Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Bloody, Beating Heart of Thanksgiving
By Nick Rich

Oh Thanksgiving.

Day in which we gorge ourselves until we resemble the fowl creature we just ingested... can you think of a better holiday? I can't (well, I can, but my stomach can't). Between the stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn and candied yams I don't know what to do with myself! Faced with such a situation my brain shuts down and I succumb to my instincts and just eat, filling my gullet until it brims over; then shoveling in a bit more an hour later.

There are many days that fight to fill our waistlines throughout the year, but Thanksgiving puts them all to shame with its singular focus on the art of gorging one's self to almost horrific proportions. Gorging aside, there's something at the core of this caloric holiday that rings true to something deeper within us all.

Have you ever stopped to think about what it is that drives every man, woman, child and rodeo clown on this oxygen pup-tent we call home? Well friends, fear not for I have! As varied as we all are the world over there is one thing that drives us all: hunger.
Whether you're black or white, Team Edward or Team Werewolf Kid, Republican or Democrat, Amos or Andy... We all hunger.

We hunger for love... hunger for attention... hunger for purpose... hunger for security... hunger for Jimmy Johns... hunger for puppies... hunger for the next Walking Dead episode...
We all hunger for something. (For the record I'm pretty sure rodeo clowns hunger for fair wages, Roth IRAs and reconciliation with their old man... oh, and Twinkies wearing cowboy hats)

Do you know what else gentle readers? Monsters are no different! So in honor of the holiday that is all about hunger, gluttony and general decadence when it comes to being satiated I've compiled a list of what monsters hunger for - think of it the RDHP's version of the Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table and stating what you are thankful for. As you think about the 4,000 calories you consumed yesterday and try not to relapse into your food coma, please exercise your mind by reading about the voracious appetites of some of the most famous monsters around.

As the main man of the things that go bump in the night Dracula has many appetites, among which are: medallions, lint rollers, stain removers and a sensible wardrobe selection for his ladies... oh, and blood.
He kinda likes blood too.

Often misunderstood, these gentle creatures are only searching for someone named "Briiiiian".
No. Wait. They could be searching for 'brains'. I'll leave it to you to decide which is more likely.

Talk about misunderstood! All the original monster every wanted was that which we all hunger for and his doomed fate could never afford him: love.

Besides eating after midnight and skinny dipping, these purveyors of mayhem hunger for social interaction as can be attested to by their finale demise scenes in Gremlins 1 & 2.
On a personal note, to this day, one of the most disgusting movie scenes I have ever seen is the cringe-inducing, fog-lensed shot of a group of Mogwais munching on leftover chicken that Billy has mistakenly given them after the witching hour in 1984's Gremlins. I can still hear their tiny lips smacking!!! Ewww!

The Wolfman
This feral beast on the prowl only hungers for two things:
1) Destruction
2) Spandex (so he can stop ruining his wardrobe every time he transforms!)

Jason Voorhees
Paramount in Mr. Voorhees still, rotting heart is the purity of today's young people.
He is a strong advocate of personal responsibility, abstinence and prohibiting underage drinking/illegal drug use. Mr. Voorhees is also eager to engage the opposition in lively discourse about said subjects.

The Mummy
Mothballs. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Zombies: Tortoise or Hare?

By Chris Dimick

The issue is more contentious than the debate between Republican or Democrat; pro-life versus pro-choice, or even deep dish versus thin crust: can zombies run or not?
Not a day goes that someone doesn't shove a gun in my face, pull back the hammer, and scream "Well, what are you, a zombie walker or runner advocate!?"
With the rhetoric at an all time high, the RDHP sees the need to finally draw the line in the brains-soaked sand.

Are zombies, to quote the sheriff in Night of the living Dead, so "messed up" that they couldn't possibly run faster than a hop? Or, are zombies able to reach sprinting speed when pursuing human hamburgers?
My answer: yes.
Okay, okay, put down that gun and let me explain this seemingly-Switzerland position.

Based on years of personal research, I've come to the conclusion that given certain circumstances, zombies are able to both walk and run. Don't tell me this argument is moot given that zombies are "fake." The zombie apocalypse is a matter of WHEN, not IF. Even the former President thought so. Ignoring this fact will just put you first in the zombie buffet tray... and I don't think that denial sneeze guard is gonna protect you much.

