Posts Tagged ‘Treehouse of Horror I

25
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

reallyrubitin

“We offered you paradise. You would’ve experienced emotions a hundred times greater than what you call love, and a thousand times greater than what you call fun. You would’ve been treated like gods, and lived forever in beauty. But, now, because of your distrustful nature, that can never be.” – Kang
“For a superior race they really rub it in.” – Marge Simpson

25
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror I11

“They are all against you, Bart.  You must kill them all.  They all must die.” – House
“Are you my conscience?” – Bart Simpson
“I-…yes, I am.” – House

Happy birthday Nancy Cartwright!

26
Oct
13

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror I9

“You . . . you speak English?” – Marge Simpson
“I am actually speaking Rigellian.  By an astonishing coincidence both of our languages are exactly the same.” – Kang

11
Oct
13

Reading Digest: Old Time Treehouse of Horror Edition

Treehouse of Horror I9

“Oh, no, Marge!  Come on, please!” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, I’m not sleeping with the lights on.  They’re just children’s stories.  They can’t hurt you.” – Marge Simpson

Owing almost as much to the Tapped Out game as to the broadcast of last week’s episode, the internet had lots of Treehouse of Horror lists, articles and arguments this week.  As per usual, where Zombie Simpsons does make an appearance, it’s mostly because it’s being compared unfavorably to The Simpsons.  So there are lots of people who agree with us this week, plus the usual assortment of usage and fan made stuff.

Enjoy.

Top 5 “Treehouse of Horror” Segments from “The Simpsons” (Cesar Zamora’s picks) – Not a hint of Zombie Simpsons and it comes complete with lots of .gifs and YouTube. 

Ranking the Treehouse of Horror episodes – This rates all of them, has plenty of pictures, and doesn’t have a single Zombie Simpsons season ahead of anything from Seasons 1-11.  Excellent. 

31 Days of Halloween TV Specials: Bob’s Burgers’ “Full Bars” – Some general Halloween television love that agrees with us:

Of course it will never be better than The Simpsons when it was in it’s prime (seasons 1 – 10), but in comparison to Simpsons now, Bob’s Burgers is so much better.

Bob’s Burgers is much better than Zombie Simpsons. 

Top 15 Treehouse Of Horror Segments – Surprising amount of Zombie Simpsons on here, even near the top.  “The Shinning” comes in at #1, of course. 

Doctor Sleep Review: The Doctor is In (Though Not as In as The Shining) – This doesn’t quite count as a ranking, I suppose, but it kinda does:

Stanley Kubrick’s movie version (which changed the story up a little bit—no more moving-when-you’re-not-looking topiary animals) helped bring The Shining to iconic status. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, indeed. (And, of course, how could we forget the most awesome Simpsons Tree House of Horror episode ever?)

Simpsons 25th Anniversary Homer Simpson Mr. Potato Head – The Krusty Brand Seal of Approval is all over this thing:

The Mr. Potato Head will come with Homer’s classic hair style, white shirt and blue jeans.  It will, of course, come with Homer’s favorite doughnut as well.

The toy is set to release in February, 2014 for $17.99

“Breaking Bad” Characters Drawn As “The Simpsons” – There have been a couple of these floating around for a while now, and this one is quite good. 

breaking bad drawn as simpsons by adrien noterdaem – Some more examples, and the direct Tumblr link.

The Dark Side Of The Simpsons – A very odd but kind of endearingly dark fan story. 

Day 5: 31 Days of Halloween – Heh:

I can remember when the show first started airing, that many years ago and it was considered very controversial. My parents let me watch it because they didn’t believe in censorship and yes they were hippies. And when I mean hippies, I don’t just mean the sit around and smoke pot hippies, even though they did a lot of that.

Awake – Bummer:

Late at night when I can not fall asleep all I can think of is:

“Can’t sleep, clown will eat me, can’t sleep, clown will eat me”

Which eventually (my brain is quite sleep deprived but unable to compute the sleep action) leads me to start thinking about china dolls attacking me.

Then I am even more unable to sleep.

Screw you Simpsons.

And I Ran – This isn’t strange at all:

Is it strange that I still take advice from Lisa Simpson on what to eat before sporting events?  As she told Bart in the classic episode “Dead Putters Society” a champion thoroughbred eats oats before winning the Kentucky Derby.  Therefore, my pre-race meal was a hearty bowl of Cheerios.

