For 31 Days of Halloween this year, Dan Aquino will be reviewing a staple of October TV of the past few decades: The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror Halloween Special. Here’s Treehouse of Horror IV from Season 5.
Bart is the host for the episode as he brings us through a gallery of paintings. Each painting he shows represents the segment for the episode.
The Devil and Homer Simpson
Based on the book The Devil and Daniel Webster, this segment begins with Homer daydreaming about donuts only to wake up and discover that all the donuts have either been eaten or thrown at Grandpa Simpson. Unable to fight his craving for donuts, Homer declares that he would sell his soul for one. As soon as he utters those words, Ned Flanders appears as the devil himself telling Homer it’s always the one you least suspect. Devil Flanders agrees to give Homer the donut for his soul but Homer discovers a loophole where if he doesn’t finish the donut he can keep his soul.
That doesn’t last very long, however, when Homer goes for a late night snack and eats the forbidden donut prompting Flanders to collect his prize. Lisa objects and says Homer is due to a fair trial before losing his soul. Flanders agrees but says Homer has to spend the day in Hell while waiting for the trial. While in Hell, Homer is “tortured” by having to eat all the donuts on Earth, which he does so with relative ease. Finally the trial comes with Homer being represented by Lionel Hutz (voice by the late Phil Hartman) Flanders picking the Jury of the Damned. The jury consists of several famed villains such as Blackbeard the Pirate, Lizzie Borden, and my personal favorite, the starting lineup of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers (because fuck Philly).
Just when things look bleak for Homer, Marge shows the jury a photo of their wedding night with a message on the back stating that Homer’s soul belongs to Marge. The jury agrees and Homer wins his soul back. Before Flanders leaves he punishes Homer by turning his head into a giant donut, which Homer eats at the breakfast table.
Marge: “I’m sorry Mr. Blackbeard, we’re low on chairs and this is the last one.”
Blackbeard: “Yarr, this chair be high, says I.”
Terror at 5 ½ Feet
Based on the classic Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Bart has a nightmare predicting his death while on the school bus to school. Freaked out by his dream, Bart and Lisa get on the school bus with Lisa informing all the kids that Bart is being paranoid and for them to go easy on him today. Of course, all the children, and adults (Otto and Principle Skinner) laugh at him. Halfway through the trip, Bart looks out the window and sees a little gremlin that is tearing apart the bus which causes him to try and warn everyone but every time he does the gremlin disappears. This causes Principle Skinner to tie Bart up next to foreign exchange student Uter to stop him from scaring everyone.
Bart convinces Uter to untie him and goes back to looking out the window. This time he sees the gremlin taking out the lug nuts to the buses tire. Bart takes drastic measures by using a road flare to attack the monster making it fall from the bus and get hit by Ned Flanders car. After arriving at the school everyone can see the damage that was done to the bus helping prove that Bart was right, but he is sent off to an insane asylum for his disruptive behavior. On the ride to the asylum the gremlin shows up in the window showing Bart the severed head of Ned Flanders.
Principle Skinner: “Hello, Simpson. I’m riding the bus today because Mother hid my car keys to punish me for talking to a woman on the phone. She was right to do it.”
Editor’s Note: All I could find is the Spanish version.
Bart Simpson’s Dracula
This might have my favorite introduction of all-time in it. Bart tells the audience that the last picture for the night is so terrifying and gruesome that they don’t want to show the segment to us. The picture he is referring to is the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting. Homer freaks out at the thought of dogs actually playing poker and runs off the screen screaming like a lunatic. What we wind up getting is a segment based off the Francis Ford Coppola film Bram Stokers Dracula.
Mr. Burns invites the Simpson family to his castle in (foreboding voice) Pennsylvania for dinner. Lisa becomes wary of Mr. Burns when they are given cups of blood to drink instead of wine and she spills some on herself and Bart so that they can be excused from the dinner. They wander the castle looking for clues and they stumble upon Burns’ secret lair where he has a book admitting that he is a vampire. Lisa is able to escape, but Bart is captured and turned into one of the undead by Mr. Burns who then brings him back to the rest of the family to convince them nothing is wrong.
After the Simpsons leave, Bart winds up turning other kids into vampires and attacks Lisa but is stopped by the rest of the family. Lisa convinces Homer they need to go back to Burns’ castle and kill him so that everyone else will revert back to normal. When they reach the castle, Homer drives a wooden stake into Mr. Burn’s chest and kills him, but not before Burns tells Homer he is fired. Back at the house, Lisa is told that Mr. Burns was not the head vampire, but instead it’s Marge. As the family goes to attack Lisa, they all stop and wish the audience a happy Halloween before breaking out into a parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas Special singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
(Mr. Burns getting ready to attack Bart) “Well if it isn’t little…boy!”
At this point The Simpsons are an unstoppable force, a juggernaut if you will. This episode is co-written by Conan O’Brien, who as some Simpsons fans would know, has written some of the most classic episodes the show has aired such as Homer Goes to College, and Marge vs. The Monorail. I admit I hadn’t seen this episode in a really long time and I was sick and hopped up on cold medicine, so I found a lot of the gags and references in this episode to be REALLY funny. Some of my favorite quotes may not match up with the more famous ones, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t lose my shit when Burns doesn’t know Bart’s name in Bart Simpsons Dracula.
There’s a bunch of random references in this episode like Lisa talking about the Three Stooges in Bart Simpsons Dracula, the demon from Walt Disney’s Fantasia shows up when Homer makes fun of Devil Flanders and the most random one I could find was when Homer spends the day in Hell having to eat all the donuts in the world is from an old cartoon show called Pigs is Pigs which I have never heard of and will probably never see. I noticed in my reviews I don’t have any criticisms of the show, and I honestly don’t believe the first few Treehouse Of Horrors have anything negative to say about them.