Abominations: A collection of (mostly) zombie stories

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But also there's a leprechaun, and then Yoda shows up? Another year, another movie parody that has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween. Once again, this is all pretty on-the-nose, with Homer and Marge facing off against each other after discovering that they're both assassins. The fight sequence goes on too long, and the only saving grace is that it's nice to look at. Remember when Mr. Burns got his head sewn on Homer's body?

What if Bart got his head sewn on Lisa's? To this segment's credit, it actually does more with the concept than the classic "Treehouse of Horror" episode did, but most of the gags fall flat. The show-and-tell scene is a real highlight, though. There's something satisfying about seeing Sideshow Bob kill Bart after, as he puts it in a very funny line, "24 years of trying to kill a year-old child.

Do we really need to see Bart's intestines twice in the same segment? Add to that some very lazy jokes — did you know college students like to text and tweet? The funniest thing about "Master and Cadaver" is that it's a parody of Dead Calm , a film that the vast majority of people watching the segment had likely never seen. There are other funny bits, of course, and Hugh Laurie turns in a great performance as a potentially homicidal stranger named Roger. It's still just OK overall. Here's another segment in which you have to believe the writers came up with the title first and worked backwards.

There's an oddly conservative message about gun control here, but that's probably assigning too much method to the madness. All that aside, "Treehouse of Horror" generally does zombies well, and the Western theme — while out of place in Springfield — earns points for creativity. James Bond is pretty well-worn territory for satire, although points for incorporating a Kingsman parody into things. The gratuitous violence is par for the course at this point, but a well-choreographed fight sequence would have been way more interesting.

At least there are a few good jokes and a delightfully superfluous Donald Fagen cameo.

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This segment isn't great, but then, neither was The Island of Dr. In fact, the best thing about that movie was the freaky mutants, and the same holds true for the segment. While the story is lacking, we get plenty of memorable visuals, like Marge as an amorous panther, Professor Frink as a turkey being carved, and Flanders as a cow asking Homer to milk him. Who needs plot? Remember when Homer was King Kong? Well, here he's Godzilla, and we're in black-and-white, a style that helps "Treehouse of Horror" segments stand out. Watching Homerzilla's rampage is admittedly fun, but there are some really unfortunate choices, like the white characters' racist "Japanese" accents.

The wraparound story is also a waste of time. There's nothing particularly hateful about the onslaught of Jew jokes on display here, but they do lose their punch after a while. On the other hand, kudos for honoring Krusty's Jewish origins with a horror story about a Golem. This may be an unpopular opinion, but the segment could have used more of Fran Drescher's voice. What made the film Chronicle is that it took the familiar story of teenagers getting superpowers and put a dark and creative twist on it.

But this segment — which is a parody of that movie — is not especially dark or creative. It's actually too short to be much of anything. There are some nice moments, like Milhouse predictably going mad with power, but it's mostly just squandered potential. It feels like a bit of a waste to have her in such a tiny, dull role, but she does elevate a fairly run-of-the-mill story.

Most of the references come across as half-assed, but there are also bits of genuine horror in the form of some very imposing giant game pieces. Long before they gained superpowers in "Telepaths of Glory," Bart and Lisa got Fantastic Four—style powers in this segment, which offers some sharp jabs at nerd culture "A wizard did it" alongside some of the worst lines in any "Treehouse of Horror" episode "Xena needs xex". Plus, Bart and Lisa end up sidelined to make room for Lucy Lawless. Few segments are more dated than this one about Y2K — you know, that whole collapse of society that was supposed to happen when we hit the year The funny thing is, nostalgia is the only thing that really works about "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die.

If the title didn't clue you in, this is a clear send-up of The Dead Zone. And it's fairly well done, with some legitimately haunting moments. Flanders' vision of shooting Homer repeatedly is jarringly realistic. And then, like so many early s episodes, it goes too far: Homer destroys Springfield, and we get an unfunny coda that takes place in heaven. Another Ned-centric parody, this take on Dexter is moderately more successful. And even more violent! The best part about it is the opening, a pitch-perfect homage to Dexter 's opening credits.