Steak would make you logy. 

To The Couch! – The farmed out couch gags have generally been entertaining.  Here’s YouTube of some of them. 

I Do Believe I’ll Be Watching the Simpsons This Sunday… – Common sentiment this week:

I was, once upon a time, a Simpsons fanatic.  In face, half of the Brotherhood routinely gather and revisit classic episodes.  And even in the decade or so since I’ve stopped watching religiously, I try and make a point of watching the Treehouse of Horror specials. 

FagGIF: The Simpsons | THE GAYEST BLOG of ALL TIME – Animated .gifs of some of the show’s gayer moments.  Has no one made a .gif of Smithers driving that boat towing all the dudes in “Homer the Smithers”, or the conga line? 

The Simpsons Bart Vs The World NES Review – It was, not so good:

The sound effects sound like something that could easily have originated from the Atari 2600 – now for an Atari 2600 game they were nice sound effects, although often recycled. Bearing in mind this game was made in 1991 and after the advent of Mario 3, you’d think that more effort would be made. Music wise, you hear the Simpson’s theme tune done in 8 bit, which although is ok, to hear it over and over again, I may as well stick a Simpsons DVD on, let the main theme loop constantly, which would be more fun.

A Complaint About Complaints About The Simpsons: Tapped Out – I started playing Tapped Out a couple of weeks ago.  Those of you who have not yet begun chasing the freemium dragon might be puzzled by this, but that it has reached second-level meta blog popularity no longer surprises me in the least:

When I first discovered TSTOTips there were only two writers, and today it seems they have many more. One writer happens to call themselves CrankyOldGuy, and I’ll never know their true age or gender, but one thing’s for sure, this guy really is cranky.

I’m not trying to be critical or hate on the guy or anything, but I came across one post about “odd” things that he’s noticed in the game, and I was taken aback by not only how much complaining there was in his post, but also the kinds of things he complained about.

The coming soon: the counter-counter-backlash. 

Treehouse of Horror – Episode #016 – Ash continues:

Friendly aliens. Seems really farfetched to me. I guess that why the Treehouse of Horror shows are the ones that I enjoy the most as it pokes fun out of scary movies or even television scenes that could make you jump or have you on the edge of your seat with anticipation.

It’s always weird when you see something for real, like a Twilight Zone episode, that you already know from The Simpsons

Movie Review: Blue Jasmine – Excellent usage:

Marge: Did anyone see that new Woodsy Allen movie?
Flanders: You know, I like his films except for that nervous fellow that’s always in them.

Perfectly quoted and very apt.  What did he do to deserve this?  Oh, right. 

Lisa Simpson: Feminist Hero – Don’t worry, you weren’t the first and won’t be the last:

When I strayed off the feminist path in middle school, it was Lisa Simpson who brought me back. My small act of rebellion in middle school had been to reject my feminist upbringing. But it was the wise words of a small 8 year-old cartoon character reminded me of the importance and necessity of my beliefs.

[…]

A lot of people look at me weirdly when I tell them Lisa Simpson is one of my feminist icons. But really, who wouldn’t want an icon committed to speaking out against injustice, violent protest, discrimination, and still loves watching cartoons?

Right on, say it, sister! 

Rethinking Biblical Literacy – There’s a book about the Bible coming out, this is one of the chapters:

8. Biblical Literacy and The Simpsons – Robert Myles (University of Auckland)

Might have to read that.

Think 26 seasons of The Simpsons is a bit much? So do The Simpsons – Ten items, only two from Zombie Simpsons, of the show making fun of itself. 

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 66) – Season 7 versus itself.  Ouch. 

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 67) – “I Love Lisa” trounces “Maximum Homerdrive”. 

BENDER AND KRUSTY THE CLOWN – A Simpsons/Futurama keychain. 

Day 8: Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace – A series of Halloween pop culture remembrances includes Willie striking in Bart’s dreams. 

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXIV – True:

Any non-delusional fan of the series would admit that the quality of the writing on The Simpsons plummeted somewhere around the 10th season. Any other show as equally awful as The Simpsons has been for the past decade would have been quickly and unceremoniously cancelled. But it’s still getting by on the strong foundation of characters and setting established in those masterful first 10 seasons.

This also might (might) also be a good idea:

While I think The Simpsons is long past due for cancellation, I’m glad they’re still making excellent Treehouse of Horrors. Maybe we could compromise… Put The Simpsons out of its misery, but release a new Treehouse of Horror each Halloween?