Zombies can both walk and run depending on their level of decomposition and physical completeness upon conversion. Let's say you have a healthy human male walking to work, minding his own business. Bam, zombie teeth chomp out a section of his arm (now that's a serious case of the Mundays), but the man escapes further devouring. The zombie virus, named solanum (by zombie researcher Max Brooks), takes over the man's body and first kills then transforms him into a flesh-seeking zombie.

The now zombie-man may have limited use of his bitten arm, since muscle tissue and bone is likely destroyed. But the rest of him, including his legs, would work perfectly fine allowing him to run if needed -- at least for the first day of zombiedom.

As his body undergoes the various stages of decomposition following death, the ability of his muscles to function would deteriorate. Slowly, the zombie would lose the ability to not just run, but move as various appendages rot.

In summary, a fresh zombie whose legs were fully operational at the time of "turning" can and will run after human prey until their legs are either destroyed, rot to the point of non-function, or their brain is destroyed and the solanum is deactivated.
My conclusion:
Fresh, complete zombies = the ability to run
Rotted or mutilated zombies = the ability to only shamble

Most other zombie experts can't come to a consensus on this topic. In Brooks' 2003 masterpiece, "The Zombie Survival Guide," he writes that the solanum virus travels through the bloodstream to the brain where it causes all bodily functions to cease and kills the victim. The virus then mutates the brain causing it to operate independent from oxygen.
He writes, "by removing the need for this all important resource (oxygen), the undead brain can utilize, but is in no way dependent upon, the complex support mechanism of the human body.... Some bodily functions remain constant (such as sight and hearing), others operate in a modified capacity, and the remainder shut down completely."

When describing the zombie's speed, Brooks writes they "tend to move" at a slouch or limp. "Even without injuries or advanced decomposition, their lack of coordination makes for an unsteady stride. Speed is mainly determined by leg length... Zombies appear to be incapable of running." This school of thought has been portrayed in films like "Dawn of the Dead," and "Shaun of the Dead."

However! While Brooks is a scholarly source for zombie knowledge, many disagree with his assessment of the zombie's ability to run. Exhibit A in the "runners" camp is the 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead." This is considered the authority on undead zombie behavior since it is the first major film to portray the living dead.
The film's very first zombie attack scene, and in effect the world's first screen zombie, runs after a frantic victim driving a car! This zombie also picks up a rock and tries to smash out the car window, showing at least some level of cognitive ability (use of tools). The running zombie has been portrayed in other genre films like "Return of the Living Dead" and the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead."

Night of the Living Dead also shows the slouching or slowly limping zombies that Brooks supports. To the untrained eye, this could be a contradiction. However, in the 30th Anniversary edition of Night of the Living Dead, director/creator/zombie god George Romero included a new introduction to the movie which shows us that Zombie #1 had just died, legs intact, before he was converted into a zombie (in this case by radiation from a Venus satellite).

This backs my conclusion that as a fresh zombie, Zombie Number 1 could run and operate his limbs as any living person. But as he decomposes, this zombie would lose that ability and turn into a shambling, slow walker, as he appears near the end of the movie. Romero just confuses things by only including walking zombies in the rest of his "of the dead" series. But he had it right the first time around, a zombie can both walk and run.

Bottom line is, whether you are facing a zombie runner or a walker, a person should be equally afraid. As Brooks so elegantly put it in Survival Guide, "The dead's advantage over the living is their tirelessness. Humans who believe they have outrun their undead pursuers might do well to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, adding, of course, that in this instance the hare stands a good chance of being eaten alive."

Top Five Zombie Movies
(And their speed portrayal of zombies)
Picking one's top five zombie movies is like The Duggar's picking their top five children. There are just so many you equally love! However, here is an attempt at my best of brain-munchers list.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The original and best zombie flick. Several disagreeing people are forced to hole up in a farm house as the reanimated dead stalk outside.
(Read the RDHP review here)

Running and (mostly) Walking Zombies:

Return of the Living Dead (1985)
This movie takes zombies to the next level, with a fresh punk rock take on the zombie legend. Warehouse workers accidently unleash government-created gas that turns the living into dead, and causes corpses to party on. Features a great punk rock soundtrack that compliments an energized take on the zombie genre.

