"Treehouse of Horror" (also known as "The Simpsons Halloween Special") is an episode from the second season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons. It was first broadcast in the United States on the Fox Network on October 25, 1990. It was the first Halloween-themed episode of The Simpsons and marked the first appearance of the aliens Kang and Kodos, who would go on to appear in every one of the series' Halloween specials.
The episode consists of three segments: "Bad Dream House", "Hungry are the Damned" and "The Raven". In the first segment, the Simpsons move into a haunted house, in the second, they are abducted by aliens and the third is an adaptation of the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.
A framing device, in which Bart and Lisa Simpson sit in their treehouse and tell each other ghost stories, gives the episode its name. All of the subsequent Halloween special episodes of the Simpsons also have "Treehouse of Horror" in their title, even though none of them feature a treehouse.
Opening and framing device
The show's opening sequence parodies the opening of the 1931 movie Frankenstein, in which an announcer emerges from behind a curtain and warns the audience that what they are about to see may shock them. Nevertheless, the warning contained in the sequence is intended to be taken seriously.
Standing alone on a stage in front of a red curtain, Marge Simpson announces that she really does not understand the strange holiday of Halloween, on which children dress as Devils and worship ghosts. She says that nothing frightens her children but that parents of more sensitive children would be better off not allowing them to watch the show, rather than complaining about its contents later.
Following an opening credits sequence, which shows Springfield Cemetery and the graves of some of the Simpsons' ancestors, Homer Simpson, wearing a ghost costume and carrying a large amount of candy, is seen returning home from trick-or-treating. He notices his children Bart and Lisa sitting in their treehouse and eavesdrops on them as they tell each other scary stories.
"Bad Dream House"
Bart Simpson tells the story "Bad Dream House".
The Simpsons move into a large expensive house but soon find out that it is strange and unusual. There is a vortex in the kitchen which leads to another dimension, a lamp cord tries to strangle Bart and a deep disembodied voice tells the family to get out.
In the night, all of the family members, except for Marge, attempt to kill each other. When Marge tells them all to stop, the disembodied voice begins to describe in disgusting detail how the Simpsons will all soon die horribly. Marge angrily shouts at the house to shut up. She explains to the house that they are now its residents, they will have to accept it and it will have to accept them. The house tells them to step outside while it contemplates what Marge has said. Deciding that it cannot live with the Simpsons, the house collapses and disappears.
"Hungry are the Damned"
Lisa Simpson tells the story "Hungry are the Damned".
While they are having a barbecue in their yard one evening, the Simpsons are taken aboard a spaceship. They meet four aliens from Rigel 4, Kang, Kodos, Serek and a fourth whose name is impossible for humans to pronounce. The aliens explain that, by coincidence, their language is identical to English.
The Simpsons are told that they are being taken to Rigel 4 and that every comfort will be provided for them during the journey, including large amounts of delicious food. When the Simpsons notice that the aliens do not eat, the creatures explain that they are saving their appetites for the feast that will take place when they return to Rigel 4. The Simpsons ask if they will attend the feast too. The laughing aliens say that there could be no feast without them.
Lisa becomes suspicious. In the kitchen, she discovers a dusty book that appears to be called How to Cook Humans. It is eventually revealed that the book is really called How to Cook for Forty Humans. The aliens are very upset when they realize that the Simpsons thought that they were being fattened up to be eaten. They return the Simpsons to their home, telling them that they have missed out on the opportunity of a life greater than they could have imagined on Rigel 4.
The story ends with Lisa commenting that it was she and her family, not the aliens, who were the monsters on board the spaceship.
The poem fails to impress Bart, who does not find it scary at all. However, Homer, still eavesdropping outside, finds it terrifying. Troubled by the spooky stories he has heard, Homer cannot sleep that night. He declares that he hates Halloween, as the raven from the poem appears at his bedroom window.