Turn it into something Peanuts like?  I could see that. 

The Breaking Bad & Dexter Finales – Good move:

At one point in my life, The Simpsons was the greatest show on television for me.  But, just because I loved its first decade doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around watching the next decades.

Treehouse of Horror XXIV – Indeed:

But much like The Simpsons itself in the last decade, “The Treehouse of Horror” series isn’t the same what it used to be.  Is it because The Simpsons overdosed on mocking horror films or is it because the show ran out of inspired ideas for the episode?  Seeing as how I can watch many of the Treehouse of Horror episodes from the 90s endlessly, I’ll say it’s the latter.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIV’ – And finally, I get to end with one more person who agrees with us:

Treehouse of Horror” has turned me into Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I tune into the annual Halloween episode of “The Simpsons” each year with the expectation of laughter. It never comes. But each year I sit there and watch the writers of a show 17 years past its prime try to pretend it still has its mojo. It was like watching the New York Yankees this season.

Heh.

[Late addition: Random Episode – The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror – A fond, nineteen minute podcast about the first “Treehouse of Horror” and its successors.]

05
Oct
13

Animation Alley: Treehouse of Horror

From the start, the annual Treehouse of Horror specials were incredibly ambitious, this notion of departing from the “normal” world of the show proper into this fantasy realm where aliens, zombies and other ghoulish creatures could roam free, and anything was possible. The doors were open to do anything, and this was reflected not just in the writing, but in the animation as well. Whether it be attempting a more dramatic, suspenseful feel, or emulating the style of a horror movie parody, the Halloween shows were always a joy to look at. So, in the holiday spirit, Animation Alley has been resurrected to examine the classic Treehouse of Horrors. I don’t know how many I’ll get through before October is out, I’m hoping at least up to the first eight or so, but we’ll see.

tohI-01“Bad Dream House,” directed by Wes Archer, starts out normally enough with the Simpsons moving into their suspiciously cheap house, only to find creepier and creepier things that lie within. Marge is adamant they leave, but Homer, still blindsided by the great deal he got, suggests they sleep on it. Not the best move, as it turns out, where the family is manipulated in the middle of the night to kill each other. We’re led to believe that Marge is also possessed, we see her brandishing a rather large knife. As the other four move in for the kill, we get these quick cuts of them laughing maniacally in a background bathed in blood red, then we see Marge with a stern look as well, lifting her knife… to continue making her sandwich, as the BG fades into a much cooler green. I love these shots of the family too, so insane and creepy. A grown man, two children and a baby attempting to murder each other, I can’t believe they got away with this in 1990.

tohI-02The Bad Dream House gets some real personality not only in its voice (I love when it gets beleaguered and whiny at the end: “Leave me alone! I don’t have to entertain you!”), but in its fluctuating appearance. The walls “breathe,” the tone of the walls change based on what happens (especially great when the house goes dark for a moment after Marge finishes her explosive tirade). My favorite bit is when Bart’s incessantly asking for the walls to bleed again, and the paneling of the house squashes and stretches, with a wonderful squeaking sound. It looks like for the left that they just overexposed the background layer for that effect, to make the crimson walls on the right all the more rich.

tohI-03And we end with the house imploding in on itself, wishing to be destroyed rather than deal with the Simpsons. Bummer ending, but the animation is, as Bart succinctly puts it, “Bitchin’!”

tohI-04“Hungry are the Damned,” by Rich Moore, introduces us to our favorite Rigelians Kang and Kodos, and is essentially one gigantic mislead that it seems like the aliens intend to dine upon our favorite family. The shot of Serak the Preparer gazing hungrily at Marge always cracks me up, and Homer is none the wiser, of course (“Your wife is quite a dish!” “Oh, thanks!”) But through the whole show, if you still hadn’t picked up on the dozens of overt clues, we get the shot on the right, a low shot when the plate covers are removed, we see Homer and Marge’s heads right there on platters.

tohI-05During Lisa’s discovery of the aliens’ true intentions, we see a lot of the ship bathed in red, then during the suspenseful reveal, our characters awash in a dramatic blue hue. Even better is when the tone keeps switching from this back to normal during Kang and Lisa’s back and forth regarding the book’s actual title: How to Cook Humans, How to Cook For Humans, then finally, How to Cook For Forty Humans.

