It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is probably one of the strangest sitcoms ever made. There’s a reason it’s lasted for 14 seasons with four more on the way. It’s rude, offensive, clever, authentic, unique, and completely insane. Created by Rob McElhenney who developed it with his friends and costars, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day, the series focuses on a group of narcissistic codependent friends (Dennis, Dee, Charlie, Mac, and Frank) who run an Irish pub in South Philly and spend their days thinking up wild schemes out of sheer boredom or misplaced anger.
Easily one of the funniest television shows out there, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia holds up a mirror to social ideals, judgments, and taboos while mocking them in an outrageous manner, and more often than not, items of pop culture are brought into the mix. Several episodes spoof popular films and TV shows such as the American Idol impersonations in “The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation” and in “Chardee Macdennis 2: Electric Boogaloo” when one of the characters channels Jigsaw and locks the others in the basement to play a game.
But it’s their unofficial Halloween special that we’re talking about here. Airing on October 25, 2012, Episode 3 of Season 8, “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre,” took the time to pay homage to multiple horror franchises in a hilarious horror-themed episode.
The gang crashes a wedding
A reoccurring theme of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is that whoever runs into the gang somehow gets burned. Three of their “victims” are Dennis’s ex-wife Maureen Ponderosa, and the inbred McPoyle brothers Liam and Ryan. In the episode, Maureen is getting married to Liam McPoyle (how this abominable union occurred is never explained), and the gang attends the ceremony uninvited.
There are clear references to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Blair Witch Project in the very beginning. The title, “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre,” is a reference to the 1974 slasher, and the opening sequence featuring the group running around the woods, all disoriented, in front of a handheld camera that mimics the 1999 found footage classic. The episode starts with this Blair Witch found-footage chaos that ends with the guys, Charlie, Dennis, Mac, and Frank, covered in blood and scratches, getting picked up by the police.
In the police interrogation room, they recount the events that took place at the wedding, which according to them, was infested with zombies.
Zombies on the loose
When the gang arrives at the wedding, which happens to take place on Friday the 13th, Frank is immediately bit by a bat. No one thinks anything of it until the McPoyle clan starts acting increasingly more strange as the night goes on. The whole inbred lot of them are walking into walls, drooling on the floor, and attacking each other. Charlie and Mac become convinced that the bat had “bat rabies” and is spreading through the crowd. While they panic over this theory, the McPoyles aren’t doing much to prove otherwise. They’re making a mess of the reception hall, and hissing like vampires as they crawl across the floor in twisted shapes.
Later when Charlie and Mac crash Dee’s car in an attempt to flee, they think that she too has been infected after she attacks them. They lock her in a freezer and leave her there, explaining why she wasn’t in the interrogation room in the beginning. The image of Dee making monstrous faces in the freezer window while Charlie and Mac argue over bat rabies and horror genres is probably one of the highlights of the whole episode.
In the end, it is revealed to be all a false alarm. As it turns out, the “zombies” were actually just high on bath salts that was used to spike the milk (the only liquid McPoyle’s drink). The chemicals acted as a psychoactive mind-altering substance, which made everyone deranged.
Every episode of this series is hilarious. I haven’t seen a dull one yet but I really loved this one, not only for the strange McPoyles who are always a delight but it was a genuinely decent horror-themed special in a series that is usually strictly comedy. This whole episode, from the way it’s shot to the gang’s reactions to everything, is executed flawlessly.(5 / 5)
Fun fact: this episode features a cameo from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro as the McPoyle patriarch, Pappy McPoyle. A huge fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Del Toro asked for a cameo appearance in exchange for Charlie Day getting cast in Pacific Rim where Day portrayed the character Dr. Newton “Newt” Geiszler. Del Toro’s character returned for another episode in Season 11.