The Simpsons have graced our screens once again with a brand new, terrifying installment of the iconic “TREEHOUSE OF HORROR” Halloween special.
Treehouse of Horror XXXII sports the usual set of twisted tales depicting Springfield’s greatest in a slew of non-canon, haunting storylines. Featuring twisted parodies of Disney’s “Bambi,” Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” the artwork of Edward Gorey, “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and finally “The Ring,” the newest Halloween special has more than enough to appease genre fans.
Starting off the frightful program with a surprising amount of cuteness, Bart and Marge star as Bambi and his mother. Stylized and scored much like the original Disney animation, this segment appears to be all fun and games…that is until Mr. Burns shows up as the infamous hunter. Things quickly get dark when the hunter chases down Bart and Marge, making fans of the original Disney film fear for the worst. Luckily, in typical Treehouse of Horror fashion things get twisted.
Homer, appearing as another deer, comes to the rescue and impales Mr. Burns. The deer all gang up on the wounded hunter and puncture him repeatedly, spraying gooey animated crimson all over the setting. To cap things off, a Tinker-Bell styled Maggie uses her magic wand to cast the words “TREEHOUSE OF HORROR XXXIII” on the screen.
While not as horror-specific as some of the show’s other notable intros (never forget what Guillermo Del Toro did!), “Bambi” kickstarts this year’s installment with some classic THOH twists.
THIS SIDE OF PARASITE
In a riff on Best Picture Winner “Parasite,” The Simpson family takes on the role of the Kims from the original as they get hired for separate jobs at the lavish Wolfcastle estate. When the Wolfcastle’s head out on a vacation, the Simpsons family takes the opportunity to live out their fantasies in the-now vacant estate. Through a recreation of several key sequences from the film, The Simpsons family uncover a secret underground bunker housing other “Parasites” beneath the house. A battle royale breaks out as all of the parasites fight to retain their secret home.
While this segment features some ghoulish THOH gore and a timely film parody, its limited runtime underscores its narrative effectiveness. As a bonus, the segment manages to squeeze in a “Snowpiercer” parody (dubbed “D’OH PIERCER”) featuring Itchy and Scratchy.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM TREE
While referencing one of the most iconic slashers in its title, this segment unfortunately has nothing to do with Freddy Krueger (but it’s not like the show hasn’t tackled the nightmare king before). After Bart scares his friends telling tales of terror in his treehouse, Homer takes an axe to the infamous backyard tree. Suddenly springing to life, the damaged tree takes it upon itself to rampage around Springfield, recruiting other mistreated trees to take over the town. Along its quest for world domination, the treehouse tree manages to recruit other famous trees such as the ones from “The Wizard of Oz,” The Giving Tree itself, the tree giant from “Lord of the Rings,” and even Audrey II from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Marvel’s iconic wooden hero Groot makes an appearance during a drive-in screening of what is obviously “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
The segment sports a few fun and twisted gags, including Groundskeeper Willie accidentally chainsawing both of his arms and the dead residents of Springfield being turned into a disturbing Christmas tree. While not having much to do with the film its title parodies, “Elm Tree” sports some great gory gags and pop culture references.
THE TELLTALE BART
This segment mashes the worlds of artist Edward Gorey, Vincent Price, and a dash of Edgar Allan Poe for a beautifully stylistic and disturbing story. Reading from a bedtime storybook, a Simpsonized Vincent Price narrates the tale to an eagerly listening Maggie. While this segment certainly is lacking plot-wise, it makes up with strong and disturbing visuals showcasing a black-eyed Bart’s reign of terror. The acts of mischief intensify starting from the simple cutting off of doll heads and ending at the decapitation of the entire Simpson family.
As the narrative reaches its morbid peak, the storybook abruptly ends as Maggie Simpson strangles with rope the previously narrating Vincent Price. While this final exchange is quite the shocker, it prematurely ends a much more intriguing tale from within the storybook.
The Halloween special concludes with its strongest segment, “Dead Ringer.” In classic Treehouse of Horror fashion, this segment parodies a well-known horror film and character. “The Ring” gets the animated treatment in this delightful mashup of the original film’s plot with a “The Simpsons” touch. Replacing the iconic VHS tape this time around, is a viral Tik Tok video featuring near-shot-for-shot recreation of the original’s cursed tape. Drenched in dark gags involving the sudden death of Springfielders (Sherri and Terri are decapitated by swings), this Simpsonized tale of terror doesn’t shy from poking fun at the darkness of its source material. One effective gag involves Grampa Simpson receiving the haunting “7-Days” phone call, yet not being able to hear what the caller is saying. This results in the demonic voice continually repeating his ominous phrase in hopes of Grampa comprehending the threat.
After finding out the well-ghost’s (ditching the name Samara for Mary) true backstory, Lisa devises a plan to sympathize with the specter. What follows is an awesome animated recreation of Samara’s ascent from the well and out of the television screen. It’s one of those Simpsonized horror movie movements that’ll sit up there with the iconic recreation of “The Shining” axe sequence and riff on the “Child’s Play” doll. The encounter with Mary is halted when Lisa raises up a Halloween-style Valentine’s Card. The specter stops its attack and immediately gushes over the act of kindness. The gag concludes with Lisa showing Mary her saxophone routine, annoying Mary so much that she willingly throws herself back into her well.
“Dead Ringer” is the most narratively satisfying, and effectively comedic segment of the episode.