tohI-06David Silverman’s “The Raven” is an absolute marvel; with the short on paper simply being the infamous Poe poem, I guess that was fair license to just go nuts with amazing, engaging direction. But before getting to the thick of that, we have this hilarious shot of a terrified Homer clinging to his massive chair. It’s our first look at how while he is subbing for the narrator of this dramatic work, he’s still our Homer.

tohI-07Going out to check the tapping on his chamber door, we get this great shot up from below as Homer gazes unto… darkness, and nothing more. What a haunting shot of an empty hallway, all in a sickly green to contrast the mostly cool blues of the study. Coming back inside, we continue panning upward on Homer walking forward, still tense, before we get to the reveal of the Bart Raven.

tohI-08Homer finally snaps at the Raven, and Dan Castellaneta’s rock star performance is supplemented by all these cuts to different angles. It adds to the energy of Homer’s angry read, leading perfectly to his breaking point in trying to wring that bird’s neck.

tohI-09Finally, our last shot, where we start on the Raven still perched with an ominous glow around it, and pan down to see Homer staring up at him. The swelling music, James Earl Jones’ narration… they all add upon this drawing of Homer, transfixed on this creature representing his inescapable misery, truly defeated and unable to turn away. The Groening art style isn’t exactly the most expressive, but the talented artists who work on it always seem to manage to make them evoke so much more than they should.

That’s it for Treehouse of Horror number one. Next up… number two!

26
Oct
12

Reading Digest: Halloween Traditions Edition

Treehouse of Horror I8

“Hello, everyone.  You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday.  Personally, I don’t understand it.  Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils, things on TV that are completely inappropriate for younger viewers, things like the following half-hour.  Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight’s show, which I totally wash my hands of, is really scary.  So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in to bed early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow.  Thanks for your attention.” – Marge Simpson

As you’d expect, we’ve got lots of great Halloween links this week, including multiple people who make time to watch Treehouse of Horror episodes every year and who’ve noticed that there’s no point in adding the newer ones to those viewing sessions.  On the downside, though, it seems that Zombie Simpsons sells some of the most expensive commercials in all of television, so don’t get your hopes up that it’s going to end anytime soon.  In addition to that we’ve got fan made art, fan made costumes, lots of animated .gifs, and a review of a terrible Roger Corman movie starring Doug McClure, one of the guys who donated half his name to Troy McClure.

Enjoy.

The Twenty Greatest “The Simpsons” Episodes EVAH – Part 1 – This is the first half of Smooth Charlie’s Link of the week.  And this . . .

The Twenty Greatest “The Simpsons” Episodes EVAH – Part 2 – . . . is the second half.  Both are chock full of awesome YouTube and the only episode past Season 9 is “Behind the Laughter”, which includes this sentiment that I think many of us share:

I have wished more than once that the show had opted to end the series with this episode, because it really is the perfect way to wrap things up. It is funny, it is family driven, it has throwbacks to earlier episodes – it’s just a great episode for a fan of “The Simpsons”. I love the ridiculous over-the-top, vaguely ominous metaphors that they throw in (which are a staple of “Behind the Music”). I love that the family falls apart but, as always, come back together in the end. I think that this episode will always be the “finale” in my heart because it closed out what I think were really the best years of the show.

That’s certainly how I think about it.

Random Idea – Holy shit, that explains everything:

Whenever a show gets cancelled, the Grim Viewer (a douchebag in a hoodie) comes to take them away to the TV underworld. In it, tv shows live out the rest of their days either enjoying paradise in Re-run heaven, or get tortured in attic DVD box hell. If a cancelled show makes a deal with the Viewer, they are allowed a trip back up to earth. Some shows have had to also make deals in order to stay alive. The Simpsons, long ago, made a pact with the Grim Viewer to stay on forever in exchange for its soul (quality). The Viewer also required a pure virgin (firefly) for sacrifice in exchange for the Simpsons duration

Well, that and our next link . . .

TV Ad Prices: ‘Idol’ No Match for Football – According to Advertising Age, Zombie Simpsons is the sixth most expensive primetime show on which to buy a 30-second ad:

And they are finding them in Bart and Stewie. Veteran Fox sitcoms “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” take the sixth and seventh spots (the Thursday edition of “Idol” ranks fifth). The average cost of a 30-second ad in “The Simpsons” jumps to $286,131, up from $254,260 last season. The average cost of a 30-second spot in “Family Guy” rises to $276,690, up from last season’s $264,912, according to Ad Age’s calculations.