Toward the end of the series, those opening credits were the best thing about Dexter , too. But God and the Devil showing up at the end really puts a damper on things. There's so much to work with in terms of Twilight alone, particularly when you have Harry Potter himself playing the Edward stand-in, so why bring Dracula into the mix? The title is clever, and so is the idea: A Split parody is both timely and a great way for Yeardley Smith to show her acting range, with Lisa switching between multiple heavily accented personalities.

Beyond that, the execution is straightforward and bland, but Milhouse gets some great lines, including a condemnation of encores. A ridiculous tradition indeed! Conceptually, "The Others" is brilliant, to the extent that you can forgive a lot of the crappy execution.


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The Simpsons encountering their late '80s selves is great: Seeing the original designs and hearing those voices is a real treat for longtime fans. But beyond that, the plot leaves a lot to be desired, and the Simpsons as Minions is not something we'll ever be able to unsee. This is a dark, surprisingly gruesome story about Homer getting a taste for his own flesh.

Marge stumbling on Homer sauteeing his leg is deeply unpleasant. It's kind of surprising that it took "Treehouse of Horror" until to do an E. It's also nice to see the Rigellian in more than just another cameo. The shot of Kodos on Bart's bike with the classic E. But watching Kodos get shot and then smothered to death is less so. It was smart to do a Paranormal Activity parody at the height of that craze, and found footage is something "Treehouse of Horror" hadn't explored up to that point. It's surprisingly effective and, at times, actually really scary.

Then things take a turn when the Moe-looking demon shows his face, and there's a really unpleasant ending involving Homer having a demon threeway. The real problem with this segment is that it's just not that funny. There's a lot of attention to detail with few good jokes. If you love bad Cockney accents and even worse Cockney slang, you'll probably at least get a kick out of "Four Beheadings and a Funeral," in which Lisa and Bart are recast as Eliza a Sherlock Holmes stand-in and Dr. The distinctive look of the segment is great, and the murders are gruesome, but the mystery-solving itself isn't worth more than a shrug.

It's always nice to see a "Treehouse of Horror" story that's actually about Halloween, even if only to see the characters' costumes. Plus, hell houses are an inherently ridiculous concept that the segment is able to have some fun with. The real disappointment is bringing back the idea of Flanders as the Devil, but not having him be the same Devil. Seriously, what gives? This is an odd segment, both in terms of concept and execution. It's way more sci-fi than horror, but it's definitely weird enough to fit into the "Treehouse of Horror" canon. Good thing seeing Springfield get sucked into a black hole is so satisfying.

For a musical theater fan, the idea of a Sweeney Todd parody is thrilling. If only the music were better. I mean, this was never going to be Sondheim, but it all feels a little rushed. And that song about Homer being gay? Still, there's something clever about the way it's all staged with an audience watching the musical , and again, it's a Sweeney Todd parody. That's nerdy-cool. Who hasn't dreamed of ordering something from the back of a comic book and discovering that it actually worked?

The basic concept of Bart and Milhouse acquiring a stopwatch that stops time is a good one, but the follow-through is hit-or-miss. And in the grand tradition of early s episodes, the writers went overboard. Bart and Milhouse aging into adulthood is one step too far. Other animated series have done riffs on the Fantastic Voyage story, and they're usually a lot of fun.

More wacky shrunken-down hijinks, please! The language of A Clockwork Orange is perfectly captured here, along with some really well-done visual references. If the segment stuck with that, it might actually be great, but unfortunately, it devolves into a long string of Kubrick references. Some are good, some are not, all contribute to the segment feeling a little overstuffed. While that film ended up being helmed by Spielberg, it retained plenty of Kubrickian touches, and those glimpses of darkness are what elevate this segment.