Running and Walking Zombies:

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Romero uses the zombie apocalypse to comment on our obsession with consumerism. A thinking man's zombie movie that follows a group of survivors who ride out the zombie invasion in a shopping mall.

Walking Zombies:

Dawn of the Dead (2004)
A modern remake that is less satire and more gore. Highlights include redneck security guards you can't wait to get eaten, a zombie baby birth, and an on-the-edge-of-your-seat reinvention of the usually slow-paced zombie movie.

Running and Walking Zombies:

Planet Terror (2007)
This ultra-bloody zombie masterpiece was created by director Robert Rodriguez as an homage to 1970s grindhouse scream films. It is ultraviolent, hilarious, full of stars, and fun as hell. Again, a government war toxin turns folks into zombies that like to nibble on Rose McGowan's slinky legs. Survivors fight back.

Running and Walking Zombies:


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Master of the Bloody Pen, Meet Vincent Price

By Chris Dimick

"Life is a turd surfing down a sewer," thought 8th grade Chris, slumped over his English classroom's desk in half sleep/half wallowing. Times were tough for a freshly-minted teen at Marysville Junior High School. You are two young to really live life, too old to be naive about its nature. Society was full of morons. School had no point. Life didn't either, when you really thought about it.

So when eccentric English teacher Mr. Vonault passed a batch of "dittos" down 13-year-old Chris's row, he didn't expect much more than the usual school-age dribble passed off as "education." Life sucks. Poetry sucks. Everything sucks. Nirvana is soooo right.

But when he turned over that cheap sheet of Xerox paper, he was shocked that its contents would actually hit home. It was a poem (but poems suck!). Named "The Raven (birds? sounds so lame!) By some guy named Edgar Allan Poe (just another dead guy!).

Meh, another ass whose stupid thoughts I have to read, Chris said in defense. But the first lines sucked him in, and my life was forever changed.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more..."

The immortal opening stanzas of The Raven. This was the first time I had read something that was both beautiful and horrifying. You feel so depressed reading this poem, yet so alive. I'd soon come to know that feeling well, as it is the holy grail emotion that most people producing horror movies try to elicit in an audience. Terror, horror, depression... but entertained! They seem like conflicting emotions... and they are. That is why it takes a master writer, like Edgar Allan Poe, to bring out this mix of feelings from the depths of the human psyche.
I felt a comfort in Poe's dark world. In a way, it helped me get though those horrifying middle school years. Someone else had it worse... Poe did, I thought. And I was right.

"The Raven" forver changed my impression of poetry, and classic literature. Who know that something old could still be interesting and poignant to life's current horrors.
"Poe got life!" thought 8th grade Chris, after polishing off the library's copy of The Unabridged Collection of Edgar Allan Poe.

I had heard of Poe prior to that first reading of The Raven, but didn't know him. And that is what's great about Poe... you read his work, and you can see directly into the shadows of his heart. And what a dark, dank, depressing place it.

Such is why so many of his works have been adapted into horror movies. And here marks the connection to the Rich Dimick Horror Project (yes, there is a point, thanks for your patience :)) Last year marked the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth. Though we are late to the party, this week the RDHP honors this brilliant writer of horror, and his direct and lasting influence on the horror movie genre.

For you see without writers, there would be no movies. And while we here at the RDHP tend to typically focus on movies as a whole, writers deserve their time in the spotlight.

I'm being somewhat self-indulgent in highlighting Poe out of the many great horror authors (Stephen King, you nearly got this write up instead of Poe). But for my money, Poe is still the greatest horror author of all time. His works are timeless, evident by their frequent use for the basis of horror films.

What's even better than a Poe-based movie? A Poe-based movie starring Vincent Price! Yep, the last great horror icon, Vincent Price, was a regular in many Poe-movies. Gotta appreciate that combination of ham and horror. Then you throw in the super-schlocky director Roger Corman... and it's movie Nirvana (no, not the band, 8th grade Chris!)

