Original Air Date: Sunday, October 27, 1996
'Homer's Unfortunate Pumpkin Incident'
The episode opens with Homer attempting to light a Jack-o-lantern. He's suddenly engulfed in flames, and running around the kitchen in a panic. It then cuts to the couch gag, in which the Grim Reaper is sitting on the couch. As each Simpson comes close to the couch, they die one by one, and Death uses them as a footstool. Once again, the episode then jumps into the segments. For yours truly, this is around where these episodes started to sort of lose their luster.
I'm not sure if that's because I felt that it peaked with 'Homer³', but from here on in, I'd find these segments one by one becoming less and less interesting - although a few goodies still manage to slip through. I might just add my age to things as well, seeing as this was the first 'Treehouse of Horror' for me since entering high school. On the other hand, this is now Season 8 - the Season most fans claim it to start going downhill.
'The Thing and I'
In one of the segments that do slip through to being a good one, 'The Thing and I'. Often thought of as a parody of 1982's 'Basket Case', apparently there was no connection, and this was more of a semi-original idea based on the unoriginal concept of Bart having an "evil twin". Call it 'The Simpsons' take on the situation.
When Bart and Lisa hear creepy noises coming from the attic, they go investigate, but in doing so, let whatever it was they heard out. We come to find out that their parents have been hiding Bart's once conjoined twin brother in the attic this whole time. Dr. Hibbert dubbed him "the evil twin", he goes by the name of Hugo, and he wants to be conjoined with Bart once again. The idea of being sewn together to someone does give me the chills, so it's pretty effective in being one of the creepier segments.
As long as you pay close enough attention to things, you can predict the twist ending very easily. What makes this segment good, however, is that it's one of that carries that classically creepy atmosphere we saw in some of the older segments. It's dark and shadowy, and we don't see Hugo (the twin) right away, leaving imagination to fill in the blanks - something I've always given credit to as being creepier than seeing the thing up close. Good on them for at least bringing the creep factor back, if only for a little bit.
'The Genesis Tub'
In another 'Twilight Zone' spoof, 'The Simpsons' go after the 1962 episode, 'The Little People', in which an astronaut finds a small village of ant-sized people who see him as a God. It all begins when Lisa is prepping for the school science fair by placing her lost tooth in a petri dish of cola to see if it will eventually dissolve.
Bart comes along, being a bratty big brother, and gives her a static shock. Lisa then carries the static shock through to her tooth when she touches it, and she inadvertently creates life upon the surface of the tooth. Lisa watches as her race of small people develops at an incredible rate. Soon, Lisa as seen as a God, and Bart is made out to be a Devil when he brings about some of their destruction. There's a funny little twist ending to it, but it's nothing too special.
At one point the tiny people use space ships that seem to resemble Decepticon, Scourge's vehicle form from 'Transformers', and aside from the previous 'Treehouse of Horror' episode, it's marked as one of the first time computers were used for the show's animation. Despite that cool sequence, however, it still doesn't stand out as one of their best - thought it's passable.
Airing in October of 1996, this was a perfect opportunity for 'The Simpsons' to take a jab at the Presidential Election of the time - Clinton vs. Dole. At the time, this was kind of risky for them; sure to find itself dated, just a few days after it aired, when the election actually took place (November 5). However, it turned out to be a very solid risk to take.
While out fishing, Homer is abducted by now famous Halloween alien duo, Kang and Kodos. The command Homer "take them to his leader", and with the election coming up, said leader might change from Bill Clinton to Bob Dole. The aliens then abduct the two candidates, put them in suspended animation tubes, and take over their places, posing as them. One way or another, they will be able to take things over, and it's up to Homer to try to save America. Can he though?
The everlasting brilliance of the episode is the American political system in which sometimes it doesn't matter who you vote for - you're gonna be screwed either way. So the segment is only dated by the candidates they had at the time. In reality, there's something very timeless about this segment. It was even voted by IGN in 2017 as the #1 'Treehouse of Horror' segment of all time. I can't personally agree to that, but I have to admit that it's very clever for what it is, and a risk that totally paid off.
This particular 'Treehouse of Horror' episode doesn't come with any sort of odd twists or turns, and just ends after Homer's now famous line "I voted for Kodos". This may also have something to do with my taste in these episodes somewhat waning. I always missed the wraparound segments since they were ditched in 'Treehouse of Horror V', and even the previous episode ended with Homer coming to Earth, which was nothing they had done yet at the time. This one took some time to grow on me, and I can claim it as a pretty good one, but it's also definitely the tipping point for these episodes.
Overall Episode Rating: 73%