Simpsonspective: Treehouse of Horror VI

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

October 06, 2018

Original Airdate: October 29, 1995
Writers: John Swartzwelder, Steve Tompkins, David S. Cohen
Director: Bob Anderson, David Mirkin (Live-action footage)


Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores
     When he isn't able to get a doughnut the size of Lard Lad's, on account it they don't exist in that size, Homer takes revenge by simply stealing the mascots own doughtnut which, along with an ongoing storm, causes Lord Lad and other giant mascots to come alive and wreak havoc. After some arguing, Homer returns Lard Lad's doughnut in hopes that they will stop their rampage, but it's to no avail. Lisa, after a discussion with an ad executive, realizes that the mascots won't return to their original state because they are a constant source of attention. Teaming with Paul Anka, the duo sing a song about not looking at the mascots and, after pulling Homer away from Lard Lad, the mascots return to their inanimate state.

Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace
     Bart awakens from a nightmare involving Groundskeeper Willie slashing him with a rake to find wounds across his chest and stomach. Talking about his experience at school, the kids realize that they've all been having nightmares about Willie too, with similar results. Finishing a test quick in class, Martin falls asleep and is subsequently murdered in his dream, leading to his death in real life. That night their parents tell them a story of how Willie burned to death during a meeting between the parents and Skinner, during which none did anything to help. Realizing they can't sleep properly as long as Willie is haunting all of them, Bart decides to deal with him while Lisa stays awake as lookout for distress. After almost killing him and Lisa falling asleep, with both of them coming close to death, Maggie arrives and deals the death blow to Willie. Going outside together into the sun, they are confronted by Willie coming off a bus and he attempts to scare the children, only to have to chase after the vehicle because he "left his shotgun on the seat."

     When Bart and Lisa take Homer's usual closet hiding place as Patty and Selma are on their way to visit, Homer is forced to dodge behind the bookshelf in the living room. He realizes the wall isn't really a wall at all and passes through it to hide, finding himself in a world where everything is three-dimensional. Giving up his location because he can't find the way out, numerous Springfielders try to find a way to rescue him, including Frink. Meanwhile, Homer is poked in the butt by a cone, which he tosses it into the floor causing a wormhole, sucking everything in. Bart jumps in with a rope and attempts to save Homer without success, though Bart is pulled back into the house while his father falls in. In real-world LA, Homer drops from the sky into a dumpster before nervously making his way down the street amongst humans. He comes across a cake shop and the episode ends with him curiously entering.

     Before we get to the main treat here, I want to make a mention that I like the Sleepy Hollow homage opening, especially since they ended up using a different character than you’d expect with Krusty.

     Following the top-to-bottom home run that is the fifth installment of the Treehouse of Horror series seems like it would be a set-up for some level of disappointment, especially when viewing these episodes in order. While not be as memorable all the way through, Treehouse of Horror VI still is a very strong addition to the fan favourites, and I found myself surprised at the number of gags and lines I had forgotten about and how well it all held up.

     I hadn’t seen this episode in quite a while, and going in I only really had distinct memories of the final two stories. Revisiting, I forgot how much there was that I loved about Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores. I adore its homage to Kaiju films and the designs of all the mascot characters, themselves parodies of real mascots, and the ‘Just Don’t Look’ song is pretty catchy for being about not staring at advertisements.
     Because of the fact that I hadn’t seen it in so long that I didn’t necessarily remember the details of it, there are many lines in here that I do absolutely love. Homer mocking the (still inanimate) Lard Lad after stealing his massive doughnut is great, as is Homer’s no-reaction to the character showing up at his house to retrieve what’s his (the whole towns general ‘eh’-ness to the situation is great, like this just casually happens). This also leads to a great moment I forgot about where, after Lard Lad returns from Homer’s attempt to pawn off the problem to Flanders, Homer pretty easily throws Moe under the boss, telling Lard Lad to, indeed, “Go kill Moe.” After returning the doughnut and Lard Lad simply uses it as a device for further destruction (a great idea/visual), we get a fantastic moment between Marge and Homer that is sold completely on Julie Kavner’s read (see below).
     Bart being the Devil’s shoulder-devil is a nice touch, making both sides of the argument completely for destroying the school, especially as I like moments where, even in horrific scenarios, a kid may still act like a kid and see this opportunity to get themselves out of school in the long run. One thing that really works with these Treehouse of Horror episodes is that, a lot of times, they’re most likely to hold a very dark joke or moment you wouldn’t see otherwise in normal episodes (Homer blatantly murdering Flanders a few episodes prior being an example). Here, the shooting of a high school basketball teammate, mistaken for an ad-monster, made me laugh way harder than it should have. You’re really not used to these types of jokes in the series, so whenever it does happen you can’t help but laugh.