Below, a list of some of the so bad their good and just plain bad-ass Vincent Price films based on or inspired by the great, dark, brilliant bloody pen of Edgar Allan Poe. Happy 201st Birthday, Edgar. Though dismissed in life, you shall be forever celebrated in death... at least at the RDHP.

Edgar Allan Poe Meets Vincent Price
The Best Film Collaborations
of Two Horror Masters

An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe - 1972
For An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent Price acts out many of Poe's stories, including "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado."


The Oblong Box - 1969
Starring Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. In Oblong Box, when Sir Edward is horribly disfigured, he is kept chained and out of sight by his brother (Price). But Sir Edward escapes and goes on a killing spree in an attempt for revenge.

The Tomb of Ligeia - 1964
From director Roger Corman comes this supernatural tale of undying love set in the early 19th century. After the death of his wife, Ligeia, eccentric Verdon Fell (Vincent Price) will do anything to replace her, even if he must sacrifice his new wife, Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd). Plagued by eerie events in her new home, the terrified Rowena seeks help from former suitor Christopher (John Westbrook), but can he thwart Fell's plan to revive Ligeia?

The Masque of the Red Death - 1964
At a 12th-century masked ball from hell, dissolute Satanist Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) torments his guests, forcing them to participate in a variety of gruesome lethal games in this Roger Corman-directed horror flick based on two stories by Edgar Allen Poe. While most of the games end in someone's death, those who survive Prospero's amusements must endure the nightmare of torture and unthinkable depravity.

The Raven - 1963
Don't know if you can really say this film is based on Poe's classic poem. It pretty much has nothing to do with it. But, eh, at least it says he was the inspiration. Roger Corman directs this hoot of a film featuring Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price), a washed-up sorcerer who turns a talking raven back into a man and learns that his presumed-dead wife is actually living with a rival magician (Boris Karloff). But when Craven tries to rescue his wife, he gets more than he bargained for. Loosely based on Poe poem, this tongue-in-cheek classic co-stars Peter Lorre and a young Jack Nicholson.

Tales of Terror - 1962
Also directed by Roger Corman. It's a triple threat of terror from the master of the genre: Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of three films -- The Black Cat, Morella and The Case of M. Valdemar -- offers everything horror fans can't get enough of, from murder and dementia to live burials, open tombs, resurrection and zombies. And with three of horrordom's greatest villains (Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone) in the lead roles, the chills are guaranteed


Pit and the Pendulum - 1961
Another Poe inspired Roger Corman classic starring Vincent Price.
Francis (John Kerr) visits the gloomy Spanish castle of his late sister Elizabeth's husband, Nicholas (Vincent Price), to learn the reason for her death. Nicholas fears his wife isn't really dead and that her spirit wanders the halls at night. Seems Nicholas's father was a feared leader of the Spanish Inquisition; as a child, Nicholas saw his father torture his mother and bury her alive, and he's convinced Elizabeth has suffered a similar fate.


The Fall of the House of Usher - 1960
After a long journey, Philip arrives at the Usher mansion seeking his loved one, Madeline. Upon arriving, however, he discovers that Madeline and her brother Roderick Usher have been afflicted with a mysterious malady: Roderick's senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline has become catatonic. That evening, Roderick tells his guest of an old Usher family curse: any time there has been more than one Usher child, all of the siblings have gone insane and died horrible deaths. As the days wear on, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax.

Edgar Allan Poe:
Worse off than Charlie Brown

Poe sure did have a horrible life. First, his father abandoned the family; then his mother died when he was very young, and his foster father, John Allen, erratically swung between lenience and extreme discipline; finally, Poe married his much younger cousin Virginia, who died at an early age. This gave him mommy and other female issues. Though a great writer, he was always broke, drunk, possibly high, and died penniless in a gutter. Ouch.
So, yeah, he had lots of baggage. But lucky for the world, Poe was able to channel his awful experiences into beautiful, gut wrenching, and brilliant works of art.
As a slaute to my favorite author of all time, I give you some random facts about Poe, provided by the authority on 19th century authors...the Internet Movie Database trivia section!