However, there's edgy that works and then there's just uncomfortable — like Homer learning he can strangle his new robot son even harder, for example. There's so much good material to mine when you're doing a fairy tale mashup segment, and there are some very funny bits: Goldilocks's gruesome death and Bart basting himself for the witch come to mind. But the segment as a whole never really comes together, perhaps because the ending is so silly. But truth be told, it doesn't really work. It's probably remembered so fondly because it was the final segment in the first ever "Treehouse of Horror," and because James Earl Jones is an excellent narrator.

The real issue with "The Raven" is that the visuals weren't where they needed to be for such a light-on-dialogue story. Here's another segment that gets more credit than it probably deserves. Everyone remembers the final moments, in which Homer wakes up to discover that Mr. Burns' head has been grafted onto his neck. And that's great! But there's a lot that comes before that, namely Burns creating a Frankenstein-esque robot with Homer's brain, and that is not so great.

Either way, there's a lot to enjoy here, namely the callback to the classic Simpsons episode "The Way We Was.

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The segment ultimately covers all-too-familiar terrain, but at least we get Jon Lovitz back as Artie Ziff. This segment, with a nice title reference to Matt Groening's comic strip, is a visual treat. It just looks great, and there's a great blend of humor and horror in the hell version of Springfield Elementary. The story itself is a little flat, though it's nice to see a bit of role reversal, with Lisa finding herself popular among the demons and Bart excelling in torture class. The trope of Homer buying something dangerous despite repeated warnings is a "Treehouse of Horror" favorite, and it works well here.

Homer's clones are terrifyingly inept, which makes his family's failure to recognize them as clones all the more delightful. Things get less interesting as the clone numbers swell, but it's still a lot of fun throughout. And yet, the jokes just land, whether about broccoli being the deadliest vegetable "It tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste" or Homer accidentally killing Agnes Skinner and then claiming she was going to be the next Hitler.

Again, traditional Halloween segments of "Treehouse of Horror" are just fun, and we get to see a lot of characters in costume here.

That's actually the point, as a witch casts a spell that turns everyone into whatever they're dressed up as. In this case, the silliness works. Seuss parody feels like an odd choice for Halloween, until you realize that the Cat in the Hat was always super creepy. No matter, the style for this segment is just too great to ignore. It looks and sounds just like Dr. Seuss, which is extra unsettling when things take a turn. It never really feels like "Treehouse of Horror," but it's easy to forgive when the rhymes are so good. Given how rarely The Simpsons takes a stand politically, it's honestly pretty refreshing that "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid" turns into a very clear allegory for the Iraq War.

It would be unremarkable if not for the long overdue political satire. Another zombie segment, but one that owes more to 28 Days Later than George Romero. And it's actually quite frightening, with these zombies or "munchers" feeling like a very real threat to the Simpsons and to Springfield as a whole. The segment works best when it's just Bart and Lisa being terrorized by Itchy and Scratchy. There's also a Poochie cameo, and that's never a bad thing. It's always fun to see Lisa's good intentions backfire horribly.

Willie getting a dolphin beak through the heart is particularly brutal. There are lots of great bits involving various Springfielders being forced to appease Bart's year-old whims, and that makes up for a less-inspired conclusion. It doesn't shy away from horror or creepy visuals, but it still maintains a distinctly Simpsons sense of humor. And that song about Homer being gay? Still, there's something clever about the way it's all staged with an audience watching the musical , and again, it's a Sweeney Todd parody.

That's nerdy-cool. Who hasn't dreamed of ordering something from the back of a comic book and discovering that it actually worked? The basic concept of Bart and Milhouse acquiring a stopwatch that stops time is a good one, but the follow-through is hit-or-miss. And in the grand tradition of early s episodes, the writers went overboard. Bart and Milhouse aging into adulthood is one step too far.

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Other animated series have done riffs on the Fantastic Voyage story, and they're usually a lot of fun. More wacky shrunken-down hijinks, please! The language of A Clockwork Orange is perfectly captured here, along with some really well-done visual references. If the segment stuck with that, it might actually be great, but unfortunately, it devolves into a long string of Kubrick references.