     To cut straight to the chase, Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace is one of the legitimately creepiest segment the crew has ever done for these Treehouse of Horror specials. The threat of Groundskeeper Willie as the Freddy Krueger here (which, by the way, is such a great and natural fit it almost feels pre-planned) seems incredibly real and dangerous. The segment presents its on-goings in a very serious matter, with some serious tension building to boot along with imaginative style, designs, and creepy visuals with it.
     It starts out strong, with an incredibly beautiful painted sequence that really pops with its lush colours. The fact that the animation style is also presented differently is also a nice touch as while the Treehouse of Horror segments all exist in their own universe, they still feel grounded in The Simpsons world, so this makes you think that something is off, which turns out to be a dream. Really, that’s one of the main aspects that make this worth it; the jokes are absolutely hilarious, but the way the dream sequences are handled is exquisite, to the point that I wish this segment was longer. The sequence with Martin is also brilliantly realized (as is the A+ one-liner from Willie), with the floating chalkboards, stairway, and cape oddly make you feel like, yes, this is exactly what Martin’s dreams probably look like. Though not as visually commanding as the other two dreams, in terms of background/location style, the final dream is still very interestingly laid out, as the focus is more on the designs of Willie’s change in his battle with Bart.
     Speaking of designs, the ones thought up of here are great, especially when Willie gets stuck in the sand and goes through a couple in a short space of time (the Scottish theme is also a funny and nice touch). While I give a shout-out to the great design of Massive-Spider Willie, the real deal here is, in my mind, the post-fire Willie. The scorched bone look, accented by the still burning flames and dark eyes, is genuinely creepy, with his following threat coming off as very unnerving. The Treehouse of Horror episodes are always so great and fondly remembered because they were able to get a bit more imaginative and playful than usual, and they used it to great effect here.

     Of course, we can’t forget the great moments and lines here. We are treated to Smarch and its lousy whether, advice on not touching Willie, Grandpa’s great line, and the hilarious ending itself, along with a handful of others. I don’t see this segment brought up often, but it deserves to be mentioned amongst the best of the segments ever presented by the Treehouse of Horror series.

     Homer³ is the segment remembered from this installment the most, obviously because of the experimental use of the animation (and the great ending). I’ve seen many people say that that is the only reason this one is brought up these days, but there is still a lot to like. We have many great lines that have possibly been forgotten over time, not to mention the incredible Tron run, which is simple but always makes me laugh whenever I see it. There’s also a great gag that finds itself cut from syndication often, with Frink making a very serious declaration of what is going on to a suddenly dark room, only to reveal that Lisa had accidentally turned out the light. There are also some great bits between other characters, like Ned’s attempt to help, which could have been forgotten due to this story being very Homer-focused.
     Still, the 3D animation is still very much the focal point here, but that isn’t a bad thing. I find that computer animation tends to not age well a lot of the time, ending up looking unsettling compared to the charm that 2D animation ages with, but I was happy to find that the segment in the other dimension here has aged to be charming in its own way. It’s still really nice to see Homer (and Bart) realized in the way that they were, and the designs were done in a way that didn’t make such an odd design unsettling in a third dimension. It should also be noted that one aspect that pushes this segment into being still worthy and not just a ‘look at this’ reel is the visual jokes included. I don’t know much about advanced mathematics, but I have gotten a kick out of learning all about the equations added into the backgrounds, along with the reference to Stephen Hawking (in a great line that is hilarious simply for the thought of Homer reading about astrophysics. Also, Homer knows what astrophysics is, which is great in and of itself). Of course, all of this leads to a very sweet ending I’ve always loved, showing that Homer will be okay in this new world after-all.

     Overall, Treehouse of Horror VI holds up incredibly well. I found myself enjoying the first story way more than I remembered, as I had more vivid memories about the visuals of the second segment and the obvious draw of the finale. This installment is still jam packed with hilarious lines and moments that I didn’t even get around to mentioning (moving Martin’s dead body is a classic), and if you don’t remember this one strongly, you should definitely revisit it. It uses its imagination well, which has always been one of the reasons I loved these episodes, and works on properly building off the things it’s paying homage to or parodying to make its own great piece. Treehouse of Horror VI continues the great run of Halloween entries for the series.