Poe didn't earn a cent from his most famous poem, "The Raven", having published it first in a newspaper for free and thereby losing any and all future copyright monies.

The original title of "The Raven" was "To Lenore" but upon having dinner with Charles Dickens and learning of the great writer's recently deceased pet bird, which just happened to be a raven, Poe reworked the poem to include the black bird as a central figure.

Poe wrote "The Raven" with the intent of creating what he called an "adult fairy tale" and when asked why he didn't start the poem with the traditional "Once upon a time" but used "Once upon a midnight dreary" Poe replied, "In my 'time' it's always 'midnight dreary.'"

All of Poe's stories took place at night, or if a day scene was required, it was the bleakest, foulest day of the year.

Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

Considered by many to have invented the American horror story, science fiction, and the detective story.

There is some mystery surrounding the actual conditions of his death. In October 1849, he was found lying in a gutter, drunk, barely conscious and wearing someone else's clothing. He died shortly thereafter of apparent alcohol poisoning.

However, some historians believe that there may have been other reasons for his untimely demise. The most common theory is that he was a victim of a political kidnapping and made to vote in a local mayoral election while dressed up in different clothes and under the influence of massive amounts of alcohol, so that he would not remember anything.

Others believe that he may have had a massive brain tumor that led to a stroke; this theory is aided somewhat by the fact that Poe had a rather large, oddly-shaped head.

Every year on the date of Poe's birthday, for 60 years, a mystery man left a bottle of cognac and roses on Poe's grave in Baltimore, Maryland. However, the ritual was broken this year, 2010, when the man failed to show. (read the USA Today story)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween’s Not Over Till The Simpsons Say So

By Chris Dimick

Don’t throw your Lady Gaga inspired meat-dress costume on the grill just yet. Halloween isn’t officially over until the credits roll on this Sunday’s new The Simpsons Halloween Special –Treehouse of Horror XXI.

For the last 21 years, The Simpsons have been bringing the funny to our favorite Celtic holiday in the form of their outstanding Treehouse of Horror specials.
Not considered part of the regular Simpsons storyline canon, the Treehouse of Horror episodes give the show’s staff a chance to tear our favorite yellow-skinned family from reality and place them in spooky, scary and usually hilarious fright stories.

Many horror fans, myself included, adore the Treehouse of Horror episodes since they regularly spoof beloved horror movies, TV shows, comic books, literature and pop culture.
The Halloween shows are split into three self-contained tales of tony terror, placing The Simpsons characters in such past horror stories as The Fly, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Night of the Living Dead.

These are traditionally some of the best Simpsons episodes. The writers go all out in their scary tales, packing each segment with great pop culture references, inside horror movie jokes, and general zaniness that can’t be done in the usual reality-based Simpsons world.

Personally, I gave up on The Simpsons regular season episodes several years ago. The show started as a witty, fresh, bitingly satirical comedy grounded in human emotion and real stories when it premiered in 1989, but has gradually drifted through its 22-year run into a tired, cliché, over-the-top lame fest that now tries to be more “crazy” than “smart.”

I once worshiped you Simpsons. In fact as a kid, my family would tape every episode of the show and watch it over and over and over and over. The show was at its best in the early to mid-1990s with writers like Conan O’Brien and producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. Today, The Simpsons is a shell of its former self, and like a once great limping race horse, needs to be put down Old Yeller style. For the fans’ sake.

That said, I never miss each season’s Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episode, this year marking the 21st such special (There have been 22 The Simpsons seasons, but they didn’t do a Halloween episode their first year). I’d be fine with parent network FOX canceling the regular season, and just have the Simpsons team make only these specials every holiday. For once a year, I fall in love with the Simpsons again on Halloween.

These episodes are supposed to be crazy, unrealistic, and pop-culture laden. What fails in the regular season triumphs in the context of a Halloween show – even if it is aired long after most front-porch pumpkins have begun to slump into that rotting, depressed smush-face look.

