(originally aired October 30, 1995)
I consider Treehouse of Horror IV, V and VI to be a trifecta of absolutely perfect Halloween shows. I’d say this one is my favorite; the other two may be stronger overall, but I really love how each segment tops the previous one, and has a clever distinctive theme. First is “Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores,” where all of the giant company mascots of Springfield come to live when Homer hijacks the giant donut held by Lard Lad of Lard Lad Donuts. To start, the title is brilliant, which leads to the idea of the show: billboards and advertisements are such a visual assault to the landscape of a city… and now they’re a literal assault, destroying everyone and everything. We get some great legally distinguishable parodies like of Pep Boys (“Don’t scratch up them heads!”) and Mr. Peanut, who breaks open a car and eats the delicious people inside. The ending solution is equally as fabulous, where, as in real advertising, if no one pays attention to them, they’ll go away, ending the hideous rampage. It’s sprinkled with a bunch of laughs, like Homer’s nonplussed attitude toward Lard Lad coming to life at his door, but I love the overall idea of this episode more than anything.
“Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” is next, of course a riff on Nightmare on Elm Street. I can’t exactly say it’s a parody… it’s more like the show reenacting that film, with Groundskeeper Willie subbing for Freddy Kreuger. But that aside, it definitely makes up for it with a number of hilarious scenes, like how Willie died and vowed revenge in the first place, and all the dream sequences. This also has one of the more genuinely horrifying moments in a Halloween show when Martin is constricted and suffocates; Russi Taylor gives a terrified dying scream that’s pretty chilling (then of course made a joke of when Martin’s twisted corpse is revealed to the children, then accidentally wheeled into the kindergarten). Bart and Lisa vow the only way to stop the madness is to confront Willie in dreamland, which is a great finale, with Willie taking several fantastical forms, ending with a giant spider with a bagpipe body. He’s also prone to quips and puns like Freddy; one line may be one of my favorite lines of any Simpsons ever, “When I’m done with you, they’ll have to do a compost mortem!” Maggie saves the day, and then we have the very ending, which I absolutely love. Awake in the morning, Lisa posits Willie may not be dead, and can come back anytime in any form. Then a bus pulls up and Willie gets off, making some silly scary faces. The bus takes off, Willie bemoans he left his gun on the seat, and tells the Simpson children politely to stay there. So yeah, Willie was planning on shooting children in the face point blank. Then he chases after the bus and loses his shoe with a “Benny Hill” esque version of the Simpsons theme. It’s such a ridiculous, silly out-of-nowhere ending, but I love love love it.
Now for the main event… “Homer^3,” a parody of the Twilight Zone segment “Little Girl Lost” where Homer finds himself trapped in the third dimension. The CG animation may look a little primitive, but keep in mind this episode aired a mere month before Toy Story came out; no one had seen this kind of stuff before. The 3D segments were done by PDI, who would later merge with DreamWorks Animation. Having our characters stumble into 3D is of course a visual treat, and a neat concept; I love the 3D environment, filled with random objects and equations, and a directional sign for the different axis. Of course Homer screws up this dimension too, and his time is slowly running out. Professor Frink arrives at the Simpson home to give his hypothesis regarding this bizarre new world, starting with drawing an ordinary square (“Woah, woah, slow down, egghead!”) and adding onto it from the unheard of “z-axis” making a cube (or a Frinkahedron, in honor of its discoverer). Bart attempts a rescue mission, but is unsuccessful, as Homer is sent to an even more unforgiving universe… our own. Not only is this episode just really cool to look at, the ideas behind it are really interesting; Homer’s fascination of his newly weighted body in 3D makes me wonder how he must see himself and the world around him in his normal 2D world. But Homer finds a happy ending in an erotic cake store, discovering our world is just as odd and debased as his own. Not only is this episode alternatively hilarious and spooky, but it makes yah think too.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer is quite content driving down “the miracle mile,” full of giant mascots, “where value wears a neon sombrero and there’s not a single church or library to offend the eye.” He arrives at Lard Lad asking for the promoted “Colossal Donut.” Of course the product is just regular-sized. Homer cries false advertising, and vows he’ll get what he wants. Pimply faced teen pathetically counters, “You don’t scare us!”
– The scene of Homer, donned with pantyhose on his head, hooking the giant donut and taking off is pretty dramatic and intense, ending with Lard Lad angrily stepping off his perch and doing the Godzilla shriek. The other mascots take notice.
– Mission accomplished, Homer lies inside his giant donut, which takes up the entire living room, drinking a beer. Never mind how he got it in the house, doesn’t matter in the least.