This is why I see no reason to conclude that Season 25 will be the end.  Even with all the production costs that is a shitload of reliable revenue, and I don’t see FOX giving that up until somebody dies or they decide to blow up the whole Sunday animation bloc.  (via)

Say hello to “Simpsonizing” – Cool fan made self portrait painted in a Simpsons style because:

the reason why the skin is yellow is because there wasn’t any fleshy color in my medium that I could use and I forgot how to make flesh with 2 colors (am such a noob I know)  but once I painted yellow on the canvas I liked the way it looked, in fact I decided to call it “simpsonizing” after the Simpsons

Always remember, if it’s stupid but it works, then it isn’t stupid.  Well done.

Schlocktoberfest II – Day 21: Humanoids From The Deep – Before there was Troy McClure, there was Doug McClure:

Even if you’re not a fan of Roger Corman, I’d advice you to think twice. Its a fun and entertaining monster movie. It reeks of late 70′s slasher/animals run-amok horror tones. And the star is non other than Doug McClure, who is one-half the basis of Troy McClure from The Simpsons!

Top 10 Halloween Specials – The various Treehouses of Horror come in at #2 with this perfect summation:

the first 8 or so installments of Tree House of Horror feature some of the wittiest, most inventive writing on what is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Halloween brings out the best in every one!

Halloween Watch: The Treehouse of Horror – This is a blog run by a public library, and even the keepers of the books acknowledge the literary quality of the early years:

Besides, in the early days, The Simpsons had truly brilliant writing.  Since the yearly Halloween episode usually gave more creative freedom to the writers and animators, Treehouse of Horror could always be counted on to deliver strong writing, creepy visuals, and dark humor, as well as to be among the best episodes of any given season.

Got that right.  It being a library and all, they go on to discuss “The Raven”.

TV Shows Survey – An interesting way to compare your favorite television shows, and this example includes The Simpsons.

Know your fright: Scary ‘Simpsons’ episodes – A guide to some of the best quotes and source material from some of the best Treehouse of Horror segments ever.  (via @dailysimpsons)

Simpsons Halloween Countdown: Bart Simpson’s Dracula – A run down of various Treehouse of Horror segments includes this:

It’s classic bumbling Springfield at it’s finest. Where it should be clear that a vampire is the town’s villain Wiggum is confident in his completely wrong assumption, and apparently so is the rest of Springfield, except Lisa, who is the only human left at the end when everyone ends up being a vampire.

It makes no narrative sense, of course, that EVERYONE would be a vampire and simultaneously claim to be head vampire. So the segment breaks completely into a rendition of the dance number from the Peanuts cartoons. The whole thing is a classic example of The Simpsons poking fun at a genre trope then, proving that there is no point to it beside making fun of it, breaking down completely and enjoying the openness of being a cartoon.

Marge does have a life outside the house, you know.

Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos – A great rundown of some of the political gags in “Citizen Kang” with lots of YouTube.

Happy Birthday, Nancy Cartwright! – We wished Cartwright the same back on her actual day, but this one comes with a Bart toy professionally Instagramed into looking like a piece of art.

Alex Cross…In 10 Words – Oh, man, Tyler Perry in front of a brick wall for ninety minutes would’ve been much better than Alex Cross.

The iPad Mini…In 10 Words – I dunno, Herb, people are afraid of new things.  You should’ve taken an existing product and made it slightly smaller or something.

Chogokin King Robo Mickey & Friends (aka Disney Voltron)…In 10 Words – Roger Meyers Sr was beloved by all the peoples of the world, except in 2012 when he released his controversial movie Giant Fighting Robots Will Kill Us All.

Skating Like Bart Simpson – Understand that this blog is titled “A Day in the Life of a High School Culinary Arts Teacher”:

J: Man my skateboard broke.
Mr. C: Oh yeah?
J: Either that or I need to tighten a screw.
Mr. C: Okay.
J: It’s cause I went off the roof onto a car.
Mr. C: (Thinking he is joking) What like Bart Simpson? In the opening of the show?
J: Yeah but I did it for real. And I didn’t fall. I went off the roof and rode down the windshield and then went down the hill in my neighborhood.
Mr. C: Wow.