So, what gives, Matt Groening? Why show a Halloween episode days after the holiday when the world has already moved on to thoughts of stuffed turkey carcasses and Santa Claus’s all seeing eyes?
It wasn’t always this way. The Simpsons started out showing their holiday special before Halloween, along with the rest of the sane world.

But when FOX landed coverage of Major League Baseball’s playoffs and World Series in 2000 (a win for the network, loss for baseball fans) it meant that The Simpsons would be pre-empted for several weeks by baseball games in October.

At first I was horrified by this, thinking that The Simpsons staff would just stop producing Treehouse of Horror episodes. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, and the terrific tradition continued… just airing after Halloween.

Personally I’ve grown to appreciate The Simpsons airing their annual Treehouse of Horror’s after Halloween. TV during the Halloween season is overcrowded with viewing choices to celebrate the holiday. Between the History Channel’s always excellent retrospective on Halloween’s origins to AMC and Turner Classic Movies’ nonstop horror movie marathons, Treehouse of Horror would be just another Halloween-themed show.

Saving the episode until after all the Halloween attention has calmed makes it more special.
It is like sticking your head in a seemingly wrapper-only filled Trick-or-Treat pillowcase and finding a succulent Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup among the fray. Just when you thought the party was over… the band plays a second encore.

In celebration of over 20 years of mixing comedy and horror, and adding extra helpings of blood-covered joy to my favorite holiday of the year, the RDHP presents the Top Ten Treehouse of Horror segments… many of which are based on horror/sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books.

[As a reminder, don’t forget to watch The Simpsons’ 21st Treehouse of Horror episode this Sunday, Nov. 7 at 8E/7C on FOX! (A replaying of last year’s 20th Halloween special comes before it at 7:30E/6:30C!)]


Bart’s Nightmare
Treehouse of Horror II -- 1991

In a spoof of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” Springfield is held in a grip of terror by Bart, who has omnipotent mental powers. Bart turns whoever is not happy and content with his “rule” into a grotesque being, and even history is changed to suit Bart’s pleasure. When Homer refuses to turn off a football game so that Bart can watch "The Krusty the Clown Show" (which has been running for 346 consecutive hours), Bart transports Homer into the football stadium in place of the ball for a field goal kick. When Homer tries to kill him for this, Bart turns him into a jack-in-the-box. Is a father’s love the only way to end this horror?

Why it’s a favorite: Treehouse of Horror has spoofed many Twilight Zone episodes over the years, and with good reason. The show featured brilliant, terrifying stories that are a blast to lampoon. As one of my favorite TV shows of all time, it’s a blast to see any Twilight Zone episode get Simpsonfied. This story works perfectly with mischievous Bart as the all powerful ruler.

King Homer
Treehouse of Horror III -- 1992

In a black and white style segment parodying the film King Kong, Marge joins Mr. Burns and Smithers on an expedition to Ape Island to find the legendary King Homer. After landing on the island, Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Marge stealthily approach a native tribe, but are spotted due to Marge’s hair protruding over the bushes. Marge is sacrificed to King Homer, but is saved when Burns’ group gasses the giant ape. Homer is brought back to Springfield and placed on Broadway as the 8th Wonder of the World. But he soon escapes and embarks on a rampage… at least until he gets tired of all that exercise.

Why it’s a favorite: King Kong is such an iconic horror film, it is great to see it earn recognition in a Simpsons spoof. At this point in the Simpsons run, it was almost an honor to get a mention in the show… an acknowledgment of one’s greatness. This was the case with King Homer, which was in fact a love letter of sorts by Matt Groening to the film. In parts, this is a shot for shot remake of the original, mixed in with hilarious jokes. A must see of any Kong fan.

Terror at 5½ Feet
Treehouse of Horror IV -- 1993

Another Twilight Zone parody, this time of the William Shatner classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” After having a nightmare in which he is killed in a bus crash, Bart rides the bus to school one rainy morning. He panics when he sees a green gremlin on the side of the bus loosening the lug nuts on one of the tires. Bart unsuccessfully tries to convince the other passengers of the danger.

