What is significant about October 6? Absolutely nothing except this episode of the Simpsons, which was released on October 30, 1994. Did you know the Shining was released on May 23, 1980? Do you see where I’m going with this? Me neither. Let’s get started.
This “Treehouse of Horror” episode is a little bit different than the previous four. While it begins with Marge’s warning to the audience, there is no backstory or narrator. Rather, each segment simply begins with a title card. The first is “The Shinning,” and it is a joyous parody of the Stephen King classic. The Simpsons are on their way to take care of Mr. Burns’ haunted hotel for the winter. What could be a beautiful vacation turns into a violent escapade of madness. There is an array of visual parallels between “The Shinning” and the Shining, except the Simpsons add their own comedic twists to make the story a little more lighthearted.
In the next segment, “Time and Punishment,” Homer breaks a toaster and accidentally turns it into a time machine. He travels back and forth from the Prehistoric Era, but continues to disrupt the fabric of the universe by killing mosquitos, giving dinosaurs the common cold and attacking walking fish. The butterfly effect is in full effect as Homer creates a world with Ned Flanders slaves and raining donuts.
Finally, we have “Nightmare Cafeteria,” which is the most grotesque “Treehouse of Horror” segment yet. After the Springfield schools face horrendous budget cuts, administrations can no longer feed their students decent meals. So, Principal Skinner solves this problem by serving the students the meat of their classmates. Every student who gets sent to detention is actually butchered and ground up for consumption. No one is safe from these budget cuts.
While this “Treehouse of Horror” episode contains many classic horror tropes and inspirations, the stories are beginning to branch out into other speculative genres. We see this in “Time and Punishment,” which is based on Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short story “A Sound of Thunder.” The title for “Nightmare Cafeteria” is a parody of the TV show Nightmare Cafe, and the story’s plot is heavily based on the 70’s dystopian classic Soylent Green. It is obvious the creators are having a blast with these violent and creepy Halloween specials, and I’m having just as much fun watching them.
Tomorrow we get more science fiction, another Twilight Zone parody and a Wes Craven classic. Until then, if you like this you should definitely check out this movie, this Haunted MTL original and this TV show.