All the Halloweenies here at the nerd farm love the Simpsons‘ annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Well… Except for Unfunny Bill. He’s a good egg, but so serious…
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Treehouse of Horror. I can’t believe they’ve done 24 of these things, but that’s what’ll be airing this Sunday. (Time flies. We get old.) This year, they got Guillermo Del Toro to direct the credits sequence, and it’s the most elaborate, gag-packed, pause-worthy bit of film I’ve seen this year. There are Simpsons in-jokes, Del Toro in-jokes, and references to so many of the great sci-fi and horror icons that I lost count. It took me ten minutes to watch the three-minute opening.
I suggest letting the whole thing just wash over you before hitting pause, though. That way, you’ll be even more surprised at all the stuff you missed when you go back for that inevitable second viewing…
Pretty awesome, no?
Though I’m not even going to try to do full-on Jess Nevins style annotations for this thing, I thought I would point out some highlights…
Twenty seconds in, look for the Simpsons’ biggest contribution to the Dork Forty vocabulary.
The rotting corpses of the Tracy-Ullman-era Simpson family show up just after the one minute mark.
And just after them, what was left of Godzilla once the Oxygen Destroyer got through with him.
I can’t name all the Phantoms of the Opera who show up at 1:27, but the first one’s Lon Chaney Sr, and the last one is this guy:
At around 1:37, we get a gnarly vision of Great Cthulhu, who’s having tea with his creator, Dork Forty Poet Laureate HP Lovecraft. He’s accompanied by one Mr. E.A. Poe of Baltimore (with raven), Ray Bradbury (doodling on an Illustrated Man), and Richard Matheson (who’s shaking his head at the folly of an Omega Man mutant) at 1:40.
The Universal monsters enter at around 1:50, turning the tables on the mob by wielding their own torches and pitchforks. It’s dumb, but this might be my favorite gag in the whole thing. Plus, it’s an accidental callback to my favorite Treehouse of Horror gag ever:
(“HE’S GOT A BOARD WITH A NAIL IN IT!!” Comedy gold.)
Then things go completely insane at 2:03, with a long scroll of classic genre characters. I don’t know all of them, but here’s my best shot at identifying them, left to right, top to bottom:
Rod Serling, the Lost in Space Robot, Dunno, the Alien, Lon Chaney Sr in London After Midnight, a Moleman standing next to Hans Moleman (ha!), who’s painting Alfred Hitchcock’s profile, the Simpsons’ Rigellians (whose saucer is hit by the ship from First Men on the Moon), the skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts, the Crypt Keeper (EC Comics version?), the Ro-Man, the Ymir, Count Orlock, the Saucer Men, James Arness in The Thing, the Fly, Gort (with Klaatu’s saucer), Johnny Eck (the Man Born Without a Body!), Pip the Pinhead (or maybe her sister Zip), the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Rondo Hatton, and the Grim Reaper. Whew!
(Okay, so maybe I did Jess Nevins that one a little…)
Then, at 2:25, the Hypno-Toad shows up, and–
ALL HAIL THE HYPNO-TOAD! ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO-TOAD!