Heh.

aimless introspection #6 – Moving always sucks:

We purchased a floor mat for our apartment and it smells like a goddamn tire. The entire living room smells like the Springfield Tire Fire from the Simpsons. Do I look like a damn mechanic? Someone tell me how to get rid of this god forsaken smell. I don’t like waking up to the smell of the Michelin Man’s nutsack.

My recommendation is to find an overly nice neighbor and steal his welcome mat, TV tray and weather vane.

The Simpsons – Lisa & Ralph cosplay – I’m almost positive I linked this around last Halloween, but who cares?  That is one of the greatest Simpsons costumes ever.

Ralph Wiggum speaks for the Internet – Heh.  I never thought of that before.

HA – Or that.  Ha.

There’s only one Homer Simpson – Animated .gif of Homer conversing with his brain about the difference between twenty dollars and a peanut.

The Simpsons demonstrate how to do Halloween properly – Animated .gif of the Simpson family wolfing down their haul from “Treehouse of Horror II”.

Say some “gangster” is dissin’ your “fly girl”. You just give ‘em one of these.. – Animated .gif of Moe’s adult education course.

Changing Plans, Trivial Pursuits And The Color Yellow – Victory in a Simpsons trivia contest:

I sat in Buckley’s in Belltown on 2nd Avenue in Seattle with two of my children, a niece, a nephew and a close family friend where we participated in a Simpson’s trivia contest. We blew away the competition and went home with a cash prize.

[…]

A few questions at the contest, most having to do with those later seasons, stumped us. But we came away victorious in our general knowledge of nothing important to mankind, and were paid for our efforts.

For my two sons, it was also a moral victory because they won the competition last time, and were looking to retain the crown. These boys are ringers. They know The Simpsons well, obscure details and all.

Congratulations.  Sounds like Seattle could support a Classic Simpsons Trivia night, too.

Top 5 Cartoons – The show comes in at #2 here, but #1 is Tom and Jerry, which I obviously don’t agree with, but is a pretty decent choice.

“Thank you, come again.” “No, thanks.” – And finally, I get to end with two someones who agrees with us.  First:

The ironic thing now, is that whenever I watch the more recent episodes of The Simpsons, I can’t help but see aspects of Family Guy: the underdeveloped, aimless and disassociated jokes, completely straying away from the storyline, whilst being dragged out pointlessly, almost as if the creators of the show are trying their best to fill up airing-time because they’ve run out of ideas. The other day I watched an episode where Milhouse’s parents get back together again (I’m sure a similar thing has happened before?), and besides the boring, repetitive storyline, there was little humour.

Preach it!

Longest Running Halloween Traditional – And second, yet another person using Halloween to talk about how bad the show has become:

I don’t think I’ve seen the latest episodes and the last one I watched was just an anthology of movie parodies.  Not horror movies, not even a scary cartoon, just a funny parody.

I think it was Treehouse XXI where I lost the will to follow the series.

You held out longer than most of us.

09
Oct
12

Compare & Contrast: Haunted Houses

Treehouse of Horror I7

“Why are you trying to scare us?  Are you trying to keep us from getting close to you?  Maybe even loving you?” – Lisa Simpson
“Leave me alone.” – Haunted House

It is a measure of just how flat out tired Zombie Simpsons is that they can do four different segments for their Halloween episode and have literally not a single one be something they haven’t done before.  Fake apocalypse?  Did that way back in Season 11.  Mysterious gateway to another dimension?  Season 7.  Time travel with alternate timelines?  Season 6, baby.  The most repetitive of the four was the third segment, the not so cleverly titled “Un-normal Activity”, which closely follows the form, if not the function, of the “Bad Dream House” segment from the original “Treehouse of Horror”.

Both stories take place in haunted houses, and both take as their jumping off point popular horror movies.  Right here in the source material, however, the different paths taken by each can be plainly seen.  “Treehouse of Horror” riffed on Poltergeist and all those other 1980s haunted house movies, but it didn’t specifically copy anything.  The house in “Bad Dream House” is nothing like the Poltergeist house, nor are there any static filled televisions or trips to the other side.  Yes, “Bad Dream House” is about an unsuspecting family that moves into a house built on the fabled “ancient Indian burial ground”, but it uses that as a platform for its own story and broader satire about scary movies and horror tropes in general.

