Who wasn’t a fan of The Simpsons in the nineties? Well, I sure was, but there were certain episodes that stuck out like a sore thumb. They were different, much scarier than the norm. Of course, I’m talking about the Treehouse of Horror episodes!
Each year – starting with the second season – around Halloween, The Simpsons would transform into a horrific, gory filled anthology of short stories. Looking back now, most of these episodes weren’t really that scary, but to a kid they were deemed downright terrifying. Over 23 seasons, there have been 69 short horror stories told during the Treehouse of Horror episodes. With Halloween just around the corner, I have decided to highlight Five of the Best Treehouse of Horror Shorts.
Disclaimer: When I say five of the best, what I really mean is five of my personal favourites.
The Raven – Treehouse of Horror I
This short is based on the famous Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name. Homer plays the part of the main character while James Earl Jones narrates the tale, and absolutely nails the performance. It’s an incredible version of the classic story that even sports some humor. The most notable form of humor comes from Bart’s portrayal of the raven and his antics towards Homer.
Dial D for Diddly – Treehouse of Horror XXII
This is the newest Treehouse of Horror short on this list, and is a parody of one of the best TV shows from the past decade, Dexter. Homer is tricking Ned into doing his bidding by using a voice distorter to pretend to be the voice of God. Ned blindly obeys all of Homer’s orders, and in doing so he kills many of Homer’s enemies. Ned eventually discovers that Homer has made him a serial killer, but the real God chokes Homer before Ned can do anything. My favourite moment comes during the conclusion when Satan appears with Maude at his side.
Fun Fact: Treehouse of Horror didn’t become the official name for these episodes until Season 14. Up until then, these episodes were simply known as The Simpsons Halloween Special.
Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace – Treehouse of Horror VI
I’m a long-time fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and The Simpsons short that parodies it has always been a favourite of mine. In this short, Groundskeeper Willie tries to kill Bart in one of his dreams, but Bart wakes up in horror when he discovers real scratch marks on his stomach. His horrors are realized when other kids report that they have also experience similar dreams. Many elements from the Nightmare series are included in this short and are part of the reason it’s so satisfying. These elements include the famous classroom scene, the backstory of Freddy Kreuger, and the method of sleeping on purpose to try and kill Groundskeeper Willie.
Terror at 5½ Feet – Treehouse of Horror IV
The Twilight Zone is parodied many times throughout the Treehouse of Horror specials, but this one is indeed the best. Much like The Raven, and Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace, Terror at 5½ Feet is an accurate portrayal of the source material, albeit with some humor. Bart sees a gremlin attacking the bus during the morning trip to school, but nobody will believe him. As Bart continues to witness the horror, he tries to get rid of the gremlin himself by throwing emergency flares at it. Bart is eventually taken to an asylum after the events because ultimately, nobody believed his story. Bart would see the gremlin once more during the ambulance ride to his new home.
Bad Dream House – Treehouse of Horror I
Wrapping up this article brings us back around to the first ever Halloween themed episode of The Simpsons. Bad Dream House is the first ever short to be featured, and one of the better ones, in my opinion. Homer gets a great deal on a mansion, mostly because the place is built over an Indian burial ground and is severely haunted. During their first night at the haunted home, the house begins to convince the family to kill each other. Marge, the only one unaffected by the house, gets mad and begins to lecture the house. The house asks them to leave while he contemplates life with The Simpsons, but decides that it would be better to destroy itself instead.
What are your favourite horror shorts from the Treehouse of Horror episodes? Please share them in the comments below.