Why it’s a favorite: Again a very accurate parody of a beloved Twilight Zone episode. It is just hilarious to see such a scary premise and TZ episode be reinvented with dead-on humor and comedic grace. Treehouse of Horror IV arrived at the start of perhaps The Simpsons best season, which premiered in 1993. The show had hit its stride, and had great writing talent on board. The best in the business at the time. A classic segment in a classic episode of a classic season.

The Shinning
Treehouse of Horror V -- 1994

No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy. The Simpsons learn this the hard way in this parody of the Stephen King/Stanley Kubrick masterpiece movie “The Shining.”
The Simpsons go to Mr. Burns' mansion in the mountains to become its caretakers. Before he leaves, Mr. Burns cuts the cable television wire and removes the beer, believing that this will ensure hard work from the family. While there, Groundskeeper Willie discovers that Bart has the power to read his thoughts ("the Shinning") and that if Homer goes insane like all the previous caretakers, he should use this to call him. The absence of his two favorite things sends Homer into an insane rage. It doesn’t help that a ghostly Moe tells Homer he must kill his family in order for him to give Homer a beer.

Why it’s a favorite: Another hilarious, spot on parody of a beloved horror movie classic. Treehouse of Horror V and VI are by far my favorite episodes of the series. All three segments in each episode are just so strikingly clear in their humor, to the point that one feels actually warm inside while watching.

Time and Punishment
Treehouse of Horror V -- 1994

“If you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine.” This is the advice Abe “Grandpa” Simpson gave Homer on his wedding day. Turns out to be great advice.
While trying to fix a broken toaster, Homer accidentally turns it into a time machine. It transports him to prehistoric times where he realizes that he must be careful because if he affects anything in the past, it could cause changes in the future.
He kills a mosquito before returning to the present and finds a horrific dystopia where Ned Flanders is now a brutal world dictator. Homer travels back in time again to try to set things right. However, he accidentally kills a walking fish (saying “I wish, I wish, I hadn’t killed that fish), and after returning to the present he finds Bart and Lisa are giants who try to “crush that bug that looks like Dad.” This continues on and on, back in forth in time, with hilarious results.

Why it’s a favorite: Not only is this based on a story by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” it is just really clever. The ways Homer disrupts the past and future are funny, genius, and creative. What a ride through time.

Treehouse of Horror VI -- 1995

Beware the horrors of the [gasp] THIRD DIMENSION in this parody of the Twilight Zone episode “Little Girl Lost”, in which a girl travels through a portal to the 4th dimension.
Patty and Selma visit the Simpsons with two pillow cases full of seashells from their trip to "Sulphur Bay". Trying to avoid the witches, Homer tries to hide in the closet that Bart and Lisa have occupied and refuse to leave on the grounds that they called it first. After failing to find another hiding spot, Homer, desperate to escape his sisters-in-law, looks behind a bookcase and enters a mysterious new world in which everything is in 3D. Homer explores the peculiar area, being depicted as a 3D computer-generated character.
Several reoccurring Simpsons characters, including Professor Frink, try to get him out, but the universe collapses and Homer falls into our three dimensional world. He is seen walking down a live-shot, real street, but learns to love his new dimension when happening upon an erotic cake store.

Why it’s a favorite: Okay, I love the Twilight Zone and the episode this segment is based on. But truly the best part of Homer³ is seeing Homer walking down a real small town street. The effects in this one blew my mind when I saw in 1995, and continue to on each repeat viewing.

The Terror of Tiny Toon
Treehouse of Horror IX -- 1998

Who hasn’t wanted to jump into a cartoon? Bart and Lisa get the chance in a loose parody of the TV show Amazing Stories episode "Remote Control Man." But they soon regret it.
Marge forbids Bart and Lisa from watching the Itchy & Scratchy Halloween special, even going to the lengths of taking the batteries out of the remote control. When Marge leaves, Bart finds a small piece of highly unstable plutonium in Homer's toolbox and hammers it into the remote's battery slot. When they use the remote, the kids actually enter the TV world of Itchy and Scratchy. It’s fun at first, until Itchy & Scratchy get mad at the kids for “laughing at our pain” and start hunting Bart and Lisa through various TV channels.

Why it’s a favorite: Cartoons within a cartoon. Fun. And what is not to love about an episode filled with the ultra-violent Itchy & Scratchy?!

