October 29, 2011

Halloween specials: The Simpsons ("Treehouse of Horror IV")

A look at the fourth "Simpsons" Halloween special.

Halloween specials: The Simpsons ("Treehouse of Horror IV")

Today’s a look at “The Simpsons” Halloween episode “Treehouse of Horror IV.” First airing in 1993, this one’s pretty hilarious, particularly for the final segment, “Bart Simpson’s Dracula” (a general vampire parody).

Background

The segments in this special include:

“The Devil and Homer Simpson”

Homer discovers that his neighbor Ned Flanders is really Satan, and sells his soul to him for a donut. Homer trying to get out of this eventually results in taking Satan to court, featuring a “jury of the damned.”

Said jurists include Lizzie Borden, Richard Nixon (with a joke about his not being dead yet, at the time this aired), and the starting lineup of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. (In the 1970s, the Flyers were nicknamed the “Broad Street Bullies,” and basically lived up to their name en route to Stanley Cup wins.)

“Terror at 5½ Feet”

In a parody of the “Twilight Zone”'s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (starring William Shatner), Bart is the only one who can see a gremlin trying to unhook one of the wheels of the school bus he’s on. The segment introduced German exchange student Uter to the series.

“Bart Simpson’s Dracula”

Every vampire cliché (up to the mid-90s) they could think of is here. Even Bart (in a brief intro) admits this segment was “thrown together.”

The plot (such as it is): The family goes to visit Mr. Burns’ house in oh-so-creepy “Pennsylvania” for dinner. Burns, of course, is a vampire, and turns Bart into one. Cue various hilarious scenes from start to finish:

  • The police unable to find out who’s been draining blood from the townspeople, despite finding a black cape labeled “Dracula.” (They think it’s a mummy.)
  • Burns buying the Springfield blood bank, in a “completely unrelated news story” to the vampire attacks above.
  • Burns’ castle, with a secret vampire lair and “Super Fun Happy Slide!”
  • Homer (again): “Oh, Lisa, you and your stories. ‘Bart is a vampire.’ ‘Beer kills brain cells.’ Now let’s go back to that…building…thingy, where our beds and TV…is.”
  • Homer killing head vampire Mr. Burns, but Burns coming back to life long enough to fire him.
  • Marge (and the entire family save Lisa) revealed to actually be vampires. However, they stop their attack on Lisa in order for everyone to wish the viewers “happy Halloween.” Cue a parody of the closing scene of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” (Even Maggie’s a vampire, despite the pacifier!)

On TV/home video

Like the first Halloween special, this one usually will get televised in October in syndication, though being an older special, it might not air often anymore.

“Treehouse of Horror IV” is on the Season Five DVD box set.

The special's also available on Disney+, along with the rest of the "Treehouse of Horror" specials.

(Updated 9/30/20)

Tags: MediaanimationHalloweenHalloween specialsThe SimpsonsTreehouse of Horror