“The Simpsons” used to dominate the market when it came to terrifying TV viewers. Its “Treehouse of Horror” specials showed us how to deal with a zombie apocalypse long before “The Walking Dead” shambled along and became a mega-hit. The animated series also paved the way for “The Strain” and “American Horror Story” by bringing vampires and witches to life.
I’m starting to wonder if “American Horror Story: Freak Show” creator Ryan Murphy isn’t looking to the “Treehouse of Horror” specials for inspiration. Both borrow from popular horror movies, and they create monster mashes with various creepy creatures. Where else can you see aliens and witches or ghosts and Antichrists in the same episode? This year Murphy is asking us to step right up to his FX freak show, but “The Simpsons” already tackled this theme in last year’s “Treehouse of Horror XXIV.”
Freaks the Audience Out
Michael Chiklis’ baldheaded strongman in “American Horror Story: Freak Show” could be based on Homer’s hefty sideshow performer. However, hopefully Chiklis doesn’t meet the same fate as his fellow strongman—angry freaks tarred and feathered Homer after he tried to murder Moe, his freakish romantic rival. A permanently-mutilated Homer still won the hand of trapeze artist Marge, and “The World’s Strongest Duck” later told his kids the terrifying tale of how he and their mother met. This ending was still less horrifying than the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”
Appeals to Cerebral Viewers
The zombies in “Treehouse of Horror III” included men with brilliant minds, like Albert Einstein and William Shakespeare, and they had more sophisticated tastes than “The Walking Dead” zombies. Instead of gorging themselves on any body part they could stuff in their mouths, they just wanted to feast on their victims’ brains. Homer discovered the best way to avoid being eaten by a horde of Hannibal Lecters isn’t by fighting them with crossbows and katanas—zombies won’t crack your skull open like a coconut if there’s nothing in it worth eating.
Covering yourself with corpse guts is a really gross way to fit in with the cool zombie crowd, but it’s the only trick that seems to work on “The Walking Dead.” However, The Simpsons found a much more civilized way to blend in—they watched TV until they were just as brain dead as their undead neighbors.
Has Blood Suckers
Good TV vampires shouldn’t be the brooding variety—they should suck blood. “The Strain” got this right, but its wax-faced Nazi vampire villain isn’t nearly as terrifying as the bloodthirsty Mr. Burns in “Treehouse of Horror IV.” He had a creepy castle in Pennsylvania, and he used his massive bank account to purchase an entire blood bank.
“The Strain” vampires suffer from boring weaknesses like silver and sunlight, but the supernatural beings on “The Simpsons” were killed off in a more creative way. In “Treehouse of Horror XXI,” we learn Homer’s high cholesterol can destroy the undead if they dare to dine on his dangerous DNA. Who knew eating dozens of donuts a day could actually be beneficial?
If you’re a fan of “The Simpson’s” Halloween specials, you’re in luck. FXX will air every “Treehouse of Horror” episode October 26 starting at 12 p.m. Hopefully horror TV writers will check out the marathon; there are a lot of things they could learn about crafting an entertaining horror TV series by studying Ned Flanders’ Satan and Krusty’s creepy clown doll.
Reposted with permission from cabletv.com