By contrast, “Treehouse of Horror XXIII” takes the found footage gimmick of Paranormal Activity and makes it the centerpiece of the entire segment.  Worse, they don’t really do anything within that gimmick other than the usual Zombie Simpsons crap of having Homer get hurt, clock eating filler (the peeing thing alone went on for twenty seconds!), and lots of pointless exposition.  So not only are they resting everything on a one-trick idea, but they can’t even be bothered to come up with inventive things to happen within it.

Consider the first scene, where we see Homer filming himself in the mirror:

Normal Rockwell's Self Portrait This Is Not

Found footage is still a thing people care about, isn’t it?

This is the entirety of the dialogue here:

Homer: Day one, we bought this camera because strange things have been going on at our house in the dead of night.  If anyone finds this footage after we’re all missing or dead, remember me as a hero.
Bart: Dad, you forgot to pick me up after Little League.
Lisa: You tossed your car keys in my bean plant.
Homer: A hero!
Flanders: Homer, is that my camera?
Homer: Hero, away!

There isn’t anything the least bit Halloween-y here, it’s just the standard Zombie Simpsons crap of Jerkass Homer acting dumb, followed by the world’s most formulaic beat-punchline-beat sitcom writing.  As usual with this kind of hacktacular script, you can practically see where the laughtrack would go:

Homer: Self aggrandizing exposition.
Bart: Contradicts Homer.
[“Ooh”s]
Lisa: Contradicts Homer (again).
[Laughs]
Homer: Sticks to story.
Flanders: Contradicts Homer (x3)
[Bigger Laughs]
Homer: Sticks to story (again).
[Cheering.]

There’s nothing remotely that clumsy or non-Halloween related in “Bad Dream House”.  Homer’s still a buffoon and a jerk, of course, but here he’s a jerk because he tips the mover a single dollar and thinks he’s a good guy for doing so, because he ignores his family’s misgivings about the obvious creepiness of the house, and because he stubbornly refuses to believe that the place is haunted because it saved him thousands of dollars.

Treehouse of Horror I6

“Okay, boy, let’s see you talk yourself out of this one.”

Homer isn’t just acting out, he’s actually got a motivation (getting a good deal, for once) and his natural callousness and cheapness drive his actions.  The Homer in “Un-normal Activity” doesn’t have anything like that going on.  He seems to know what’s going to happen before it does, and is content to go through the motions of getting hit with a golf club, falling down the stairs, and having a demon-three-way because whatever.

Beyond Homer, we can see the lazy adaptation at work with Marge and the kids as well.  “Un-normal Activity” is theoretically a story about Marge having made a deal with Satan that would one day result in the abduction of one of her kids.  But the kids are hardly in the episode, and Marge doesn’t do much but stand by for Homer’s antics.  I guess she’s supposed to be possessed or something when she stands over him in bed and watches him take that endless leak, but that has nothing to do with what we later learn is actually happening.  Right through to the ending, the segment is about Homer doing typical, Zombie Simpsons Homer things rather than the family living in a haunted house.

The comparison with “Bad Dream House” couldn’t be more stark.  There we see the entire family react to and be affected by the evil all around them.  Whether it’s the walls bleeding, Lisa feeling an evil presence, or the culmination where they almost murder each other, there’s a lot more going on than just whatever happens to be hurting Homer at any given moment.

Which brings us to the respective endings.  “Bad Dream House” concludes when the inherent Simpson-ness of the Simpsons drives the house to destroy itself rather than live with them.  It doesn’t want to be loved by Lisa or bossed around by Bart, it doesn’t want to put up with Homer’s boorishness or Marge’s attitude of constant politeness and good housekeeping.  It’s a true twist ending, with the house becoming the victim rather than the perpetrator.

By contrast, the resolution in “Un-normal Activity” reads like an underpants gnome business plan:

1. Marge makes deal with Satan
2. ??????
3. Demon threesome

No part of it has anything to do with any other part, and the resolution is just another way to have Homer be the manic center of attention.  There wasn’t even any need for the found footage idea.  Zombie Simpsons just dressed up their usual tricks for a few minutes and then slapped on an ending.  The Simpsons took a ton of ideas, fit them all into a tidy but cool plot, and never needed to rely on a single gimmick or trope to keep things moving.  And, of course, The Simpsons did it from scratch twenty years ago; Zombie Simpsons just rehashes ideas and hopes we’ve forgotten about them.




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