Send in the Clones

Treehouse of Horror XIII -- 2002

A parody of the film Multiplicity, Homer walks into the backyard to lie in his hammock, which soon collapses. He purchases a new one from a passing vendor, who warns him that it carries a curse. Disregarding this, Homer lies down and discovers that the new hammock can produce clones of anyone who rests on it. He creates clone after clone to do his chores and work, but soon discovers that each clone is more stupid than the last (the clones eventually devolve into Family Guy’s Peter Griffin. Slam!) After his clones start getting the real Homer in trouble by their dumb antics, he finds various creative and gory ways to destroy them.

Why it’s a favorite: This is just a fun concept that we’ve all considered… what would it be like to have several clones. Answer, not cool, especially when they start trying to fool around with your spouse. This offers two parts of fun: the first watching the clones mess up Homer's life, and the second watching Homer kill them in hilarious ways.

Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off
Treehouse of Horror XIV -- 2003

Bart and Milhouse (in a parody of the Twilight Zone episode “A Kind of a Stopwatch”) get a stopwatch through an ad in an old comic book magazine that actually allows them to stop time. It's like a true life Zack Morris "Time Out"! They have a blast pulling pranks on Springfieldians, such as pantsing Principal Skinner.
They almost get away with it, but they are outsmarted by Mayor Quimby, who laid ultraviolet powder on the floor at the town meeting where they committed their most recent joke. An angry mob goes after Bart and Milhouse. While they are on the run, they stop time and the watch breaks, causing Bart and Milhouse to be the only two people moving in a world where time has stopped.
They travel the world pranking folks (giving the Pope a wedge and such) but soon become bored and lonely. Can they fix the watch and get back in time!?

Why it’s a favorite: More Twilight Zone love. Whenever Bart and Milhouse get together for tomfoolery, The Simpsons really seems to work. This segment is nonstop fun with all the time pranks, even near the end where the watch, after being tinkered with, magically morphs people into different beings. This is a bright spot among the typically lame early 2000s episodes of The Simpsons.

It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse
Treehouse of Horror XIX -- 2008

In this irreverent spoof of the beloved 1960s Charles Schulz classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” Halloween special, Milhouse waits in a pumpkin patch for the Grand Pumpkin on Halloween (which Bart made up). Lisa decides to stay with him out of pity. After Lisa sees everyone at school having a Halloween party, she grows tired of waiting and leaves in frustration. Milhouse starts to cry and his tears and childlike belief bring the Grand Pumpkin to life. However, the Pumpkin is appalled to find that his kindred pumpkins are being carved up on Halloween and made into pumpkin bread. He vows revenge on the town. Murderous pumpkin rage sweeps over Springfield.

Why it’s a favorite: A yearly tradition around Halloween is watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It is by far my favorite Halloween special of all time. This great spoof offers what would happen if indeed the Great Pumpkin did rise up out of the pumpkin patch. He’d be horrified at how we treat his brethren on Halloween! Oh so much cutting and disemboweling! Hilarious!
This episode also features some
great one liners, such as Ralph’s cutting criticism of Millhouse’s beliefs saying “Your God is wrong,” or Homer saying to a group of normal pumpkins, “I’m going to cut you with a hideous face, and make your friends watch.”

Bonus Favorite:

The Raven
Treehouse of Horror I -- 1990

In the third story of the episode, Lisa reads "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe to the Bart and Maggie in their treehouse, while Homer eavesdrops terrified outside. Bart is depicted as the raven in this Simpsons take on the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem. Homer finds himself in the role of the poem's lead character, while Lisa and Maggie are seraphim. Marge appears briefly as a painting of Lenore. James Earl Jones narrates.

Why it's a favorite: Seeing one of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite authors, come to life Simpsons style was thrilling. I’m talking soul-affecting level thrilling when I first saw this as an 11-year-old boy who had recently discovered the thrill that is Edgar Allan Poe.
This segment takes a morbid, depressing poem and adds some good natured humor to it. It remains scary as well. A nice modern day take on a timeless classic.

Treehouse of Horror
Posters, Promos, Comics, and Covers