Some are good, some are not, all contribute to the segment feeling a little overstuffed. While that film ended up being helmed by Spielberg, it retained plenty of Kubrickian touches, and those glimpses of darkness are what elevate this segment. However, there's edgy that works and then there's just uncomfortable — like Homer learning he can strangle his new robot son even harder, for example. There's so much good material to mine when you're doing a fairy tale mashup segment, and there are some very funny bits: Goldilocks's gruesome death and Bart basting himself for the witch come to mind.

But the segment as a whole never really comes together, perhaps because the ending is so silly. But truth be told, it doesn't really work. It's probably remembered so fondly because it was the final segment in the first ever "Treehouse of Horror," and because James Earl Jones is an excellent narrator. The real issue with "The Raven" is that the visuals weren't where they needed to be for such a light-on-dialogue story. Here's another segment that gets more credit than it probably deserves.

Thanks For Rating

Everyone remembers the final moments, in which Homer wakes up to discover that Mr. Burns' head has been grafted onto his neck. And that's great! But there's a lot that comes before that, namely Burns creating a Frankenstein-esque robot with Homer's brain, and that is not so great. Either way, there's a lot to enjoy here, namely the callback to the classic Simpsons episode "The Way We Was. The segment ultimately covers all-too-familiar terrain, but at least we get Jon Lovitz back as Artie Ziff.

This segment, with a nice title reference to Matt Groening's comic strip, is a visual treat. It just looks great, and there's a great blend of humor and horror in the hell version of Springfield Elementary. The story itself is a little flat, though it's nice to see a bit of role reversal, with Lisa finding herself popular among the demons and Bart excelling in torture class.

The trope of Homer buying something dangerous despite repeated warnings is a "Treehouse of Horror" favorite, and it works well here. Homer's clones are terrifyingly inept, which makes his family's failure to recognize them as clones all the more delightful. Things get less interesting as the clone numbers swell, but it's still a lot of fun throughout.

And yet, the jokes just land, whether about broccoli being the deadliest vegetable "It tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste" or Homer accidentally killing Agnes Skinner and then claiming she was going to be the next Hitler. Again, traditional Halloween segments of "Treehouse of Horror" are just fun, and we get to see a lot of characters in costume here.

That's actually the point, as a witch casts a spell that turns everyone into whatever they're dressed up as. In this case, the silliness works. Seuss parody feels like an odd choice for Halloween, until you realize that the Cat in the Hat was always super creepy. No matter, the style for this segment is just too great to ignore. It looks and sounds just like Dr. Seuss, which is extra unsettling when things take a turn. It never really feels like "Treehouse of Horror," but it's easy to forgive when the rhymes are so good. Given how rarely The Simpsons takes a stand politically, it's honestly pretty refreshing that "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid" turns into a very clear allegory for the Iraq War.

It would be unremarkable if not for the long overdue political satire. Another zombie segment, but one that owes more to 28 Days Later than George Romero. And it's actually quite frightening, with these zombies or "munchers" feeling like a very real threat to the Simpsons and to Springfield as a whole. The segment works best when it's just Bart and Lisa being terrorized by Itchy and Scratchy. There's also a Poochie cameo, and that's never a bad thing.

It's always fun to see Lisa's good intentions backfire horribly. Willie getting a dolphin beak through the heart is particularly brutal. There are lots of great bits involving various Springfielders being forced to appease Bart's year-old whims, and that makes up for a less-inspired conclusion. It doesn't shy away from horror or creepy visuals, but it still maintains a distinctly Simpsons sense of humor.

That having been said, the haunted house story isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, so the plot itself is not the selling point. This segment probably shouldn't work as well as it does: It's about Homer getting possessed by Snake after a hair transplant and then murdering all the witnesses who got Snake sentenced to death. Like "Oh, the Places You'll D'oh," this segment is so stylistically close to its source material that it's scary.

