Original Air Date: Thursday, October 29, 1992
The Simpsons Host Halloween
This time around, the episode is introduced by Homer, in the style of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. He's much less tactful than Marge about it, and starts to taunts the audience a little bit while still delivering the message that, fair warning, some of this stuff might scare your kids. It then moves on to the special Halloween opening, and the first Halloween couch gag for one of these, involving the family sitting on the couch as skeletons.
The third in-between narrative goes back to the story-telling concept of the first one with stories told by Lisa, Abe (aka Grampa) and Bart. In between the segments there are several interactions with more Simpsons characters than just the family this time (although it's still only the Simpsons family telling the stories). Some of the fun of this one is seeing what everybody dresses up as, and having it reflect some of the earlier Halloween parties we attended as kids.
'Clown Without Pity'
When Homer forgets Bart's birthday, he rushes out last minute to a store literally called "House of Evil" (your one stop evil shop) and asks if they sell any toys. This leads to Homer getting Bart a talking Krusty the Clown doll, and the now famous and ever-quotable "Frogurt" conversation with the mysterious shopkeeper.
Homer brings the doll home to Bart, who's very grateful for the gift. However, soon we learn that the doll hates Homer and begins trying to kill him. It's not subtle either, he just kinda goes for it. Throughout the segment there are several hilarious sight gags and lines that are some of my favorites of all-time, let alone of the Halloween episodes. It's definitely one of the most quotable of the 'Treehouse of Horror' segments.
Growing up, I always used to think this was just a farce on 'Child's Play'; a movie about a killer doll named Chucky, which is moderately close in comparison to "Krusty". The truth of the matter is, it doesn't stop there. It's mostly based on another 'Twilight Zone' episode, 'Living Doll' and the third, and most famous segment of 'Trilogy of Terror' while it squeezes in a bit of 'Gremlins' with the shopkeeper based on Mr. Wing. This is easily one of the most memorable segments of the early days, and strangely enough, it ends with a lovey-dovey situation and an upbeat tune with a heart-swipe closeout.
In a much more direct farce of 'King Kong', this is another favorite of mine, and once again, Mr. Burns has so much to do with it. It opens with Marge answering Mr. Burns' ad, looking for a single white female who must like monkeys. This brings her to Ape Island where a giant ape named Homer is seen as a God.
The segment is a great farce on the classic 'King Kong' film, hitting a lot of memorable farcical notes along the way. Marge is used as a sacrifice, Homer is captured, Homer's put on Broadway, Homer escapes and climbs the Empire State Building, it's one of the most direct parodies they've done for one of these, as it doesn't cover anything else culturally. So there's not a whole lot to say about it.
Some interesting tidbits about this segment include being brought up in '28 Days Later', as one particular joke is a favorite of Sgt. Ferrell's (Stuart McQuarrie). It also stands as one of Matt Groening's favorite 'Treehouse of Horror' segments, and he created these characters in the first place. This one also ends with an upbeat tune and a heart-swipe close-out. Oddly enough though, as we see a theme start with that heart-swipe, the final segment doesn't have it.
'Dial "Z" for Zombies'
When Bart reads a pre-school Alphabet book for a book report, he's sent to the library to find another more suitable book for it. There, he finds an occult section where he finds a book that's much more appealing than your average everyday read; Time Life's 'Book of Magick and Spelles: Vol. II'.
Bart brings the book home, and while going through it, Lisa pines for their cat 'Snowball I'. Bart then suggests that perhaps there's a spell in his book that could bring the cat back to life. They take the book to the local cemetery, and Bart recites a few funny cultural incantations naming, I believe, a series of game show hosts, and a series of department stores. He casts the wrong spell, however, and Bart ends up raising a hoard of zombies who attack the town.
Bart's incantations would later be followed in the segment with incantations involving 70's TV detectives and prophylactics in their effort to restore the living dead to their graves. This segment is quite often seen as one of the all-time best of them, and ranked #2 according to IGN. Considering how many there are altogether, that's really saying something, and my opinion matches with that logic. It's quotable, memorable, and fits the Halloween theme beautifully.
There is no cutback to the Halloween party, but all in all, this whole episode is pretty much perfect for these Halloween episodes, and it all ends with a punchline jab at their own viewing audience being mindless zombies in front of the TV. It's the highest recommendation of these episodes from yours truly.
Overall Episode Rating: 100%