of The Simpsons TV show, nothing counts.  Several members of The Simpson family has died in these episodes only to appear the next week just fine.  The episodes are always three self-contained stories that are usually take-offs of popular horror TV shows or movies. And like the series itself, the Treehouse of Horror episodes really hit their peak in the mid-'90's.   (The next couple things I talk about I will probably have to look up because I have a lot of memories shoved in my brain.)

My absolute, without a doubt, favorite Treehouse of Horror episode is Treehouse of Horror IV.  It originally aired on October 28, 1993 (I was ten!)  The first of the three stories revolved around Bart on the school bus.  It was a parody of the Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner where he sees a little monster on the side of the airplane and no one believes him.  In this case, Bart sees a little gremlin on the side of the school bus and no one believes him, but it turns out the monster is very real.

The second story is one of the best Treehouse segments ever written.  It is called The Devil and Homer Simpson.  Homer is so desperate for a doughnut he ends of selling his soul to the devil for one (The devil in this story turns out to be The Simpsons super-friendly, super-Christian, neighborino Ned Flanders.  "It's always the person you least expect." )  While chatting with the Devil, he lets it slip that Homer's soul only becomes his after he finished the entire doughnut.  Homer thinks he outsmarts the Devil and keeps a small piece uneaten.  In the middle of the night however, even after several warnings, Homer eats the remainder of the doughnut and goes straight to Hell.  But not before Lisa tells the Devil since this is America, Homer is entitled the right to a trail, so the Devil agrees to bring him back after Homer spends a day in Hell.  While there Homer is sent to the "Ironic Punishment Division" of Hell and is force-fed doughnuts, something he never seems to tire of, much to the confusion of the demon in charge of his punishment..

While Homer is in Hell, Marge arranges to have attorney Lionel Hutz defend her husband, but the Devil is in charge of picking the jury, "The Jury of the Damned."  The jury includes Lizzy Bored, John Wilkes Booth, Richard Nixon (who was still alive at the time) Blackbeard the Pirate, John Dillinger and the starting line-up of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers.

After terrible opening arguments, Lionel Hutz decides to take a bathroom break from which he never returns from, and the judge decides to sentence Homer to an eternity in Hell, but Marge emerges with a picture from her and Homer's wedding day where he has written on the back that he forever pledged his soul to her.  The judge declares Homer's soul is legally the property of Marge Simpson and not of the Devil, who replies, "Oh, darn."  to this ruling.  The Devil, however, decides to still make Homer pay by cursing,  "may that ill-gotten doughnut be forever on your head!"  To which Homer's head turns into a doughnut....which he can't stop picking at.

    

By far the best Treehouse of Horror segment of all time, in my very humble opinion, follows this one.  Bart Simpson's Dracula.  The segment opens with the Simpson family sitting on the couch watching the news.  Newsman Kent Brockmen is reporting a story of a several dead bodies found drained of blood and two teeth marks in the neck and the mysterious cape left behind, which is leaving local police baffled.  Just to be safe, however, the police department decides to destroy the entire Egyptian wing of the museum in case it's a mummy.  Outraged, Lisa shouts at the TV that it's a vampire committing these crimes, to which Homer replies, "Oh, Lisa, vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins and Eskimos."  The news also reports the story that Mr. Burns has purchased the Springfield Blood Bank.   

The Simpsons are then shown driving to Homer's boss, Mr. Burns's mansion in Pennsylvania.  Homer makes sure the entire family washed their necks like they were asked.  Mr. Burns answers the door looking like this:

Throughout the evening, Lisa tries to convince her family that Mr. Burns is a vampire to no avail.  She eventually gets Bart away from the table and she and him go snooping around the house.  The find a wall that shifts, and only turns out to be a laundry room.  But then they come across a lever that would activate the "Super Happy Fun Slide" which Bart can't resist pulling, landing the two kids right into Mr. Burns vampire lair.  Lisa gets away, rushes back to the dining room and frantically tries to tell her parents what happened, only to have Bart show up with Mr. Burns, already turned into a vampire. 

What follows is Lisa trying to escape her brother, now a vampire, and the other neighborhood children he has turned into vampires as well.  Homer catches Bart in the act of nearly biting Lisa, and is finally convinced his son is a vampire.  They learn from Grandpa Simpson that to destroy all vampires you have to kill the Head Vampire, which the family assumes is Mr. Burns, ("Do I dare live out the American dream?" Homer asks, "Do I dare kill my boss?")  After Homer dispatches Mr. Burns (not before Mr. Burns fires him, of course) The Simpsons soon learn he wasn't the Head Vampire, the Head Vampire turns out to be Marge ("I do have a life outside this house, you know.")  As Marge moves in for the kill on Lisa, the scene abruptly stops, the characters all turn to face the audience, wish a Happy Halloween and go on to imitate The Peanuts humming the tune of Hark!  The Herold Angel Sing as snow falls around them. 

This nearly ten minutes of televisions, Bart Simpsons' Dracula, is probably quoted in my every day life.  I cannot stress the greatness in the writing and voice acting in this Treehouse of Horror segment, and whatever short synopsis of it could never do it justice.  If you haven't seen  it (which I sincerely doubt) seek it out.  It is so worth watching for so many reasons.

There are now twenty-two Treehouse of Horror episodes, so I am sure this won't be my last post about them.  So many of them are such a showcase for talented writing and satire done well, Treehouse of Horror IV just happens to be my favorite.

Do you have a favorite Treehouse of Horror episode?  I want to know! E-mail me at halloweenhoney@yahoo.com! 

*I just want to say, all of the quotations?  Didn't have to look up a single one.  I use my brain for good not evil.

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