In this case, it's Peanuts , of course — and while the story is mostly a pretty direct parody, it does take some sharp turns, namely the Grand Pumpkin seeking revenge against mankind. Plot aside, it's relentlessly charming and a joy to watch for fans of Peanuts and The Simpsons , natch. But it's undeniably appealing having a robot do everything for you, especially when it has the voice of Remington Steele himself, Pierce Brosnan.

The plot here is predictable but executed well enough that it doesn't really matter. While this segment is a direct parody of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train , it takes a page from the Kubrickian "A Clockwork Yellow" and incorporates other elements of the director's work. What follows is a delightful pastiche of Hitchcock, from the North by Northwest theme to the Vertigo effect. It's a sharp and visually arresting segment, especially fun for Hitchcock fans. Bart's head on a tiny fly's body is cool, but nothing beats a fly's head on Bart's body, especially when the fly tries to take off by flapping Bart's arms.

The bit about Homer misusing the teleportation device is a comedic highlight. This parody, however, works really well, perhaps because it's played so straight. There are plenty of funny bits, like Homer using Flanders' corpse as a puppet, but what's most impressive is how scary the segment becomes. Obviously a lot has changed since then. The story itself is lacking, but it still deserves credit for how cool it looks when Homer enters the third dimension.

Again, less cool now, but that's OK. Plus, the scenes of everyone trying to find Homer are very funny. For a character with very little screen time, Bart's long-lost conjoined twin Hugo left a big impression. A lot of that is due to the character design and his subtle vocal differentiation from Bart. The rest is thanks to the pigeon-rat he created. Either way, he's intensely creepy, and he makes this segment an effective little mystery with a hilarious resolution.

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Poor Bart and his fish heads. There's a lot of great detail in the reimagining of Springfield, which is a stand-in for Salem in this segment. The final dark joke is perfect, as the witches lament filling up on children before they start going door-to-door for candy. It's hard to live up to such a perfect title, but "Starship Poopers" does an admirable job.

Maggie's transformation into a Rigellian alien, the secret "love" child of Marge and Kang, is frightening and funny. And while the Jerry Springer Show conclusion is dated now, it's still a great reminder of the crap we watched on TV in the late '90s. As opposed to the crap we watch now. The first introduction of Kang and Kodos is worth celebrating: They're such great characters, and so well designed, it's no wonder "Treehouse of Horror" decided to incorporate them every year.

The setup for this segment is absurd even by "Treehouse of Horror" standards, but really, who cares why there's a nuclear war between France and It's all about the aftermath, in which the Simpsons are forced to run from vengeful mutants. Marge turning on the mutants after extending an olive branch is great, but nothing beats Comic Book Guy's iconic line, "I've wasted my life.

There's something especially upsetting about this segment, perhaps because there's nothing supernatural about it. The teachers at Springfield Elementary simply decide to start cooking and eating the students. The first black-and-white "Treehouse of Horror" segment, "King Homer" is a very straightforward take on King Kong that works well because Homer has always been a big dumb ape. This was an early example of how "Treehouse of Horror" could play with the format to accomplish something distinctive and cinematic.

It also features Smithers' best line ever: "I think women and seamen don't mix. There's nothing particularly original about a "be careful what you wish for" storyline, or the monkey's paw variant. But the reason "Lisa's Dream" stands out is because of how the wishes play out. Most interesting is the wish for the Simpson family to become famous, which predicts the kind of oversaturation in pop culture that The Simpsons would soon enjoy.

This is one of the more random classic "Treehouse of Horror" segments: Giant advertisements come to life and wreak havoc on Springfield because of an electrical storm. Well, that, and Homer stole the giant Lard Lad donut. It's impressive how menacing these advertisements are, and once again, how adept the show is at balancing scares and laughs. Who hasn't wanted to play God or accidentally create life with static electricity and a tooth in some soda? It's thrilling to watch Lisa's tiny civilization develop, but the segment is funniest when she gets shrunk down and meets the townspeople, who revere her as a deity.