– Great bits with the various mascots, like Bart acting as devil on the Red Devil Realty devil’s shoulder to get him to smash the school, the giant Kent Brockman eating the real one, and of course Wiggum accidentally shooting the very tall captain of the high school basketball team (“Yeah, well… he was turning into a monster.”)
– Love the shot of Homer opening the door to just Lard Lad’s giant face staring down at him. After tricking him once, Marge arrives and tells him to give him the donut (“Once he has it, that will be the end of all this horror.” “Well… okay. If it’ll end horror.”) Of course, it does nothing; Lard Lad rakes his donut across every roof on the block and continues his rampage. All hope is lost, which gives us a great Marge line (“These monsters are destroying everything and everyone we hold dear! And you kids should have jackets on.”)
– Paul Anka’s a random guest star, but I like how he shows up; the advertising head tries to pump out a jingle on his piano, then off-the-cuff comments it’d sound better coming from Paul Anka. Then, boom, we got Paul Anka to do a song. And plus, am I going to quibble about stuff not making sense in a Halloween show?
– The mascots are defeated, and fall to their deaths… crushing the hospital, the orphanage, and the birthplace of Norman Vincent Peale (how they randomly picked him, I’ve no idea). The last to go is Lard Lad, who falls over and loses his donut, which spins out of town. This leads to the obligatory Kang and Kodos cameo, it’s always fun to see those two.
– Kent Brockman’s sign-off to the segment is pretty awesome (“Lock your doors, bar your windows, because the next advertisement you see could destroy your house and eat your family!”) Cue commercial.
– I like the subtle style change at the start of the second segment, indicating a dream, with the more lusciously painted background and Tex Avery-style takes.
– Great back-and-forth when Bart awakes and screams. Homer calls from downstairs, concerned (“Bart, is that you?!” “Yes!” “Take out the garbage.”)
– Skinner appears on the schoolyard to calm the kids’ concerns (“Children, I couldn’t help monitoring your conversation. There’s no mystery about Willy. Why, he simply disappeared. Now, let’s have no more curiosity about this bizarre cover-up.”)
– Martin finishes his standardized test mere seconds after receiving it. An exasperated Edna tells him to put his head down and sit quietly. Martin is satisfied (“Ah, a duet of pleasures.”) His Latin dream is very true to him, and Willie appearing in it is quite chilling. And of course he gets a great quip (“You’ve mastered a dead tongue, but can you handle a live one?”)
– I could quote every line from the flashback of Willie’s death… “Stupid Smarch weather…” Homer is inadvertently responsible for it, having raised the thermostat. I love the quick cuts of Willie’s attempts to escape, only to be thwarted by the measures to not instill doorknob repair or fill the fire extinguishers (even though it was a free service from the fire department). He bursts in the classroom, engulfed in flames, begging for help, but is scolded for interrupting. So he sits in a seat and patiently waits, then burns to death.
– Once Willie is apparently defeated, Bart figures his dreams are back to normal, so he can get back to him and Krusty winning the Super Bowl. Willie reappears, and Krusty’s out of there (“Don’t dream about me no more, kid!”)
– The bit of Homer stepping through the invisible layer that turns him from 2D to 3D is so well done, and Homer is stunned by what he sees. He thinks quite eloquently (“Oh, glory of glories. Oh heavenly testament to the eternal majesty of God’s creation.”) but speaks… not so much (“Holy macaroni!”)
– I love how ineffectual the family is at trying to find Homer. They call Ned over to put a ladder in the living room, climb it and look around. Like what are they looking for?
– Great bit with Homer attempting to describe where he is, asking if anyone’s seen Tron for reference. Just like in real life, no one saw it… except for Wiggum, who immediately takes it back.
– Nice minor animated bit where Frink’s hair flies up as Wiggum fires into the wall. The bullets enter 3D world and are immediately sucked into the ever-growing hole. Homer bemoans, “There’s so much I don’t know about astrophysics. I wish I’d read that book by that wheelchair guy.”
– Bart and Homer are on opposite sides of the grid. Bart attempts to climb to the edge of the XYZ pole, but tells his father he’s got to jump over the incredibly wide chasm. “Piece of cake, son!” Homer barely even jumps, he just kind of immediately falls in. Back in 2D, Bart explains what happened (“We hit a little snag when the universe sort of collapsed on itself. But Dad seemed cautiously optimistic.”) Followed by an echoey “Craaaaaaaaap!”
Completed unrelated note: updated my Disney Animated Canon blog with Winnie the Pooh. Now it’s all up to date. DreamWorks blog coming soon…