The alternate-universe Professor Frink is also a delight. It's been 20 years since this "Treehouse of Horror" segment aired, and I still haven't been able to look at Willie the same way. Turning him into a Freddy Krueger stand-in was perhaps too effective — he always seemed so angry and resentful of children that it all kind of made sense. Time travel is inherently scary: You can easily mess up one thing in the past and screw up the future forever. The one with Ned as the supreme leader is especially creepy, even before he forces the Simpsons to get lobotomies.

There are so many good jokes in "Bart Simpson's Dracula": the burning of Egyptian artifacts when the police mistake vampire attacks for mummy attacks, Bart taking the Super Fun Happy Slide to his doom, the "He's a vampire? And since we've given credit to segments that are both hilarious and frightening, it's worth drawing attention to the insanely unsettling shot of Bart floating outside Lisa's window.

And things only get scarier from there. The design of the gremlin is a lot freakier than whatever that thing on The Twilight Zone was, but nothing is more distressing than Bart's complete mental breakdown. Before "He's a vampire," there was "He was a zombie? This is a fairly straightforward zombie story — well, once you get past the fact that Bart and Lisa were actually trying to raise their dead pets — but it's filled with solid jokes and just the right amount of darkness, exactly what a "Treehouse of Horror" segment should be.

Evil doll stories have been done to death, but it's hard to beat the horror of an evil Krusty doll. He's a doll and a clown! Again, it's a nice mix of funny and scary — that image of the Krusty doll wielding a kitchen knife is nothing to be laughed at — and perhaps most importantly, it feels like a complete story, something later "Treehouse of Horror" segments are lacking.

Having Homer sell his soul for a donut was a brilliant idea, but nothing was more inspired than casting Ned Flanders as the Devil, because it's always who you least suspect. We get a very memorable depiction of the underworld — nothing since then has matched it — and a wonderful Lionel Hutz bit. Of course, no Simpsons fan will ever forget the image of Homer with a donut for a head.

Prior to this segment, the rule was that "Treehouse of Horror" segments, which existed outside of continuity anyway, would not mention current events. That's something The Simpsons has long since dropped. And then we have "The Shinning," the best movie parody "Treehouse of Horror" ever pulled off — and the best segment overall. It's a tense, disturbing send-up of Kubrick's film. As with Jack Nicholson, Homer has always looked a little like he might snap, and that's what makes "The Shinning" so effective.

His ax-wielding rampage was basically inevitable. A previous version of this post misidentified the movie. Contact Louis Peitzman at louis. Got a confidential tip? Submit it here. Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XXIX" Year: There has been countless Invasion of the Body Snatchers parodies and remakes , and to its credit, this segment does try to do something different with the concept.

Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XII" Year: Here's a great example of The Simpsons trying to do way too many things at once, one of the biggest crimes of the early s episodes. Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" Year: There's something satisfying about seeing Sideshow Bob kill Bart after, as he puts it in a very funny line, "24 years of trying to kill a year-old child. Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XXI" Year: The funniest thing about "Master and Cadaver" is that it's a parody of Dead Calm , a film that the vast majority of people watching the segment had likely never seen.

Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XIII" Year: Here's another segment in which you have to believe the writers came up with the title first and worked backwards.

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Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XVII" Year: There's nothing particularly hateful about the onslaught of Jew jokes on display here, but they do lose their punch after a while. Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" Year: What made the film Chronicle is that it took the familiar story of teenagers getting superpowers and put a dark and creative twist on it.

Episode: "Treehouse of Horror X" Year: Long before they gained superpowers in "Telepaths of Glory," Bart and Lisa got Fantastic Four—style powers in this segment, which offers some sharp jabs at nerd culture "A wizard did it" alongside some of the worst lines in any "Treehouse of Horror" episode "Xena needs xex".



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